The time has finally arrived, and the latest in Capcom's series of retro game collections has been released with Mega Man Legacy Collection 2. However, unlike The Disney Afternoon Collection and the original Mega Man Legacy Collection, Capcom has elected not to employ the services of the historical gaming curators at Digital Eclipse, and have instead chosen to do the job themselves.
Digital Eclipse has set a high bar, so let's see if the company who actually created the games is able to meet it.
For starters, I'm not going to waste your time about the individual games. If you're visiting a site called The Mega Man Network, it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable that you're probably a Mega Man fan and are at least a little familiar with the titles in question. (That said, if you want a general look at the games themselves, my wife has you covered over on USgamer.)
If not, the short summary is that this collection gathers the remaining numbered entries from across various platforms following the six titles from the Nintendo Entertainment System library featured in the first collection. Among the four, there isn't a bad game among them.
Certainly, each has their different quirks and foibles which can prove less than desirable to some people. Even Mega Man 7, whose development cycle lasted all of three months, is still a higher-quality production than later games like the roughly 12-month cycle of Mega Man X6, or many of the bigger budget releases we see today. They may not all be contenders for "best of the series," but they're still of a higher standard than a lot of the tripe that's out there.
That said, each game is presented here just as you remember them, unlike the hack job that was Mega Man Anniversary Collection some decade-plus ago. Mega Man 7 has its ending (all of it, this time), as well as the same password system and included multiplayer versus mode, and Mega Man 8 plays just like it did on the original PlayStation, including voices running at the original speed.
Of course, it's worth noting that this is specifically the PlayStation version of Mega Man 8, meaning that Capcom has one again remained content to allow the SEGA Saturn-exclusive bonus boss battles against 32-bit Cut Man and Wood Man to continue being consigned to the dustbin of history. Likewise, the unique theme for Tengu Man's stage is nowhere to be found, not even in the included sound test mode, which also doesn't feature the theme from the opening cutscene to Mega Man 8.
That seems like as good a place to segue into a neat feature of this collection: There are a wide selection of languages to choose from in this set, and selecting Japanese will change all of the games to their Rockman versions. The only exception here that I've noticed is that for Rockman 8, you still get the western Mega Man 8 opening cutscene instead of "Electrical Communication," presumably due to licensing issues. Even so, the Japanese voices remain intact throughout.
As long as I'm talking about the openings, there is one peculiar quirk that may be worth mentioning: Starting each game up takes you directly to the title screen, leaving you to wait a little bit before each game's opening story sequence takes place. It's a bit of an odd choice, to say the least.
In addition to a largely perfect recreation of each game, each Collection has sought to bring bonus content and quality of life improvements for each featured game.
For starters, I hope you like Mega Man 8, as the entire interface for the collection recycles (rather than remixes) music and visual assets from that title alone. Through this, you'll be able to listen to the aforementioned musical galleries and check out a heaping helping of visual galleries as well.
Unfortunately, the latter is a bit of a mixed bag, as there are tons of development art and concept sketches for each, but you don't get much in the way of the unique stuff that Digital Eclipse brought, such as magazine advertisements, boxes, and the like. Without comparing piece by piece, it basically feels like a high-res version of UDON's Mega Man: Official Complete Works contents for each respective game.
Each game also presents ten or so challenges, each of the same type. Sadly, these don't feel as inspired as what Digital Eclipse put together. You have pastiches of stages which are large portions of (if not entire, in some cases) stages strung together, boss rushes lifted right from the end of the game, mini-boss rushes, and other such things, including Buster-only versions. In the latter two games, you'll get additional versions for each playable character.
In terms of quality-of-life improvements, there are numerous tweaks made to each game, though maybe not all of them are in the right places. All four games feature customizeable controls, including an auto-fire button that is curiously defaulted to the Circle button on PlayStation 4 (the version played for this review) -- with the exception of Mega Man 8, which featured that option as a purchasable and instead uses that as your Special Weapon button.
Curiously, Mega Man 7's customization screen does not include the button for activating Big Eddie's, which can be accessed by pressing the touch pad. You can reassign the touch pad, but doing so will completely negate the ability to visit Big Eddie's until you reset the controls to their default setting.
A new feature that has been added is the extra armor mode for newcomers (or those who've gotten a bit rusty, like me), which reduces the damage taken (and turns Proto Man into a real tank in Mega Man 10), but it comes at a cost: You can no longer create your own save points, nor rewind your gameplay -- two elements of Digital Eclipse's releases that would have been most welcome among the "Jump! Jump! Slide! Slide!" of Mega Man 8 and sense of cheap instant deaths in Mega Man 9.
That isn't to say there isn't a save system beyond those built into each title, though. Each respawn point acts as an auto-save point (unless you turn that feature off), which is also where you'll be sent back to if you initiate your own save. I haven't quite been able to hash out how these two save systems work together, as one seems to save things that the other doesn't.
At the very least, it seems to make getting through the Wily Castles a little less of a one-sitting gauntlet.
For the new-to-disc releases of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, there is a little added frustration, such as the lack of L and R toggling of weapons in the former. It's true to the original, sure, but the game stands out for being the only one in the collection lacking it. Plus, if you're an Achievement Hunter, know that the old in-game Achievements/Trophies no longer line up with the system Achievements/Trophies.
More egregious, at least to me, is that while all of the downloadable content for these two games is included, you still have to beat the game to unlock them. Some may see this as gaining a sense of accomplishment, but if you just want to drop the Bass and lay down some heavy rapid Buster fire down on some fools, it's irksome. Likewise, if you beat Mega Man 10 before but never got around to downloading the levels for the Mega Man Killers, it may be just a bit annoying to have to retread the old ground already covered before getting to the new.
Edit: Good news! As revealed on the official Mega Man Twitter account some time after this review went live, there is a code that will apparently unlock the downloadable content without having to complete the game. On the title screen for Mega Man 9 or Mega Man 10, then press Up, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Down, Up, Up, Down. If you hear a chime, that means it worked.
One other thing to note is that Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is missing one of the three filters that Digital Eclipse's Collections had, that being the computer monitor filter (the others being SDTV and no filter/HDTV). I never used it, but I bring it up in part because there may be some who preferred it, but mostly because it feels emblematic of Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 as a whole.
Whereas Mega Man Legacy Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection felt like passion projects by those who love and wish to preserve the best of gaming history, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 feels a little more cynical, like Capcom saw how well the others were doing and thought "well we can do that ourselves, and probably save money in the process!" without seeing and understanding just what it was that made those previous collections stand out.
Don't get me wrong, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is good. If you want to have these four games from the Classic Mega Man series on your Xbox One, PlayStation 4, or PC, to play in high definition or to stream and capture from using your native hardware, I don't think that this collection will let you down at all. The games are as good, maybe even a bit better than they ever were. And had it come out before Digital Eclipse's efforts, it might even appear outstanding.
But the problem, the big problem, is that it didn't. It came after Mega Man Legacy Collection and it came after The Disney Afternoon Collection, and alongside those, it's just not as good in an archival sense in that it simply doesn't quite reach the bar set by Digital Eclipse.
Put simply, the core contents are just fine, it's the packaging that doesn't live up to the standard set by what's come before it. But even then, it's not bad -- it just feels like the developers did the job they needed to do and left it at that.
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is available now on PlayStation 4 (version played for this review), Xbox One, and Steam for $19.99/£15.99/€19.99.