Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 & 2 on Nintendo Switch
Playing classic Mega Man games in 2018 is both familiar and shocking. After a few minutes with it, it’s as if it never leaves you, and you anticipate screens even before they load. Your latent sprinter tendencies begin to manifest as you jump, shoot, and dash across the screen. You reveal hidden power-ups with all the panache of an expert treasure hunter: extra life here, energy reservoir there.
You’re in a rhythm now, you’re starting to get cocky. Then, as you jump over a pit, an enemy appears out of nowhere, ramming you and causing Mega Man to float into the chasm. A quick death. This is where the jarring part comes in, as you get a reminder of how the game has evolved over the past two decades. Back in the NES era, these unforeseen traps rewarded multiple parties, but in the modern age it feels cheap and dirty, and Mega Man’s damage animation would be considered a deal breaker if you tried to introduce it. now.
But it’s nothing you didn’t know. Mega Man was a series built on punishing, brutal gameplay and a rigid system of trial and error. We loved him for it then, we cherish him to this day, and overall we forgive his flaws. The question is whether the Mega Man Legacy Collections do enough to keep us coming back and hurting again.
Mega Man Legacy Collection debuted on PS4, Xbox One, and PC in 2015, with a 3DS release to follow next year. A sequel containing the remaining games hit home consoles and PCs in 2017. You can read our initial review on the first compilation for an introduction, if you’re so inclined – we’ll try not to work too much on the points we have already established at the time.
The Legacy Collections offer pixel-perfect recreations of all ten titles from the mainline Mega Man series. You can jump in and relive them as they were or enhance them to your liking, an area where Collections shines brightly. Load save states that take you back to the moment before an untimely jump, or directly rewind immediate gameplay to correct your mistakes (only present in the first collection). You can also apply CRT filters and borders for the perfect aesthetic, display character facts and concept art assets, and configure controls to suit your playstyle. You can even adjust whether the Blue Bomber s call Mega Man or Rockman.
It’s not hard to outright declare these games to be the definitive way to enjoy the Mega Man series. You lose some degree of legitimacy, sure, but all those bells and whistles are optional. If you’re more of a glass-eater, you can bleed with pride.
Both titles come highly recommended based on their lineup strength, but if you had to choose one or the other, the first batch is by far the best choice. Not only does it have a bigger selection (6 NES titles versus 4 from the 16-bit era), but the series went through something of an identity crisis on the SNES. Capcom was going through a lot of change in the mid-90s, and it shows in particular in the inconsistencies present in Mega Man 7. Don’t get me wrong: it’s still a fun game and plays as well as most other platformers in the game. era, but in a franchise with such a storied history, it doesn’t quite compare. The ultimate verdict for SNES Mega Man titles is simply “play Series X instead”, a fresher, more dynamic version of the character.
Conversely, Mega Man 2 and 3 are considered by many to be the franchise’s high points, possessing many of the most iconic stages and Robot Masters. One could accuse Mega Man of getting a little too busy with every new game created, a trend that will continue until a hard reset of Mega Man 9 brings everything back to basics. And, if the main drawbacks of these classic titles are that they were too hard, the rewind and save state functions act as a perfect counterweight. Failure is not punishable by death, simply by repetition. Purists may cry foul, but many of us don’t have the time and dedication these days to justify mastering all the nuances.
There are some inconsistencies between the two titles, if you really want to be fussy. Extra menu options are handled via the minus button in Mega Man 1-6, but mapped to ZL in 7-10, which is an odd choice, considering the other button otherwise remains unused, for the most part. It would also have been a great opportunity to show off the Switch’s versatility by allowing games to be played with a single Joy-Con turned sideways, but unfortunately that’s not a possibility.
It’s a little disappointing this way to get occasional reminders that this is ultimately a three-year-old port, where the Switch’s unique functionality isn’t fully accounted for. You might then wonder what this latest version does to differentiate itself from other platforms. The aforementioned rewind feature is new to the Switch, but it will be added also to PS4, Xbox One and Steam versions. The amiibo feature may be a Nintendo-exclusive feature that offers a range of additional content (great content to boot), but it was also available on the 3DS version.
Whether or not you should invest the money in buying Mega Man Legacy Collection on the Switch depends on two factors. Mainly, how big of a fan of Mega Man you are; if you live, breathe and die this series, then these collections are a real treat. The SNES-era drop in quality aside, the games are retro treasures, and their more dated looks are toned down with modern additions. The second factor, and this one is important, is whether you already own the Legacy Collections on another console. The Switch’s best features are either coming to the other post-script platforms, or in the case of portability and amiibo functionality, already exist on the 3DS.
If those variables aren’t enough to deter you, these collections are a welcome addition to any Switch library. They’re an affordable taste of one of gaming’s most iconic mascots, offering hours of gameplay, extensive bonus content and challenges, and flexibility to be played as is or however you like. The nature of the Switch makes it the best option to enjoy the Blue Bomber’s many adventures and a good way to prepare for the imminent release of Mega Man 11.
Rating: 3.5/5 – Fair
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