Remasters are a good way to go, aren’t they?
They’re reminding people of a golden franchise without the effort of making a new title- perfect! 10% of the work done and you reap 100% of the benefits. Capcom have been doing this for several years now, since the seminal Resident Evil 4 has been ported to nearly every single console ever made, hell, I’m sure the Atari ST has a version of Resident Evil 4. But we’re not looking at Resident Evil 4, although I wish we were. No, we’re looking at Mega Man.
Mega Man is a side-scrolling platformer from Capcom, released in the mid 80s to almost universal acclaim. Since then, the titular blue blaster boy was given the Mario treatment, with hundreds of different iterations in different series. Battle Network, X, ZX, Legends, Zero, Star Force, Rockman, the list goes on, with the overall quality ranging from “good” to “oh christ, get this thing off of my console at once”. Here in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, they’ve remastered the final four titles in the main numbered series, with the first 6 already being remastered in 2015.
Mega Man 7 is the first on the chopping block, with it being released in 1995 for the SNES. 7 has the uncomfortable challenge of trying to 1-up Mega Man X, the now legendary title released a year prior, and it’s a miserable effort on 7’s part. The main issue comes from its return to the basic formula, the one set in stone with the first 6 NES games. Which is noble, considering how Mega Man X practically changed everything written.
Mega Man X added a whole new level of verticality to gameplay that completely revolutionized the ground that Capcoms baby was based upon. Wall-riding and sliding, along with the jump, made Mega Man a much more intense side scrolling platformer and increased the variety in bosses tenfold. Here though, the jump in console generation power didn’t come into mind, and now we have a slow Mega Man attempting to barrel through screens he’s too big for.
This also showcases another issue which is also in Mega Man 8, which we’ll get to. But, a little bit of backstory first. The game was released for the original PlayStation in 1996, signifying a complete change in what they had to make. With the new console in mind with all this new space, and twice as many bits, Capcom had time to rummage around and make the game look as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
And that’s probably Mega Man 8’s biggest quality- its look. Environments are lush, characters are animated beautifully, the sound design is punchy and cathartic and the visuals are just brilliant to look at throughout. But that’s where the praise stops, because the gameplay of 8 is about as welcome as a nail bomb. Mega Man again moves too slow for his own good, considering how fast enemies are going to be coming at you. The focus on graphics mean every scene is a cluster of colour which you can’t focus on and the story?
The story is arguably the straw that breaks Mega Man 8s back, a mess of plotlines and anime tropes that were added due to the new-found space on the disc. The anime cutscenes themselves are now legendary, due to the absolutely abysmal voice acting throughout. The animation isn’t that bad, it’s reminiscent of a lot of OVAs released in the 90s, but they didn’t have lobotomised humans working on them. Dr. Light is the biggest offender here, with his mispronunciation and the tendency to forget lines mid-speech here being laughable at best.
But my main issue with Mega Man 7 and 8 is that it’s clear they were sacrificed on the altar of making games look better instead of playing better. 7 and 8 have some of the nicest visuals on their respective consoles, but they play the worst out of their respective entries. I’d even go so far as to say the equally abysmal Mega Man 64 makes more strides in better quality, and that’s an entry that most people despise.
Mega Man 9 and 10 didn’t need the upgrades 7 & 8 did as they’re works of art on their own. I’m serious, these two entries are superb, they go back to old school and keep it clean throughout, as if we never left the NES age. The bosses and level design are immaculately created by what seems to be the hands of the side-scrolling God, the visuals are stylish and slick, and the soundtracks are the best out of all the entries, Galaxy Man and Commando Man being my absolute favourites.
9 was the literal definition of “Back to basics”. The difficulty is ramped up to 11 and progression has to be met with precision, which makes every battle a victory worth savouring. I’ve never completed it, mind you- the closest I’ve gotten is 8/9 bosses but Concrete and/ or Jewel Man kick my ass. Here’s hoping for the future, eh?
Mega Man 10 takes a more finely tuned approach, with scaling difficulties and an attempt to make story a lot more present than before. It doesn’t bail out of the cockpit halfway through like 8 does, it’s just a cutscene every now and again, which can be considered negligible, but it’s a nice touch, one that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Mega Man 10 is one I’ve completed multiple times so I can attest to its sheer brilliance.
And apart from that, there’s not much else to say. The attempt at a remaster is a successful one and the emulation is as solid as it can be, unlike the atrocity of the original Legacy Collection. There are a few bonus challenges, but these are just speedruns of random parts of stages remixed with all of the power-ups. It’s a genuine challenge and a good way to brush up on your side scrolling skills, trying to quick switch to the best weapon for the situation and shaving seconds off of your score.
What we have here are two games which play awfully but look nice, and two games that play brilliantly and fit right in with the nostalgia crowd. It’s a good experience, and for the most part, is worth the price of admission. 7 and 8 are relics of the forgotten past and unfortunate sacrifices for the hardware. It’s a good thing that we’re no longer sacrificing gameplay for making games look super realistic no- Hey, wait a minute.
Two of the worst Mega Mans in existence pair up with two of the best. The positives mostly outweigh the negatives.