The Blue Bomber seems like he is stuck in purgatory these days. Capcom hasn’t released a new title in the franchise since 2010, and any subsequent attempt to resurrect the series has been cut down before release. The Japanese publisher hasn’t forgotten about their iconic character though, as he still gets wheeled out for appearances in other games (Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite) and anthologies. Although nothing new is on the horizon, we still have re-releases to look forward to, such as the latest compilation: Mega Man Legacy Collection 2.
Coming two years after the release of the original Legacy Collection, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 rounds up the last four entries in the core Mega Man franchise. Mega Man 7 marked the first time the series left the confines of the NES, while Mega Man 8 was the first to skip a release on Nintendo consoles. After over a decade of inactivity and many spin-offs, Mega Man 9 brought old-school action to last-gen consoles, and Mega Man 10 followed in its footsteps two years after that. So, while this set features two less titles than the last compilation, the games here a little more advanced than their old-school predecessors.
Mega Man 7 was released at a turning point for the series. The more action heavy Mega Man X spin-off had already released two entries by the time this title hit shelves. With Capcom focused on that series, the team behind this game had only a few months of development. At the time, it was derided for being a step back from the X series, but I feel it may have actually gotten better with time. Without the burden of living up to something it was never trying to be in the first place, Mega Man 7 stands out as a solid continuation of the original series. It’s not too gimmicky, and the new features it does introduce, such as the part shop and new character Bass, are well integrated. It’s biggest flaw is that it continues the downward trend of Robot Masters the series had been experiencing, with such luminaries as Spring Man and Cloud Man.
In some ways, Mega Man 8 feels like a response to the criticisms leveled against the previous entry in the franchise. It kept the core gameplay the same, and brought over some more recent additions, such as the aforementioned item shop. The game attempted to modernize the series, and judging by how long it sat dormant following the title’s release in 1997, it wasn’t for the better. The anime cutscenes used to tell the story look decent, but are plagued by a horrible English dub. Capcom also attempted to liven up the levels with non-platforming segments, but all of these additions feel out of place and disjointed. The snowboarding segment in Frost Man’s stage is a frustrating mess, while the maze in Astro Man’s level slows the action down to a crawl. The only real notable addition that works is the added ability to wield multiple weapons at the same time. This opens the door for some unique combinations, and the fact that the Mega Blaster can be used at all times is a highlight.
After Capcom took the franchise everywhere from the third dimension to cyberspace, they finally returned to what made it famous in the first place: difficult, 8-bit action. Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, which were additionally developed by Inti Creates, borrow some features from the other two titles featured in Legacy Collection 2 (namely, the item shop), but definitely have more in-common with the earlier entries in the series. Mega Man’s powers have been largely whittled away, with crucial abilities such as being able to charge his shots and slide under objects eliminated.
Back when these two titles were first released, I was pretty enamored with both of them. I like Mega Man, and after years of being an afterthought, it seemed like Capcom was back to actually caring about the franchise. Perhaps due to this feeling, my thoughts on both games may have been slightly inflated. Going back to them now after several years, I recognize that while both are solid, they don’t quite reach the series’ highs. Mega Man 9 is the better of the two, but is hampered by its punishing difficulty. Mega Man 10 attempts to rectify this with an easy mode, but all that does is point out how surprisingly short the title is. Additionally, the ability to play as Protoman in both games (and as Bass in Mega Man 10) will appeal to fans of the series, but I didn’t particularly enjoy using either one.
Despite my criticisms with all four titles, I do have to say that I genuinely all four games featured in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2. All four are entertaining, as the formula of the franchise is solid enough to compensate for their various weaknesses. At the same time though, the highs of this compilation don’t match the highs of the original Legacy Collection. And even if the four titles here are bigger than their NES predecessors, the fact that there are two less games included here is a little strange. I know Mega Man & Bass was only released on the Game Boy Advance in America, but why couldn’t the original SNES release been included here? It’s a spin-off, sure, but it fits in with both 7 and 8. Or throw in one of the various other spin-offs that were included in previous compilations.
Emulation-wise, everything appears to be in working order here. During my time with each of the four games, I didn’t come across anything that seemed particularly out of place. The ability to change how the games look on your TV, specifically whether or not they have borders or stretch to fit the screen, is a nice touch. As is the optional filter to make the games look like they are being played on a classic CRT monitor. I’m speaking exclusively on the PS4 version, however, so if issues arise on the Xbox One or Windows release, don’t blame me.
Outside of the base games, the set also comes with the returning Remix Challenge mode. These assorted challenges will test your ability to complete certain chunks of levels in under a set time, or to battle through all the Robot Masters in a row. Like in the first Legacy Collection, these modes are a welcome addition and a fun way to test your skills.
For the hardcore fans of the series, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 includes a ton of extras for all four titles. Concept art and sketches for each game can be found in the Museum, and soundtracks for each of the four can be listened to in the included Music Player. These extras may not appeal to everyone, but it’s interesting to look at early sketches for various bosses or different level layouts. While I don’t think I’ll spend a lot of time in the Music Player, I do think the soundtracks are all pretty great to listen to, even outside of the games.
While Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 may not stack up to the original Legacy Collection, it’s still a pretty solid compilation. All four included games are enjoyable, even if there are flaws to be found in all of them. If you have a desire for tough (albeit good) platforming, you could certainly do worse. Now that Capcom has gotten through the core series, hopefully they’ll reintroduce some of the Mega Man spin-offs to a new audience. Or maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a brand new adventure with the Blue Bomber.
This review was based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game, which we were provided with.