Mega Man is very important to me.
As a child of the ’80s, I grew up with the side-scrolling series. I loved Mega Man before I loved any other game character. The Blue Bomber meant more to me than Mario or Link. So, any collection of Mega Man games has my attention.
The Mega Man Legacy Collection contains all of the titles released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, specifically Mega Man 1 through 6. It comes out today digitally for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC (with boxed versions and a 3DS release coming in early 2016).
We already know that these are great games, but does the package bring enough value to give fans an excuse to buy these classics again?
Check out our Reviews Vault for past game reviews.
What you’ll like
These are still great games
Again, the NES Mega Man titles are classics that range from good to excellent, with Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 standing out as some of the best games of their time. They perfectly blend precision platforming with the excitement of shooting-based action games, all while featuring memorable characters and incredible music.
I talk about each game in this ranking story, but each one is worth your time. Yes, they do begin to feel a little similar. Back then, it was kind of unprecedented to have six games from one franchise come out on the same console. Still, playing them back to back, you can appreciate how they evolved. The last one, Mega Man 6 (which actually came out in 1994, well after the Super Nintendo launched), has some of the best graphics you’ll see on the NES. It’s amazing to compare it to the original and see how much better Capcom became at developing on Nintendo’s 8-bit system.
Along with the full games, the Legacy Collection also includes challenges that have you play parts of each game or multiple pieces from one or more games combined into remixes. For example, you have to defeat the Yellow Devil boss from Mega Man 1, or you have to beat pieces of levels from Mega Man 1 through 3. You can earn medals (bronze, silver, or gold) based on how quickly you beat them, which also unlocks more challenges.
Not only are these fun, but they’re competitive. Challenges have leaderboards, so you can see just how fast it’s possible to beat them. What’s really cool is how you can watch a replay of anyone’s attempt from the leaderboard, which can help you improve your own time. It’s not enough to just play through the challenges; the leaderboards will encourage you to perfect them.
The Legacy Collection includes pieces of artwork (promotional and concept) from each game that you can view. It’s especially interesting to look at discarded designs for bosses (some of which show up in later Mega Man games). You can also listen to each song from the excellent soundtracks. These are nice little bonuses that help to make the collection feel like more than just a package of old games.
What you won’t like
For some reason, one of the face buttons acts as a rapid-fire button. This replicates the function that some specialty NES controllers (like the NES Advantage and NES Max) had that let you hold down a button to simulate pushing a different button as fast as possible (faster than humanly possible, really).
In Mega Man, this means that you can shoot very quickly. Now, the games only support three pellets of your regular weapon on the screen at a time, but you can shoot them machine-gun fast if you’re standing right next to an enemy. Even if you are aiming from far away, you can use the rapid-fire button to quickly shoot out three pellets in rapid succession.
It doesn’t do much against bosses since they usually have invulnerability frames after getting hit, but it makes killing a lot of regular enemies and mini-bosses much easier than it should be. It also discourages you from using Robot Master weapons, since the rapid fire makes the regular attack so fast and powerful.
Sure, this is convenient, but it’s cheating. Honestly, so much of the Legacy Collection works hard to retain the integrity of the NES originals (hell, the games still lag when too many things are on the screen) that this feels like an odd addition.
You can un-map the rapid-fire button from your controller. However, you’ll need to keep it on when playing the challenges since it undoubtedly helps you beat them faster and get higher spots on the leaderboards. Why intentionally handicap yourself? I’d rather everyone competed without turbo attacks and instead played like they were using a regular NES controller, like most people did back when these games came out. Sure, you can argue that this feature is just giving some people the option to play the games like they used to if they had an NES Advantage or an NES Max controller, but by that logic, why don’t we just include Game Genie codes in the Legacy Collection, too? Because that would be stupid, like rapid fire is.
I wish there was more
Maybe I’m just spoiled by the robust Rare Replay, but I do wish there was more in the Legacy Collection. It’s all reasonably priced ($15 for the digital version), but publisher Capcom had an opportunity to make a more complete package. Even 2004’s Mega Man Anniversary Collection included all of the same games plus Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, Mega Man: The Power Battle, and Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters.
And even that barely covers the entire franchise. You have more games in the classic Mega Man series, like Mega Man & Bass, Mega Man 9, and Mega Man 10; fun spin-offs like Mega Man Battle & Chase and Mega Man Soccer; and other series like Mega Man X, Mega Man Legends, and Mega Man Zero. A collection that included all of those games would have blown my mind. A collection of the six NES games is just kind of nice.
It’s also a little disappointing that you don’t unlock anything by beating the games (besides Achievements or Trophies). Rare Replay would unlock behind-the-scenes videos when you made progress through its collection. You have nothing like that here, except when you beat challenges and unlock more of them. The presentation itself is also very simple, kind of like what you would find in an old NES game. I would have preferred something a little more interesting or creative.
I’m really not a fan of criticizing games for what they aren’t instead of what they are. As a collection of Mega Man 1 through 6, this definitely delivers. The challenges are an especially nice touch and add a competitive element, and the museum of art and music is fun to browse through.
Still, I can’t pretend that Mega Man Legacy Collection exists in a vacuum. Others are making more impressive and expansive collections, and even an older Mega Man compilation from 10 years ago had more content than this one. The games themselves are still fantastic and have held up about as well as anything from the NES library. I just wish this were a more complete celebration of the Blue Bomber.
Mega Man Legacy Collection is out now digitally for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The publisher provided us with a code of the Xbox One version for this review.
Register for GamesBeat's upcoming event: Driving Game Growth & Into the Metaverse