Mega Man Legacy Collection
While Capcom’s minimal use of the Mega Man IP over the past few years has angered some fans, it has led to a greater appreciation of every single thing involving the character. Absence has made the heart grow fonder, and Capcom took notice by officially releasing a fan game in Mega Man vs. Street Fighter and now, they’re testing the waters with the Legacy Collection. Originally set to compete with Mighty No. 9 before its delay, Capcom can now monetize the franchise without any direct competition until the physical release next year and super-serve the franchise’s fanbase.
Mega Man compilations have been an easy way to do that over the years. The Wily Wars was hurt by being given to a B-team and then not even getting a physical release on the Genesis, while the Anniversary Collection was nearly-perfect outside of minor input lag and iffy SNES emulation, and didn’t include the Saturn version’s extras from Mega Man 8. The X Collection didn’t feature the newest entries available at the time, which was understandable since they were still readily available at the time, but did hurt it as a definitive collection of the X storyline.
This compilation aims to go for quality instead of quantity and offers up perfect recreations of the NES games alongside a ton of extras. The original “Classic” series games lived up that moniker even in their own time to varying degrees – with the first half of them being excellent and the latter half tinkering with the concept quite a bit at times, but sticking too closely to it in other ways. Still, the NES games have held up marvelously over time even if their formula wore thin in real-time. Beyond including the base games, the Legacy Collection gives players a lot of new content in the form of artwork, music, and challenges.
While the Legacy Collection gives you a bit less for your money than the PS2/GC/Xbox Anniversary Collection did, the emulation is of a higher quality. There’s no input lag in the games like there was then. This means that the games control exactly as they should and your jumping and response times will be as pristine as they should be. The Xbox One’s vastly improved d-pad means that they also control better than Mega Man 9 and 10 did on the 360, and hopefully those games will be added to the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility listing to take advantage of that.
Gameplay-wise, the collection’s NES-only nature allows you to see how the series evolved from its first to its last 8-bit incarnation. Back to back play allows you to see the smaller, but still noteworthy shifts in the series. The original being the only one with a score attached to bosses, while the debut of the slide and charged buster changed things significantly. If you aren’t a fan of the charge shot taking so long, you can still do the turbo pad-style multi-shot using Y if you’d like – just like the Anniversary Collection.
Save states have also been added to the games, so you can resume them here much easily than you could even in that collection. The presentation is a bit less flashy here than it was then, with only 8-bit-inspired menus to navigate. There’s no Mega Man sprite to move through the world and pick a game, and it does make it seem like a bit less effort was put into it in that regard. However, the collection as a whole still clearly had love put into it by the staff. The NES Remix-style challenges are excellent and will force you to learn which powers do what in the world while also placing an emphasis on efficiency. These can easily be a long-term time sink for speedrunners.
Some of the coolest additions to the collection are the seemingly endless amounts of artwork and music. Mega Man has always had some interesting artwork, but very little of it has been seen. Now, you can see hundreds of previously unseen sketches – including the original odd-looking designs for Dr. Light and Wily. It’s a fascinating look at the origins of the series, and a great way for Capcom to further monetize all of the stuff they have for it because it’s worth getting the collection just for the artwork. The only issue I had with how it was presented was that there’s no borderless option – so you can’t just view the art on its own. Capcom has done this feature far better with games like Cannon Spike on the Dreamcast, so it’s a bit puzzling to see it done so poorly here. I’d still rather see the art in an imperfect way than not at all, but I would like to see this issue patched up.
The early marketing of the collection brought up how the games had been redrawn for HD displays, but it’s really hard to tell just what that means exactly. The games can be displays in either their original aspect ratio, 4:3, or a stretched widescreen mode – which isn’t anything special. Playing the NES games on a RetroN 5 could accomplish the same thing and when comparing screens of the NES games through HDMI versus the ones in this collection, it’s impossible for me to tell a practical difference between the two. The new graphical filters that allow you to either add a thin or faded old CRT TV appearance are nice, but don’t add much value to things. The latter at least does accurately replicate the look of the games on an older TV, but I find the crisper graphics without filters to be preferable as that brings out the beauty in the sprite-based artwork far more.
While the visual changes aren’t all that noteworthy, the music for the NES originals has held up wonderfully. What’s better is that this collection gives you every single OST complete with artwork for them and allows you to listen to anything you could possibly want to from the first six games in the series. The copious amounts of content here allowed me to make some sense out of only having the NES games on here – in doing so, you keep that 8-bit gameplay style intact for the entire collection and have chiptunes for the soundtrack. It’s a bit more uniform, and perhaps there’s some issue with not having tons of art or master tracks for the other Mega Man Classic series games.
The Mega Man Legacy Collection may seem lacking in core game content given how vast the Mega Man franchise is, but what it delivers is executed perfectly. Every game included here lacks input lag and comes with a lot of extras. Capcom still clearly has a lot of work to do to regain the trust of Mega Man’s long-time fanbase, but this affordably-priced compilation is a step in the right direction. Hopefully if it does well, we’ll see releases for the entire X series alongside Zero, Battle Network, and maybe even the Star Force games down the line.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
This review is based on a digital copy of Mega Man Legacy Collection for the Xbox One provided by Capcom.