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Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 review

I have a confession to make, and while there are probably a few I could admit to the one I’m confessing to today is that I have never played a Mega Man game. What can I say? I was faithful to SEGA and Sonic; I didn’t look at other platforms, let alone other characters. Now that I’m older – and a little wiser – I have made up for my misguided ways and with all these HD collections; there has been no better time to get acquainted with some of the finest series the industry has created over the years.

Mega Man, I’m told, is one of those games you simply must play. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 picks up the series at Mega Man 7 through to Mega Man 10. The recreation of the pixel artwork into something high definition screens can render is glorious – have you tried plugging in an old console to a new TV? It’s a blurry mess.

A charming musical score floods your ears but the cutesy presentation hides a really tough set of games. Using the D-pad as opposed to the Left Stick helped greatly but I’ve come to the disturbing conclusion that I’ve gotten worse at games as I’ve aged. A more acceptable conclusion was that games are just far easier these days than when I was younger. Thankfully, tucked away in the top menu of the collection is an extra armour mode, which essentially makes enemies deal half damage.

There are also several checkpoints, which neatly nod to modern gaming, allowing you to reset with all your lives and energy intact. You can also choose to manually save, but this will save you at the previously passed checkpoint so you can’t incrementally crawl through the levels. Each checkpoint is spread out through each level, providing enough of a challenge without spoiling the game. It makes Mega Man immediately accessible to newcomers and to those who have softened from playing too many modern games.

The premise of Mega Man is simple. Select a level and attempt to get to the end before fighting the boss and absorbing their power, which allows you to then switch weapons. The order you tackle the bosses is key for an easy route through the game. If you gain the right weapon before a particular boss, then the battles become considerably easier. After the initial, “damn, this is really tough”, it wasn’t until my first powerup before I began to really fall for Mega Man’s charms.

Starting with Mega Man 7, I was instantly hooked to the sights and sounds and it was the wonderful charm that kept me going when the difficulty of the levels had me close to sulking at not being able to beat them. While tough, it never felt cheap, although jumping onto ladders and missing because you didn’t press up in time is just bullshit.

Despite its difficulty, I adore 7 and moving on to Mega Man 8 felt like an odd progression with a very different look and sound to the game, with cutscenes that have an 80s weekend morning cartoon vibe, it’s pretty cool even if some of the voice acting is dubious. While a huge departure from the style and gameplay of 7, I found 8 to be instantly accessible, playing more like the Sonic games I had grown up on with flying sections that are reminiscent of Tales’ biplane levels. Mega Man 8 still has dastardly gameplay mechanics that will have you sweating at the palms as you navigate the various platforms while avoiding (and destroying) the numerous bad guys thrown at you.

Mega Man 9 makes a drastic jump in style as it returns to a more ‘retro’ feel, harking back to the earlier titles in the series. Its charm is one of nostalgia. Navigating the vertical maze as it scrolled across the screen towards the inevitable boss battle reminded me of New Zealand Story. I enjoyed the updated pixel art but regressing earlier titles in the series felt like a backward step from the progression that 7 and 8 had taken.

Similarly, Mega Man 10 also takes cues from earlier Mega Man titles, introducing multiple characters and a selectable difficulty making it far more accessible by shackling the punishing difficulty of enemy patterns and tricky jumps. Regardless of the extra help, 10 is a lot easier than 9. Similarly, I felt 8 was easier than 7.

The collection is a great slice of Mega Man’s history, showing off how the little 2D fella made the jump from simple pixel art during his years on the SNES and PlayStation before making a retro return to his roots for sequels on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. At £11.99, it’s perfectly priced.

Achievement hunters will feel slightly shortchanged with achievements rewarded for game completion and beating various challenges, which will particularly appeal to fans of Mega Man – if you thought the main game was tough, then the challenges will push you to the edge.

For me, I could sit and listen to the soundtrack for hours. It’s wonderful. I’ll keep chipping away at the levels, allowing the blisters on my fingers to heal before trying again. Discipline, timing, patience and listening to the game’s music cues are key to beating the games. Give up and you won’t uncover a gaming gem.

Mega Man may be hard but it’s a piece of gaming history. One that shows how we old folk used to play games, games that took longer than four hours to beat the first time round…

Thanks to Capcom and Xbox for supporting TiX

 

Mega Man Legacy Collection review

Capcom have a habit of pulling on your nostalgia heart strings, earlier in the year an HD re-release of Resident Evil took us back to Nintendo’s Gamecube days and now an enhanced collection of Mega Man games takes us back to Nintendo’s very first home console, the NES. However, does the Mega Man Legacy Collection trade on nostalgia alone or do these classics still hold up today?

Marvellously Mega Man can fairly comfortably sit amongst todays platforming elite. With the Mega Man series being such a huge influence over the genre, much of it’s legacy survives in modern titles anyway, allowing the Blue Bomber to feel right at home in a new era. Moreover, the recent explosion of indie developed, retro stylised titles also aid in the battle against incongruity.

However, the Mega Man titles deserve the lion’s share of the credit for holding up against contemporaries, these are platformers that have been expertly crafted with outstanding level design and enemy placement, built around challenging the player consistently and fairly throughout their adventures. There’s a reason these titles are considered timeless and beloved. For the uninitiated, the Mega Man formula follows the Blue Bomber on a side-scrolling platforming and combat adventure culminating in boss fights against fellow robots. Each stage can be attempted in any order, and once you defeat that stage’s particular robot master you gain their weapon.

Mega Man Legacy 1

The Mega Man Legacy Collection includes the first six Mega Man titles, all of which are greatly admired and remembered. Here they return in all their original glory, despite a subtle crispness added to the sprites these are precisely the same games that shipped all those years ago. This includes bugs, instances of slow-down, screen transitions and general oddities. The collection is running on a new engine that houses the original code completely intact and unaltered, a move that for lesser games would prove risky, potentially alienating new comers and disappointing returning veterans blinded by nostalgia, but with Mega Man’s timelessness this simply reinforces their quality.

However, the new engines does add some new tricks better suited to modern players. With the press of a button a menu screen appears allowing you to remap the controller, switch between widescreen and the original aspect ratio, as well as add CRT filters to really emulate the games’ original forms. However, the key addition is the ability to save anywhere and reload from that point. Each title offers up a stiff challenge that takes practise and patients to master, the ability to save and reload rather than lose precious lives and continues is a wonderful addition as well as a relief.

Mega Man Legacy 2

Additionally each title has a collection of concept art you can peruse, as well as a juke box of all the iconic chip-tunes from the series; it’s a real celebration of the Mega Man brand. Leaderboards and replays are also present, allowing you to compete against friends and foes for best completion times, as well as witness the playthrough themselves via the replay feature. Finally, a comprehensive set of challenges are also available that pit you against a timer and/or a finite set of lives as you work your way through different levels from each of the games strung together under a theme. It’s overflowing with content.

Indeed this collection is a testament to Mega Man. The quality of the level design, the platforming and combat, the catchy chip-tunes and the charming 8bit visuals, alongside the title’s bugs, glitches and oddities all perfectly preserved, make this a collection any fan must own. New comers are in for a stiff challenge but also a fascinating look at a bygone era of gaming that set the scene for many of today’s greats. Certainly they’ll be some put off by the difficulty, and some may question the reasoning behind keeping elements such as the slow-down when things get hectic, but it’s precisely these things that make Mega Man the experience that it is, Capcom clearly respect the original games and their fan base, resulting a wonderful collection of superb platformers.

Thanks to Xbox and Capcom for their support 

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