Porting classic titles like the Mega Man X series to Nintendo Switch and other consoles seems like a great idea – just add a few features and quality-of-life improvements and almost anyone could enjoy them. Newcomers can experience the games for the very first time, and nostalgic old-timers like myself can remember a bygone era when time wasn’t an object and we were free to butt our heads against a stage for hours. Unfortunately, those times are long past, and the Mega Man X Legacy Collection seems reluctant to accept this fact.
This collection, or rather “these collections”, are split across two separate titles. Mega Man X through X4 are contained in Legacy Collection 1, and X5 through X8 in Legacy Collection 2. These can be purchased either separately for $20 (on the eShop), or together for $40 (physical release). Unfortunately, if choosing to go the physical route, only the first collection is located on the cartridge, with the second needing a separate download. This bizarre separation is sure to confuse more than a few fans, and it begs the question of why these two collections needed separate releases in the first place.
For better or worse, these ports are (mostly) true to the originals. Mega Man X through X3 suffer the worst, since they were straining the SNES hardware to begin with. Some stages, like Armored Armadillo’s, are still borderline unplayable due to slowdown and stuttering that would make Metal Slug 3 look well-optimized. While I can appreciate the accuracy of the emulation, it would have been nice to play these old titles without being subjected to digitally-recreated hardware limitations from decades back. There are also a few strange graphical bugs specific to this collection, like Wheel Gator’s stage suffering from extremely fast left-to-right vibrations, presumably caused by a porting error. To be fair, the later games, like X4, run flawlessly.
The most inexcusable exclusion on a collection like this is the lack of any kind of save states. If you’re a newcomer, or even a seasoned speedrunner, a simple “save anywhere” option is invaluable for practicing time attacks or just getting a feel for a particularly tricky section of a stage. The Mega Man Legacy Collection sported a wonderful rewind feature and save states, but here you’re strictly limited to saves between each level.
In fact, the Mega Man X Legacy Collection as a whole is light on any kind of noteworthy new content. Besides a few screen filtering options, remappable controls, and a gallery of artwork, music, and a product catalog, there’s only two stand-out features: Rookie Hunter mode and X Challenge mode.
Rookie Hunter mode, the “easy” mode of the collections, reduces the amount of damage you take. In some cases, like Mega Man X4, it also slightly reduces enemy HP. This might seem like a decent substitute for save-states, but some of the games’ most difficult challenges aren’t affected by the change, namely those god-forsaken spikes.
X Challenge mode allows you to fight two bosses at once using a selection of three powerups. These boss fights are laid out in groups of three which must be played in order, and you can only change powerups when you finish one of these “zones”. This leads to some interesting decision making when choosing powerups, and how best to optimize them for who you’ll be facing.
This new mode also features a ranked leaderboard and a “story”. What I mean by story is a 10-second-long splash screen with some text attempting to justify these match-ups. While it is pretty interesting to see different Mavericks team up in their clashing artstyles to stunlock X into oblivion, a proper narrative arc would’ve really smoothed things over. This mode might be a fleeting distraction for the inexperienced, but I have a feeling veterans will relish these challenges, even if the story leaves much to be desired.
Overall, it’s undeniable that these are fantastic titles, at least for the most part (I’m looking at you, Mega Man X7). It’s unfortunate, then, that they didn’t receive the same loving hand as the first Legacy Collection. With none of the quality-of-life improvements of the original collection and scarce new features, the Mega Man X Legacy Collection can feel like a bit of a let-down, and warrants close consideration from newcomers looking for a little accessibility.
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. A copy was provided to us by Capcom.
With none of the quality-of-life improvements of the original collection and scarce new features, Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1+2 can feel like a bit of a let-down, and warrants close consideration from newcomers looking for a little accessibility.