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LONG BLOG

PS1 REVIEWS: Mega Man Legends 2

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The first Mega Man Legends game had a unique charm that made it a cult favorite despite what I consider to be some significant flaws and limitations. It looks like it was just a dress rehearsal for Capcom though, as the second Legends game manage to correct almost all of those flaws, greatly advance the game's formula, and still retain much of its charm.

While not a perfect game, far from it, Mega Man Legends 2 is a flawed masterpiece that encompasses the full meaning of this designation. It's a massive shame that we may never get the third game in this sub-franchise

#A53: Mega Man Legends:-
Year: 2000.
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.

First things first, I am changing my rating system to a simpler 10 point system. Games that get above a 7 I fully recommend, and those that get below that are mostly a waste of time. That leaves the score of 7 to depend on your taste.

"The Mother Lode, which has been sought after by all mankind for numerous generations, does lie buried in this island"

While the story of the first Mega Man Legends game took a while to start and was confined to one small island, it immediately gets going in the sequel and is much more expanded in scope. It begins with an expertly crafted scene that shows Professor Barrel and a long-time associate announcing their latest attempt to land in the ominous Forbidden Island in search of an ancient treasure onboard their new airship, The Sulfur Bottom

This fully-voiced scene introduces key characters and concepts, establishes the central intrigue and mystery of the story, and showcases the Saturday Morning Cartoon charm that I found so endearing about the game.

Mega Man and Roll are back for another grand adventure

Outside of the Sulfur Bottom, Mega Man and Roll are busy saving their ship from being burned thanks to a cooking accident by their pet monkey, but then find themselves in the middle of having to go to the Forbidden Island to save Professor Barrel. Ironically, it turns out that going to Forbidden Island is just the beginning of the game, and the start of Mega Man's quest to find the four keys to unlock the Mother Lode, an ancient treasure of apparently enormous value.

In the middle of that quest, a Pirate group lead by the lovable Bonnes are racing to find the same keys, and some mysterious human-looking "Ancients" are in the background making thinly veiled threats.

And these lovable idiots are back as well

The big-picture story is interesting and full of mystery and intrigue. However, it is truly the journey and the way the characters interact that give the game its unique charm. While the quest for the four keys is a big McGuffin chase, each key is held in a unique location with its own unique story and fun interaction with the pirate army. These are like episodes in a really fun Cartoon, and the scene construction and comedic style takes a lot of inspiration from the shows Mega Man was initially inspired by.

Like those shows, there is the real heart behind the comedy, and the games know when to raise the stakes to make you care for these characters and remember who they are. It's not surprising that Tron Bonne and her idiotic Servbots are still popular to this day.

"She's not really searching for the Mother Lode... She is searching for her parents"

The biggest complaints about the original Mega Man Legends was in its stiff 3D movement and camera controls, which necessitated a simpler and more repetitive gameplay loop. That was evident in the simple design of the game's stages (or dungeons as they should be referred to).

That aspect is now massively improved, with much more fluid 3D animations and movements, allowing for full 3D controls rather than pseudo-tank movements. Of course, the movement wouldn't be a big bonus if the camera was still a pain to control. Thankfully, that's mostly alleviated thanks to the advanced lock-on mechanism.

Moving while fighting is now much more fluid and fun

Now, you can lock on while moving, which means combat is much more fluid and there is no need to circle-strafe for 90% for all encounters. Also, you can use most of your special weapons while moving, which makes them more fun than a punishment.

To take advantage of these advancements, Capcom bothered to include a much more varied array of enemies and some actual themed dungeons. Now, the drab locations of the past are reserved for the game's few optional dungeons, which means they don't overstay their welcome. In contrast, the main dungeons are closer in variety to a game like The Legend of Zelda (even by having a terrible water dungeon) even if they don't quite reach those highs.

Dungeons even have mimics in them like any typical RPGs


Like with the first game, the absolute highlights of the game are in both the boss battles and the Pirate missions. Boss battles are self-explanatory, and they shine much better with the improved gameplay of the second game. As for the Pirate missions, these are unique gameplay set-pieces that have Mega Man defending a location from a pirate attack, invading a fortress, or fighting one of the Bonne's massive robots.

It's a shame that with all the improvements the game made, it still retained one of the first game's major flaws; that special weapons can only be changed by talking to Roll outside of dungeons. That limits experimentation in my opinion and makes it less fun to use the special weapons than it otherwise would be.

"You can make that poor excuse of a spotter boss you around for all that I care"

Outside of combat, there is a lot to do in the world of Mega Man Legends 2, which now consists of several minor hubs instead of one major city. These hubs have varied styles, varying from the snowy lands of Yosyonke to the desert climate of Saul Kada.

Truth be told, there isn't a lot to do in these hubs, and they don't feel as alive and changing as Kattelox island (that game's NPCs changed dialogue after every event). Once a location is liberated from the pirates, it goes into permanent stasis, which is only noticeable thanks to the original's ever-changing NPC dialogue.

The racing mini-game is back, but thankfully does not have major rewards attached to it

This is not an issue, except in that it feels like a game of this style should have more side-quest than it actually has, especially since some story threads feel like they could have more to them. As it is, the game's world is fun to walk around in but feels empty with things to do, although the side quests and mini-games that are included are certainly worth it.

One thing that the game seems to expect you to do is to go back to dungeons and grind for currency, that is of course after you also explore every nook and cranny (and search every box and can) for items to develop new parts. That's because the game's economy is out of whack. It would take an unearthly amount of grinding to fully upgrade some of the special weapons, and upgrades to Mega Man's equipment and stuff aren't cheap as well. Also, gifts you can buy Roll and fit the ship with aren't cheap either.

Roll doesn't make fighting those pirates cheap at all

In fact, with the base "Digger Level" you start with, you get pitiful amounts of currency from the enemies you defeat. A solution to that is taking "Digger Tests" to raise your level, which increases the rewards as well as the difficulty of the game. In my experience, this makes the game more fun and is worth increasing it at least once.

As for upgrading everything, I would just forget about that, since you really don't need to do it, and it would frankly suck the joy out of the game to try and do so.

"Just be true to you yourself, and follow where your heart leads you"

Like with everything in the game, the production design was massively improved compared to the first game.

While it is not apparent with the game's graphics, which were colorful and charming in the first game, it should be apparent with the variety of 3D assets as well as some neat technical feats. For instance, the entirety of Kattelox's geography was either flat or angular. Here, there are actually hills and uneven terrain. Also, there are some nice visual effects such as snowstorms and shimmering sands.

Thankfully, the game's are design and expressive character models manage to outperform the system's modest 3D capabilities, and that holds true even when you can literally see the seems of the graphics begin to crack.

But the game's charming animations cleverly hide most of those cracks

So it can be said that the game graphically improved, but not massively so. What massively improved is the game's soundtrack, which sounds like a proper Mega Man soundtrack now. Individual stages have more personality, and there are some kicking battle tracks as well, as well as some dynamic use of music and leitmotifs throughout.

Seriously, the first game missed having a decent soundtrack, so it's a massive improvement that the second game has a great one. The style is different from other Mega Man games, with a focus on more atmospheric sounds that convey the mystery of the game. I can still hear the drums of the "Manda Ruin" theme and the "Nino Ruins" theme almost makes the water dungeon tolerable

A special mention goes to the voice acting, which is a solid effort that continues the good effort of this game without being spectacular. It fits the Saturday Morning vibes of the game really well and is inoffensive at its worst.

In Conclusion:

I am not blind to the game's obvious shortcomings and flaws. It has a flawed progression economy, not many things to do outside of combat, and the graphics and gameplay are still stilted compared to the masters of that genre even in that era. Also, needing Roll to change your special weapons outside of dungeons is a cardinal sin.

Yet, there is a reason fans of the game are still waiting over 20 years for Mega Man to get back from the Moon, there is a reason for such a strong attachment to this flawed game.

I think that reason is this game's extremely unique charm, which is difficult to express in words other than to guess is its sheer audacity and ambition. An ambition to make a game that so closely mirrors a Saturday Morning Cartoon, a game that fits the looks and feelings of a Ghibli film of all things, a game that is unlike any other and yet feels so familiar. While the first game had some of those elements, it felt more like a proof of concept. Mega Man Legends 2 matures that concept and presents it in this semi-glorious form.

Is it any wonder that we are all hoping for a third game that finally fully realizes the potential of that concept and all of its unique and charming glory?

Final: 9/10

*******************************

Pros:

  • Charming world and characters
  • A unique feeling that is difficult to explain
  • Just like a Saturday-Morning cartoon
  • Really good soundtrack and charming graphics
  • Dungeons are fun and locations are varied
  • Really fun set-pieces against the pirates

Cons:

  • Feels like there should be more to do outside of combat
  • Changing special weapons is a chore
  • Outrageous progress economy (but that doesn't detract from the game)

**********************************************************************

Tips:

1-Learn the strafing shooting method (run around while rotating the camera and shooting).
2-Look inside holes on walls, crates, trash cans, and boxes for stuff. The drilling equipment is available early on in this game.
3-Upgrade the sub-weapons you want to use first.
4-Go to all optional mini-dungeons.
5-Immediately go into the first Digger Test. Only take the second one after getting comfortable with the game.
6-Learn how to use the cool lock-on system.
7-Sub-weapons can be very useful, but not all of them are.
8-Some walls can only be demolished by using the drill.
9-The Zetasaber is great against bosses but makes them too easy.

That was some weird weapon

Series:

For those reading one of my PS1 review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

I already reviewed both major Generation 4 consoles, and am now reviewing Generation 5 consoles. I already finished reviewing the Sega Saturn, so I am now reviewing the PS1. In these reviews, I take a top 100 games list and review the games that interest me in that list.

This time, my review series is based on this list from Retro Sanctuary along with other sources, since the PS1 can handle a list bigger than a top 100.

Also, note the following:

-If you have any suggestions for a game that is not on the Retro Sanctuary list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

I am sorry you are having to wait this long Roll

Next Game

My memories with Mega Man Legends 2 were strong coming into this game, but I don't think I was even halfway through the game back then. Now, I finished it and loved every minute of it. I hope against hope for a third game in the franchise, but it looks unlikely at this point.

Next, I am advancing the spin-off game, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne in the Addendum queue, as I have no idea why I put it so late after all (the addendum list placing has no meaning). I expect to like it for its personality even if the gameplay loop doesn't live up to the Legends series.

Stay Tuned.

For Previous PS1 Game Reviews:

The List

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:





Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
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