Review: Mega Man X Legacy Collection Volume 1

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: T - Teenagers
My Rating: Ages 10 and up
Genre: Platform Shooter
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2018
Review Published On: January 20th, 2021
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Gamer's Gate, Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

X1 - X3 were SNES games, and saved* their data using a password system. In this collection, you can either use a password, or save* one game at a time using the prompt on the password screen.

X4, being a PlayStation game, was designed to use the player's memory cards for saving* games. The version of X4 in this collection still uses the memory card style save* system, effectively giving you several save slots* to choose between.

Note though, that none of these games feature an autosave*. You'll need to save* manually between levels. To pause the action in any of these games, bring up your weapon select screen by pressing ESC*.

Summary of
Major Issues:

While this series continues the Mega Man tradition of robots fighting each other, the advanced robots (called "Reploids") seen in this part of the franchise are considered to be sentient, making their deactivations become executions.

Various characters die, and blood is also briefly seen.

Screenshots

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Back when it all began - again

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What's Waspinator doing here?

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Taking on a waterfall as Zero



Game Overview

In 1993, Capcom released the sixth episode in their famous Mega Man series. This would be the final Mega Man title on the NES, and it also neatly ended the Blue Bomber's storyline with Dr. Wily finally in jail and the world at peace once again. It was also time for companies to consider moving on to new systems, as the NES had been superseded by the SNES two years earlier. Instead of simply continuing their franchise on the new system, Capcom decided to create the first Mega Man spinoff series, dubbed "Mega Man X". The release of this game split the franchise's timelines into the Mega Man Classic era and the new Mega Man X era.

The key differences between these two franchises lies in what their main characters are. The Mega Man Classic series had been about an evil scientist attempting to conquer the world using stolen and reprogrammed robots. No matter how intelligent they were, the Robot Masters and Mega Man himself were just fancy machines that acted like humans. By contrast, the Mega Man X series is about open warfare between factions of sentient* robots known as "Reploids".

"Reploid" is short for "Replicant Android", ie, a robot built using another robot as a template. The original Reploid was "X", the last robot created by Dr. Light. X was different that anything else Dr. Light designed, as he was the first robot in history that was self-aware and capable of independent thought. This means that X, and all other Reploids designed after him, are literally artificial people with their own hopes, dreams, and lives.

Unfortunately, having free will sometimes means that the Reploids will decide to act against their human creators. These dissidents, known as "Mavericks", began an open rebellion. This forced the human and Reploid communities to respond by creating an army, known as the Maverick Hunters, to police the Reploid communities and shut down any Mavericks before they do too much harm. And as much as he wishes to live a peaceful life, X finds himself caught up in this war, becoming a famous Maverick Hunter. From there we have more or less the traditional Mega Man style formula. As X, you'll fight eight Mavericks in any order you choose, acquire their various powers, and then defeat the game's antagonist. The X series also introduced new concepts, such as the refillable energy tanks, hidden "heart canisters" that increase X's maximum health, and the ability to equip new armors to enhance X's abilities.

Another new feature is presence of dialogues and cutscenes. X isn't fighting his battles alone, and he'll talk with different characters as the situation arises. In particular, a red Reploid named Zero quickly became a breakout character, and this series is as about him as it is about X.

All in all, there were eight games in the main Mega Man X series. With these rereleases, Capcom has bundled* them into two collections of four games each. This split strikes me as rather arbitrary, as I was under the impression that X5 was supposed to be the series finale with X6-X8 being unplanned sequels. As it stands, you'll probably want to purchase both volumes if you want the entire story.

In my opinion, you'll mostly want this first volume for X1 and X4. Mega Man X1 was one of the most famous SNES games of all time, and X4 simply continues the story with both X and Zero as playable characters. X2 and X3 experimented with ideas that wouldn't reappear again, effectively making them quite skippable. You're not going to miss part of the storyline if you ignore them either, which isn't exactly a vote in their favor.

Points of Interest

The start of a new era
With the release of Mega Man X, the Mega Man universe began to undergo a major shift. While the original series had never been aimed at any specific audience, the X series was clearly aimed at a more mature playerbase. In turn, the Classic series would be retooled to be increasingly colorful and child-friendly. The best way to experience this contrast is by playing Mega Man X1 and Mega Man 7, both of which are the initial appearances of their respective series on the SNES and feature drastically different tones.
Rookie Hunter Mode
None of these games are particularly easy. This is especially true of X2 and X3, which have problems with their level design in addition to difficult boss fights*. Fortunately, Capcom has created a new "Rookie Hunter Mode" option that meets players half-way. Using this mode, you'll take much less damage from all sources, to the point where instakill* traps are now mostly harmless. But, this comes at a price, as you won't be able to unlock* many of the achievements* while playing in this mode.
X4 is a bit of an odd duck here
Unlike the other three games in this collection, Mega Man X4 is a PlayStation game. This gives it some unique quirks that new players may not expect. For example, since the PlayStation used optical media, it needed to pause your gameplay in order to load the next part of the current level. This resulted in the games using loading screens, which can still be seen in this rerelease.

X4 also had access to features that were unique to the PlayStation. This includes the ability to utilize a player's memory card for storing saved* games, and the ability to play short anime-inspired animations as elaborate cutscenes*.

X4 is also unique in that it's the only game in this collection that allows the player to play as either X or Zero, with slight differences in the storyline depending on their choice.
Bonus Content
Packing four games into one big bundle* wasn't enough? How about a virtual museum filled with pictures of the series' merch, trailers for the games, and even a rarely seen short animation?

There's also the Mega Man X Challenge. This features a new, if simplistic, storyline where you'll gear up with the equipment of your choice and fight two of the game's bosses* at the same time.
Steam community features
If you like to collect Steam trading cards*, then you're in luck: there's another set available for this game. Most players will be interested in earning the 52 achievements* instead, and that's going to take some work. Many of these achievements* (or "Trophies", as they are called in-game) require you to go out of your way to try some unusual things, like figuring out how to get a vehicle into a specific boss fight*.

Also, as mentioned above, many of these achievements* cannot be earned using the Rookie Hunter Mode feature. You'll have to knuckle down and beat the games the old fashioned way if you want to earn every achievement* on offer.
Level design issues
X2 and X3 have some very difficult level designs that feel untested or flat out unfair. This is especially true of X3's final levels, which are very unforgiving and contain many segments that are nearly impossible to navigate.
Possible lag issues
This is just an observation, and I could easily be wrong about this, but one thing I noticed was that X2 felt much slower than any of the other games in this collection, as if the entire game was suffering from some form of lag*. This might actually be possible, as it's also the only game in this collection to have a character with the ability to slow down time. Whatever gives the game's engine* this feature may be affecting the game as a whole.

Concerns and Issues

People die in this series
Most of your enemies* are robots of some sort, but remember that Reploids are entirely sentient*. This means that Maverick Hunters are essentially executioners, as shutting down a Reploid is roughly equivalent to killing a human.

That said, humans are also explicitly killed during some of the battles in the games; the most dramatic example happens early on in X4. Sky Lagoon, a floating city, is sent careening into the ground, destroying both the city and whatever was on the surface below it. No bodies are seen, but X and Zero remark about the carnage and unnecessary loss of life.
X4's cutscenes are infamous
Two of the cutscenes* in X4 show blood, which isn't something you'd expect to see in a game about robots fighting each other. The first of these is seen at the beginning of Zero's storyline, which features him having a nightmare. At one point of this hazy dream, his hands appear to be streaked with blood. In X's storyline, there's a cutscene* showing a Maverick gleefully murdering some other Reploids; surprisingly, what appears to be blood squirts out of the victims.

Of course, it's not the blood that made these cutscenes* infamous among the gaming community. Like Mega Man 8, this was one of the first attempts at creating an English dub for a Mega Man game, and the results leave a lot to be desired. Serious scenes shouldn't provoke laughter, but here we are.

Lastly, the opening of X4 has been censored in most rereleases, including this one. In the original releases, characters were shown using a "Bellamy salute", which unfortunately looks a lot like the type of salute the Nazis infamously used. These gestures aren't actually related; in fact, the Bellamy salute was actually how most Americans saluted their flag prior to World War II.
Demonic looking scenes
Sigma's appearance became increasingly corrupt over the series, culminating in design that resembles the grim reaper. His levels in X4 also sport an almost demonic aesthetic, with large angry skull motifs taking up most of the background.
Is it really a choice?
The ending* of X2 reveals that the villainous Reploid Sigma has somehow transferred himself into the futuristic equivalent of the internet. X3's ending* provides the explanation, and X4's opening mission assumes the player already knows about this detail.

Somehow, Sigma's mind has become a corruptive force known as the Sigma Virus. When infected, Reploids become agents of Sigma's malignant will, this turns them into Mavericks. Later games in the series are more explicit about this, including showing us Reploids succumbing to the effects of the virus as we talk to them.

This begs the question: are Mavericks really choosing to be evil, or is this some sort of a hate-plague that's destroying the Mega Man series' future? In other words, are the Maverick Hunters performing executions or mercy kills?