There’s no denying that Mega Man is one of the most successful franchises in video game history. Originally released for the NES in 1987, the franchise has seen over 50 original games that span seven series (six if you consider Zero and ZX as part of the same series). He’s also been featured in mangas, cartoons, and comics over the years, the most recent example being the Archie comic series that recently went on hiatus. Some of the classic Blue Bomber’s best work was on the NES where he starred in six games. These six games have been re-released numerous times, including the Mega Man Anniversary Collection (GCN, Xbox, PS2), Virtual Consoles (Wii (1-5 only), Wii U, and 3DS), and now once again with the Mega Man Legacy Collection (Xbox One, PS4, Steam, 3DS). This review looks at the 3DS release to see if it’s worth picking up these classic games again.
For those who don’t know the story of how the Blue Bomber came to be, here’s the short of it. Dr. Light and Dr. Wily were once partners who worked in the field of robotics with Wily being Light’s assistant. Together they created nine robots: Blues (a prototype), Rock, Roll, Cut Man, Guts Man, Ice Man, Fire Man, Bomb Man, and Elec Man, the latter six to be used for constructive purposes. One day, Dr. Wily grew tired of the fame that Dr. Light was getting and decided to reprogram the latter six robots to try to take over the world—as villains tend to do. Rock decides to try and stop Dr. Wily, so Dr. Light turned him into Mega Man, armed with an arm canon and the ability to gain the powers of the robot masters he defeats.
Each of the games has its own story that with some reason as to why Mega Man must track down a new set of eight robot masters. Some of the stories aren’t all that bad, but one or two will make you scratch your head and wonder if they were running out of ideas at that point. If you’ve never played a Mega Man game before, you start out with a stage select screen with the game’s eight robot masters (six for the original Mega Man) and you can pick which stage to begin on; back when Mega Man first came out, that was a rather unique feature for an NES game. You start out the game with only an arm canon, but if you manage to defeat the robot master at the end of the stage, you gain his special weapon that you can use yourself.
What if you’re having trouble defeating certain robot masters? The special weapons in the series work like a game of rock-paper-scissors for the most part (Mega Man 2 is more like Rock-Paper-Metal Blade) where one weapon will be particularly strong against one robot master, then that’s robot master’s weapon will be strong against another, and so on. The challenge lies in figuring out who’s weak to what. Sometimes it makes sense, such as using the Rain Flush on Bright Man in Mega Man 4, and yet other times logic gets thrown out the window. It’s a lot of trial and error, but if you get stuck on a certain stage and get a game over, you can simply just go back to the stage select screen and try another stage.
In terms of presentation, the games are exactly how you remember them from the NES…and Famicom. Okay, let me explain. The game lets you choose which version of the games you want to play: Mega Man or Rockman (the Japanese version). While the bottom screen will always show the Japanese box art regardless of which version you choose, the game itself will change, but this is mostly only noticeable on the title screen. Mega Man 2 was unique in that in the U.S. We were able to choose between a normal and hard difficulty, while in Japan they didn’t have this. If you choose to play the game as Rockman 2, you won’t have the difficulty option and will play the game as it was in Japan (for the record, chosing Hard in Mega Man 2 is the same as playing it as Rockman 2). Granted, you can just choose hard difficulty in Mega Man 2, but it is a nice touch. Beyond that, though, the games play exactly how you remember them from the NES days, including the Mega Man 1 pause glitch with the special weapons.
What isn’t a nice touch is the screen size. With the non-portable versions of Mega Man Legacy Collection, you can change the screen size between no border, having a border, or widescreen. On the 3DS version there is no widescreen option, so it’s either having a border or not. While this does put it in line with the Virtual Console versions, it can make it hard to see certain projectiles. Case in point, while going through Cut Man’s stage and approaching the end of the first area, I came across two Beaks (the shelled wall cannons that open up to spit a few bullets at you) and one opened fire at me as I was trying to get to a ladder. I jumped over the bullet, but it wasn’t until I was over it when I realized it had fired at me. Having the small display size can make it difficult to see certain projectiles. While I know the Virtual Console versions were the same way, it would have been nice to have the 3DS Legacy Collection versions allow for widescreen like its non-console counterparts.
Now comes the major question with this collection: If I already own the games via the Virtual Console, should I buy them again? That’s where the challenges come in. The game comes with 54 challenges out of the box that are basically mashups of stages from all six games, typically with some sort of theme to them. You’ll start out with challenges from the first game, then move onto Mega Man 2, then get challenges that mix the two together, then move onto to Mega Man 3, and so on. The stages and challenges are technically nothing you haven’t played before if you’ve completed all six games, but it’s nice to see a single challenge have parts of stages from every game. The later challenges will truly test how masterful you are at the games as you’ll start having to take down the robot masters without any special weapons and even fighting all six Wily Machines one after the other, before finally taking on every robot master in all six games in a single challenge without using any items.
There is a bit of a drawback to this with the 3DS version. On the other versions you’ll get a medal depending on how quickly you cleared the challenge, and you can upload your time to an online leaderboard to see how you stack up against other players. You can even watch replays from other players to see their strategies. That’s pretty much thrown out the window with the 3DS version. Here you have basically no reason to try and clear a challenge as fast as you can outside of just wanting to better yourself. You can save your own replays, but there’s no online functionality at all. If the game required you to get a certain number of gold or even silver medals to open up new challenges, that would be different, but the only requirement is that you complete them, regardless of how fast it takes you.
Another minor issue is that when you move to a new area: you can’t see the screen until you literally begin that section. This isn’t all that bad until you get dropped into Quick Man’s stage and are dealing with Force Beams that kill you in one hit, but you won’t know that until it drops you in and you have barely a second to process what just happened. Thankfully, the segments are always in the same order, so when you do it the first time, you’ll have an idea as to what’s coming up when you try to better your time.
The upside to some of this is that the game also has 11 exclusive challenges to the 3DS version that are unlocked by using a Mega Man amiibo, whether it’s the normal amiibo or the gold amiibo found in the Collector’s Edition. The first problem I found lies in that you have to scan the amiibo every time you restart the game if you want to play them (as long as you don’t quit out of the game you’ll have access to them from the title screen). Some of them aren’t too bad, but some can be downright sadistic if you’re not an expert as the series, such as taking on every Wily Machine in the first six games, one right after the other, with only your arm cannon/Mega Buster.
Beyond all of that, there are a few extras such as listening to the music from all six games, an enemy database that gives you stats on each enemy in a chosen game, the ability to practice against any robot master you wish from said database, and a museum option where you check out some nice concept art as well as the boxes and manuals for each game. Strangely, only the Japanese manual can be viewed and the U.S. boxes look kind of worn out, like they took a box they had lying around, took a picture, and put it in the game. It’s nice that they included it at the very least, but it’s almost as if they said, "Eh, might as well include this."
All of this leads up to my final thoughts on the collection as well as an answer to the question I asked above: Is this worth getting if you have the Virtual Console versions of the games? That’s actually a tough question. If you don’t have the VC versions of the games, then absolutely. You’re getting six classic NES games for about $30, same as if you bought them on the Virtual Console—but you’re also getting the challenges as well as the nice artwork and other extras. Granted there are still a few issues such as the screen size and all, but nothing big.
As for if you already own all six games on the VC? That’s entirely up to you if you feel it’s worth it. I’d get it regardless as I’m a huge Mega Man fanatic. But for the more casual player, it’s a tough sell. Again, the challenges are just mashups of stages from the other games and technically nothing new. If you need a good challenge, the challenges can provide that, especially the amiibo-specific challenges, but with no leaderboards or online functionality at all, there might not be much replay value. In the end, Mega Man Legacy Collection is a great game for the 3DS, but players with the VC games might find it a bit tougher to get as they’re basically paying $30 for around 54 challenges (65 if they have a Mega Man amiibo). If that sounds up your alley, definitely go for it, but I do realize that not everyone is going to be happy with that scenario.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.