Mega Man is seemingly a franchise that – try as it might – Capcom just cannot put to rest. Despite not seeing the same level of success as other franchises such as Resident Evil or Monster Hunter, the fan adoration for the little robot remains as strong as ever. After being dormant for a lengthy stretch of time, it seems the poor reception to Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 has sparked a fierce desire to return to the classic Mega Man series – as such, an eleventh title in the core series is well on its way later in 2018. But for now, let’s take a look at Mega Man 7 through 10, collected together in Legacy Collection 2 (you can also check out our review of Mega Man Legacy Collection, which contains the first six titles in the series).
Following on from the six NES entries, Mega Man 7 is a return to the classic formula one year after the more mature Mega Man X made its mark on the gaming community. It’s a deliberate attempt to strip back some of the gameplay innovations seen in the new series and replicate the feeling that many veteran gamers felt when playing entries 1 to 6. The result, however, proved to be quite polarising. Whilst fans were more or less unanimous in their praise of the game’s visuals, many felt the game to be a basic rehash of the NES games, with similar enemies, bosses and even level design littering the game from start to finish. Personally, I feel that the whilst the game missed a clear opportunity to push the series in new directions, it’s still an experience worth taking.
The gameplay as a whole feels much slower than what veterans might be used to, but all of the iconic systems are still there: you can jump, shoot and slide your way through levels, and it does genuinely work quite well. The main issue is that it feels a bit heavier than its NES forebears, which is probably enough to put off a lot of players who prefer the zippier, purer gameplay from Mega Man 1 to 6. Nevertheless, the game should be commended for not only looking great, but also introducing some series’ staples, most notably the arrival of fan favourites Bass and Treble, the anti-heroes who actively rebel against both Mega Man and Dr. Wily.
Mega Man 8, released on the PlayStation 1 in 1996, once again split opinions between fans. The game displayed another shift in graphical style, presenting the action in a similar style to the Mega Man X series, albeit with more colourful, child-friendly aesthetics. The gameplay itself remained largely the same, however the introduction of the sub-weapon Mega Ball allowed the player to explore different tactics, particularly with boss characters (if you’re particularly adept with the Mega Ball, you can also manipulate it to perform some gravity-defying leaps across the levels).
Mega Man 8 also features some of the most laughably bad voice acting in the history of games. Its willingness to expand the story is admirable, and the visual quality of the cutscenes on display is impressive. Unfortunately, none of the characters sounds even remotely how you’d expect – Mega Man himself sounds like he’s inhaled a copious amount of helium before talking, it’s so jarring. Thankfully, you won’t have to listen to the voices too much throughout the game.
Following a lengthy break from the series, Capcom returned to the fold with Mega Man 9 in 2008. Thanks to a resurgent interest in retro games during this time, the company decided to take the series back to its 8-bit roots, making the entry practically indistinguishable from its NES ancestors. Not only did they strip back the graphics, but a host of gameplay elements were also removed. Mega Man can no longer charge up his shots and, perhaps more drastically, can no longer slide along the ground. It’s a deliberate effort to call back the might of Mega Man 2, arguably one of the best entries in the entire series. However, Proto Man can also be played in the same levels, and he not only has the ability to slide around, but can also block projectiles with his shield.
The influence from earlier titles is clear – Mega Man 9 easily features some of the best level design in the entire franchise. If you’re a veteran of the series, none of it will be particularly taxing, but nevertheless remains immense fun throughout. Newcomers should take note though, the rewind feature from the first Legacy Collection is nowhere to be found here, so be careful! Overall, it’s an incredibly successful throwback to the earlier titles, and it makes me wonder if Mega Man 11 has any hope of recapturing the same kind of magic.
Finally, Mega Man 10 is another call back to the classic NES series, but is unable to pull it off as well as its predecessor. Newcomers are oddly well catered for, however, with the ability to trigger an ‘easy’ difficulty, which will provide safety nets above a lot of the game’s hazards. Again, Mega Man and Proto Man are playable, and both have the same limitations and abilities as the other games. There’s little here to truly differentiate this entry to the other games, and I feel only the most ardent of Mega Man fans will truly appreciate it.
Much like the initial Legacy Collection, there are a plethora of challenges available to players with all entries. With Mega Man 9 and 10, there is also a system featured not unlike achievements or trophies – for example, if you can make it through a level without getting hit or without stopping, you’ll complete the challenge. There’s no real incentive to finishing these, but it’s nice that they’re included regardless.
The art gallery also makes a return. Every game features a selection of concept art for your viewing pleasure. Sadly, it’s not quite as extensive as the first Legacy Collection, but still, being able to view some of the visual processes of the game is a great way to really appreciate the experiences themselves.
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is largely more of the same, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the first release. Whilst I personally found immense enjoyment from all four games available, a lot of fans and newcomers alike may not appreciate the direction Mega Man 7 and 8 took the series in. As such, only the latter half of the collection can truly be considered as must-plays.
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 contains a good selection of titles from the series’ later years. It’s not quite up there with the first compilation because two of the four titles available here may not be to everybody’s taste. However, if you’re looking for a complete history of the core series, it’s a fantastic companion piece to the first compilation.