Games Review: Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 (PS4, 2018) charts the rise and fall of one gaming’s greatest franchises

The Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 is a warts-and-all look at a series that began with an instant classic and ended with a sad trombone sound in the mid-00’s. I don’t think it was Capcom’s intention when they created a retro package of all eight games in the X series, but it’s hard not to notice the steady decline in quality, game-to-game, as the series progresses.

Legacy Collection is broken into two halves — you have Legacy Collection 1, which covers SNES-era titles Mega Man X though X4, and Legacy Collection 2, which focuses on PlayStation-era titles Mega Man X5 to X8. You can actually pick up either collection separately, or together a double-pack on the PlayStation Store. My recommendation is that you pick up Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 and forget as much as you can that Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 even exists.

The four games featured in the SNES-era package are some of the finest action platformers ever made. They take everything that was great about the original Mega Man series on the NES and transfer it to the SNES, updating the formula in ways that both make sense and still feel great. They’re tough as nails, and possess the same satisfaction when you figure out the which suit power will properly clobber a boss. The design is sharp, the enemies imaginative and the levels are memorable. There is a decline in quality as the series progresses and the team start running short on ideas, but overall these four titles present a robust retro package.

The same cannot be said of Legacy Collection 2. I’m not sure what happened to the series in the jump to the Sony PlayStation. While it begins as a loose approximation of the SNES-era look and feel, this is quickly abandoned for 2.5D visuals, 3D models, weird new suit powers. By the time the series reaches the PlayStation 2, the game features voice over, RPG dialogue boxouts, watered-down difficulty and a version of Mega Man that looks like he’s on stilts. I mean, what the hell is this even about?

It’s upsetting, is what it is.

Both remastered collections have been upscaled to run in 4K HDR on the PS4 Pro and feature interchangeable backgrounds, aspect ratios and CRT filters. They all run smoothly, they all feel exactly the way they did on their original consoles.

I’m glad to see these titles getting such a loving remaster. It’s good that Capcom know how to take care of its impressive back catalogue, and I like that they’re willing to put the best of the series on display as well the weakest. While I can’t recommend the second set anywhere near as highly as the first, Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 is nevertheless the a fine tour of one of gaming’s great franchises.

THREE AND A HALF STARS OUT OF FIVE

Highlights: SNES era titles rule; 4K HDR remaster is stellar
Lowlights: PlayStation era titles do not rule
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC
Available: Now

Review conducted using a retail code provided by the publisher.

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David Smith

David Smith is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. He has previously worked as a freelance games journalist and critic, appearing on PC World Australia. He tweets at @RhunWords and plays the odd game at twitch.tv/RhunWords when the internet works.

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