Saturday, June 2, 2018

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 Review

Finally, Rockman has come back to Nintendo consoles! You'd think a collection with 7 out of the 10 games in it being NES and SNES games would be a shoe in for a Nintendo system, but both of these collections skipped the Wii U and only the first one came out on 3DS. Switch was out when MMLC2 launched on other systems, but a Switch version wasn't in Capcom’s plans. Capcom is fully on board with putting collections of old games on Switch now, though! Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 are available as a bundle for $40 with Collection 1 on a cart and a download code for Collection 2, and separately on the eShop for $15 for MMLC1 and $20 for MMLC2.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 was developed by Digital Eclipse, and was first released in 2015 on PS4, XBO, and PC, and then in 2016 on 3DS. It features the first 6 Mega Man games, including both the English and Japanese “Rockman” versions, remade on Digital Eclipse’s custom Eclipse Engine. They have been faithfully recreated with the same 8-bit graphics, slowdown, glitches, and bugs. The main benefit of recreating the games, rather than just emulating them, is that the games are actually in HD, so they are correctly scaled and look great on modern TVs.

Besides being in HD, these versions include modern emulator features, like button mapping, 3 display modes, borders, save states, and filters. All of which can be accessed at any time during the game with the press of a button. Each game has a unique border with some nice original art, which can be turned on or off if you prefer black bars. The filters include CRT monitor scanlines, some ugly TV ghosting option for those who grew up with a busted TV, and the option to turn them off completely.

The 3 display modes are; Original, Full, and Wide. Full is the game in 4:3, covering the screen from top to bottom, with borders on the left and right to preserve the aspect ratio. This is pretty close to how most people saw the game on their tube TVs in the NES days. Original mode displays the game in a smaller box in the middle of the screen. I don’t see the point in Original, since Full is correctly scaled, is in the same aspect ratio, and covers more of the screen. Wide stretches the image to fill a 16:9 screen. I don’t know why anyone would want to do that, especially since there are borders available if you must fill the sides of the screen with something. Sadly, there is no “pixel perfect” 8:7 mode, like on the NES Classic. I get that 4:3 looks right to people who used to play these games on a tube TV, but I can’t unsee the stretched circles and squares.

This new Switch version also includes a CPU Speed option and a Rewind feature. The Rewind feature allows you to cheat your way to victory by turning back time, like a VCR. You get about 2 minutes of rewind time, too. Turning the CPU Speed option to “Turbo” gets rid of some of the slowdown, which these games had a lot of, but not all of it. There is still some sluggishness here and there with Turbo on.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 is about more than just the games, though. This package is full of extras, like music, character bios, and a ton of art. Every piece of music found in all of these games can be found in the Music Player. Everything is neatly organized by game, and there’s some original artwork to go along with each game's OST. The only thing missing is an autoplay feature. The songs just stop after they’re done and you have to manually go to the next one. Every game also has a Museum and a Database full of enemy and characters bios. You can even fight the game’s Robot Masters directly from this Database by selecting their artwork and pressing the A button. The Museum is full of artwork from each game, including manuals, ads, boxes, and concept art.

In addition to the 6 games, MMLC1 includes 65 Challenges. These are remixed scenarios that have you completing different objectives, like boss rushes, or clearing a bunch of sections from different levels in a set amount of time. Functions like save states and rewind are not available during these challenges, because that would be cheating. There are 54 original challenges and 11 more unlocked by scanning the Mega Man amiibo. There are also online leaderboards for all of them.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 is a great package full of Mega Man goodness, but it has issues. There is the lack of 8:7 I already mentioned, the audio lags behind about half a second, and the game also has lot of input lag. It’s not just TV or wireless controller lag. There is a noticeable delay in between button presses and in-game actions with the CPU Speed on Original and on Turbo, and in both docked and undocked modes, which is not there in the VC versions or in MMLC2. I wouldn’t say that the games are unplayable, but playing them here is not a pleasant experience. These games feel sluggish and unresponsive, and are far from the definitive versions they were meant to be. I hope this is fixed with some sort of patch, because it would be a real shame to be stuck with such a beautiful collection in this state.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 was developed by Capcom and originally released in August 2017 on PS4, XBO, and PC. It features Mega Man 7-10, including all the MM9 and 10 Proto Man and Bass DLC unlockable by beating the games or with a code. MMLC2 only has 4 games, even though there's plenty of original series games they could have thrown in here. They really should have put Mega Man & Bass in this. To this day, it has only been released in English on the GBA. It would have been nice to have the Power Battle/Fighters games in here at least. Or how about Mega Man Battle & Chase or Mega Man Soccer? Nevermind, you can keep those in the vault. MMLC2 does have 23 more challenges than MMLC1, for a total of 88, but that doesn't make up for the lack of Mega Man & Bass.

Aside from a few UI differences, MMLC2 is a lot like the first collection. The Database section with all the bios is gone, but the Museum is still there, with a bunch of artwork from all 4 games. It doesn't have all the box art, manuals, and pictures of the carts, like Collection 1 did, though. It feels like a little less love went into this one, but it's still a really nice package. The Music Player is also back and it still doesn't have autoplay, but it does infinitely loop the songs. I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing, but I guess it's better than silence. There's also an extra armor option hidden away in the options menu which halves damage in all 4 games.

Unlike Collection 1, all the games here are displayed in their correct aspect ratios. There's still Original and a Wide options, for whoever likes them, too. I guess you could put it on Wide and set your TV to 4:3 to get that old-school TV stretch for MM7 and 9, if that's your thing. There is a single CRT monitor scanline filter option, but no busted TV filter. Each game also has 4 unique borders, instead of only 1, along with the option to turn them off. The anime cutscenes in Mega Man 8 have also gotten a considerable upgrade. They’re not quite Crunchyroll quality, but they look much better than they did on PS1.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 does not have a Rewind or Save State feature, but it does let you save at checkpoints in each level and after beating bosses. You can also manually save at a checkpoint and later restart at that checkpoint with the same amount of lives, health, and ammo. It's kind of like a save state, but it will only save up to a checkpoint. There's no CPU Speed option here either, but these games don't have the framerate problems some of the originals did. Framerate issues in MM7 and 8 are pretty much gone. Another thing Collection 2 doesn't have is the input lag Collection 1 does. MMLC2 feels very responsive and snappy compared to MMLC1.

I can't recommend MMLC1 for actually playing the games, but MMLC2 is pretty awesome, even though it doesn't have Mega Man & Bass. It's missing all the awesome bios and box art that Collection 1 has, but the games look right and feel good to play, and that matters much more than pictures of NES carts. This does feel like the best and most convenient way to play MM7-10 on a modern system.