Capcom's long-running Mega Man franchise has branched off into many different directions over the years. The Mega Man X series contains the most action-packed games in the blue bomber's history so let's revisit its origins.
Before I get to the actual games, allow me to say that I've been a huge fan of all things Mega Man ever since I was a wee lad and when I first played Mega Man X, I was blown away. I still own physical copies of all 8 main Mega Man X games as well as Mega Man X Collection and Mega Man X: Command Mission on PlayStation 2, Maverick Hunter X, and both Mega Man Xtreme games. When I saw that a new collection of Mega Man X games was coming out, I just had to play through the series yet again as I have many times before.
To kick things off, Mega Man X is a solid first entry in the series. It introduced fans to effortless wall-jumping, dash jumps, collectible armour pieces, health upgrades, refillable sub-tanks, and much more elaborate stage designs. Of course, it also invited players into a whole new futuristic setting with a memorable cast of characters including the awesome Zero, the malicious Vile, and the cunning and evil Sigma. Anyway, Mega Man X2 amplified these innovations by tightening up the gameplay and including mechanics such as a hovercycle that you can ride in certain stages as well as a few extra bosses in the form of the X-Hunters: Violen, Serges, and Agile. There's also an optional aspect where you can collect Zero's parts which changes the campaign depending on if you succeed or not.
Rounding out the 16-bit games, Mega Man X3 took the established formula and added tons of new features, moves, and complexities. For starters, you can ride around in four powerful machines known as the Chimera, Frog, Hawk, and Kangaroo carriers. Also, on top of armour pieces, you can now enhance your parts further with chips and if you're clever enough, you can acquire the Gold Armor which grants you every enhancement. You may even unlock Zero's Beam Saber itself, too. This time around, optional boss encounters will have you fight Bit and Byte and even take on Vile in an epic confrontation. However, be prepared because after you beat Sigma, you must test your wall-jumping skills in an intense sequence. As if Kaiser Sigma wasn't tough enough! What a fantastic game.
Finally, Mega Man X4 marked the series' 32-bit debut and featured more detailed visuals, anime cutscenes, and a CD-quality soundtrack. The gameplay and campaign aren't as complicated as X3's but the fact that you can play through the entire game as either X or Zero is simply awesome. I find the controls of X4 to be super-tight and fluid and playing as Zero is an absolute treat. It often feels like a 2D fighting game considering Zero uses a sword and he acquires so many moves that'll have you utilizing button combinations and sequences as you tear through each stage. Although the campaign and stage designs are a lot more straightforward, I personally find the core gameplay of X4 to be the most rewarding of all four featured games in this first collection.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection contains a lot of goodies. In lieu of a list of challenges, there's an arcade-style boss rush mode known as X Challenge where you fight a succession of bosses two at a time. I thought this mode was a fun take on the classic boss battles but it often feels slapped together and uncoordinated. Whereas regular boss fights are intimate encounters where you observe your opponent's moves, these fights are much less focused. It's still a novel idea and quite fun, though. The museum content contains massive image galleries of official art, sketches, and product photographs as well as the included games' soundtracks, trailers that extend the whole series, and an anime that was included in the PSP game Mega Man Maverick Hunter X named The Day of Sigma.
I should mention some in-game extras such as Rookie Hunter Mode which makes the games a lot easier. You can also swap between a few wallpapers and adjust the screen display settings. For the record, I chose Type 2 for the screen size and turned the filter off.
Although there are lots of goodies, I'm disappointed that only the SNES version of Mega Man X3 is included. Even Mega Man X Collection for PlayStation 2 had the 32-bit Sega Saturn / PlayStation version which features anime cutscenes and entirely redone music. Speaking of which, not even the soundtrack is included. Thankfully, I own the 12 CD Rockman X Sound Box. Nerdiness aside, I came across plenty of performance issues while playing through the first 3 games. Specifically, severe screen tearing and slowdown and sustained music notes. These issues didn't pop up constantly but when they did, it was definitely noticeable, especially in Launch Octopus' stage. Last but not least, the fact that the collection is split into two is pretty annoying. A lot of content is in both collections so the download file size is obviously bloated. Plus, having to jump between two games to experience the entire collection is a pain.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection contains the incredible origins of a series that should never be forgotten. It may not be the definitive compilation of all things X but reliving these classics is a must for any Mega Man fan.
- + Includes four fantastic Mega Man X games
- + Slick presentation with menus full of museum-style content that are a joy to explore
- + X Challenge is an innovative inclusion
- - Currently suffers from performance issues
- - Not having the entire 8 game collection in one place can be pretty annoying
- - Only has the SNES version of Mega Man X3