There are iconic fanbase rivalries that have seemingly existed since gaming’s earliest age. Do you prefer Super Mario Bros. or Sonic the Hedgehog? What about Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat? But rarely do you see an inter-series rivalry as fierce as the Mega Man versus Mega Man X debates. While Mega Man (or Rockman for Eastern readers) series is the original that kickstarted the iconic Blue Bomber and his gameplay, Mega Man X ultimately polished the gameplay adding depth, added platforming mechanics, and a story to wrap the package together. For the first time, Capcom has made the X series available in its entirety in Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2, and there is no better time to jump into the series.
For those entirely out of the loop, Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 is the physical repackaging of two separate Mega Man X Legacy Collections. The first pack (priced at $20) contains the original Mega Man X to Mega Man X4 in the mainline series. Meanwhile, the second pack (predictably) holds onto Mega Man X5 to Mega Man X8. Along the way, Capcom has added a slew of features, overlays, and a captivating new boss-rush type mode that drives home the value of the collection.
But let’s roll everything back. A lot of this review is in perspective of the previously released Mega Man Legacy Collection, the accompanying series for the mainstream Mega Man games. And while we enjoyed our time with both Mega Man Legacy Collection and Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, both compilations left something to be desired: overall polish, a unified platform of changes, and replayability, to name a few.
Thankfully Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 bursts out the gate with smart design choices above its predecessor. Instead of merely feeling like a ROM compilation like the original Mega Man Legacy Collection, developer Capcom shows enough individualized attention to each version of the game and the hub screen to give the air of a remaster.
The first among the changes is easy access to many different localizations of the same game. Have you wanted to play the original Rockman X in Japanese? How about an Italian version of Mega Man X8? All of that is available with a quick button press from the main menu, not that too much is changed in the various localizations.
As an aside, Capcom is quickly perfecting the Collection line of their classics — each release progressively gets better with pack-ins and features. While Mega Man Legacy Collection may have been kind enough to offer the multiple games’ soundtrack and nifty filters and overlays, Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 offers all of that, a product museum, a screenshot museum, the original trailers for the games across different regions, and the 25-minute anime OVA Mega Man X: The Day of Sigma. No matter if you pick up the combined collection or one of the individual collections, you will feel like you are getting your money’s worth.
I also appreciate the consistency when it comes to how Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 treats newcomers. While the Mega Man variety of games came with different solutions to dull the edge of the notably tricky platformers for novices like giving the ability to autofire and reverse time, Mega Man X Legacy Collection debuts a dedicated mode: Rookie Hunter Mode. This new Rookie Hunter Mode adds a bit of balance for those who are not accustomed to the Mega Man formula, offering more damage boost against enemies and bosses as well as damage reduction for Mega Man. Although it may feel like cheating to Mega Man X purists, this is the best incorporation of making the game easier for newcomers while not simply overpowering them.
The other new mode that Capcom incorporated into the game is X Challenge Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. An interesting take on a traditional Boss Rush mode, X Challenge will pit you against multiple Mega Man X bosses at once in a larger room. You will begin with a fully upgraded Mega Man and a limit of three special weapons that will carry over in each round of a stage. After taking on a minimum of six bosses in three stages, you will be assigned a score based on your performance that will carry on to a global leaderboard.
This brand new mode oozes polish in ways unseen in the original Mega Man Legacy Collection’s challenge mode. Sure, it may be a re-hash of the series bosses, but repackaged in a new way to make the gameplay and goals feel original in retrospect. This isn’t a mode that should be jumped over instead of the main games.
Speaking of the main games, everything holds over well on the transition to the Nintendo Switch — even the disastrous Mega Man X7. If you are only looking to buy half of this bundle, I don’t think you would be doing anything wrong with just picking up the first half. While there are shining moments within Mega Man X5 and Mega Man X8, it’s inarguable that the series hit its peak early. However, for $40, the complete collection has more than enough value to keep any newcomer and series fan occupied.
Much like Mega Man’s transformation himself between series, Mega Man X Legacy Collection feels like an upgrade on all fronts and should be an entry point for all Mega Man novices and longtime fans. Sporting the add-ons that made the previous collection great and smart new cohesion and modes to tie the package together, Capcom outdoes itself with another remastered collection.