By Randy Thompson / December 29th, 2012
Title: Mega Man Legends
Developer: Capcom Production Studio 2
Console: Playstation, Nintendo 64, PC, PSP
Release Date: August 31st, 1998
Genre: Action RPG
Rating: ESRB: E
Only 10 years after the world’s introduction to Mega Man (or Rockman, as he’s known in Japan), Capcom delivered a game that no one expected as the blue bomber’s introduction to the hip new thing: 3D video games. While previous Mega Man series were side-scrollers that involved linear levels, elemental bosses and weapons, leading up to the showdown between Mega Man and Dr. Wily, Mega Man Legends was a whole new take on the Mega Man franchise.
Mega Man Legends takes place thousands of years into the future of the classic and X series of games. You play as Megaman Volnutt, a digger on a world covered by unending water. Diggers search out ancient ruins in search of treasure known as refractors. These refractor gems are used as both currency and as energy in this world. The enemies that roam the ruins of the planet are robots called Reverbots, and no one really knows why they are there or who made them. But there is treasure to be found under ground and Mega Man wants in on the action just as much as anyone.
Mega Man, his adoptive sister Roll Caskett and his adoptive father Barrel Caskett crash land on an island known as Kattelox on their search for the mysterious treasure known as the Mother Lode as well as clues to where Roll’s parents disappeared to when she was younger. Mega Man and the Casketts aren’t the only ones that are searching for treasure on this small island; it turns out there is a group of pirates who have shown up to lay siege to the town, the Bonnes. Who will end up on top? What is the Mother Lode? Where are Roll’s parents? Does Mega Man Legends succeed in delivering a fun, new experience to a whole new generation of gaming?
Mega Man Legends is an action role-playing game and is a whole new genre for the Blue Bomber. You have your trusty buster used to dispatch enemies and you are able to upgrade your weapon using upgrade parts scattered throughout the ruins and the single shop in the game — something far different than other Mega Man games. Instead of taking down bosses at the end of each stage and earning their respective weapons, you find various parts strewn about the world that you bring to your spotter, or supporter, Roll who has all the mechanical know-how to put these broken pieces of machinery together to equip bigger, more powerful weapons and other machines on your other, non-buster arm. These weapons range from mines, to bombs, to machine guns, to cannons, to rocket launchers, to shields, beam sabers, drills, and even to vacuum cleaners. And that last one is handier than you’d think. While you have all these weapons, unlike the Classic and X series, there aren’t too many clear places or situations that call for those certain weapons to make your life easier. Heck, some of them I have hardly ever used because there is just so many of them! I am all for a plethora of weapons with a high amount of variety, it would have been nice to maybe give more reason to try out different weapons.
Weapons aren’t the only thing that this Mega Man has in his arsenal. No, it’s not a robot dog. Various other upgrades include jet skates, spring legs for higher jumping, head gear, and other items the keep you one step ahead of your enemy. All these things help Mega Man as he explores ruins and dungeons as well as donating museum pieces and participating on local TV game shows.
Mega Man Legends provides a good variety in it’s gameplay while presenting it in a non-linear manner that lets the player choose what they want to do, when they want to do it that builds on the core concept of the first Mega Man game. And each aspect is done very well, a great achievement for the first time a Mega Man game was made in 3D. The only thing I could possibly complain about is the difficulty. Playing through on normal never landed me at the Game Over screen. Of course, your results may vary if it’s your first time experiencing the game.
Once you beat the game, you unlock hard mode…which is what it says: hard. This gave me a really good challenge, though some tasks were more frustrating to accomplish because of a severe handicap given to you during certain events in the story. Though it does make you switch up your tried and true strategies to look outside your comfort zone, using weapons that you never really bothered with in easier difficulties. And, while a little odd, once you’ve conquered the game on the hardest difficulty, you unlock easy mode that gives you a maxed out buster and enemies reward you with four times the amount of money to let you upgrade all your weapons to maximum in a relatively short amount of time.
One thing that I’d like to bring up is some of the quirky humor used in this game. In conversation, you’re given dialogue options to move things along, and some of them either make you seem pretty dumb (My name? It’s Hippopotamus!) or like a complete jerk. (Is something missing in this painting? Some talent.)
Despite all my praise thus far, this game is definitely not free of faults. The DualShock controller launched at roughly the same time, but Mega Man Legends does not support analog stick support. Camera is handled by the L and R trigger, and that is a bit awkward. But once you’ve got it down it runs nice and smooth, in my opinion. The game’s controls are a strike against it, though.
The progress through the game is pretty straightforward that gives you a good idea of where to go next without dragging you kicking and screaming. The only time that I can remember getting hardcore stuck playing this game in the past was figuring out how to access one of the Sub City gates toward the end of the game. You could see the entrance through a fence, but there was no way to know how to get in there. I struggled for weeks and weeks before finally hopping on my blazing fast 56k modem back in the late 90’s and looking up a walkthrough to help me figure out the dungeon crawling required to find the entrance.
The 90’s were a different time for games coming out of Japan. Granted these kinds of things continued into the 21st century, but the main theme songs (Your Wind is Blowing and Another Sun)that were used in Rockman DASH are stripped from the North American release and replaced. This wasn’t even made apparent to me until a year or so ago. Because I didn’t know, I didn’t have any feelings on this all this time, but knowing now I am quite a bit upset that it happened. It’s about artistic intent: these songs were made to accompany the game and express the creator’s message. Taking it out and replacing it makes the product wholly different than what was intended. Though, I would be sad if I never got to hear the replacement “song” used during the North American ending credits. It was fun and catchy. Give it a listen below, but be warned that it *CONTAINS SPOILERS*.
All in all, Mega Man Legends is a wonderful breakout title for the franchise that is fun, entertaining, whose high production values are clearly evident. Capcom put a lot of love and work into this title and it clearly shows. It tried so many new things that really drove a lot of concepts of game design in the later part of the 90’s and even today. There is an excellent piece recently written by Bob Mackey at 1-UP that covers features or concepts that the Legends series did and beat the ever-glorified Ocarina of Time (Don’t get mad and crazy. I LOVE Ocarina of Time and have played it almost as much as Legends.) to the punch. Sadly the Capcom that built this game and it’s stupendous sequel isn’t the Capcom of today that tries new things and puts their all into new ventures, or even into their most-loved franchises.
Despite the faults the game has, it really is a great feat to get so many things right bringing a game born on the NES into a full-fledged 3D adventure. The game is a rarity to come by for a good deal, mostly because people don’t like to let a gem like this go. If you get a chance to play it, you won’t regret it. If you’ve played it, you know where I’m coming from.
Review copy supplied by author. This review is based on the Playstation version of the game.
Action RPGMega Man LegendsN64PCPlaystationPSP