Taking a little break from what’s been a pretty Destiny heavy couple weeks lately, I wanted to put down my ranking of the six games that are present in the Mega Man Legacy Collection. I already talked a bit about the game as a whole, and in the past I’ve talked about the classic series as well. But now that those first six NES games are easily available on current-gen systems, I thought maybe people would like to know which are the better games in the collection.
We’ll start with what I think is the very best Mega Man classic game – Mega Man III. it has the first example of story shakeup, with the Doc Robot stages, Break Man’s presence and the two Dr.s working together. Add in the best play control seen in the series to that point, and really the foundation for the 8-bit games moving forward. Rush opens up all kinds of different movement options, making for some pretty clever platforming. It’s also got one of the better sets of Robot Masters, with great music to go with them. I know Mega Man 2 gets a ton of talk about being the best – but I think the series really started to shine with the third game. Play them both back-to-back and I think you’ll start to come around.
Next up, I think the next level actually is a tie. I would put Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 4 together, but for different reasons. MM4 is my very favorite game in the series, mainly for nostalgic and personal reasons, but I do think it stands up there pretty close to the top. It’s got that same level of player control – which gives the player incredible precision, which then extends to awesome platforming sections. Rush is still in there, and then they added in the two items to increase the options. I do think that the Robot Masters are also awesome. MM4 is also the first game to add in a second castle section with Dr. Cossack, and really added in a little bit of depth to the story. Mega Man 2 on the other hand is up there for a different set of reasons. It’s the first one that truly feels special – the original had a great start, but the sequel is when the series really takes hold. The precision is stepped up, the detail in the levels is increased, the Robot Masters are a bit more inventive and there’s more variety in weapons available to the player. Not only that but the game has perhaps two of the most recognizable pieces of music in the series and it’s really hard to argue against Mega Man 2‘s place on the pedestal.
Next up on the list, just missing the podium, is another set of two games that I think are pretty comparable. Just like the last set, I think it’s a different set of reasons that keep them pretty close: Mega Man 5 and Mega Man. The original needs to be here, for historical reasons mainly. It’s the beginning of the franchise, which keeps it from being the worst out there. Yes, it’s probably the hardest in the collection, mainly because of the lack of E-Tanks and passwords. Yes it has only six Robot Masters and a pretty simple set of them to boot. But looking at it within the context of the collection it’s hard to say it’s the worst Mega Man game. With MM5 though, I think we hit that point where Capcom ran into a bit of a wall. The story is very similar to the previous game – a first boss that is a red herring, complete with a whole castle to fight through. The actual play control is still at that same level, nothing really changes from Mega Man 4 onward. I think the Robot Masters are a real mixed bag in MM5 though – there are some cool ones, but there’s also some kinda lame ones. Music that is mediocre in its arrangement also doesn’t help. MM5 is really where the series started to show its age – five games in just a few years is pretty rough. That’s why I think the Mega Man X series really came in at the perfect time.
Which brings us, of course, to the final game in the collection – Mega Man 6. While it’s not a bad game, per se, but when you compare it with the other games it really struggles to stand out. Losing Rush’s separate forms in exchange for the power adapters really I think was a poor move. The storyline is the third time in a row that there’s a doppelganger villain before Dr. Wily is revealed to be behind it all – complete with two castles to deal with. What I think really hurts MM6 is that a lot of the Robot Masters feel boring. There are a few that feel like retreads of previous themes, and other that just don’t really come across as exciting to fight. Mega Man 6 wasn’t actually made by Capcom, and it shows – it was a Nintendo made game. Again, it isn’t a bad game – but I think once you’ve played through all the games in the Legacy Collection, you’ll agree it’s probably the weakest one in there.