Mega Man X, the gold standard for rock solid, fast paced dashing and crashing action, is back again in what seems like the property's hundredth re-release. This time, however, it's available across two collections with all eight entries in the mainline Mega Man X series.
Most of us should know what Mega Man is by now, but for the uninitiated, let's go into the details a bit first. Since the late 80s, Mega Man has been a constant mascot for Capcom that really challenged the sidescrolling genre. This series has always been characterised by the simple formula of beating a boss to gain its power-up, use trial and error to figure out which boss is weak to that particular power, and then repeat until you topple the final boss and beat the game. The Mega Man X series began in 1993, and with this release on the Super Nintendo came a breadth of new features. X brought to the table wall climbing and dashing amongst many other changes, providing a much more smooth and frenetic experience that felt entirely new and fresh. However, do these once revolutionary features stack up a whole 25 years later?
With some graphical tweaks and smoothing, as well as new modes and features, the X series feels revitalised here. Visually, each and every title has stood the test of time with Capcom’s tender love and care, regularly updating the graphics to look more clean and crisp without sacrificing the fidelity of the original art style. This has remained a constant, which is necessary for any big name re-release, and Capcom's nailed it. All of the effects, beams, and charge blasts look as slick as ever. Additionally, new options were added as filters for the game. The first filter smooths out the graphics and animations, while the second filter is an overlay that emulates an original CRT monitor for that old school feel. The final filter is just the original graphics scaled up to fit modern high definition televisions.
Gameplay is still a fast and fun jaunt through the year 21XX. The series remains as tough as ever, and this is a wonderful return to form on a new medium. As if the main games were not hard enough, Capcom has added a new challenge mode for the series veterans dubbed 'X Challenge', which is essentially just double boss battles. However, if the challenge mode and the base game turn out to be too hard, there's also a 'Rookie Hunter Mode'. This mode halves all damage in all games, and prevents instant death from spike pits and bottomless falls. These games, all eight of them, hold up tremendously well, and serve as amazing ways to fondly revisit the series.
One surprising change, aside from all of the other tweaks, filters, modes, and the rest, is the decision to change the boss names in Mega Man X5. Originally in 2001, Mega Man X5 ditched the traditional naming conventions of the series by naming its maverick bosses after the popular Guns N’ Roses members (sounds a little like Magus’ henchmen Slash, Flea, and Ozzy in Chrono Trigger, eh?). The boss Spike Rosered became Axle the Red, Crescent Grizzly became Grizzly Slash, etc. However, Capcom decided to use this opportunity to unify the narrative of the series by returning the original Japanese names to the bosses.
Another addition for the fans of the originals is the museum mode. This includes a plethora of menus, images, videos, and more for the diehard fans. Most prominently, a gallery full of hundreds and hundreds of images and concept art from the entire series is included -- and you can get lost in it all for hours. There's also a product gallery featuring a very complete list, with images, of all sorts of products released for the series like action figures, capsule toys cards, apparel, soundtracks, and a ton more. A music player's included too, so you can enjoy the many thumping beats on demand. The coolest feature of the museum, however, is 'The Day of Σ', a 25-minute fully animated episode serving as a prequel to the events of the original Mega Man X title. This episode was originally only released with Mega Man Maverick Hunter X.
If this review hasn't convinced you to dash back in and get reacquainted with Mega Man X, allow us to state it plainly: Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 are must- plays for fans. With its new features, galleries, and tweaks, even total newcomers who have never experienced this groundbreaking series will feel welcome. A lot of love and care has been poured into this collection, allowing players of all skill levels to jump right in and enjoy. So get out there, dash and blast, and track down those mavericks, hunter.