This Week in Games - Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

by Dustin Bailey,
This week marks a full year since I took over ANN's weekly gaming column, and I hope that despite the loss of the X Button's trademark image alt-text, you've all enjoyed that time as much as I have. Things might be a little weird with other factors on the site these past few days but video games stop for no one, so let's talk about 'em.

First Impressions: Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

The Mega Man series has a very bizarre canon in terms of its most beloved entries. There are the Legends games, which are beloved by an entirely different crowd than the X series, and in turn that's the favorite of an entirely different group than, say, the Battle Network games. When it comes to the original series, people have the most glowing of the first three NES titles—obviously two in particular—with the later entries often forgotten about. The first Mega Man Legacy Collection made sense as a compilation of NES titles, and even if 4, 5, and 6 were less successful than their predecessors, they were still evolutions of the very same basic gameplay.

That's why Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 seems so weird. Instead of six NES games released on more or less an annual schedule, here we have four games spanning nearly twenty years spanning from SNES and original PlayStation games to 8-bit throwbacks digitally released in the days when “Xbox Live Arcade” and “PlayStation Network” sounded like meaningful platform distinctions. And here's my own secret: I'm not much of a Mega Man guy. Not that I dislike the series, just that I have minimal exposure to it—I was a little too young for the NES games, and so the rest of Mega Man just passed me by aside from the gushing of those nostalgic for the originals. All this combined had me incredibly curious to dive into the second Legacy Collection.

The ladders in Mega Man 7 really suck. Either the window on when you can climb doesn't make sense, I'm real bad at time jumps, or the PS4 d-pad isn't great for making the quick switch to pressing up—regardless of what it is, getting up the ladders in MM7 is a pain. Aside from that, the game is a pretty pleasant bit of fresh paint on the Mega Man, offering a pretty straightforward 16-bit reimagining of the NES games, giving brighter, more detailed and colorful sprites to a pretty similar selection of stages, bosses, and weapons. It plays well enough, though the fact that I'm struggling to come up with much to say about it may speak to why it seems to be a mostly forgotten part of the Mega Man legacy, if you will.

Mega Man 8 has much more of what you might call a “reputation” in modern internet circles, owing to the really rotten, awful English dub that accompanied its animated cutscenes. Don't think it's hyperbole, either—the voice work really is that bad, well below even the standards of Capcom's PlayStation contemporaries like Resident Evil. There's a certain endearing charm there if you're nostalgic for the terrible localizations of the 90s, but the reputation is well-deserved. But discounting those cutscenes, MM8 is probably the part of this collection most worth a second look. It's got really beautiful art, with detailed, heavily animated sprites that we sadly didn't see enough of in the 32-bit generation. There are little details, like being able to use the mega buster while having a special weapon equipped. There are varied stages, with little interludes that keep things interesting like riding bubbles through spiked-filled towers and a full-on, Gradius-style scrolling shooter bit. It's very cool, plays well, and looks great.

Mega Man 9 and 10 are pretty straightfoward attempts to recapture the magic of the NES, and they're both successful to varying degrees. They look and feel exactly like the original six, and present themselves pretty much as lost Famicom titles—not a bad thing, but I still can't shake how weird it is that they're in a collection devoted to highlighting a legacy that they're acting in imitation of. This package does feature all of the DLC from both games, which adds extra stage and characters. 9 is most notable for its often absurd difficulty—way harder than even most of the NES games it draws from—which can be a point of contention. For better or worse, 10 offers a pretty breezy take on the formula.

There's not a lot of ways to tune that difficulty across the board in this collection, with the main option merely offering some damage reduction. That's helpful in boss fights, but doesn't make much difference in the insta-death platforming sequences that make up much of the difficulty. There's no save-scumming, either. Instead of offering proper save states like you might expect from a modern emulator, you only have the option to drop checkpoints at particular pre-selected locations. That keeps you from having to worry about lives, but feels like an insubstantial update in light of the features you might expect from literally any other emulator out there, legal or otherwise.

The other additions are nice, but don't feel especially revelatory. There are challenge modes which offer time limits, boss rushes, and remixed stages, but there's a pretty small selection of them for each game. There's concept art, early sketches, and some marketing material, all of which is cool, but it's presented here completely without context, preventing it from having the impact it probably should.

Mega Man Legacy Collection remains pretty good by virtue of the quality of the games it collects, and the fact that it highlights some largely forgotten parts of an often beloved franchise. Its minimal save features and difficulty options are disappointing, but $20 is still a solid price for a group of games worth playing.

NEWS

UFO 50 LOOKS LIKE WAY MORE THAN ANOTHER NOSTALGIA PIECE

Indie games borrowing retro aesthetics are nothing new, and you could make the argument that the success of Cave Story has defined the progress of 2D indies for too long. But even among a sea of pixel art, UFO 50 looks real special. The gimmick is that 50 previously unseen 8-bit games have been discovered from a forgotten 80s developer, and those titles have been repackaged for a modern audience.

Derek Yu, Eirik Suhrke, Jon Perry, Paul Hubans, and Ojiro Fumoto—you might particularly recognize the first and last names there as the respective creators of Spelunkey and Downwell—make up the team behind UFO 50, and their experience shines through even in the announcement trailer. There's a properly limited 8-bit color pallet, and way more than generic Famicom games every game has its own personality, look, and feel, from RPGs and action games to tower defense and sci-fi golf titles.

Everything promises to be pretty substantial, too, with the developers suggesting these aren't minigames but rather only slightly less substantial than real NES releases. It's reminiscent of Retro Game Challenge—the DS spin-off of GameCenter CX—only with 10 times the number of titles. The idea of another retro indie spin generally leaves me with little more than a shrug, but the pedigree of the developers and the quality on display in the trailer has got me very excited. Plus, the official site is at 50games.fun, and you can't oversell the impact of a URL that good.

REJOICE, FOR DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 IS ON THE WAY

I can't remember going from 0-to-60 on a game quite as fast as with Dragon Quest Builders. What looked from the outset like a Japanese developer's mediocre attempt to capitalize on the success of Minecraft turned out to be an awesome attempt to capitalize on the success of Minecraft, combining sandbox building with a greater sense of structure and progress that somehow managed to get the best of both worlds.

And now there's more on the way, as Square Enix has announced Dragon Quest Builders 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 and Switch. There are quality of life improvements, like a dedicated hammer button and bigger inventory stacks. There are environmental improvements, like the ability to build sloped terrain, redirect water flow, and dive underwater yourself. There's a brazen rip-off of Breath of the Wild in the form of a glider that still looks so fun I can't be mad about how derivative it is.

That's the story of Dragon Quest Builders, though—so much fun you can't be mad about how derivative it is. The most notable addition is four-player co-op, though it's as yet unclear whether that will be online-only or also local. Also unclear is when this game will release, and rounding out that lack of clarity is the fact that an English version is as yet unconfirmed. What do you want, for me to not be excited about a cool sequel?

THE AM2R STORY HAS A HAPPY ENDING

This Week in Games isn't the only anniversary to note—it's also been a full year since the release of the fan-made Metroid 2 remake, AM2R, which just so happened to be the featured story from the first edition of this column. Nintendo's shutdown of the project likely would've occurred either way, but the reveal of an official remake of the Game Boy game at E3 this year made the reasoning behind that action even more obvious.

It turns out that this all has a happy ending. Not only will a rad fan-made Metroid 2 exist in perpetuity on the internet, we're getting an official game on 3DS—and now, to top it all off, it seems the success of AM2R has led to a career in games for its designer, Milton Guasti. He's joining up with Moon Studios to work on Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the follow-up to an absolutely excellent 2015 Metroidvania. Follow your dreams, kids, and remember that even though piracy is bad a little copyright infringement and serious creative work can give you the success you need to kickstart a career. That's some kind of lesson, I'm sure.

UPCOMING RELEASES

AGENTS OF MAYHEM
Developer: Volition
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platform: PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC
Release Date: August 15
MSRP: $59.99

Saints Row and the brand of open-world absurdity it evolved into seems to be a thing of the past, but Agents of Mayhem is a spinoff looking to take that sense of humor into a more action-focused set of gameplay conditions. There are a variety of agents with unique abilities you can switch between at any time, giving a little variety to the mayhem. Reception to early versions of the game has been less than stellar, but here's hoping the final release pulls things together.

NIDHOGG 2
Developer: Messhof
Publisher: Messhof
Platform: PlayStation 4 / PC
Release Date: August 15
MSRP: $14.99

There are lots of competitive games focused on local play. Getting together with a friend and having a good time while building a rivalry in a fast-paced action game—it's like the fun happens almost automatically. But there's no game of that style I enjoyed more than Nidhogg. It's a little bit fighting game, a little bit platformer, where you're rushing to sacrifice yourself to an ancient worm god at the end. Nidhogg 2's aesthetics might be an acquired taste, but the previous game was so good I wanna learn to like it.

SONIC MANIA
Developer: Headcannon / PagodaWest Games
Publisher: Sega
Platform: PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / Switch / PC
Release Date: August 15
MSRP: $19.99

“This is it! Finally, the Sonic game you want!” Or so Sega says, for at least the dozenth time this decade. Even if it doesn't change the hedgehog's fortunes, it does at least look to be a well-considered collection of the best parts of the Genesis games, reworked into a whole new set of levels. In stark contrast to Nintendo's stance toward fan projects, Sonic Mania is being led in part by somebody who used to make Sonic fangames and ports on his own time, so at the very least this project's heart will be in the right place.

SUMMON NIGHT 6: LOST BORDERS
Developer: Media Vision
Publisher: Gaijinworks
Platform: PlayStation 4 / PlayStation Vita
Release Date: August 15
MSRP: $59.99 / $44.99

I never really realized that “visual novel-meets-strategy RPG” was a genre, but between Utawarerumono and Summon Night I guess it certainly is. (And given the proclivities of recent Fire Emblem titles, I shouldn't be surprised.) Summon Night 6 is only the second game in the main series to receive an official English release. The last game was fairly well-received, so this is a promising addition to a niche SRPG library.

ALSO AVAILABLE:
One of the biggest, most influential games of all time is getting a remastered release in the form of Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition—oh, and StarCraft: Remastered is out this week, too. That's alongside the PS4 and Vita versions of Undertale and a new PC version of Rez Infinite, so this is a terrific week for rebuying games you might already own.

The Final Fantasy XV multiplayer beta is also scheduled to run this weekend, and I still can't wrap my mind around that actually being a thing that exists. And, uh… Gal*Gun VR is on Steam, so use that knowledge as you will. I ain't a cop.


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