10 / 10 Banzai!s
I was watching YouTube on August 1st, at the beginning of “31 Days of Mega Man” (my sporadic gaming event/YouTube series where I play one or two classic/retro games from my youth and one or two modern games from the same series for an entire 31 days straight,) and during the reviews for this collection there were clips from the X Challenge.
X Challenge is the new mode for this collection in which you fight two bosses from Mega Man 1-6 at the same time. You choose three out of eight possible weapons to fight with, which means you can only exploit three boss weaknesses.
If you’ve ever played a Mega Man or Mega Man X game, you know that when you beat one robot master you obtain their weapon. That weapon is the weakness to another boss, and it’s a big rock-paper-scissors game to determine which bosses are weak to which weapons. Or you can cheat and use the internet, or in my case 25 years ago, Nintendo Power.
Being a big fan of the series, and fascinated by the challenge presented by X Challenge, I immediately proceeded to the nearest store to find that they only had the Collection 2 for sale. Fortunately they had Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1+2 available at the next store.
After I got home, I beat Mega Man X. Then I tried X Challenge, and even easy mode was difficult. It doesn’t drop a hammer on you right away; the first fight is against Chill Penguin and Frost Walrus. Thankfully, both are weak to fire, but once that initial dual boss fight is done, you really dive into the meat of X Challenge.
The best strategy is to take down the more difficult (or more pestering) of the two bosses as soon as you can, then take your time with the remaining boss. Beating it on easy will unlock hard mode and practice mode, and you will definitely need to practice if you want to get anywhere past stage one on normal.
This is really the icing on the cake though. In this collection, you get 4 great games per collection, and you can buy them separately or together. I see no advantage to buying them separately other than to separate the best games (1-4) from the generally less favored games (7-8), or to save money in the moment; but buying it separately from the Nintendo e-shop costs 3300 yen per game (6600 for both,) and there is no real savings. My PS4 set was 5300. Another win for retail.
Also, with the amount of data that X1, X2, X3, and X4 actually use up, there really is no excuse for everything to not be on one disc, or one Switch card, other than Capcom‘s whim.
You will also find galleries of concept art, toys and other paraphernalia, a music player where you can listen to the soundtracks from all the games on the disc (as I am doing while I write this review), and a credits section in which you can blast your way through the staff names.
The Day of Sigma, a quick anime that shows the story of Sigma and the Maverick Hunters prior to the first game in the X series, is another bonus feature in the collection.
Hit the touch pad in game and you can change wallpapers (widescreen has been trimmed to 4:3 ratio,) look at the manual for each game, change screen size (type 2 is a smaller 4:3, and type 3 is widescreen, if you prefer a stretched out look to your game for some reason), and change filters for the game.
Type 1 (standard) is a smoothed out look, and my preferred way to play; if I want a proper pixellated look I can just turn my CRT on and fire up the Super Famicom to play the game how it looked 25 years ago. If you want that look, Type 2 is a CRT-type filter, and None removes the scan lines but keeps the original pixels and jagged edges.
There is even a “Rookie Hunter” mode, which is good for people just looking to get their feet wet, or for cleaning up a couple of annoying trophies. Bear in mind that it does negate certain trophies.
So, as for the games themselves…how do you review something that is this old without nostalgia glasses?
Play it for the first time, as I never owned X2, X3, or X4 back when they were new.
You definitely want to start with Mega Man X, whether you are playing it for the first time or just getting reacquainted after so long. Not only is it, in my opinion, the best Mega Man of all-time, but it is easy enough to be accessible to new players as well as challenging enough for veteran players.
As with any Mega Man game, you can play the stages in any order you like, but you will probably want to start with Chill Penguin, as not only is the boss easy, but you pick up the dash boots and can move much faster for the rest of your game. In other games, the dash becomes standard, and the boot upgrades give even more options.
The next day I started X2 for the first time, and I played through with no knowledge of robot masters and their weaknesses. As I would have had I owned it 24 years ago. The difficulty is ramped up considerably from X; some of the items are visible from the start (as opposed to X and it’s focus on exploring for power ups,) but you need to collect other items, or be skilled, or both, in order to acquire them.
The bosses in X2 are also much more difficult than X, though once you get some of their weapons, some health upgrades, and some sub-tanks (these can refill your health) they become manageable as well.
What I noticed most about revisiting Mega Man is that the games don’t hold your hand. There are no massive tutorials; you just hit buttons and figure stuff out. Getting an armor upgrade offers an explanation, a once off demonstration, and that’s it. You aren’t even required to perform it yourself to continue. And THAT is something that is missing from gaming for the most part these days.
The last thing I will mention concerning X2 is there is a certain optional point in the game in which you have to dash jump over a bed of spikes, fall between spikes, all while charging a weapon in order to dash back to the left before you hit the spikes on the bottom and die. This is when I first had an issue with the bulk of the PS4 controller; the game was designed for the Super Famicom (SNES) controller. Countless times through five playthroughs (you have to play through one of the games twice if you want the Platinum) I hit the touch pad, completely disrupting the flow of the game. It is simply too close to the Square button. My hands aren’t even large, so I can see a number of people having the same issue.
Or you can re-map the buttons, what do I know?
Next up was X3 for another first play. The stages are shorter and easier than X2 for the most part, but I struggled with an opening for the bosses. Eventually I broke through, and it was business as usual: Great platforming, great level design, great music, classic Mega Man gameplay. That’s what it’s really all about.
Finally I started X4 and I noticed a lot of differences, the first being an animated opening sequence.
Having been the first X game developed exclusively for the PS1 and Sega Saturn, Capcom included anime cut scenes to help tell the story. The graphics were vastly improved (I didn’t like them at first, being used to the 16-bit graphics, but I eventually came around) and the mechanics remained just as good as its predecessors UNTIL I began my Zero playthrough.
In X3, you can play as Zero at certain points in the game, offering a hack-and-slash alternative to the constant blasting. In X4, you can select him for the entire game, and while it does provide an excellent challenge for veteran players or for people looking for an alternative play style, there is no ranged option. Some bosses and enemies were designed with the Buster in mind, and the Z-Saber does not work very well in those situations at all. Thankfully, his strength usually makes up for his lack of range, and I owe it to myself to play it again on normal mode (I played as a rookie hunter for the convenience, and at that point I was tired of using Zero, having played Mega Man Zero the week prior.)
One final thought on these games, as the replay value is extremely high: You can truly play the games the way you want. If you start off with one stage one time, you may want to start off with another in a subsequent run. You can play using only the regular Buster if you like, or challenge yourself by not picking up any upgrades. In X3, you are forced to choose between upgrades, so you will want to play through at least five times if you want to try them all out. In X4 you know as soon as you hit the start button (excuse me, options button) that you have to play through twice if you want to maximize your experience. All part of the Mega Man charm, why I loved this series so much back in the day, and why I still love it now.
I think it’s a bit unfair to call this my Game of the Year, but I’m seriously leaning in that direction. Not only do you get four (or eight) great games for the price of one, with the Mega Man X Legacy Collection, you get X Challenge and the music player included. I noticed no difference at all playing X on the PS4 or X on the Super Famicom this month, though if you want input latency (lag) comparisons there are videos out there.
This is a must-buy collection for anyone with the slightest interest in Mega Man, action, 2D side-scrollers, or run and gun games.
10/10 Banzais (11/10 is more like it)
Graphics: 7.5 (not bad by today’s standards, but the games have aged a bit)
Story: 10 (across all games, that is)
Replay Value: 10 (turn it up to 11!)
Trophy Difficulty: ** (* for veteran Mega Man players, *** for inexperienced players)
written by Ben Adkins