Though I didn't get my start until Mega Man 9, the classic Mega Man games hold a special place in my heart. Their challenging gameplay, killer soundtracks, and retro graphics keep me coming back for more all the time. While I've spent a significant amount of time with the first six games (especially Mega Man 2), I never had the opportunity to play Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8. Thankfully, earlier this month, Capcom released Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, allowing me to complete my goal of finishing all of the classic Mega Man games—well, almost.
Much like its predecessor, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is a small gathering of classic Mega Man titles, this time covering the four remaining main entries from Mega Man 7 through Mega Man 10. I'm not going to go into individual reviews of each game here, but after hearing all the crap about Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 in particular, I found myself enjoying them a lot more than I expected. Even as dumb and silly as it is, I couldn't even be mad at the voice acting in Mega Man 8. Yes, it's awful, but I believe it just adds to the charm of the game. Mega Man 8 wouldn't be the same without it, so I'm thrilled that they kept the original acting. These games were a blast to play through, though I do have a small hangup. Every now and then, always upon loading a checkpoint or new level, the game would freeze for a couple of seconds. It would always work fine afterwards, but this happened enough to be rather annoying.
Mega Man fans should know that Mega Man 8 was released first on the PlayStation, then shortly afterwards on the SEGA Saturn. For this gathering, Capcom chose to go with the PlayStation version, which leaves out a few extra bosses that the Saturn edition added in. Not all extra content is left out, however. When Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 came out, Capcom also released some cheap DLC to add some extra stuff in the mix. For Mega Man 9, this took the form of some special stages, some harder difficulties, and the ability to play as series staple Proto Man. Likewise, in Mega Man 10, you get more special stages and the ability to play as Mega Man's robotic rival, Bass. Though present within the game, you'll have to beat each respective campaign once (or use a cheat code) to unlock the ability to play this content.
Notably absent from this collection is Mega Man and Bass. While technically a spin-off from the mainline games, I would have loved to have seen Capcom bring this to present-day platforms as well, especially since the Super Nintendo version uses the same 16-bit style as Mega Man 7. This version was only officially released in Japan, so some work would have had to be done to localize it, but I think it would have been well worth it. As it stands now, Legacy Collection 2 feels like it's missing a piece of the classic Mega Man history it strives to celebrate.
With that said, Legacy Collection 2 adds a few features to these four games to bring them in line with the previous Legacy Collection. The most notable of these features is an updated checkpoint system. In the first Collection, the checkpoint system allowed players who weren't as familiar with the games to make a save at any point and load it as needed to attempt entire sections of the game as much as possible. In this collection, however, the checkpoint system has undergone a major change, and one not necessarily for the better. Instead of being able to save and load anywhere, the Legacy Collection 2 system will only save the current state of your health, weapon energy, and map-spawned item pickups.
This means that you will always be starting either from the beginning of the level, approximately halfway through it, or immediately before the boss. Gone are the days of abusing the checkpoint system to navigate through tough fights or platforming segments. Now, you must do each major section all in one go. While this, in some sense, helps the player to better learn the patterns and level layouts, it can be very frustrating to have to redo the same sections over and over again because you screwed up towards the end of the segment. It does bring the checkpoint system more in line with the way Mega Man treats deaths, but for newer players, this is a step backwards.
What Capcom messed up in the checkpoint system, they improved in the challenge mode. Previously, all the challenges were contained in a single playlist, roughly organized in chronological order. Later challenges were also locked behind a progression system, meaning that the more challenges you passed, the more you unlocked. This meant that in order to get to, say, the Mega Man 5 challenges, you had to pass enough challenges that revolve around the first four titles. If you're bad at those, you're simply out of luck.
In Legacy Collection 2, challenges are separated by game into four playlists. This means that if you want to play the Mega Man 8 challenges, you don't have to do those from Mega Man 7 first. This also means that gone are the multi-game challenges found in the first collection. I chalk this up to the differences in graphical style, so I understand why they wouldn't inherently work, but it is a part of the original collection that I miss. Maybe it's just me as well, but I seemed to do a lot better with these challenges than I did in the first collection. I can't speak for whether the challenges themselves are easier or if I'm just better at the later Mega Man games, but I was actually able to pull off the "50 Gold Medal" achievement in this one. It still took a while, and caused a lot of frustration at times, but it was time well spent.
Lastly, Legacy Collection 2 contains a few extra features that allow you to stop and take in parts of what made these games so great. The music player from the first game makes a comeback, though this time, you can play the songs indefinitely. As someone who is constantly jamming to these tunes while doing homework or writing Mega Man reviews, this is a much appreciated change. There's also a museum mode which allows you to view artwork from each game, as well as practice fighting the robot masters found within. These are neat little treats that add to the historical value of these titles, letting us truly immerse ourselves in the games themselves.
All in all, despite a few missteps, Capcom did a very good job bringing the last of the classic Mega Man games to modern platforms. If you're already a fan of the Blue Bomber, you'll feel right at home with Legacy Collection 2. If you're new, you'll find the Mega Man games to be a bit more accessible than usual, but not quite as much as you would in the original. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 may not be the biggest game to come out this year, but it's one that I'll definitely be coming back to again and again. At least until the inevitable Mega Man X Legacy Collection. Get on it Capcom!
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC and sells for $19.99.
A copy of Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 was provided by Capcom for purposes of this review.