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Mega Man X Legacy Collection Review

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On 08/20/2018 at 09:00 AM by Casey Curran

And the best Mega Man X game is...

If you already own the games, the quality of life improvements and convenience of having them all together on a modern console is just enough for to justify revisiting them. If you haven't played them, it's one of the best values around.

Part of being a gamer is picking your favorite Mega Man subseries and diving in. Some enjoy the simplicity of the classic series. Others want the story and exploration from the Legends series. Personally, I like the X series. Something about vanilla Mega Man never clicked with me, with X giving me just enough complexity without deviating from what makes the series work. Despite my love for Mega Man X, I never tried its sequels, so I was excited to see what they added to the formula.

Before I continue, however, I would like to point out that this is the first half of the Legacy Collection consisting of the X, X2, X3, and X4. The option is digital only with the physical edition requiring you to buy all the games together (though X7 and X8 will need to be downloaded). The additions to these games are also a tad disappointing.

On the upside, the first three titles include the ability to save the game when the password screen pops up. It only offers one save slot as opposed to X4's 8, but it's appreciated nonetheless. Speaking of X4, load times are lightning fast, making the game flow at a smooth pace. There's a new challenge mode which is a fun diversion, but not too substantial along with some concept art, but other than that there's not too many extras here. The games are the star and at a $20 price point, that's perfectly fine by me.

X is everything a sequel entering a new console generation should be. Its addition of armor parts offers a new element of exploration to the series to hunt down the new abilities and health upgrades. This new element ties in nicely with the character X's ability to jump on walls and dash, opening up new possibilities for puzzles and platforming challenges to hide the collectables. Bosses are changed, yet still retain a gimmick, such as how Flame Mammoth shoots fire. However, rather than just being (blank) Man, they're all based on animals or mythical creatures allowing more creativity with their designs and attack patterns.

The game itself knew exactly how to take advantage of all of these elements while perfecting what's already worked before for Mega Man. Bosses are still picked in a nonlinear order and give a weapon upon dying which will be strong against another boss. While a small number stand no chance against their weakness, most still provide a stiff challenge that's not too hard if you lack said weapon. It's a strong balance that works well. X might also have the best selection of weapons as well, as I found a good use for most of them outside just hitting a boss weak to them.

Levels meanwhile hide their secrets well, not too obscure but not out in the open. The one exception is the leg upgrade which adds the dash mechanic. This ends up being so crucial to the game, however, that putting it in the open ends up being a smart choice. Enemy and hazard placement is challenging, yet always fair and the game does not contain a single bad level.

X2 does not change things too much and what is there is hit or miss. The ability to dash in the air is a game changer, offering all kinds of new possibilities. There's a subplot to gather the parts of the character Zero, however, who died in the last game (he kind of does that a lot), each time requiring X to fight a different boss. These bosses are not the best showing of Mega Man and the only change is whether you fight Zero at the last level. Speaking of the last level, once the eight Maverick bosses are defeated, level design takes a sharp dive in quality.

X3 is where the formula seems to be on its last legs.The game throws far too many collectables at the players, requiring a lot of backtracking to past levels to get everything. Levels are also flooded with enemies to the point of losing its fun. Bosses unfortunately fall into a trap of being next to impossible without exploiting their weakness and beaten effortlessly with the weapon hitting said weakness. There is also the option to play as Zero until you die. Once. Then he's gone for good. His playstyle also feels underdeveloped, leaving a lot to be desired.

Fortunately, X4 learned all the right lessons from X3. Level design is just as strong as the original game's. Upgrades are found in easy locations and need a minimal amount of backtracking. Zero is fully playable with his own unique playstyle. Going in I doubted any of the sequels would top X, but I couldn't have been any more wrong. X4 is the pinnacle of the series.

The visuals receive an upgrade as this title was developed for the PS1 and Saturn, taking full advantage of the 32 bit hardware. Backgrounds and character models contain more detail, screen filling bosses are more plentiful, and there are a number of setpieces not possible on the SNES. Levels aren't simple hallways anymore either, as they'll have players blasting through a moving train and hopping from one aircraft to another.

Zero's playstyle could be considered the expert mode of the two with X for beginners. X offers a familiar yet more refined version of the SNES titles that is easy to get into. Zero trades the franchise's tried and true buster gun for a laser sword known as the saber. This requires Zero to get up close and personal with enemies, requring smarter traversal and approaches to attacking enemies.

Zero's upgrades are quite the change too. Rather than adding a new element, they give him new abilities. There's an upward slash, a double jump, and many more until Zero has a moveset full of so many options you'll wonder how you got by without all these extra options. Even with these extra moves, Zero requires more care and attention than X. It's not so much that the game is harder, just that he demands the player be more aware of their surroundings.

Levels offer the most creative designs yet, incorporating ideas such as jumping from one airship to another or requiring the player to speed run through certain sections in order to get to the next portion. Bosses somehow work equally well for both X and Zero. All of them are perfectly beatable with each character with no upgrades or new weapons, though some will be more challenging than others. The game is so great that it had me wishing the 5th generation embraced 2D games more, as it has aged flawlessly, something few, if any, 3D games from the era can claim.

X4 also sees a slightly stronger emphasis on story, mostly through the addition of anime cutscenes. The story ends up making no sense, yet I can't call it a complete waste due to the cutscenes itself. When focusing on action, these cutscenes have top notch animation. Dialog on the other hand is hilariously bad. There's a specific scene involving Zero that's meant to be an emotional gut punch, but is so over the top and ridiculous that it ended up being one of the funniest moments I've seen in a game. 

With two fantastic games, one great game, and one good game, $20 is an incredible value for the first volume of these games. If you've never played them before, I would recommend starting with just the first half, as there is a huge gap in quality between the two. If you already own the games, the extras are not quite enough to entice a double dip unless you really want it on a modern platform.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Cary Woodham

08/20/2018 at 10:16 AM

Yeah X and X4 are the best in the series.  Sounds like it's better to get the collection on disc.  That way you have all the games.  I love the challenge mode where you get to battle two bosses at once, like Chill Penguin and Frost Walrus.  So funny!  The extras are cool, too.  Especially the toys and The Day of Sigma cartoon from the PSP game.

Casey Curran Staff Writer

08/20/2018 at 11:44 AM

I'd recommend newcomers get the volume 1 digitally first because between four games, it's very possible they'll get their fill without having to spend twice as much on games they may not end up caring about. Veterans know whether X5-X8 are worth the extra $20.

Super Step Contributing Writer

08/20/2018 at 12:45 PM

I was always partial to X2, mostly because I rented it the most of the series and I loved the look of it and the motorcycles. 

I'm excited to see what X4 has in store for me when I eventually buy this. Only ever played the first two games. 

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