Mega Man Month- Part 4: Legacy Collection 2

This fourth part of Mega Man Month continues from the previous review of Mega Man Legacy Collection, a collection of the first six Mega Man titles on the NES. Following Legacy Collection’s release, Capcom released Legacy Collection 2, which contains the last four of the main 10 Mega Man Classic games. Many fans hoped for the collection to release due to it containing the critically hailed Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, although having the somewhat controversial Mega Man 7 and the generally hated Mega Man 8 may be a turnoff to some. Despite this, the later entries deserve their time in the limelight.

Before continuing with a point-by-point overview of each game, Legacy Collection 2 has notable differences from its antecedent. While the concept art gallery and jukebox return, the enemy database is gone, and the new challenge levels don’t combine segments of different games like Legacy Collection did. Save states have been replaced by checkpoint saves that allow players to return to specific sections of a stage, which means that while the player can still have an easier time, they complete each section of their own skill. In case that isn’t enough, newcomers can use a double armor mode that halves the damage Mega Man takes in each game. Finally, the collection lacks any extra games that are equally important to the Classic series, which is surprising given the Anniversary Collection in 2004 contained two arcade Mega Man titles that had no previous console release, and X Collection in 2006 was the only American release of the racing game, Mega Man Battle and Chase. If a third collection were to be released, the spotlight should be on handheld titles, namely the five Game Boy titles that are currently available on 3DS Virtual Console, as well as Mega Man and Bass, which had a notoriously bad Game Boy Advance port and could use an American release of the SNES version, complete with double armor and checkpoints to make this famously difficult game passable.

MMLC2 - Mega Man 7
Mega Man 7 retains the iconic art style while having more detailed visuals, even if the larger sprite size can be disorienting. Image from Capcom

Mega Man 7 (SNES)
Overall: Mega Man 7 is the logical evolution of Mega Man 6, and not just because it’s the first entry on a new console. The best aspects from 6, such as the Rush Adaptor suits and diverging pathways, are further explored, but by upgrading to the SNES, the game was able to add layers of detail the NES couldn’t. Even if some of the changes made aren’t perfect, the experimental nature of Mega Man 7 makes it unique amongst six previous entries often considered too similar to one another.
Story: Following Wily’s arrest in Mega Man 6, a set of Robot Masters that he sent into stasis pods awaken and break him out of prison. As Mega Man attempts to take down Wily’s latest creations, he meets Bass, a mysterious figure who claims to be fighting Wily but later reveals himself as Wily’s latest robot designed to rival Mega Man.
Gameplay Additions: Rather than extend the game with an extra set of stages like 3 through 6, Mega Man 7 has an intro and middle stage, both of which amount to a short boss battle rather than a dedicated group of levels. The Robot Masters are split into two sets of four with the middle stage occurring between the two sets, and this gives players a better chance to figure out boss weaknesses. 7 also introduces Auto’s shop, which allows players to buy upgrades and items from Light’s eccentric assistant, Auto. Bolts act as currency, and they can be found as a common item drop. While the typical Rush Coil and Rush Jet return, Rush Jet now only moves forward rather than allowing for 360-degree movement, and Beat now acts as a get-out-of-pits-free card that can be bought in the store. The Rush Adaptors from Mega Man 6 return in the form of the Super Adaptor, a combined suit with elements of both the Jet and Power Adaptors. One of the best additions, however, is a feature taken from Mega Man X: quick weapon switching. The controller’s trigger buttons can now be used to switch weapons without navigating a menu, and while the menu is still an option, scrolling through weapons allows the player to access them much more quickly.
Level Design: Outside of the short intro and middle stage, which are fairly short and linear levels designed more as a boss hallway, the main levels provide different paths as Mega Man 6 did. The diverging paths are often made available by one of the weapons, which have more visible environmental impact due to graphical detail. For example, the weather in Cloud Man’s stage changes when the player uses certain weapons, such as Freeze Man’s Freeze Cracker causing it to snow, and this affects how the player sees and traverses the area. The levels are generally longer and have minibosses more often than previous entries, which makes up for the lack of an extra set of stages.
Graphics: Thanks to the graphical power of the SNES, Mega Man 7 has massively improved visuals from Mega Man 6, which, despite being one of the best looking titles on the NES, came at the end of the console’s life cycle and pushed it to the limit. Character designs retain the same art style, but have more realistic proportions and smoother animation. Characters now have more complex designs that would be impossible to represent on the NES, with a highlight being Junk Man, a Frankenstein’s monster-esque boss made of scrapped robots. Given the increased detail and proportions, Mega Man takes up significantly more of the screen this time around, and while it isn’t a massive issue, it can be somewhat jarring coming from the earlier games in which Mega Man appeared smaller and explored seemingly larger environments. Speaking of the environments, not only are the backgrounds vibrant and colorful, but the improved animation allows for weapons to have more visible impact on stages, such as using Freeze Cracker to freeze and crumble a wall of lava.
Sound: This is one of the more upbeat and positive soundtracks in the Classic series, due in part to a new soundfont. It’s a stark contrast to the serious and sometimes melancholy themes from the end of the NES era, but this fits with the game’s visuals and themes and separates it further from previous entries. That aside, the soundtrack contains many underrated themes that deserve more attention among the fanbase, even containing a few musical easter eggs. Namely, the middle stage, Robot Museum, has a medley of Snake Man, Guts Man, and Heat Man’s themes from earlier games, and by holding a specific button while selecting Shade Man on the boss select screen, his theme changes to an original remix of the Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins theme song, as Capcom created both the Mega Man and Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins franchises.
Bosses: While most of the bosses are good or at least passable, a portion of the bosses are crippled by their weaknesses and left wide open upon using them. This was likely done so bosses could have more expressive animations that would clearly show when a weapon was effective, but it led to some of the bosses being pitifully easy, even by boss weakness standards, such as using Burst Man’s Danger Wrap to drop Cloud Man to the ground whenever he recovers. Those aside, some of the bosses can be plain unfair, with the final Wily Capsule fight being regarded as one of the most difficult bosses of the series.
Weapons: This set of weapons is mostly useful, though their usefulness mostly comes from fighting bosses and opening alternate paths. As mentioned before, weapons now have more visible impact upon stages and bosses, which gives them more functionality and personality. There are also two unlockable extras that, while not necessary to complete the game, are worthwhile rewards that are helpful in later levels. Proto Man will give the player his shield for finding him in three stages and fighting him to test their skills, and the shield blocks projectiles from behind Mega Man while moving or in front of him while standing still. More notable is the Super Adaptor, which is unlocked by collecting letter pieces in the first set of stages. The Super Adaptor includes retooled versions of the Jet and Power Adaptors’ abilities from Mega Man 6, with a charge shot replaced by a rocket fist as well as having an aerial boost.
Difficulty: Easy to medium. Mega Man 7 is another good starting place for the series due to its quality-of-life features and gameplay improvements, though its smaller details are best appreciated after playing the NES games. With the exception of its incredibly difficult final boss, 7 is a reasonable challenge for newcomers and veterans.

MMLC2 - Mega Man 8
Although Mega Man 8 is yet more of a visual upgrade, good graphics do not a good game make. Image from Capcom

Mega Man 8 (PlayStation)
Overall: Mega Man 8 may look pretty, but in gameplay and audio, it’s significantly weaker than its predecessors. Horrible game design choices, mixed level design and awful sound make Mega Man 8 hard to return to, which is all the more reason that 8 is widely considered the weakest entry of the main 10.
Gameplay Additions: Given that the PlayStation supported save data, Mega Man 8 was the first of the main 10 games to allow players to save without having to use a password system. This is largely irrelevant in Legacy Collection 2 as all titles included allow for save data, but this was a step forward at the time. The shop system returns, but there are now only 40 large bolts scattered across levels. The shop now sells upgrades only, and while most of the upgrades are incredibly useful, the player will never have enough bolts to buy every upgrade, which discourages experimentation with what loadout the player wants. Certain levels are now built around weapons and require them to advance, and other levels introduce specific mechanics that have yet to return in later entries. Namely, Mega Man can now awkwardly swim rather than have reduced gravity in water, which makes underwater platforming much slower. More notably, Tengu Man and Frost Man’s stages introduce Rush Jet and jet ski segments, respectively. Rush Jet now acts as a space shooter a la Gradius, which is a fun diversion, but the pace is so sluggish that it causes levels to drag on. The jet skis, however, are one of the most hated mechanics from any Mega Man game, as the player is forced to move so rapidly that there’s no time to react. The fact that the developers had to put in a robot helper to say when to do certain actions during these segments is a testament to how poorly designed these sections were.
Level Design: As mentioned before, most of the later stages require weapons to complete, and earlier stages have segments made easier by weapons. Some levels have good implementation of weapons, with Sword Man being a highlight that uses four different weapons to solve puzzles, and some levels have unique mechanics like Tengu Man’s space shooter stage. Other levels are horribly tedious like Astro Man’s infinite labyrinth, stupidly cheap like Wily Stage 1’s yet faster version of the jet skis, or boring like Search Man’s forest hideout. Some bolt puzzles are fun to solve, but others are incredibly obtuse or can’t be completed without weapons acquired later in the game, meaning there’s a lot of backtracking. Bad difficulty curve, as even though the four and four stage select worked for 8, some of the stages are too hard in the early section and too easy in the late section.
Graphics: Mega Man 8 changes the graphical style yet again, and while character designs are yet more complex and fluidly animated, the art style itself changes from the franchise’s distinct visuals to a more generic anime-influenced style. Combat and movement, despite having higher quality animation, feel much slower, due in part to how slow Mega Man’s walk cycle is. Cutscenes are even slower with how many text boxes there are to get through, and while the animated cutscenes visually appealing, they cannot be skipped.
Sound: In both composition and soundfont, Mega Man 8 has a mellow soundtrack, which sometimes works in its favor. The stage select and early game themes, for example, are good songs that contrast previous entries, but most of the later stages have much weaker themes, and songs like Grenade Man’s theme overuse obnoxious trumpets and synth, which means they don’t hold up like earlier games. However, 8’s poor sound design doesn’t only apply to music. The sound effects have very little impact unlike the satisfying sound effects of earlier games, but the voice acting is so atrocious that the game is most known for this aspect alone. Certain voices are so bad that they’re good, like the voice actor for Dr. Light that clearly never did a second take for his lines, but other voices are ear-grating, with the worst moment being a cutscene in which Mega Man’s high-pitched voice screams for almost twenty seconds.
Bosses: Even the more entertaining bosses in the game, like Grenade Man or Clown Man, aren’t as good as the better bosses of other games. On the other hand, Astro Man and some of the Wily bosses are just awful, with nigh-unpredictable movement patterns and weaknesses that are counterintuitive to fight with.
Weapons: Every weapon has some environmental impact or puzzle solving usage, but some are more useful than others. Thunder Claw, for example, is a great idea but in practice, allowing Mega Man to grapple hooks and swing to platforms, but its reach is very finicky and inconsistent. The Rush utilities, of which there are four this time around, are practically an afterthought, with each of them either having little to no platforming use or being outclassed by a weapon or upgrade. One extra weapon, the Mega Ball, is found in the intro stage, and while this weapon is intended to be a unique attack that can double as a platform, it doesn’t function properly half the time and requires mastery of the game to use properly.
Difficulty: Medium to cheap. Although Mega Man 7’s boss select worked well by having two sets of four bosses, Mega Man 8 doesn’t use this layout properly. Most of the later stages and bosses are the easiest, while the earlier stages can be a bit more difficult, with Frost Man’s jet skis being unacceptable for an early challenge. Wily Castle 1 is perhaps one of the hardest difficulty spikes in the entire series, and completing this stage alone took so long that it required this article to be replaced in the schedule by last week’s Fully Charged review so Legacy Collection 2 could have more time to be finished.
NOTE: Legacy Collection 2 uses the PlayStation version and not the Sega Saturn version of Mega Man 8, the latter of which has a few different music tracks, extra features, and secret boss battles with Cut Man and Wood Man. Had Legacy Collection 2 used the Saturn version, it might be more worth returning to, but as is, the PlayStation version isn’t the best game to replay.

MMLC2 - Mega Man 9
Mega Man 9 has some of the hardest bosses in the series, with one of the most difficult being Magma Man. Image from Capcom

Mega Man 9 (Wii, PS3, XBox 360)
Overall: Mega Man 9, being the first Mega Man game after a long hiatus for the series, goes back to its roots, which means trying to be a second Mega Man 2. To be fair, this is a very well-made game, but copying 2 includes copying many of its design flaws, as well as leaving 9 with less of its own identity. Although it was one of the major innovators during an era of retro revival games, Mega Man 9 is both a massive step forward and a small step backward for the franchise.
Story: In one of the more interesting plots the series has had to date, Dr. Light is framed when eight of his Robot Masters revolt. In reality, while Wily didn’t reprogram them, he convinced a group of outdated Robot Masters set to be scrapped that they had potential. Thankfully, once Wily is defeated, Mega Man advocates for the Robot Masters to not be scrapped, allowing them to take up new purposes in life.
Gameplay Additions: Mega Man 9 doesn’t necessarily bring new gameplay additions, but rather gameplay removals. Fitting with copying Mega Man 2, the slide, charge shot, and quick weapon switching are gone, albeit Rush sticks around. The shop returns in a fashion closer to Mega Man 7, although the item selection isn’t as useful this time around. 9 also introduces a special stage and endless stage, as well as time attack modes and other challenges that provide replay value and content as the extra level sets used to. Through DLC, which is included in Legacy Collection 2 for free, the player can choose to play as Proto Man, who can use the slide and charge shot as well as 7’s Proto Shield as a default ability. However, Proto Man also takes double damage, and while the game’s challenges are more reasonable with the added abilities, it would have been better if Mega Man had the charge shot and slide while Proto Man had his own abilities, especially since the double damage adds an extra layer of challenge.
Level Design: Though the lack of the charge shot and slide mean level design possibilities have reverted to that of Mega Man 2, the stages are similar in quality to said game. Galaxy Man and Jewel Man’s stages stand out from previous games with good background design and mechanics. However, some levels are too similar to earlier Robot Master stages, such as Splash Woman’s level looking like and using similar mechanics to Bubble Man’s stage in Mega Man 2 and Wave Man’s stage in Mega Man 5. Other levels are massive difficulty spikes, with Plug Man’s stage being one of the hardest. Wily Castle now requires weapons to complete, but while Mega Man 8 telegraphed when weapons were necessary, the final stages introduce new setpieces that cause confusion as to what weapon is necessary, if at all.
Graphics: The 8-bit visuals of the NES era return, albeit closest to Mega Man 2, which it replicates well, but not always in its favor. A significant portion of the user interface and menus are directly copied from 2, and level backgrounds are often indistinguishable from previous entries. That aside, the overall art style returns to its roots in a positive way, and character sprites manage to replicate earlier design philosophies while still being relatively complex and having good animation.
Sound: While going back to the NES soundfont is a massive improvement over Mega Man 8, Mega Man 9’s soundtrack does have a few downsides. Although most of the new music is melodic and memorable, some of the tracks are ripped directly from Mega Man 2, even if previous games had remixed them before.
Bosses: Like the levels, most of the bosses are fun or at least have fun concepts. Bosses like Concrete Man, Hornet Man, and Galaxy Man have reasonable attack patterns, and the first Wily Castle boss incorporates meter management by having the player keep track of four approaching enemies. Jewel Man in particular is a fun fight, as he reacts whenever the player jumps or shoots. On the other hand, some of the other bosses are completely unfair, with this game’s incarnation of the Yellow Devil being one of the worst in the series. Many of the bosses are significantly harder without their weakness, and some are still a massive challenge even with that advantage.
Weapons: This is one of the strongest sets of weapons in the series, and yet the game never fully utilizes them. Every weapon has a unique effect in addition to good offensive potential; for example, Laser Trident damages shielded enemies, Concrete Shot can create platforms and freeze deadly energy beams, Jewel Satellite is one of the strongest shield weapons in the series, and Hornet Chaser grabs and brings items to the player. Although the weapons’ functions are shown on the Weapon Get screen, their secondary effects aren’t shown, and since the Wily stages require weapons to complete, anyone without prior knowledge of the game is at an immediate disadvantage.
Difficulty: Hard to cheap. Mega Man 9 is the hardest game out of both Legacy Collections by a long shot, but many of its challenges are completely unfair for newcomers. It requires Herculean reaction time in some cases and provides no time to react in others, which, combined with pixel-perfect platforming requirements, makes the difficulty feel more like trial and error than most other installments. The excellent weapons can help alleviate this, but without the game explaining each weapon’s secondary effects or giving access to quick weapon switching, platforming puzzle solutions are often obtuse and take too long to solve. While it’s a very good game, 9 is near impossible for newcomers to approach, and even the checkpoint saves couldn’t help, as they still require players to complete each difficult segment separately. Above all else, this game should be completed with the extra armor mode in Legacy Collection 2. This review was made with normal difficulty and no extra armor for all four games, but extra armor mode would have made 9 at least a bit more fair.

MMLC2 - Mega Man 10
After appearing as DLC in Mega Man 9, Proto Man makes his first main playable appearance in Mega Man 10. Image from Capcom

Mega Man 10 (Wii, PS3, XBox 360)
Overall: Though longtime fans generally prefer Mega Man 9, Mega Man 10 arguably has more of an identity. It celebrates all aspects of the series that fans enjoy, both ironically, such as silly character concepts and ridiculous stories, and unironically, like the tight platforming and excellent soundtrack, in addition to bringing back important mechanics and giving fanservice to parts of the series not often remembered by the public. Though its high points aren’t as high as other entries, its low points are less frequent, making it one of the more consistent Mega Man Classic games. Mega Man 10 stands as its own bizarre entity, and in all honesty, that bizarreness what makes it an enjoyable experience.
Story: As somewhat of a tribute to the ridiculous stories of Wily’s increasingly unconvincing disguises and plans, Mega Man 10 plays up its campy plot while still having a good concept. Roboenza, a computer virus that affects machines as if it were a human virus, sweeps the nation and sends thousands of robots, including Mega Man’s sister, Roll, into urgent care. Making this worse is that any robot who suffers from Roboenza for more than a month goes berserk, which leads Light and Wily to team up and create a cure. As cheesy as it is, this plot climaxes with a rather heartfelt interaction between Mega Man and Roll.
Gameplay Additions: Although Mega Man’s full moveset has yet to return, Mega Man 10 adds Proto Man as a playable character from the beginning. However, it’s also the first game to introduce an easy mode for newcomers. Easy mode tones down enemy placement and puts platforms over bottomless pits, so it’s more of a beginner’s mode, but using extra armor mode in normal difficulty can serve as a happy medium. 10 also brings back quick weapon switching, which would have been much more welcome with 9’s spectacular weapons, and has Bass as a DLC character. Bass plays as he did in Mega Man and Bass, with a rapid fire buster, double jump and dash, although his buster can only be fired while standing still on ground or moving in air. Three challenge mode exclusive levels were also added as DLC that featured the Mega Man Killers, a set of three bosses from the Game Boy games. This serves as fantastic fanservice as well as good additional content, and completing these levels in time trial mode allows the player to use the Killers’ weapons in the main campaign.
Level Design: The level design is admittedly standard for the series, with most of the new mechanics not being as interesting as other installments, although Nitro Man and Blade Man were particularly fun. However, it’s better to have a group of decent levels all-around rather than have a few good levels amidst many awful levels like Mega Man 8 did. In addition, the original level concepts make up for this, with such stages as Strike Man’s sports stadium, Sheep Man’s cyberspace base and Nitro Man’s highway being some of the most unique level ideas in the Classic series.
Graphics: Gone are the copied graphics from Mega Man 2, as Mega Man 10 sports entirely new sprites and backgrounds. If Mega Man 9 tried to be like the early NES titles, 10 tries to be like the objectively better Mega Man 4, 5, and 6 in its visuals, which opens it up to a more distinct appearance. Despite shooting for that time frame, the character designs and backgrounds are unique amongst previous entries, and even the menus and user interface have their own flair. The character designs set themselves apart from other Mega Man games by embracing the fact that certain Robot Masters are just plain ridiculous, such as Spring Man from Mega Man 7, and thus creating Robot Masters that are equal parts cool and silly. Nitro Man is a good example of this, having both the cool concept of transforming into a motorcycle as well as the goofy look of said motorcycle constantly sticking out of his chest. Even some of the minor animations express comically, such as Blade Man’s castle miniboss throwing up a white flag as it crumbles and explodes.
Sound: Mega Man 10 may have the best overall soundtrack in both Legacy Collections, with many hidden gems that even outclass series staples like Mega Man 2’s iconic Wily Castle theme. It mixes the composing styles of Mega Man 4, 5 and 6, with 4’s strong melodies, 5’s atmospheric tracks, and 6’s serious tone. This leads to some of the best tracks in a series already famous for its amazing songs, including Solar Inferno, Desert Commando, and Cybersheep’s Dream. All the Wily Castle themes are fantastic as well, and the Mega Man Killer remixes from the Game Boy games truly do the source material justice.
Bosses: Like Mega Man 9, the bosses have good concepts, such as Solar Man being able to absorb Mega Man’s solar powered buster pellets to increase his fire power’s firepower, and most of the patterns are easy to recognize, but the reaction time required can be somewhat difficult. Most of the game’s difficulty comes from its bosses rather than levels, and some of the bosses are even difficult with their weakness. One of the best boss ideas in the series, a machine that replicates boss patterns from Mega Man 1 through Mega Man 9, is somewhat wasted because of the attack patterns and weapons required. However, most of the bosses seem reasonable at the least, and with practice can be overcome. That aside, the game has surprisingly good minibosses, with a highlight being Blade Man’s castle miniboss or Strike Man’s giant-handed goalie.
Weapons: Most of the weapons are good or at least passable, with Triple Blade and Wheel Cutter being the highlight. One of the issues is that the weapons are difficult to master, such as Chill Spike and Commando Bomb requiring good timing, while weapons like Solar Blaze and Thunder Wool are very difficult to use as they can be destroyed or weakened by bosses.
Difficulty: Easy to hard. With its difficulty modes, Mega Man 10 can be approachable for newcomers, but the bosses may be difficult with or without the weapons.

Although Mega Man 8 isn’t worth the playthrough, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is worth it for 7, 9, and 10. An experimental experience, a nostalgic challenge, and a ridiculous but entertaining finale make Legacy Collection 2 a good time, even if Legacy Collection 1 is a better starting point.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is available for $19.99 on Switch, PS4, XBox One, and PC. This review was made using the Switch version.

Tune in next week for the grand finale of Mega Man Month, a review of the long-awaited Mega Man 11. Following this, the blog will return to a normal schedule, with the next major post releasing on November 13.

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