Review by Bill Wood
"A mega-collection of timeless gems."
Without a doubt, Mega Man is one of gaming's all-time icons. His earliest games are known for being both supremely innovative and brutally difficult. Eight years after this particular re-release and 25 years after the very first Mega Man release, I decided to give Capcom's Mega Man Anniversary Collection a spin and share my thoughts. Better later than never I suppose!
I have to start this review with the admission that I did manage to beat the original Mega Man 2 game back in the day. Sure I had to blow out the cart a few dozen times, but I eventually got the job done. Apparently this is considered some kind of minor feat nowadays, back then it was just another game to finish, along with Ironsword and God knows what else I was playing. Why bother mentioning any of this? Because in revisiting these good ol' games of yesteryear, I am immediately reminded of the fact that they were damn tough, this coming from a guy who beat Super Meat Boy and loved every minute of it. So while I did beat the original MM2 NES cart eons ago (maybe I do deserve some sort of badge!), by the same token I realize that I may not exactly be inspired to replicate this feat in the modern era.
This is where MMAC starts to show its true beauty by offering us less-inspired gamers an Easy Mode. Now before you say "pffft," understand that Easy Mode does not equal "cakewalk." In fact it's anything but, at least when compared to the infinitely more forgiving games of today. Although power-ups are more frequent and you're given more lives to work with, these games are in essence the same demanding platformers they've always been. For me, Easy Mode was a perfect way to revisit these classic titles and provided a great incentive to actually play through them as opposed to, say, watching speed runs on YouTube. As if this weren't enough, Capcom has also included "Navi Mode," which offers novices in-game tips to defeating certain enemies as well as (usually-needless) pointers toward your next objective. Navi Mode enables a great remixed soundtrack for the majority of tunes, it would have been nice to choose the soundtrack independently of this mode but sadly this doesn't appear possible.
As for the Mega Man titles themselves, individual descriptions don't really bear repeating. Suffice to say they are the same seminal games that inspired a generation of future programmers, not to mention sprite tribute artists. The look is iconic, the characters are charming, and the objectives are demanding. All games are emulated pretty much to perfection here, or at least to the point where any difference between these versions and the originals is negligible. Some modern conveniences have added, such as the ability to switch weapons instantly via the triggers and having your triple shot mapped to a separate button. None of this detracts from the quality of the original games, and if you're a purist who disapproves, hey, don't use it.
As far as retro game collections are concerned, this is about as good as you would expect from a PS2 game produced in 2004. There are a few extras to be unlocked (including an entire episode of the Mega Man cartoon), but obviously don't go expecting widescreen HD or online leaderboards. I was a bit surprised at the lack of button config, but it's hardly a dealbreaker.
Really, none of the aforementioned bonuses matter because it is the game themselves that shine in this collection. Nearly every one of the 10 games included have a timeless quality and are definitely worth revisiting, especially when you consider that this disc can easily be found for less than $20 nowadays. Whether you're a Mega-Fan or merely a curious gamer looking to see what all the fuss was about, Mega Man Anniversary Collection is the perfect way to catch up with some old classics.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/09/12, Updated 02/10/12
Game Release: Mega Man Anniversary Collection (US, 06/22/04)
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