Capcom’s latest four-game set collects one exception game and three passable ones, which might not be enough for fans who got their fill of the character years ago.
“Mega Man Legacy Collection 2” is a collection of some old games and some newer games modeled after older ones. One is exceptional. The other three are fine.
That about sums up the quality of classic “Mega Man” titles post-December 1993, when the X series burst onto the scene boasting Metroid-style exploration and dramatically improved mobility through upgrades. “Mega Man Legacy Collection 2” rounds up the remaining four entries in the classic series and adds an assortment of artwork, soundtracks, and Challenge Modes assembled from remixed stages and objectives such as boss rushes and time attacks. Aside from one standout game, this compilation only holds appeal for “Mega Man” diehards who feel a burning desire to retread well-worn ground.
“Mega Man 7” leads the pack as the one and only classic title on SNES hardware. It’s a solid game weakened somewhat by a slower pace and less oomph behind its soundtrack and sound effects. You still fight eight robot masters in a paper-rock-scissors style of progression. The added wrinkle is that some weapons can be used to alter environments, such as firing off Thunder Bolts to power up machinery and lighting your Scorch Wheel to burn away foliage and reveal hidden paths. These and other functionalities add some depth to the formula, but aren’t used enough to prevent the game’s stale formula from shining through layers of 16-bit makeup.
“Mega Man 8” ushered the series into the age of CD-ROM and multimedia, taking full advantage of the greater capabilities of PlayStation and Saturn to create fluid movements, vibrant stages, and animated cut scenes containing possibly the most atrocious English dubs to grate against your eardrums. While the gameplay isn’t as tight as that of the seven preceding games, it’ll still scratch your “Mega Man” itch.
“Mega Man 9” is the gem of “Legacy Collection 2.” An 8-bit-style game rather than purely 8-bit — as it uses technical trickery not possible on NES hardware — “Mega Man 9” is the Blue Bomber at his best, stripping away as the slide and Mega Buster and challenging players to run, jump, and shoot their way through some of the toughest and cleverest stages ever devised against a backdrop of chip-tune earworms. Steep difficulty might be the only valid complaint one could lodge against the game. Its saving grace is that Capcom leaned into firm and fair design rather than the cheap tricks, such as enemies that materialize in midair just as you’re trying to hop a chasm or pit of spikes that defined some of the earlier entries. It’s worth mentioning that all four games in “Legacy Collection 2” give you the option of halving damage, mitigating even the toughest parts.
“Mega Man 10” is fine, just as “MM7” and “MM8” are fine. “MM9” was released in an era when retro was in vogue. In comparison, “Mega Man 10” felt like a cash grab. It’s not a poor game, only one less novel and less refined than its predecessor. It’s a good get, however, if for no other reason than “Legacy Collection 2” is the only way you can play “Mega Man 9 and 10” outside of moribund hardware from last gen.
Challenge Mode was the breakout star of the first “Mega Man Legacy Collection.” Because all six of its games were made for the NES, designers from Capcom and Digital Eclipse — developer of “Legacy Collection” — were able to stitch together challenges made up of bits and pieces from any of them. One challenge might start you in Guts Man’s level, whisk you away to Bubble Man’s subaquatic den, and drop you in Snake Man’s slimy lair. “Mega Man Legacy Collection 2” isn’t capable of fashioning composites because each game it collects was made for a different platform. That’s not to say each of the four Challenge Modes doesn’t stand on its own, only that the variety and possibilities are shallower in comparison.
I love “Mega Man” games. They’re some of the best platforms ever made. However, as much as I enjoy the four titles bundled within its bits and bytes, “Mega Man Collection 2” would be difficult to recommend if it cost a penny more than its $20 asking price. It’s hard enough to recommend as it is. How much you get out of it will depend on how much you still enjoy a core gameplay loop that hasn’t evolved much since 1988, and how much you want to rescue “Mega Man 9” from last-gen purgatory.
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, $19.99
ESRB rating: E
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