Mega Man hogs a lot of the spotlight when it comes to retro gaming. With eight original Mega Man titles and eight Mega Man X ones, he sort of forced himself into that light. While the original Mega Man entries have been ported to quite a few consoles recently (along with Inti Creates’ PS3 titles, Mega Man 9 and 10), X has been left in the dust. It hasn’t exactly felt the love since its GameCube collective in 2006. Capcom must have noticed the series was feeling blue, as all eight games have found their way into two new games: Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2.
Don’t let that Kingdom Hearts-esque nomenclature fool you: these are two separate collections. Each one houses four of the original Mega Man X entries. But seeing as both games are pretty similar, we’re grouping them together for one review.
The Mega Man X Legacy Collections do exactly what you think they’d do: port every Mega Man X game to modern consoles, with little to no adjustments. This means if you were adamantly, passionately in love with Mega Man X2, congrats, you still will be. If you disliked the hyper-detailed, PlayStation 2 art style of Mega Man X8, congrats, you still will! Hardcore fans who regularly revisit the series may be disappointed that, aside from some virtual concept art, museum-y pictures, a boss challenge mode, and various screen filters, there’s not much new here. But those who’ve never touched X1 through X8 now have the ample opportunity to do so.
Players accustomed to the original Mega Man style have a lot to learn. Mega Man X and its offspring rely heavily on charge shots, which create interesting combat and platforming scenarios. Will a mini-boss die quicker if you assault it with normal shots, or take your time and charge a powerful one? Maybe you should keep a charged blast on standby for this tricky platforming bit, so you can blast away any foes that would otherwise know you off! This is a cool back-and-forth that some of the originals simply don’t have. Most games in the X Collection also encourage backtracking. An item you receive from the third boss might open a path to a special upgrade in the first level. These upgrades might give you more health, provide a new skill, or improve your charge shot. Upon return, that level may look completely different! It’s also cool that later titles let you play as heroes other than Mega Man.
It quickly becomes clear though that this is simply too much Mega Man. Even with backtracking, new mechanics, and alternate protagonists, they all involve rushing through eight environments to kill eight bosses. Thus, splitting the X Collection into two separate purchases seems a bit silly. Unless you truly love every single Mega Man X entry equally, you’ll likely only buy one collection. This will largely depend on whether you have any heartfelt connection to any game in the series. My personal recommendation of the two is Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1; the Super Nintendo titles have a tighter, more cohesive design than the later entries.
The Super Nintendo games (Mega Man X through X3) once used a sort of code system in lieu of proper saving. In the X Collection, however, you can save at this screen using the Triangle button. Similarly, you can load this save by heading to the main menu’s “Password” option and pressing Triangle. The PlayStation and PlayStation 2 titles (Mega Man X4 and on) already contained their own save/load system after every level, meaning this is entirely untouched.
This is an odd change compared to the original Mega Man Legacy Collection, which let you create and load save states at any given time. The updated Nintendo Switch version even allows you to rewind the game, undo-ing any accidental death. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 offered a sort of checkpoint system, letting you save only at specific points in each level. The X Collection is having none of this. No extra save functionality exists.
If you used these saves to make the games easier, you’re in luck: the X Collection does include an easier option named “Rookie Hunter Mode.” This greatly reduces the amount of damage you’ll take, while leaving every enemy, pit, and instant-death spike intact. It’s a very relaxed way to enjoy all eight games, seeing that you have time to sit down and replay any sections you do manage to get a Game Over on. It’s also helpful when you need to record gameplay footage for a review, as you can tell by my gameplay footage for this review. It removes the hassle of health management, while still leaving platforming challenges and death punishments (i.e. walking back to where you died for the seventh time).
But if you’re short on time, feel punished enough by the death alone, and dislike having to replay large swaths of levels, those save states and rewinds were your bread and butter. In this case, I don’t know what to tell you. The X Collection doesn’t have any of these time-saving features. Deaths mean you restart at your last checkpoint, while Game Overs mean you restart the level entirely. That’s how it was when every Mega Man X entry first released. For some players, that’s a welcome removal. For others, it’s a deal-breaker.
Therein lies the divide. I personally enjoyed many of the modern, save-related, quality-of-life improvements that the original Mega Man Legacy Collection brought with it. They help palate Mega Man as a whole to a new generation. When I wanted the challenge, I could easily ignore the features. They’d still be there when I was short on play time and truly needed them. But in Mega Man X Legacy Collection, they’re completely gone. While Mega Man X alone is a little easier than Mega Man, the difference in save features in both collections inverts the situation. The X Collection disappoints on that front, but it’s still Mega Man X at heart. It’s undeniably entertaining to explore every level, backtrack for new upgrades, and go toe-to-toe with themed bosses. I miss the save functionality and don’t see the point of having two separate games, but the Mega Man X Legacy Collections are fully worth a play.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 review code provided by publisher. Both were version 1.00 and reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.