Infinite Lives Best Of 2015

We’ve only got a couple days left in 2015, so I thought that it would be a good time to wrap up the year before we move on to 2016. Instead of giving you my ten best games, DLC, microtransactions, trailers, so and so forth, I’m just going to offer up a handful of what I thought really stood out this year. I’ll focus on games today, we’ll hit DLC tomorrow and then we’ll spin it forward to 2016.

Fallout 4 Box Art

Let’s start with my favorite new game of 2015. I say new game here because I still played Destiny more than any other game this year. But of the new, 2015 titles that I played this year, I think it’s no surprise that I’ve been enjoying Fallout 4 the most. I was super excited for this game the minute it was teased back before E3. Now that I’ve spent plenty of time out in the Commonwealth, I definitely think it’s my favorite game of the year. Does it measure up with Fallout 3? I don’t really know that they’re actually that comparable. Yes, the dialogue system is a little out of character for the series; and yes, some of the more traditional RPG mechanics are simplified. But I think the whole package is actually a really great game – and the main quest line that runs through the game is I think stronger than Fallout 3‘s. The characters in the Commonwealth actually feel a little more alive – perhaps that because of the better graphics, especially the character models. The new designs on items and enemies keep classic parts of the Fallout universe fresh. And the revamped combat really makes it less of a chore to get into bigger firefights. Combat actually feels modern and I think appeals to a wider audience than just series and Bethesda fans. I think the negativity surrounding the game is totally unjustified, at least to the extent that I see it. I think people are overreacting, and maybe assuming that Bethesda will do the same things with their next Elder Scrolls game. Just relax a little, suspend that disbelief a bit and dive in and you’ll find a really exciting world to explore and get lost in.

While I think Fallout 4 is the best game that I played, I did have a lot of fun with a couple other games worth mentioning. Rock Band 4 returned music party games to the consoles. Again, there are some issues here – mainly that the game launched pretty bare-bones and they’ve been adding features moving forward. But honestly, just being able to load up a Rock Band game again and rock out on the Xbox One is awesome. I put a lot of time in over the summer with Smite on the Xbox One as well. I’ve never really gotten into MOBA’s but Smite managed to draw me in with the more third-person camera/action game style controls. The retro gamer in me really loved playing around with the Rare Replay collection, as well as the Mega Man Legacy Collection. Both featured a good mix of games for a reasonable price – and gave younger gamers a chance to go back and play some truly classic games. More recently, I’ve been playing a lot of Halo 5 – which is honestly somewhat surprising to me. I went in to that game with relatively low expectations – Master Chief Collection and Halo 4 both didn’t really excite me. But 343 finally has created a Halo game that does a great job of retaining classic Halo gameplay while also bringing in some new ideas and features we’ve seen in other recent FPS games. Add in that Warzone is I think the most ideal way to experience Halo and it all comes together to make a really solid shooter on the Xbox One. That said, I think my favorite shooter I played this year was Battlefield Hardline. I loved the new take on the classic formula – cops and robbers instead of military was actually I think a great move for the series. The maps were awesome – they worked perfectly on just about every game mode. Each class was balanced well, and I think Blood Money/Heist were fantastic additions to the franchise.

Battlefield Hardline

Before I wrap up, I want to mention a couple games that came out this year that I haven’t run through yet, but are on my short list. I already have The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, just haven’t sat down and really played it. Call of Duty: Black Ops III is on sale right now, so I’m picking that up later on and will give that a shot – I really liked the beta so, I have a hunch I’ll be enjoying the full game. Star Wars Battlefront is another game that I really liked the Beta for, just didn’t get the full game at launch. I probably will be looking into it soon to give it a better overview.

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Mega Man Legacy Collection – The Games Ranked

Megaman Legacy CollectionTaking 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.

Mega Man 3 Title Screen

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.

Mega Man 4 Title Screen

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.

Mega Man 2 Title Screen

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.

Mega Man Legacy Collection Impressions

Megaman Legacy Collection

While we haven’t quite made it to the Triple A busy season yet, we are starting to get some new games. I already talked about the Rare Replay collection last week, and today we’ll look at another anthology – the Megaman Legacy Collection. You may remember a Minecraft sprite project I was working on before my last computer met with an accident featuring the Megaman games. If you do, it should come as no surprise that I am very much in favor of this collection.

We’ll start with the games included. This is the third anthology of Megaman “Classic” series games, and the second to come out in the US. The first only was released in Japan as the Rockman Complete Works collection and featured the NES games with some neat extras. Our first collection was the Anniversary Collection, which was the first eight games in the series. It was the first time that Megaman 8 appeared on a Nintendo console (Gamecube); and conversely, the first time the first seven games appeared on Sony and Microsoft consoles. It wasn’t the best collection though in my mind – the Megaman 1 port was missing a feature unique to that game. The select trick that is present in the NES original wasn’t in the Anniversary Collection. The Megaman 8 port was also the PSX version of the game, which is missing two hidden bosses that I think really should have been in the collection – Wood Man and Cut Man.

Mega Man 2 Title Screen

Which brings us to the current Legacy Collection. It’s a simplified anthology, only featuring the first six games – the NES classics. The controls make perfect sense, and the unique quirks to each game remain in place. The first game’s select button “faintwarp” trick is still in there, Megaman 2 still retains the “normal” mode from the US NES version and there are even a few little sprite flicker elements. There are a few different visual options to pick from – you can make the game full or wide screen, in addition to the original screen size. If you want an extra bit of classic feel, you can put a filter on the screen to make your picture look more like a CRT display too. These don’t really have any impact on actual gameplay, but it’s a really nice little touch. The games probably haven’t ever looked this good on a console – they run really smoothly, and it’s easy to see every detail in the sprite work.

Mega Man 4 Title Screen

It’s no secret that the Megaman games have always been my very favorite games, of all times. This is a fantastic collection for a new player to get acquainted with the Blue Bomber. And for longtime fans, this is probably the best NES collection of his games out there. But what really makes this a real treat for longtime fans is the extras. Each game has a database showing off each enemy, including their health and damage, along with what weapon they’re weak against. That’s an awesome detail for new and old players alike – there are 46 robot masters in the game, and that’s a lot of weaknesses to have to remember. I find myself looking through the database just to see some more about everything in the games. Each game also has a museum associated with them, showing off the art from the manuals, as well as any other promotional artwork, including the boss contest submissions. It’s a really cool detail – I love the museum for the original game, since each weapon has two pieces of art: one from back in ’87 and one from more recently.

Mega Man 3 Title Screen

The last part of the collection is the Challenge section. They’re bitesized bits of Megaman goodness. They range from completing a screen or two from each stage in a game, to boss rushes, to beating levels under very specific circumstances. They’re great ways to give longtime players a little different kind of challenge. The Megaman games are well known for being pretty tough to begin with, but like most platformers are based on patterns. The more you play, the easier they get. The challenges shake the formula up and push you to learn new patterns – something that isn’t super easy after 20 years of playing the games. The Legacy Collection I think is a really awesome way to enjoy six of the best games that ever graced the NES. Megaman is a franchise that I think younger gamers don’t have the same appreciation for that a lot of older players do, mainly because Capcom has been loathe to make new Classic series games. Hell, the Blue Bomber in general has been on Capcom’s backburner for far too long I think. I’d love to see this collection, along with the success of Mega in Smash Bros. maybe get them thinking that the time is right for him to come back. We’ll just have to wait and see. Regardless, I really think you should go pick this up – it’s only $15, and it’s six amazing games.

The Second Most Exciting Game Announcement of the Month

Megaman PALAs I’ve been saying for about the last week now, I cannot wait for Fallout 4. It surpassed Star Wars: Battlefront as my most anticipated game of the year. I certainly didn’t expect another announcement before E3 to get me anywhere near that same level of excitement. That was before Capcom changed that earlier this week with the Mega Man Legacy Collection.

I’ve talked plenty on this blog about Mega Man, from my currently on hiatus Minecraft project, to my thoughts on how perfectly the games illustrate excellent game design. I’ve always said that for all the great games in the last 10-15 years, my favorite games of all time are still the original Mega Man games. This isn’t the first time that Capcom has put out a collection of the classic games – 10 years ago for the 15th anniversary of the series they put out a collection of the first eight games. I bought that game then, and I’ll buy this upcoming collection too.

Mega Man 4 Stage Select

I actually think that this Legacy Collection could end up being the better product. Not only is it a more focused game, only featuring the first six NES games; but it’s got the added benefit of the new console power. I expect them to run smoothly – at this point there shouldn’t be much of an issue with any emulation for them. I’m also looking forward to the prospect of achievements/trophies – it’s on the Xbox One/PS4/PC. Depending on how they structure them, they really could open up a series of amazing games to a whole new audience. I really think that of the six games in the collection, four of them are absolute must-play games, and the other two are still really strong games. Those first four Mega Man games are absolute gems – not only individually, but as a series those first games are such a great example of refining the games features and updating the series. The idea of sequels is that they take the previous games’ strengths and weakness, and make better the strengths, and get rid of the weaknesses. Those first four games do that pretty much perfectly.

Megaman 2 Stage Select

Fallout 4Rock Band 4, and Star Wars: Battlefront had been my slate of games that I considered my must-buy list for the later part of the year. Over the course of the summer though, the Mega Man Legacy Collection has definitely popped up into the list. I’m definitely looking forward to playing through my favorite series all over again this summer.