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.
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.
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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