A blue DeLorean
Playing Mega Man Legacy Collection is like opening a box of old photographs. While your memory of the specifics may be hazy, here before you are highlights from your past in perfect clarity, spattered with familiar faces of old friends and rekindling memories of those forgotten. But even better, MMLC is a time machine able to transport you back to a time when game play was unforgiving, save functions were rare, and two buttons were all you needed to protect the world from a crazed scientist.
Mega Man Legacy Collection has been referred to as a Criterion Collection–style reissue by developer Frank Cifaldi of Digital Eclipse, and I could not agree more. This is not just a rehashing of Mega Man. It’s an appreciation of art. You can feel the love that the developers had for the source material in the restoration. Even the one-frame delay in controller input from the original NES was ported over for authenticity.
The Museum and Database, high-resolution collections of production images and original sketches included for each of the games, are the elevated version of a game manual for mature gamers. Bosses are displayed in a design layout with their color swatches, enemies are described in full detail, and beautiful level concepts showcase just how much depth a 2D game can possess.
All six of the original soundtracks have been included in the collection’s Music Player feature. It’s remarkable how many earworms exist in the bunch, making their way back from the recesses of my brain, audibly painting pictures of unfeasible jumps and infuriating boss battles. The pinnacle is, of course, that of Mega Man 2. If you haven’t listened to it in a while, it’s time well spent, and makes for one hell of a work-out mix.
One of the most impressive additions to MMLC is something that may go completely unnoticed by those not paying attention as they cycle through the menu. Players can add filters over the beautifully remastered games, affecting the look of an old television or monitor. This feature, while incredibly simple, sends the nostalgia machine into overdrive. It’s amazing how effective this is. While there is something to be said about the sleek and glossy of HD, I haven’t turned off scan lines since finding the option.
On my first run of Mega Man 1, I was shocked at how hard the game was. It had been a while since I’d played the series, and my general “gotta go fast” mentality wasn’t going to work here. These games were from a time when replay value was king. It took me a while to start seeing the patterns again, lovingly programmed into the enemies and environments by Capcom. Screw Mombers shoot twice, every time. Much like Mega himself, I was becoming a machine suited for battle with Dr. Wily’s robots. I used the rock-paper-scissors system of the bosses’ powers against them, returning peace to the world.
Luckily, MMLC has taken a note from modern gaming and has implemented a Save feature, meaning you no longer need to keep a notepad near your console to write down all the passwords on. This makes your inevitable deaths in the game much less maddening, as there’s peace of mind in knowing that you can always try again.
For those of us with the gene that makes us have to be the best, MMLC also introduces Challenges and Leaderboard. Challenges will make you curse and swear and throw your controller, but they will also elevate you higher than a 3.0 KDR in modern games. An exhaustive mix of challenges have been assembled, including boss battles, random levels, and more. These taunt players to achieve flawless runs, awarding bronze, silver, or gold Mega Man helmets based off of your ability to beat certain times. My achievement obsession got the best of me, and I spent a lot of time in the challenges, hitting reset at even the slightest misstep, submitting my muscle memory to achieve robotic precision.
Mega Man Legacy Collection is an appreciation of gaming past that showcases a huge chapter of the video game industry’s history. It is impossible to escape the nostalgia of the series. Often, when playing, I wasn’t a man in his thirties worrying about his receding hairline and planning upcoming nuptials, but instead a youngster, sitting on the shag carpet of a friend’s house, way too close to an oversized tube television. I even caught my hands lurching the controller as Mega Man jumped, a bit of body English that I shook many years ago. Pure, unencumbered gaming is hardlined throughout MMLC, and whether you played the games growing up like me or have never experienced the 8-bit originals, this collection offers a fun, yet rage-inspiring, journey.
|Developer: Digital Eclipse • Publisher: Capcom • ESRB: E – for eveybody • Release Date: 08.25.15|
In a time of movie-scale video games with photorealistic graphics, downloadable content, post-launch patches, and 50+ hours of game play, Mega Man Legacy Collection reminds us all of the perfection demanded from both developers and gamers in the 8-bit era of gaming.
|The Good||Mega Man hasn’t looked this good… ever. A passion project from the developers that’s a joy to play.|
|The Bad||The difficulty of games from this time period (especially Mega Man 1) will frustrate many of today’s gamers.|
|The Ugly||The amount of time you will spend trying to get gold helmets in Challenges, only to realize how insignificant your time is on the Leaderboards.|
|Mega Man Legacy Collection is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Capcom for the benefit of this review.|