8 gets its due
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Digital Eclipse, Capcom
Release Date: August 8, 2017
I could talk for ages about any given Mega Man game, but I think the one I’ve debated most in my lifetime is 7. It’s included in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, and I think it’s going to be just as polarizing as it ever was.
The sprite work is zoomed in and clunky. The sound effects are sometimes muted or tinny. Depending on who you talk to it’s either “part of the charm” or just janky design, and I’m more inclined to label it as the latter. Yet! The more you play it, the more it grabs you. It has some really great weapons like the Wolverine cosplay Slash Claw, some wonderful stages like Shade Man’s silly castle of horrors, and a lot of series “firsts” like the inclusion of Bass, a proper shop, and a built-in one-on-one fighting game mode (which is still in!). It’s worth going through at least once, is what I’m saying, and maybe more! I fall under its spell in a crescendoing fashion as each year passes.
8 on the other hand I fell in love with immediately. From those horridly acted but adorable anime cutscenes to the haunting “see you in my dream” death cry from Clown Man, it was a treat. Having Robot Masters actually speak to you made a world of difference, as did the vibrant animations that were full of life.
It also has a strong case for one of the best arsenals in the history of the series, bolstered by the highly technical Mega Ball weapon. Even the hotly debated “jump, slide” portions felt like a fun challenge to overcome, especially when coupled with one of the best soundtracks in Mega Man history. Don’t sleep on this one!
Moving on to 9 and 10, things get even more complicated. Heralded as a return to form for the series, the core Mega Man line was subsequently put on ice after the latter, but the former is low key one of the best platformers ever made. Nearly every zone is made with speedrunning in mind, but if you never partake in leaderboards or YouTube uploads you wouldn’t even notice it. I play through it every year as a tradition because of how clean it is — it’s like they assembled every 2D platforming prodigy in a room one day and they came up with Mega Man 9.
10 is still just as underwhelming as it always ways, but by no means a bad addition to the lot. Levels lack punch, Robot Masters are often reaching, and even with the inclusion of Bass on top of Proto Man, it feels like Capcom is just throwing more things at the wall to see what sticks. More development time would have really done them some good, as it often feels like a low-end fan game (which has been topped many times by the community since Mega Man was put on ice).
Exclusive to the Legacy Collection you’ll find a challenge mode, museum, and an “extra armor” (less damage) toggle, which is a nice touch for people who think Mega Man is “unfair or cheap” (which it rarely is, but hey, if it gets them in it’s done its job!). Save states also help back up the existing checkpoint system, which is nice even if you’re just using them to re-live your favorite moments like the Proto Man boss fight in Mega Man 7. They need to really kick it up a notch though, because museums and other small additions aren’t quite cutting it when there’s so much more that could be done. Maybe even a minigame or two or an unlockable that was previously only available in Japan could sweeten the deal.
I’d be remiss then if I didn’t mention the non-inclusion of Mega Man & Bass. Given the heavy presence of Bass in every game but 9, it made perfect sense to sort of unite the entire storyline together. The Game Boy Advance port would be the easiest to replicate, or Capcom could just put some effort into localizing and reworking the better-looking SNES edition. It didn’t influence this review but it’s something you should be aware of, and a topic Capcom has skirted in recent years by just claiming that the game isn’t canon (even if that only applies to one of its two storylines).
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is worth it for 9 alone, but you’ll also get to experience several legacy games that were passed by. I’m still holding water for 8 all these years later, and due to some amazingly camp artwork and stellar animations, it’s one of the most “showable” Mega Man games to date. I think a lot of people are going to be pleasantly surprised by it, as well as the near flawlessness of 9 — even if 7 and 10 are just as wart-filled as they always were.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]