What’s the BEST Way to Play Mega Man?

by Dan

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If you’re interested in collecting retro games, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that Mega Man 1-6 for the NES tend to carry a hefty price tag. Mega Man seems to be one of those rare franchises that tends to hold up really well without nostalgia glasses and the price of the physical cartridges reflect that.

I love adding physical cartridges to my collection when I can, but in the case of Mega Man I’d actually argue there’s a MUCH better way to enjoy the games WITHOUT breaking the bank, and that’s The Mega Man Legacy Collection (eBay).

For what it’s worth, I own the NES cartridges of Mega Man 2-6, but the MMLC is still hands-down the way I choose to play Mega Man these days. It’s a fantastic collection of games that belongs in the library of anyone who’s ever enjoyed Mega Man or is remotely interested in checking out the origins of the franchise.

Let’s talk about why.


Soothing the Pain

If you’re unfamiliar with Digital Eclipse, they’re responsible for porting a lot of great retro game collections (like the Disney Afternoon Collection) to modern platforms. The thing that makes them special is the love and appreciation for retro gaming they put into their work, which can easily been seen through things like the quality-of-life upgrades and museum features that we see in the collections they handle. In my experience, their ports are amazing examples of fan-service done RIGHT.

The Mega Man Legacy Collection goes beyond simple ports of the first 6 Mega Man games (which includes the Japanese versions as well) and adds quality-of-life features that not only feel essential these days, but actually turn these notoriously difficult games into potentially much more enjoyable and forgiving experiences for newcomers. The most obvious example of this is rewinding and save states.

Purists might cry foul at the option to rewind, but at the end of the day, I suspect that most people play video games for FUN. Taking the sting out of the failure not only makes these games more accessible for more casual fans, but it also helps busy adults enjoy games more without feeling annoyed at their time being sucked away by the classic “GOTCHA’S” that tend to show up in a lot of retro games.

Don’t get me wrong, I like hard games and I enjoy a good challenge, but having my limited time wasted by arbitrary nonsense isn’t something I have much patience for. Saving and rewinding are features that I always appreciate and generally, it feels disappointing when ports of retro games don’t include these.

Options include Saving and Loading. A shoulder button Rewinds during gameplay.

Blast Processing

The next thing that makes this collection worthwhile is the CPU speed option. Certain NES games are notorious for their slowdown and Mega Man is no exception. While certain gamers might enjoy the slowdown as part of the experience, the Mega Man Legacy Collection actually gives players the option to turn on a “Turbo” CPU, which actually removes the slowdown from the game and it runs like it would if it were being released today.

Purists might cry foul about this feature, but again, having this option is really nice and it’s definitely my preferred way to play. I’m brushing up for this article, I played both with and without the turbo CPU and was instantly greeted with a lot more dying on a tougher segment literally due to the slowdown making the controls unresponsive.

Now, this is absolutely part of the original experience and you can definitely work WITH the slowdown, but I’ve found the games are just more enjoyable for me when they don’t turn into a slideshow.


Challenges

If you’ve enjoyed Mega Man extensively in the past and you’re looking for something that helps to shake up the familiar experience in new ways, the MMLC has you covered with the challenge mode.

The collection has a list of several timed challenges that award medals based on how fast you complete them along with leaderboards for bragging rights.

The nice thing here is not only are you given A LOT of challenges to complete (boss rush, mixing small level segments from games, etc), but the leaderboard actually has recordings that you can watch of the player’s completion so you can optimize your own times more effectively.

If you’re into trophy/achievement hunting, a lot of the trophies/achievements are attached to the challenge mode (playing through each game on the collection as well), which is another nice incentive to check them out if you’re so inclined. Admitted, the trophy list doesn’t have a platinum, and it’s short overall, but I’m glad to have a little bit more of an incentive to do the challenges.


Visual Options

One of the other reasons why the Mega Man Legacy Collection is a viable alternative to the original cartridges is due to the visual options. It’s all pretty standard stuff, but if scan lines are your thing, you’ll find 2 different filters available as well as 3 different aspect ratios (original, 4:3, 16:9).


Museum Features

The last thing that I enjoy about the Mega Man Legacy Collection is the bonus features it includes. Each game has a “museum” and a database of things like enemy info and concept art from each game.

If you’re a hardcore fan of Mega Man or you just enjoy seeing some of the “behind-the-scenes” styles features of video games in general, the artwork here is a real treat and it makes the collection feel like something truly unique and complete.

The bonus features also include soundtracks from each game. So if you’re looking to enjoy some of those sweet, sweet chiptunes, you’ll be happy to find plenty to listen to here. The only downside with the music is that the songs only play when you select them and don’t continue to play after the song you selected finishes. It’s not the end of the world, it’s just a bit weird that a music section wouldn’t cater very well to listening to music for an extended period without needing to constantly select a track.


Closing Thoughts

I’m a big fan of retro gaming collections and The Mega Man Legacy Collection is one of my absolute favorites. If you wait for a sale, you get a great deal on every platform somewhere in the range of $10 or less (at least in the US).

If you buy a physical copy of the PS4 or Xbox One version, the game also has a nice little insert card with the boss abilities and weaknesses from each game, which saves you the headache of looking up the boss order in each game if you’re unsure. It’s a really nice touch.

Overall, I can’t recommend this collection enough and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all if you add this one to your library.

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