Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 captures some truly fine sidescrolling shooting, cramming in some of the greatest action games ever made from the SNES and PS1.
That, in itself, makes these titles worth grabbing, but not only that, the games offer pages of concept art, pictures of toys, comic covers, and dozens of other images from Mega Man X’s history. Further, it adds in some truly neat new challenges for series veterans, creating a must-have package for fans of the series. New players, though, may not find themselves quite as enamoured with the full package.
Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 gives players eight Mega Man X games, following the series’ history from the SNES to the PS2. The collection splits the titles right down the middle, giving players four games in each, but the split also comes right at when the series’ quality takes a noticeable drop. Mega Man X 1-4 are all well-balanced, challenging action games, but X 5-8, while still entertaining, feel a bit more rushed, unbalanced, or clumsy. There was no real better way to split the games up, but the result is a package where buying the first game is a no-brainer, while the latter will likely only be appreciated by die-hard Mega Man X fans.
This is through no fault of the presentation. The games all look razor-sharp on the Switch’s portable screen, playing with no input lag as players whip through stage after stage of oddball bosses and well-hidden power-ups. Players can also choose to opt into CRT-like filters to give the games that old tv feel or use the new, cleaner visuals that look oh-so-nice. The soundtrack is just as crisp as the visuals, giving the ears a treat as well as the eyes (although some of the delightfully cringe-y dialogue is just as muffled as it used to be).
Choosing a visual filter is far from the only option available. Players can choose to go through the Japanese versions of all of the titles, as well as localizations in other languages for some of the later games, letting them experience the game as it was designed for other audiences. It’s a lovely touch that lets players try out the game in a ‘new’ way, and shows how far its developers went to capture a ton of Mega Man X history with the game.
Players who want to dig deeper into the series’ background will find pages of concept art and more within the Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2. Each game comes with a catalogue of scanned toy images, boss designs, comic artwork, and other tidbits from decades of work on the series. Players can see how their favourite entries came together, the other media that came out of the games, and just really immerse themselves in all of the various things that Mega Man X spawned.
While paying careful attention to the series’ history, the collection isn’t a slave to its difficulty. Instead of offering the ability to save anywhere like in the Mega Man Legacy Collection, this collection offers a Rookie Hunter Mode. This can be toggled on and off at will and will make the player take far less damage on top of making pits and spikes non-lethal in some of the games. This will allow new players the opportunity to practice and gain experience with the games without the constant saving/loading that the previous collection was bad for, and also softens things up for those of us who feel we have little to prove any more.
For those who do want more of a challenge, the Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 offers up some Hunter Medals for players to earn. Basically, achievements, these push players to try out different modes, play at higher difficulties, or try trickier battle tactics, encouraging experimentation and new ways to play.
More interestingly is the X Challenge Mode. This will pit players in two-on-one boss battles with pairs of foes from the series, tasking them with doing things like beating Frost Walrus and Chill Penguin at the same time. These boss pairs have been carefully chosen to work in tandem, using their abilities together to create some devious difficulty, but they’ve also been placed in arenas where their powers can really make life difficult. Players are also limited to equipping only three boss powers to bring with them across three of these match-ups, having to typically rely on the Mega Buster rather than cheese boss weaknesses.
This mode, alone, is arguably worth the price of entry. Choosing from a list of special powers allows the player to tweak their battle strategy in various ways, and the boss pairs create some chances for some spectacular fights as players battle for the tiniest bit of room to dash through the pairs of attacks. It’s exhilarating for those who’ve put days of practice into these games and want something that will truly push them in unique, unexpected ways.
Plus, they’re just a great series of games. Each has their own special merits, memorable bosses and stages, and powers that are a blast to experiment with. The exploration for hidden power-ups and armour sets makes combing through each stage a ball, and the emphasis on high-flying jumps, quick dashes, and weaving through barrages of enemy fire never gets old. Even in its weaker entries, it’s a formula that works well, and its ‘bad’ entries are still great action games on their only (only paling in comparison to other ones in the series).
Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 is a necessity for Mega Man fans. With its impeccable presentation of the classic games, its focus on history, and its ability to remix its challenges to make decades-old games feel brand new, it’s simply a must-have package. Even if the second half is clearly weaker, these are eight games that will capture action fans’ attention for some time.