Review by Leebo

"Are you ready to go back in time with the Blue Bomber? You definitely should be!"

The original Mega Man series always stood out in the early 2-D action genre. The Mega Man games brought their own formula to the world of side-scrollers, and stuck with it. This fantastic series includes some games that are still some gaming's most cherished experiences. Mega Man Anniversary Collection does a very good job of bringing them together in a way that allows fans, old and new, to enjoy the Blue Bomber's first adventures.

MMAC does everything that a good collection should do, even though there are a few rough spots. The games are very accessible, and you can jump into any one of them in a matter of seconds. The interface for navigating through the games and options is simple, charming, and easy to get used to. Basically, when you turn on MMAC you'll be greeted by a MM8 version of Mega Man who can walk side to side by various doors. These doors have your destinations (the titles of the games) clearly marked.

At first, you can play any of the original 8 games, but as you advance farther in them and accomplish various goals, you'll be able to unlock 2 arcade games, as well as a great deal of other extras. Some of these include musical tracks, an interview with the creator, and picture galleries. The extra content will give gamers some goals to reach as the explore the Mega Man games again. They add some value to the package and bring the games together, so they really feel like a united collection. In the options, you'll be able to tweak your Mega Man experience a bit if you like. There is a Normal and Hard mode distinction, as well as an ability to set your number of starting lives at 3 or 5. These additions are good for newer Mega Man fans, since they allow some of the learning curve to be reduced, but you don't have to touch them if you want an unadulterated experience.

The gameplay of any Mega Man game, if you're not familiar with them, is a non-linear process of defeating bosses, obtaining their weapons, and using those weapons to exploit the weaknesses of the other bosses. That's Mega Man in a nutshell! There is one gameplay feature that fans might want to know about prior to playing, though. If you are using the GameCube version of the collection, the “Fire” and “Jump” buttons have been switched from their standard positions. This won't stop newbies for a second, but veterans might be a bit perplexed at first. It's not an insurmountable difference, though, and doesn't ultimately detract from the experience a great deal. Thankfully, with the great addition of the ability to save (which was inevitable with a port to this generation) you will no longer have to rely on passwords. You can still use them to jump ahead in the game, if you want, but the game will auto-save when you complete any objectives, so you can just come and go as you please without scribbling lots of letter/number combinations.

Some of the games in the series have aged better than others, and not all of them are worth completing (unless perfection is your goal!). Mega Man 2 and 3 still stand out as the best examples of the series, and both really capture what makes these games so much fun. You don't have to follow any particular order in playing the games, so unless you know beforehand which ones you want to play, 2 and 3 are your best bets to start with.

Don't come expecting revamped graphics or sound, because these babies are just the way they came on their original systems, for better or worse. You can almost count the number of pixels that make up Mega Man's head on two hands, but the old graphics are charming and bring back a great sense of nostalgia. I imagine the long time fans are going to enjoy rocking out to the midi-esque tunes, but those who aren't familiar with the older games might be a bit surprised at the harsh sounds of 8-bit music. One notable addition is the background music for the interface, which combines MM2's title music with MM3's stage selection music in a great techno remix.

This isn't a perfect collection, since there are a few problems. The GameCube version suffers from just-a-little-too-long loading times when starting a game (I can't speak for the PS2 version). Like I mentioned earlier, some of the games haven't aged well, or weren't great to begin with. And the control switch could also be considered a drawback, albeit a minor one.

These games really speak for themselves and the collections is not likely to convert you to a fan of the series if you aren't one already. This is a must-have game for fans, and it's worth checking out if you are interested in learning about some of gaming's roots, or if you like other 2-D action games. Mega Man Anniversary Collection is waiting, and it's never felt better to spend time with the Blue Bomber!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/02/04

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