Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

Somewhat contrary to how late-80s Capcom used to pump out these games, it’s taken nearly two years since the release of Mega Man Legacy Collection for the next installment to reach us.  The first MMLC was generally pretty well accepted by critics thanks to its faithful emulation of the original jewels that were the retro NES Mega Man titles, and now, on August 8, Capcom looks to make another splash with the sequel.

You might be wondering how Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 measures up to the original (given that all six of the NES installments were included in that one), but chill—there’s still a decent amount of material to cover.  This game includes the final four titles in the original series—Mega Man 7, 8, 9, and 10—and it’s pretty well-accepted that all of those games were pretty good (no filler/junk here).  Plus, the fact remains that there’s no great way to play all of these games today without this collection—so maybe it makes sense to save yourself the trouble of plugging up multiple consoles and spring for this instead… right?

Anyone familiar with the first Legacy Collection will have a concrete idea of what to expect from this follow-up.  The core appeal here is the fact that the original four games have been left untouched, and the emulation is just as good as it’s ever been, complete with (once again) an optional CRT filter and save states that are restricted to the natural checkpoints built into each game.  It’s a veritable tornado of Mega Man action spanning what are arguably four of the hardest games in the original series.

For those who are a bit sheepish about jumping directly into the hornet’s nest, Capcom has also added an “Extra Armor” mode which effectively slashes the damage Mega Man receives in half.  Of course, this still leaves all of the platforming challenge intact, so while it’s a whole lot easier to cruise past enemies and conquer bosses without the proper weaponry, dropping to your death from, say, a cloud or a moving lift while clowning around is still going to prove equally lethal.  Purists can simply pretend it doesn’t exist, so everyone’s happy.

Speaking of challenge, Mega Man 10’s Challenge Mode is still included, of course, as are additional ones new to the collection, just like before.  The original MM10 challenges span a wide variety of different tasks, including everything from aquatic spike avoidance to searching for a way to conquer bosses while going commando (with only your Mega Buster).  The MMLC2-specific challenges are essentially turbo-paced snippets of levels from each game that must be completed in a single burst as quickly as possible (they’re timed for record-keeping purposes, so strap on your nitro boots and strike quickly).  For instance, you might have to complete sections of, say, the Grenade Man and Tengu Man levels back-to-back as quickly as possible.

It’s true that the first Legacy Collection featured six (classic!) games and was only $15, whereas the sequel (priced at $20) only includes four titles.  That’s a bit puzzling admittedly, even if Mega Man 9 and 10 are more recent and do include quite a bit more content than the rest of the games (they’re also absolutely the best games in this collection).  Partially making up the difference is the fact that all of the optional DLC content has also been included in MMLC2 (such as Fake Man’s level from Mega Man 9 and so on), but it’s still a bit odd that the first game was less expensive from the outset.  Some people will appreciate the fact that two of the games—Mega Man 7 and 8—are from platforms (and styles) other than the NES, so MMLC2 perhaps feels a bit more dynamic and varied than its predecessor (which was something like Fifty Shades of Blue).  But the fact remains that the first six games are still some of the best in the series, and 7 and 8—regardless of technological advantages—are probably among the worst.

But, of course, the ultimate appeal of Mega Man remains the tight gameplay, unique power-ups, clever platforming variations, and unforgettable music.  The themed levels are also a critical mainstay, but whether it’s Freeze or Frost, Astro or Solar, Heat or Magma, Sword or Blade Man (they rarely run out of synonyms for the purpose), the gameplay and environmental variety that comes along with every new stage (and section) has rarely ever been matched outside of top-tier titles such as Rayman Legends and Super Mario Galaxy.  It’s a bit disappointing we won’t be seeing these games on the portable consoles (3DS and Switch) considering how well they’d translate to those platforms, but regardless, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is the most sensible way to enjoy these four games that exists today.

Bonus: Once again, I’ve sacrificed significant editorial credibility and grammatical sensibilities to provide a stupid little game for you, our dear reader: I’ve hidden all of the boss names from Mega Man 7, 8, 9, and 10 in this review!  Can you find them all?  Were my methods of incorporating them lazy and obvious?  Do I get paid for doing this?  Are you still reading?