So, let’s face it. We’re probably not going to see any new Mega Man games. Ever since Capcom and Keiji Inafune’s very messy breakup back in 2010 which saw a number of major planned Mega Man titles cancelled the Blue Bomber has barely been heard from since.
Things didn’t get much better a few years after that – as I briefly mentioned in my 5 Games The Remix The Classics Right list, Mighty No. 9 wasn’t quite the grand return of Mega Man action platforming we were all initially hoping it would be.
But, you can never truly take away the classics, and Capcom has gone out of its way to preserve the older titles in the series on current-gen systems with the Mega Man Legacy Collection. The first installment of this series gave us the first six NES Mega Man games, and the second brings together the SNES’ Mega Man 7 (1995), the PS1 and Sega Saturn’s Mega Man 8 (1996) and the 7th generation consoles’ Mega Man 9 (2008) and 10 (2010). Let’s dive in and discover how well the later entries in the series hold up.
While I can’t verify the authenticity of any title save for Mega Man 9, it seems as though each game included is more or less unchanged from the original – here’s a quick rundown of my main thoughts on each one:
Mega Man 7
MM7 is an interesting one because it originally debuted on the SNES two years after the series’ big re-imagining Mega Man X came out. While the fact that this was the only original Mega Man title to come out on the Super Nintendo shows where Capcom’s focus layed, this still manages to be a pretty enjoyable Mega Man title with some great stage designs, a very appealing visual style for its characters, tense Sub-Boss encounters and some pretty decent Robot Masters.
My initial battle with Cloud Man being a highlight as I had to master the slide dash move as quickly as possible. It’s D-Pad Down and X (A on Xbox), for those who might not have played before!
Mega Man 8
A well made and certainly enjoyable title with a few gameplay innovations – including some challenging side-scrolling shooter sections featuring Rush and some cool stage-specific setpieces – as well as some absolutely gorgeous faux-2.5D background and sprite work.
The game does carry a slight sense of “been there, done that” though, with less memorable music and a couple questionable choices for Robot Master themes – Tengu Man?
That said, Mega Man 8 also has some ironic appeal with its legendarily bad voice acting. As in, Doctor Light sounds drunk, Bass sounds like an angsty teenager mumbling half-heartedly to himself and Mega Man sounds weirdly young.
This goes beyond these cutscenes too, with some of the quips the Robot Masters come out with being similarly questionable. It’s glorious – grab some friends, slap on Extra Armor Mode (more on that later) and plow through the game to take in those scenes.
Mega Man 9
No joke, this was my first Mega Man game, and despite the fact that its difficulty stopped me from finishing it back in the day (read: 2008) I can’t pretend that its amazing soundtrack, excellent Robot Master designs – including the first female Robot Master, Splash Woman – and fun, if sometimes frustratingly challenging levels (did we need this many spikes!?) didn’t pull me straight back in almost immediately.
It’s a bit odd jumping into 9 after playing 7 or 8 as 9 aims to recreate the early NES Mega Man era as accurately as possible, stripping you of certain abilities like the charged-up Mega Buster and the slide move as well as doing its best to work within the visual constraints of the NES.
How I missed the slide after playing the other titles in the collection!
Mega Man 10
Of course I had to fight Sheep Man (whose stage is themed around electricity and powering things because Thunder Wool) immediately.
As the second of the modern throwback titles, Mega Man 10 is a worthy successor to Mega Man 9, with some interesting enemies (including an evil mouse pointer that click-and-drags projectiles into existence) and Robot Masters (admittedly based on themes the series has revisited quite a bit previously) as well as a big new addition in the ability to play as Proto Man from the start, giving you the slide move once more.
10 doesn’t aim to emulate the NES quite as much as its predecessor – while the visuals are still firmly rooted in the 8-bit era, the game takes advantage of the greater number of buttons on a modern controller by allowing you to quickly switch between Robot Master powers using L1 and R1 as opposed to having to pause the game to select your weapons and giving you a very useful (and slightly cheaty) turbo-shot button by holding Circle.
The various DLCs released for Mega Man 9 and 10 are included too – such as 9’s Proto Man mode and 10’s Bass mode – though you have to complete the games to access them. Or do you?
One issue I noticed on Mega Man 9 in particular was that the game’s language seemed to be set to Japanese by default, despite all the other titles being in English. Thankfully, what I thought was going to have to be fixed by a patch was quite easy to solve once I was told what to do – make sure you head to the collection’s initial options menu, go to the Language section, and ensure that “English” is highlighted, as nothing in this section is highlighted by default. Boom! English Mega Man 9.
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 also offers some new content outside of the games themselves in the form of each game’s new “Extra Challenges”, which include Boss and Sub-Boss Rush modes, Stage Remix that task you with completing a stage with adjusted hazards and enemy positions in under a certain time and a variety of other game-specific challenges. All of Mega Man 9 & 10’s original challenges are available alongside the extra ones too, so everyone who played them when they first came out can feel the pain of “Mr. Perfect” once more.
For those getting into the series for the first time, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 has included a way for new players to acclimatize to the series’ famous love of unforgiving challenge – the (completely optional) Extra Armor Mode, which halves the damage Mega Man takes from enemies across all the games in the collection. Using this mode doesn’t go entirely unpunished – you’ll always have a little icon of shame in the top-left corner (like you might find in, *ahem*, quite a few of the screenshots I took…) and while the mode will assist you in taking on enemies, you’ll find no assistance with each game’s more challenging platforming sections, most stage hazards are still an instant kill and the Robot Masters will still give you quite a bit of trouble, so it’s by no means an auto-win mode. Hey, what can I say, some of those Robot Masters are tough!
From a visual perspective Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 offers a variety of options to display the games to your liking. While each title is natively in 4:3 resolution, you can choose to display them in their original resolution (scaled to be easily readable on a 1080p screen), make the image fill the whole screen while preserving the aspect ratio or stretch the 4:3 image over the 16:9 space. That last one doesn’t expand the game’s actual resolution and looks pretty awful most of the time in my view, so I avoided it.
Each game comes with four unique background artworks that fill out the empty space in a very appealing manner. These include depictions of Mega Man using each of the possible Robot Master weapons for that game, showing every Robot Master in that game lined up along the sides, and more. While most of these backgrounds look really good, I did find that the style of certain artworks, usually the third option for each game, were a lot more distracting than the others, though this is will vary between players.
In conclusion, if you’re looking to grab the later Mega Man titles in one easy package with some bonus frills here and there such as the really nice changeable background artwork, the new Extra Challenges and optional assistance modes, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is a great title to consider.
Just temper your expectations a little, as the later games don’t hold quite as much nostalgic weight as Mega Man 1-6 and while 7 & 8 are solid entries in the franchise, you do get the slight sense that the series’ batteries were running a bit low by the time 8 originally rolled around.
That said, all the games are still a lot of fun, 9 and 10 are two great modern tributes to the best parts of the original NES days (brilliant music and all), and it’s great to see the Blue Bomber’s entire early days properly immortalized on the next-gen consoles and – for the first time ever – PC.