As I finalized my thoughts on the Mega Man Legacy Collection, I found it difficult to identify its intended audience. If you consider yourself a retro gamer or collector, you’re likely to seek out the original NES cartridges, and if you’re just itching for a casual playthrough, the emulation route may be your best bet. But, maybe you’ve never played Mega Man before, and you just want to see what the hype is all about without messing with ROMs and emulators. In that case, having all six Mega Man classics at your fingertips is a real treat, even if this collection feels a little thin on content.
If you’ve grown up with video games in the last decade, the 8-bit Mega Man may not be as appealing if you don’t already know what to expect. While these brilliant games have shaped the industry as much as Mario or Sonic, it’s hard to imagine today’s generation embracing the gameplay like someone with a profound passion for the NES.
Capcom has also decided not to fix the minute technical glitches (frame pacing issues, pixel glitching, etc.). They claim it’s meant to preserve the original look and feel, but after playing the modern, technically-polished, retro sequels Mega Man 9 and 10, Capcom’s reasoning seems like a lazy excuse. But in spite of the performance issues, I couldn’t help but enjoy each entry for their nostalgic charisma.
"The technical annoyances and now-archaic gameplay may leave a bad taste in your mouth, or they may encourage you to explore other classic flavors."
Games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne are continually praised for their challenge, but staring at “Game Over” screens was commonplace during the 8-bit era. Beating anything on the NES used to mean something. It was a pride-worthy accomplishment. Today, being unable to reach the end credits is a result of a crammed schedule or losing interest, but rarely the game’s difficulty. Even the countless indie games that try to recapture the retro essence have, for the most part, adapted gameplay mechanics to today’s design standards. Gameplay difficulty is Mega Man’s greatest strength, and ultimately its biggest weakness. You either love it or you hate it.
All six titles are straightforward ports. Included are a few noteworthy extras, like game soundtracks, concept art and uniquely crafted challenge levels, but there’s not much else in terms of additional content. The package is not as impressive as the recent Rare Replay Collection or Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, especially since Mega Man 9 and 10 aren’t included. Capcom might be better off committing to something more substantial if they’re trying to tackle the holistic publisher-bundle approach. But even though it comes off as a little gaunt, it’s fun to re-experience some of the games responsible for laying the shooter genre foundation.
The Mega Man Legacy Collection is an acquired taste, one that can be perceived as either a delicacy or an unpleasant experience. The technical annoyances and now-archaic gameplay may leave a bad taste in your mouth, or they may encourage you to explore other classic flavors. Mega Man games are legendary, but the Legacy Collection feels like a missed opportunity. Each one of these titles deserves the highest praise for what they accomplished when they originally released, but without having access to the infinitely superior X sequels, it’s hard to adequately appreciate the series’ evolution.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 4