Legacy Collection: A “Short” Review

Mega Man Legacy Collection was crafted with one purpose in mind — to collect the six NES Mega Man games and present them as close as they originally appeared and played as possible. To that end, all the bugs, zips, graphical glitches and hard-coded slowdown are all included, as well as screen size options and filters designed for catering to your personal preferences regarding scanlines and nostalgic CRT TV pixelation and burn blur. Challenge mode mixes up game situations designed to challenge players’ creative problem solving and go about “breaking the game” in the fastest way possible, which is fun to try and just as fun to watch on the leaderboard’s playback. The museum and database serve as an archive of artwork and information on the series itself. If you want to hear a tune from any of the games’ many stages, you can load it up quickly and easily.

The target audience of this title include folks who first experienced these games in the late eighties and early nineties and who want to have a strong nostalgic Mega Man experience, people who are interested in the history and evolution of video games, people who enjoy watching and competing in speed running challenges, and people who enjoy Mega Man art and trivia. In other words, the target audience is me.

So although I’m sure it will come as no surprise to any of my readers, I like this game. I think it’s a worthy purchase at $14.99. I picked it up on Steam because I don’t have a PS4 or XB1. I’ll probably pick it up again for 3DS when it comes out in Winter.

With that bit of stating the obvious out of the way, I do have some criticisms I want to get off my chest.

1. There is no manual. At least, there isn’t one on Steam. Don’t know about XB1 or PS4. The Mega Man Anniversary Collection (which came out in 2004 on PS2 and GCN and 2005 on the original Xbox) at least had a booklet with a rundown of controls and mechanics, the story for each game, and some general tips. Legacy Collection has none. Hope you know how to play already. Which brings me to number two…

2. Legacy Collection is not particularly friendly to beginners. A quick search of the Steam forum or Legacy Collection Lets Plays and you’ll find plenty of people who are confused by some of the early Mega Man games’ more obscure or unintuitive game design choices. Players who are confused by the fact that you have to press the Start button rather than jump or fire to select a stage in Mega Man 1 and 2. Players who aren’t sure how to change weapons. Players who don’t know that you can slide in 3-6. Laugh if you will, all you experienced players, but these are legitimate concerns.

If you were to go into the control configuration screen, there is nothing that instructs you how to change weapons, and no clues to be found that sliding is a possible move at all. I’d never given it much thought before as to why Rockman Complete Works (PSX ports of 1-6, available on PSN as “PSOne Classics”) added those shoulder toggles or threw in a slide button when pressing down+jump still worked as well, but it finally dawned on me why this was a wise move. Some people will try to press every button just to see what they do, to learn about how to play by doing. But outside of the limited number of buttons on the NES, pressing the combination of down+jump is not something most people would discover except on accident. By having configurable buttons with clear instructions, Rockman Complete Works made learning the controls that much more accessible and versatile. With Legacy Collection, you’re pretty much on your own.

That said, there are two advantages built into Legacy Collection that weren’t on the NES, namely savestates (which they would also have access to on Virtual Console ports) and a rapid fire button. However…

3. Rapid fire is flawed for Mega Man 1. Rockman Complete Works and the Anniversary Collection ports also had a rapid fire button, but theirs had more of a frame delay between shots. Legacy has almost no delay between shots. Why is that bad? Because in Mega Man 1, there needs to be a frame between successive hits to count as a new hit. Therefore, if you stand right next to something and lay in with the buster via rapid fire button, the enemy will probably move or hit you before you manage to destroy it. You’re better off standing some distance away or not using the rapid fire button at all in MM1.

4. The colors are not what you are used to. If you’ve played Anniversary Collection or Complete Works, you’ll notice that the colors are tweaked quite a bit differently than how they appeared in those platforms. I hesitate to say that this is bad, however. Digital Eclipse have done their best to match how the NES colors would display on CRT televisions of the late 80s/early 90s. I think it looks fine, and some players probably will not notice much of a difference at all. Still, the color filter is not optional, so there’s no way to view the colors as you might have been used to seeing them. (You can try changing the color settings on your monitor or television, but the way the filter is set trying to get the balance to match the other versions may be impossible.

5. The Database is not complete. The Database was first introduced in Complete Works and contained character information and data on enemy hit points, attack values and weakness strategies. At one point it was planned to appear in Anniversary Collection, but due to what we can only guess were time constraints or lack of budget or implementation issues, the database concept was dropped. Legacy Collection is the first time this database has ever appeared in English (not to mention German, Italian, Spanish, Russian… Legacy supports many languages)! Still, not all database entries are accounted for. Some that aren’t included were image files and commemorative art, shown in a pixelated low-res format for televisions, or contained game secrets like the helmetless code that only applied for Complete Works 4-6. But a few other character entries are missing from games 5 and 6. Rockman had an entry in the database for each game, but Legacy only includes the ones from 1-4. There was also a data entry for Rush, Eddie, Beat, and Proto Man in 5, and for Power Mega Man, and Jet Mega Man Rush armors in 6. It’s unclear why these were omitted in the LC. There are also a few entries where the data values have been changed from the original versions.

6. The Museum contains a grand total of about 9 pieces or memorabilia that aren’t in the Mega Man Official Complete Works artbook. Some of those are arguable, since they almost all contain art that appears in the book in some form or another. Still, viewing each piece individually, particularly the unused robot master designs, does make me appreciate the fine details more then when I was looking at them as they were crammed 20 to a page in the book. Unfortunately, the only inclusions of the US box are tiny images in scanned advertisements. There are a few pieces of Euro cover art, one of which is mislabeled as the US art for MM5.

7. Challenges are all about speed. The game doesn’t care if you make it through a challenge without taking a hit. Earning gold medals is all about how fast you get through it. The game doesn’t tell you what time you have to clock under to get a silver or gold on a challenge, either. Generally you don’t have to use in-game exploits like MM1’s pause trick to get a gold medal, but you certainly will need to learn to perform speed runner strats and zips if you want to compete on the leaderboards. Not everyone enjoys that kind of “cheat” style of gameplay, so if you’re not into the glorification of game-breaking maneuvers, these challenges are probably not for you. They also reuse the same sections of stages for a lot of the Challenges, so you’ll have plenty of chances to improve on these stretches, but if you’re not down for lots of repetition these can wear thin fairly quick.

8. Music player is on the plain side. Although unarguably nicer than music players in past games that tend to just be a track number and a play/stop button, the music player in LC is on the bare bones side as far as functionality. Songs are arranged into albums by game with a track name and duration. There is no in-game volume control. You can play any track you choose, but only from start to finish (no fast forward or rewinding). You can’t select to auto-loop a track, or create a playlist of your favorite tracks. You can not play any of the remixed music tracks that the game uses in its menus.The Japanese opening of Rockman 6 is not present. 6’s ending and credits theme are also noticeably absent. And perhaps most unfortunate of all, you can’t use the music player to select songs you’d like to listen to while looking through the Database or the Museum (instead, you will hear the Remixed MM3 Password track on endless loop, until you mute your TV or PC).

9. There are some bugs. And I don’t mean the bugs from the original games that were left in on purpose like the MM3 2nd controller tricks (which I’m not sure how to use on the Steam version). No, I’m talking about game bugs and things that will cause your game to crash or fail to load altogether. I’ve experienced several: Checking your own leaderboard score with the shortcut button will sometimes cause the game to crash. After you clear all 6 games, your options.sav file can become corrupt and keep your game from loading unless you go in and delete it (and thereby removing your preferences). Sometimes if you die close to a portal in Challenge mode, or if you get a double KO against a boss in challenge mode, you will be moved along to the next part of the Challenge with 0 health. Also if you skip the portal in a section and manage to complete the stage instead, you might get a Challenge Complete message without actually completing the challenge. And then there’s bugs other players have reported like the text not loading properly, resulting in a lot of white rectangles in the menus. Framerate drops, display issues with the game not matching your TV or monitor’s native definition, sound issues (especially on PS4 I hear). And of course there’s your ever present input lag, which I didn’t feel was too much of a problem for me personally but mileage will vary depending on your HD setup.

10. Was leaving in the original slowdown, sprite flicker, and limited music channels the right way to go? As far as being faithful to the way the games originally played, it serves as a reminder of how things actually were, and some people are used to it and remember it fondly. For others, it was something they dealt with as a limitation of the hardware of the times but never enjoyed and didn’t want to see again. It’s also not particularly impressive or fun for new players (see #2 above). Many have asked for an option to toggle these things on and off, but Digital Eclipse has already pointed out, these things were hard coded into the games and adding fixes would be time consuming and may result in the creation of more bugs that would need to be checked, and so on. While I can understand why they decided not to take that path, I think many people would have appreciated the extra effort.

I’d like to write something more in-depth on the Legacy Collection in the future, though it’s hard to say when I’ll get around to it. Updates have been scarce around here.

4 Comments to "Legacy Collection: A “Short” Review"

  1. PStart's Gravatar PStart
    2015/09/05 Saturday - 8:15 am | Permalink

    Nice review! P much covered everything I experienced with the collection and more (with regards to considering new players- very important!).

    I didn’t notice any wildly off-colors (as was the case before when they had screenshots of a blue Cut Man stage), but I’ve heard others say the colors bothered them. While I like the vibrant look, I would not at all be against more palette options.

    Sad to hear the database is incomplete… At least they attempted it ;;

    People seem to enjoy browsing the museum and focusing on different things, so that part’s cool. Still would love to see something like clean rips of the commercials 🙂

    I don’t mind time being an overall measure on challenges, but I agree that they could have used more variety. There’s plenty of sections they used way too much in multiple challenges, while leaving out others (skipped out on a lot of Wily Castle bosses for some reason). Having challenges with additional requirements like not getting hit (or time penalties for getting hit) or not using weapons etc. def would have been neat.

    SPOT ON about how the music player should have been used for menus like the database and museum!! I can’t believe they didn’t realize having the -one- very short remix looping over and over again while you browsed was a bad idea. Missing tracks/no remixes or extras is also a bummer.

    For the Steam version, you apparently have to either plug in a controller or plug in… 2 controllers? While it’s possible to make it work, it makes one wonder why they didn’t include controller settings for player 2, or at the very least, have special button configurations for the relevant buttons in Mega Man 3 (like how they had to include one for the Select Button for Mega Man 1’s pause).

    Options for things like no slowdown, sprite flicker, etc. would have been awesome. Or options to play the Japanese versions. It’s a nice budget collection, but I wish they would have gone the extra mile.

  2. 2015/09/06 Sunday - 12:26 am | Permalink

    You complete the game? Wow, Im right now in Cut Man’s stage.

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