A collection of 8-bit classics for a new generation
Game review: Mega Man Legacy Collection
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Nintendo 3DS / PC
Anyone who has not played a Mega Man game could be forgiven for mistaking its protagonist’s cute sprite as the figurehead of a fun but throwaway old title that is talked about in hushed tones by those of a certain age. It is has been five years since the last main entry in a series that is best associated with the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. But for a new generation yet to experience its delights as well as those hankering after some retro fun, this collection is the ideal springboard.
Even for the older hands who have fond recollections of playing the NES incarnations, the passing of the years - the last game in the collection was released in 1993 - may have clouded memories of just how difficult they are, at least in comparison to modern titles. These are platformers that demand precision, timing, reflexes, memory and above all patience in order to proceed. There are no gentle introductory levels that familiarise you with the mechanics; you are thrown in at the deep end.
The series is still crushingly difficult in places
It is a fine thing that the developers have chosen not to temper the fiendish challenge the early Mega Man games will present you with time and again (the stiffest probably being the boss battles in the third entry, a series of fights that will have you tearing your hair out) as the sense of reward as you eke a little further is immense. The only concession to newcomers taken aback at the series’ stern learning curve is the ability to use several save slots on offer to safeguard your progress.
For hardened veterans who remember playing these games the first time round, there are nice little touches to stir nostalgic feelings, such as concept artwork and a music player. Old frustrations such as collision detection and occasional slowdown are replicated in full, but at a time when classic titles are being reanimated with desultory remastering work, Capcom’s decision to go for straight ports is a welcome one and it captures their authenticity. It should also be discreetly noted that the glitches you found back in the day can still be exploited in 2015.
A challenge mode is a fine addition for those short on time
Similar to the Snapshots feature in the recent Rare Replay collection, Capcom have also devised a thoughtful way of allows players to dip and out of the series with its challenge mode. A smorgasbord of gameplay from across the six games included, it is a fine way to experience all that Mega Man has to offer without taking on the arduous task of completing every single title in the package.
Some might grumble that the package could have benefited from more retrospective features for the die hard fans, but the quality of the gameplay on offer is outstanding for the budget price. These are titles that have weathered well - standout examples of the 2D platformer genre, combining excellent level design, taut mechanics and an unflinching test that demands concentration and determination.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
If you are stuck on any of the games - and you will be, repeatedly - help is at hand online, with a variety of walkthroughs posted by fans of the series.
Pay attention to which game you are playing in a challenge playlist - Mega Man’s powers change with each title and it is vital to know which to use.
Don’t race past basic enemies if you are low on enemy and health; take them down and reap the dropped rewards to replenish your supplies.