Review by Jerrynsteph4eva

"Relive all of the Blue Bomber's greatest tales in one amazing package!"

Ah Mega Man. To some, it brings back fond memories of utilizing enemy weaponry against themselves and memorizing stages so they could avoid the tricks and traps within. Others will likely remember screaming at their TV in frustration as they hit an instant death spike or found out that their Wily Tower password doesn't return them to the fourth stage like they thought. But irregardless of whether or not you know Mega Man, there's no questioning the popularity, marketability and proliferation of Mega Man and the six different series that have spawned since 1987. Just the NES alone had six different games and that's just in the classic series alone! So what's Capcom to do when the last Mega Man game to be released was several years prior? Package all of them up into a collection of course! That way, fans have a single source to go to when they want their Mega Man fix and newcomers to the series can jump in and enjoy nearly all of the games at once. But is this collection just a way for Capcom to gouge their customers and trick them into rebuying games they already own or is this a labor of love to the fans that support them? Read on.

For starters, if you're not familiar with the Mega Man series, let me start by explaining how the games work. In every Mega Man game, you start off on a stage select screen showing the eight (six in Mega Man 1) bosses you can face. From there, you are free to choose any stage you like. After traversing the stage and eventually beating the boss at the end, you obtain their own weapon for your own personal use (of which can be used on another specific boss to double the damage against them). After beating all eight robot masters, Dr. Wily comes and challenges you, where you follow him to a four level fortress that eventually leads to Dr. Wily.

First off, let me warn any newcomers to the series that these games are brutally hard. Honestly, most of them are in the same vein as the Japanese Super Mario Bros 2. Instant kill spikes litter stages, small platforms hang above said spikes that require precise timing and skill and even invisible blocks that appear and disappear in a pattern as you time your jumps to get up. Of course, all of this is before fighting the stage boss, who can hand you your own butt in a matter of seconds if you're not prepared. However, just ask any Mega Man vet and they'll tell you the key to conquering Mega Man: memorization. After a few tries, you'll learn that an enemy will pop around the corner to push you off the cliff into the pit below and can shoot it as it flys towards you. Luckily, Capcom thought ahead for new players in this collection (more on that later) and you shouldn't have too much trouble, though they'll still be a bit of a challenge.

I'm sure one of the main reasons you're here is to find out which games are included in this collection, either because you're a veteran looking for the definitive collection of your favorite games or you're new and want to know if you have to buy any other games afterwards. This collection contains Mega Man 1-8 as well as two unlockable games that have never been released in America before: Mega Man Power Fighters 1 & 2, which are basically arcade style games that have you fight one on one boss battles instead of searching stages and looking for them. However, in order to unlock them, you'll have to beat a certain number of the titles on this collection (though why else would you want a Mega Man collection if you're not looking to play the games on it?).

As far as quality goes, I'm not going to review each game individually (this is more for the collection itself), but I will say that the first three Mega Man games are amazing. However, after that, the series starts to get a bit stale (ESPECIALLY Mega Man 8, which in my opinion is the worst Mega Man game ever). However, the gameplay remains fun, even though there are no major improvements and you could tell the writers were getting bored with the series (though I honestly really enjoy Mega Man 7 and thought it was very good, though not as good as the X series). The two new games are a fresh new take on the Mega Man series and I thoroughly enjoyed them, though I found them to be too repetitious after a while (though I guess you could say that about the entire series after a while).

One thing that really impresses me is the amount of love and dedication they put into this package. Rather than slap the nine ROMs and the ISO to 8 on it, they actually included a slew of extras and new features. Aside from the two new games included on the disc, there are a slew of new features and extras to be found in this game. The most obvious one is the inclusion of Navi mode, which only affects Mega Man 1-6. At first, this mode was from the Japanese exclusive Rockman enhanced editions released for Playstation (which only went up to 6) but Capcom thought ahead, translating and including the 6 upgraded versions into the collection, which includes Navi mode. You'll likely underestimate this mode at first, as at first glance it merely adds in arrow markers that tell you easier paths and a guide that walks you through each screen of the games, giving you personalized help. However, when this mode is turned on, you'll turn on the enhanced Playstation versions, which include amazingly redone music tracks, updated health and weapon graphics (which even shows you how many shots you have left with said weapon and updates your weapon select with pictures of the weapons in question) as well as the aforementioned personalized help and pointers towards the easy path. Unfortunately, Capcom didn't include Navi mode in 7 or 8 for this release, but it's still cool of them to do it for the first six games.

The collection also includes a slew of other features such as new songs, image art and even a full episode of the Mega Man TV show. Again, these extras are unlocked by beating the various games so you're encouraged to try out the various games and see what you can unlock (though be forewarned that passwords don't unlock the features).

One more cool feature I found is the ability to save. While you certainly can use the passwords you've accumulated through the years to replay your old save games or grab them from either the internet or your own game to use (I did this so I could swap off between the PS2 and Xbox versions and not lose my spot), the game features an autosave system that automatically saves your progress within a game. While ultimately it only saves the passwords for the games that support it (which means you still have to do the Wily stages all at once), it even includes a save feature for Mega Man 1, which didn't have either a password system or a save feature which is really cool. This makes it simple when you feel tired and don't want to continue on, as you can simply finish the stage you're playing and have the game autosave.

One last thing I noticed new in the collection, and this is really good for new players, is the addition of a difficulty toggle for the first seven games. While this ultimately means that Mega Man 2's difficulty select was removed (and unfortunately, difficult was taken out of this collection), new or casual players can actually get into this games since they now come with an easy mode that lessens the harsher penalties (such as removing the sliding enemies from beneath Ice Man's invisible blocks) and allows players to simply get used to the mechanics and enjoy themselves.

However, there were a few problems I noticed with the collection that I'd like to point out. The first is with the games themselves. At first, I didn't really notice that the music was acting odd but after a while, I began to notice that many tracks play with either a tinny sound or are a bit off key. The Xbox version doesn't have this problem so if you have one pick that version up instead, but if not you'll likely be stuck listening to music that sounds like it's being emulated with a Windows 3.1 MIDI driver (though tracks that have been updated with Navi mode don't seem to have this problem).

The second thing I'd like to point out is that the team decided to go with the inferior Playstation version of Mega Man 8, rather than the Saturn version that contained the two bonus bosses (likely due to the way the Saturn processes things that would make it difficult). Though it's not a big deal to people who simply want to play the game (though in my opinion it's better left alone), it makes you wonder why they went with a less definitive version.

One more feature I feel is somewhat of a lack of judgement for Capcom is the exclusion of the Japanese exclusive Rockman & Forte (aka Mega Man & Bass). While I can understand that Capcom was likely looking for GBA sales, it still feels as though there's a huge hole missing in the collection that could have ultimately made this the complete package (ignoring the later released Mega Man 9 & 10). Though it's not a huge gripe, this would have made this package a whole lot more fun and with the translation of two other Japan only games, this makes me feel as though this was a big possibility that they either passed up or chose to ignore.

Another thing I'd like to mention is the extras. While there's a bit of cool stuff, I believe that the Gamecube version's developer interview (that wasn't included on this version) blows away the TV show. Not only that, but the rest of the extras seem to be haphazardly thrown in, as if they were simply looking for files on their desktop to add to the disc at the last minute. Again, the Xbox version is the definitive version for this (as it contains the interview AND the TV episode), so try to find that version instead.

One thing series vets will find frustrating is the Navi mode switch. Instead of offering two different switches that controlled both the pointing arrows and the music, you're either stuck with both or none. This will likely agitate veterans who know these games like the back of their hand and don't want to see fluttering birds that point them in the proper way to go but still want to hear the great redone music.

On a minor note, people who are looking for a challenge in Mega Man 2 (likely the most popular game in the series) will find that the difficulty selection has been removed (due to the universal switch in the options) and Difficult mode along with it. It's not a huge deal, but vets who want to do hard runs will have to keep their NES.

Another minor gripe I have with the game is exclusive to the PS2 version. While the Xbox version autosaves extremely quickly (almost to the point where you hardly notice it's doing so), the PS2 saving and loading takes several moments to do. While this isn't such a big problem given that they're saving us the frustration of replaying levels, when you face five seconds of loading every time you complete a stage in Mega Man, it gets pretty annoying quick.

Overall, Capcom did an excellent job with this collection and though there are a few bumps along the way, there's no better way to experience the classic series than with this collection (especially since the older systems are starting to deteriorate, so it's good to have them burned digitally to a DVD). For the price point, you really can't afford to pass up this collection, especially if you want to play two games that never made it overseas. Sure, a couple of the games are duds and there's a few problems here and there, but with remastered soundtracks, Navi mode and a new difficulty switch, Mega Man has never been so accessible for fans and non-fans alike. If you can find the Xbox version, it's a better deal, but if not this game is a must own. Pick it up and have fun reliving the Blue Bomber's greatest moments over and over again.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 08/08/13, Updated 08/09/13

Game Release: Mega Man Anniversary Collection (US, 06/22/04)

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