Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 & 2 – REVIEW (Nintendo Switch)

After a successful run on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Capcom decided their wildly successful Blue Bomber needed a fresh redesign to usher in the franchise’s debut on the shiny, new, 16-bit Super Nintendo Thus was the Mega Man X series born, which kicked the series’ timeline forward 100 years and introduced fans to a new hero in X, a taller, leaner, and mightier take on Capcom’s true-blue hero who lived in an edgier world than the one fans had grown accustomed to on the NES

With refreshed gameplay mechanics like wall-jumping and dashing along with bigger, more intricate stages hiding away permanent upgrades like health-extending Heart Tanks and capsules that upgraded X’s armor with a new appearance and abilities over the course of the game, the Mega Man X series quickly carved out its own special place in fans’ hearts So it’s no wonder that as Capcom recently set about compiling the original Mega Man’s adventures yet again for current-generation platforms in the form of two so-called Legacy Collections, fans were left with one persistent question: what about X? Capcom has at last answered that question with Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 which, unsurprisingly, are very similar in form and function to the original Mega Man Legacy Collections that preceded it Compiling all eight of X’s mainline adventures across two compilations alongside the usual smattering of art and music galleries as well as modern conveniences like image filter and screen size options, the X Legacy Collections attempt to take things a step further with additional fan-focused inclusions like a product gallery collecting images of various Mega Man X goods like action figures and trading cards, and even a brand-new gameplay mode But does it all work? Well, yes and no In a general sense, the frontend presentation of the X Legacy Collections outside of the games themselves and the lineup of extra content complementing them goes well beyond Capcom’s and Digital Eclipse’s offerings in the original Legacy Collections, making for compilations that really feel like they were designed with fans in mind despite a couple of puzzling missteps

But at the same time, the X Legacy Collections are ironically saddled with preserving the legacy of a series whose quality from game to game has proven to be far less consistent than that of the Classic Mega Man series that inspired it, ultimately resulting in two very lopsided collections in terms of the quality of their included games Let’s start with the first X Legacy Collection, which collects the first half of the series in Mega Man X, X2, X3, and X4 It’s no exaggeration to say that the original Mega Man X is one of the greatest 2D platformers of all time and is a game that should be played by anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre or of video games in general, and that’s just as true here as it ever was With some of the most inspired level designs in the business, a simple but effective story, special weapons that are as fun to use as they are useful, elegant sprite animation that absolutely holds up in a modern context, and one of the greatest soundtracks ever, period, the first Mega Man X game is truly the complete package LIkewise, Mega Man X2 and X3 are two very strong 16-bit sequels that take the mechanics and concepts established in the first game and expand upon them while also pushing them in new directions

While X2 is the stronger of the two and X3 sometimes threatens to buckle under the weight of its own ambitions, with a lengthy list of hidden upgrades and enhancements to find that sometimes borders on excessive, both of X’s Super NES sequels are great games in their own right — even if neither of them quite lives up to the legendary original game And then there’s the series’ 32-bit debut in Mega Man X4, which is praised and revered among fans in much the same way as the original game For good reason, too: X4 remains a high point for the Mega Man X series and for 2D platformers in general, with gorgeous visuals and a typically excellent soundtrack that took full advantage of the series’ jump to a CD-based format via the PS1 and SEGA Saturn X4 also sees the full-time playable debut of the fan-favorite Zero, X’s saber-wielding best buddy who, up to that point, had only been briefly playable in X3 Both characters have unique stories fleshed out by old-school anime cutscenes whose quality holds up to this day, but more importantly X and Zero also play completely differently from one another, providing more than enough justification to run, jump, shoot, and slash through X4’s tightly designed levels as both heroes

Simply put, if a Mega Man X fan tells you their favorite game in the series ISN’T the original, it’s probably X4 It really is that good X Legacy Collection 2, then, brings up the rear half of the series with Mega Man X5, X6, X7, and X8 And unfortunately, it’s here where the series begins to stumble before taking a long, hard, but ultimately temporary fall from grace As the series’ first 32-bit sequel, Mega Man X5 sought to change things up by introducing a time-based element to gameplay that can alter the story and result in one of several possible endings depending on how quickly you complete certain objectives

It was a noble effort but ultimately a solution to a problem that didn’t exist, changing up the structural formula of the series for no discernible benefit On top of that X5 suffers from an across-the-board reduction in the quality of its level design, graphics, and lineup of special weapons, as well as a poor English localization that dulls the value of an otherwise impactful story that seeks to wrap up the series’ dangling plot threads and bring things to a definitive, poignant conclusion And if the series had been allowed to actually end there as was originally intended, X5 would have served as a perfectly average ending to X’s adventures — not terrible, and not great, but good enough But that’s not where things ended Capcom followed this effort up barely a year later with the altogether poor Mega Man X6, whose nonsensical story was only made worse with one of the most laughably terrible localizations of all time — a localization that has not been improved or fixed at all for its encore appearance in X Legacy Collection 2

Add to that a complete abandonment of sensible level design in favor of painfully repetitive gimmick-focused stages whose idea of difficulty is to just fill the screen with enemies and their bullets so that you have no choice but to take damage, and it becomes clear why X6 is a chapter of the series that is better left forgotten But hey, at least the soundtrack is great! Sadly, the X series’ reputation would be plunged further into the ground with Mega Man X7, which debuted on the PlayStation 2 and attempted to drag the series, kicking and screaming, into the third dimension To say this didn’t work out very well would be a huge understatement; X7 was an absolute mess of a game back at the time of its original launch, to say nothing of how poorly it has aged by today’s standards It’s no exaggeration to say that X7 is borderline unplayable much of the time, with painfully sluggish character movement, utterly charmless levels that are a chore to play through, and graphics that instantly felt dated even back in 2003 despite some decent visual and performance improvements here in X Legacy Collection 2 And while X7 attempts to introduce an important new character in Axl, he makes an awful first impression thanks to laughably bad voice acting, a trait that is sadly shared among the whole cast

If I’m bring brutally honest, the fact that X7 does eventually end is probably its only redeeming quality Fortunately, the X series does end on a high note — for now, anyway — with Mega Man X8, which mostly eschews the third dimension in favor of a 25D approach that favors the tight, fast-paced 2D gameplay that popularized the series in the first place With this fresh approach to gameplay supported by a striking new art style and an interesting story that once again features anime-like cutscenes and benefits from a high-quality localization as well as strong voice acting across the board, X8 also introduces some bold new changes to the way character strengthening and especially X’s armor upgrades work It isn’t perfect and X8 never quite reaches the lofty heights of the first half of the series, but it’s a great game all the same and helps strengthen X Legacy Collection 2’s otherwise lacking lineup of games

Thankfully, both collections feature strong emulation across the board, ensuring that all eight games across both compilations play, look, and sound mostly as they should There are some little oddities here and there, such as what seems to be occasional and minor stuttering in the 16-bit games, but by and large these are strong representations of the eight mainline Mega Man X games And in a nice surprise, X4 and beyond feature certain enhancements inherent to modern emulation such as drastically improved loading times, while X7 and X8 in particular benefit from superior performance and modestly improved graphics, though it must be noted that these improvements don’t make X7 any less of a displeasure to actually play Unfortunately, despite these benefits the X Legacy Collections also stumble somewhat in their attempts to bring these games to current-generation platforms in a way that is fully reflective of the advantages offered by modern emulation For one, Capcom seems to have a continuing problem with save states in their compilation releases, as not only did the recent Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 only allow you to reload each game from certain canned checkpoints, the X Legacy Collections both replicate and worsen that approach by only allowing saving and reloading upon completion of a stage or getting a Game Over

That means save state support is out entirely, which is made all the more puzzling considering Digital Eclipse had no problem including save states in the original Mega Man Legacy Collection And speaking of that collection, one of its most celebrated features — the ability to rewind a portion of gameplay to undo mistakes in real-time — is also missing in the X Legacy Collections, altogether leading to a persistent feeling that Capcom cut some corners here that really shouldn’t have been The lack of basic save state support is especially painful in the context of X6 and X7, as cheap deaths come early and often in those games due to their exceedingly poor inherent design, and save states would have been an obvious and relatively simple way of mitigating some of that cheapness Perhaps in an attempt to make up for the lack of save states, both X Legacy Collections feature a “Rookie Hunter” mode that lessens each game’s difficulty in various ways and makes the prospect of completing them all more manageable to newcomers While I appreciate that it’s here, playing in Rookie Hunter mode naturally locks you out of earning in-game achievements, so it really is strictly for newbies or less skilled players only and comes off as feeling like kind of a half-measure

Fortunately, the rest of the bells and whistles in both collections are mostly spot on Even though I typically play with the image filter turned off, the two included filters — one emulating an old-school CRT monitor and the other making each game look like it’s been coated in a thick layer of oil — do their job admirably The X Legacy Collections also include the same screen size options included in other recent Mega Man compilations, though in an apparent bug I’ve encountered across both collections, the smallest size option randomly appears to become temporarily unselectable While the issue seems to resolve itself in short order, it has happened to me on multiple occasions and can be frustrating when you prefer playing each game in its original aspect ratio The included optional wallpapers for each game are a nice bonus and, much like the Nintendo Switch versions of the original Mega Man Legacy Collections, look particularly great when playing on the Switch’s small screen in handheld mode

Each game also lets you customize the controls to your liking, though in an odd oversight the 16-bit games don’t allow you to map any actions to the ZL or ZR buttons, which is something I hope to see potentially corrected in a post-release patch Both X Legacy Collections include a Museum mode featuring a thoughtful, well curated lineup of bonus content and supplementary material flanking the games themselves Some of this content is mirrored between both collections, such as the excellent Product Gallery, which collects tons of obscure information about and images of the countless Mega Man X action figures, trading cards, apparel, soundtracks, books, and capsule toys that have been released over the years Other bonus content mirrored between both X Legacy Collections includes a gallery of Japanese and Western trailers for various Mega Man X games as well as the fantastic Day of Sigma anime short, which originally debuted in 2006’s Maverick Hunter X and showcases the events leading up to the first Mega Man X game Not all of the bonus content is the same in both X Legacy Collections, though

The art gallery and music player are specific to the games featured in each collection, so for example, the music player in the first X Legacy Collection only collects the soundtracks for the first four games while the art gallery in X Legacy Collections 2 is limited to material from X5 through X8 This asymmetrical approach to the bonus material in the X Legacy Collections feels a little strange at first, but it also ensures that each collection is packed with a significant amount of bonus content while preserving some meaningful differences between them For their part, the art gallery and music player do their jobs admirably, and the art gallery in particular features an impressive amount of behind-the-scenes and other production material alongside thoughtfully written story synopses and character profiles While I wish the gallery allowed you to practice boss fights to your heart’s content as in the original Mega Man Legacy Collections, Capcom has compiled a great deal of meaningful assets for each X Legacy Collection’s art gallery and those efforts should be commended And then there’s X Challenge, an all-new gameplay mode that sees X facing off against pairs of Maverick bosses in ultra-difficult 2-on-1 duels

Capcom has gone out of their way to message X Challenge as a really big deal prior to release, and it is a neat experiment to be sure, but it never ends up feeling all that necessary While it is very cool to see Mavericks from different games — and indeed, even different console generations — fighting alongside one another, the appeal of that novelty quickly wears off when you start actually playing X Challenge Not only are X Challenge’s visuals kind of bland across the board, with X’s sprite for his exclusive new armor looking particularly slapdash, the difficulty balance is an absolute mess, as bosses quickly fill the screen with shots and hazards that feel unreasonably difficult to avoid or suss out a meaningful pattern in Most of X Challenge’s figts quickly devolve into what feels like meaningless wars of attrition, with X and the Mavericks just trading hits repeatedly until either you or they win That said, some of the boss combinations are very cool in a fanservice sense, and X Challenge’s modern rearrangement of the boss music from X1 through X6 are a real high point

It’s also worth noting that each X Legacy Collection’s version of X Challenge is mostly the same despite claims prior to release that their stage lineups would be different between them While this is partially true, with the third fight in each stage being different depending on which collection you’re playing, the rest of the fights seem to be mirrored between both collections I didn’t find this to be a particular disappointment or anything, but it does add to the sense that X Challenge as a concept could’ve benefited from a little more time in the oven and more thoughtfulness in general Even though the lack of seemingly standard emulation features like save states across both collections is a genuine disappointment and there are some minor issues I’d like to see ironed out in post-release patches, the bonus and supplementary content are impressive and it’s impossible to argue against the sheer quality of the games collected in the first Mega Man X Legacy Collection X1 and X4 represent two of the finest 2D platformers of all time while X2 and X3 are very strong in their own right, and all of this comes together into a $20 package of exceptional value that I love

But because the quality of the Mega Man X series varies so widely from game to game in a way the Classic Mega Man series does not, Capcom has taken a real risk in anchoring the second collection around the troubled latter half of the series On one hand Mega Man X8 is great and has stood the test of time, and X5 is decent enough, but X6 and X7 are so thoroughly poor that only hardcore fans or the morbidly curious need apply With such a stark difference in value between the two collections, then, Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2 is just kind of “Meh” and can be safely passed over unless you’re a true-blue Mega Man X fan Hey, thanks so much for watching, and if you enjoyed this video please hit that Like button, subscribe to our channel, and follow us on social media using the links in the video description below Otherwise, keep it on GameXplain for more on Mega Man X, the Nintendo Switch, and all things gaming!