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Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Classic/Retro/ Compilation

Graphics & Sound:

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 should not exist. Don't take this the wrong way: there's a place in history for the four games included in this package, but in the case of most of them, that place is nowhere near its six superior predecessors. I understand why they were all made, however. Ultimately, very little had changed between Mega Man and Mega Man 6, save for improved level design and a couple of new mechanics. Meanwhile, Mega Man X (which predated Mega Man 7 by a year) was not only set in the far-flung future, it was also a seriously huge step forward for its genre. It introduced new mechanics that deepened and enriched the classic formula it had used for years. Functionally, X was a sorely-needed breath of fresh air, but its dour tone and other anime trappings rendered it almost completely charmless in comparison to its older brethren. So, the core series found a way to continue on with the adventures of the original Blue Bomber, his kid sister Roll, and the kindly Dr. Light. Four games and just shy of fifteen years later, the results of that continuation appear to have been middling at best: Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 features one decent entry, one campy curiosity, and two experiments that prove just how dangerous nostalgia can be.

Four games, three distinct visual styles. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 may feature representatives from three eras of console gaming, though that's not immediately apparent unless you've kept up with the series the whole way through.

Mega Man 7, being a Super Nintendo game, looks every bit the part. There's a complexity and softness to the sprites that is classically 16-bit, and while its level theming is lacking in parts, it's consistent throughout. Good stuff.

Mega Man 8 introduced anime-style cutscenes, but the in-game field of view appears greatly expanded. 7 may feel a bit too close for comfort at times, but by comparison, 8 looks zoomed out. It ultimately works, though the enhanced graphics made possible by the Sony PlayStation resulted in a game that's way too busy for its own good.

Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 mark a return to the 8-bit visuals that were made famous by the six Nintendo Entertainment System classics. Whether the assets are new or recycled, they make for a charming aesthetic.

In terms of sound design, each game represents what its generation was trying to accomplish in the context of the franchise as a whole.

Mega Man 7 reintroduced the classic cues of the originals, but utilized the expanded palette of instruments allowed by the SNES to deliver something more memorable.

Mega Man 8 is famous for its sound design. By "famous," I mean "infamous." This is primarily due to the performances in the English dub, which are uniformly, spectacularly bad. Mega Man sounds like a little girl, and Dr. Light is what you'd get if Elmer Fudd, against type, decided to play it straight. It's a beautiful disaster, and easily the most entertaining aspect of the PlayStation original.

Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, in a manner befitting their retrograde visuals, boast complex, catchy chiptune soundtracks that perfectly evoke what it was to be a Capcom soundtrack in the late 1980's and early 1990's. The same goes for sound effects, which are, part and parcel, exactly as they were for the original six.


Gameplay:

The world of Mega Man features positively the worst criminal justice and/or penal system in the history of entertainment. All you need to do is beg for mercy, and it's all good. Doesn't really matter how much destruction you've caused to life or property. Grovel enough when your back is against the wall, and you'll inevitably be given carte blanche to return that mercy with all the treachery and aspirations of world domination you can muster. Of course Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, Mega Man 9, and Mega Man 10 are all about the evil Dr. Wily attempting to take over the world using a league of destructive robots. He gets his butt kicked, begs for mercy, and is summarily let off the hook to do it all over again next time. Cutscenes might initially insist otherwise, but you know they're lying. Let's move on.

All of these games are action platformers that place an equal emphasis on prudent movement, careful positioning, and precise shooting. Fail at any one of those three, and you will be severely punished. Structurally, every game in this collection is similar, if not identical. You're given choices as to which stages you select, and as always, these choices are strategic. You see, when you defeat the Robot Master at the end of each stage, you gain its power, which can then be used as you will. Each Robot Master has its own weakness; discovering and exploiting these weaknesses has always been a huge part of this series, and none of these games betrays that in the slightest.

Just how these games stack up to each other is bound to be a source of extreme contention among fans, but I don't think anyone with an extended history with this series will disagree that these are the weakest four games in the core franchise. From there, it's likely to get even more contentious. For me, moving chronologically is also moving from best to worst, though I prefer Mega Man 10 to Mega Man 9 by a margin so small it almost doesn't bear mentioning. As far as I'm concerned, Mega Man 7 is the strongest game included in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 by every measure. Mega Man 8 has some interesting ideas that aren't fleshed out enough; between that and frequent windshield-shattering halts of pace, the resulting game just doesn't feel like it belongs. Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 are masocore games pretending to be nostalgic classics; the charm produced by the production design creates a deceptive facade. Beneath it: twin black holes of digital cruelty.

If you enjoyed the challenges offered in Mega Man Legacy Collection, you may enjoy the ones on offer in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2. They're much the same in concept, between remixed levels, boss rushes, and more. If you're into this kind of stuff, you'll like what's here. And topping it all off is a healthy helping of art and music; Capcom knows where its legacy stands as far as that stuff goes.


Difficulty:

Half of the games in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 are perhaps too easy for the series, and the other half are too hard. Mega Man 7, being the best of the four, is also the most balanced, though its incredibly slow movement speed can lead to a handful of incredibly frustrating moments. Mega Man 8 becomes easy once you wrap your head around the developers' intentions and learn to enjoy the cringe factor. Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 hate your guts and jump at every opportunity to express that lovely sentiment. Even 10's "Easy" Mode is merely another avenue to show the player contempt.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 spitefully excises one of Mega Man Legacy Collection's best features: the ability to save anywhere at any time. Yes, save states are cheating; nobody's here to dispute that. But these games have the power to put any seasoned veteran on tilt so hard that they may never want to return to them. This doesn't go so much for Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 as it does for Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10. While the two last-generation throwbacks may not be as flat out broken as many of the games that defined the NES era, we are not living in those times anymore. We would like the option to practice our problem areas without being punished. Instead of the save states (or even better, a rewind mechanic), all you've got are automatically designated checkpoints, which are too few and far between to justify their existence.


Game Mechanics:

Mega Man's core gameplay hasn't really undergone any drastic changes over the years, but what you can and cannot do has never been really locked down between each installment. You can slide in some, you can charge the Mega Buster in others. Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 may pile on the tools a bit too much, while Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 pare everything back to how it was before Mega Man 3. No slide. No charge shot. Take that how you will.

What hasn't changed is the core philosophy of using your weapons to destroy enemies, sometimes getting a power-up in return, sometimes simply earning the right to proceed to the next challenge. And somewhere in the mix, inevitably, lie a legion of blocks that appear and disappear in a very specific sequence that you're incredibly unlikely to master your first time. Or your second. Or your tenth. Face trials of both platforming precision and combat prowess, and you'll end up in the Robot Master's lair, where you must match skills in one-on-one mortal combat. Eventually, you'll detect a pattern and work it to your advantage. Each Mega Man game has a simple-enough control scheme, most relying on only a handful of buttons and nothing more. You are indeed given all the tools you'll need to succeed, but based on your personal skill level, your mileage will vary.

I opened this review by saying that Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 should not exist. By that, I mean the four games that constitute this collection of lesser games should simply have been included with the original Mega Man Legacy Collection, as they are not good enough to stand on their own. Collectively, they feel like a step back for Mega Man as a whole, and it's a shame that this is where we've left off. While the X series crashed and burned at some dubious juncture between the first two PlayStation eras, I can't help but feel as if the original series was left to atrophy and seize up in the dust. It was hard to watch the first time, but why'd they have to go and put me through that all over again?

Seriously, Capcom, give us an X collection already.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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