Crash Bandicoot Retrospective

Hello everyone.

While this isn’t launching yet, I plan on covering the Crash Bandicoot series and giving it the Retrospective treatment Late May/Early June. The games I plan on covering include the following:

Naughty Dog Era: Crash 1, Crash 2, Crash 3, Crash Team Racing, Crash Bash

PS2 Era: Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, Crash Twinsanity, Crash Nitro Kart, Crash Tag Team Racing

Handheld Era: Crash’s Big Adventure, Crash N. Traced

Titans Era: Crash of the Titans, Crash Mind over Mutant.

Hope you all look forward to this and it will start with the Naughty Dog Era before this year’s E3 convention (gaming expo). We might be in-store for some crashy news, so looking back on the series might be a nice idea.

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Spyro the Dragon – PS1 Series

To kick off this romp through the history of the Purple Dragon, lets start with the very beginning! Spyro is a 3D Platforming hero for the original PlayStation and with it being hemmed by the developers at Insomniac Games, a trilogy of games was formed.

Going to cover all the Spyro games but the original Spyro is very interesting title that is a ‘mellow’ Collect-A-Ton. And that is a great thing, which I will go into soon enough. Lets get started with the history of the development first before we move on to the gameplay!

Development:
The origins of Insomniac date back to February 28, 1994, with Ted Price founding the studio at a very young age (I believe, 17-18 years old!). Their very first project was a first person shooter called ‘Disruptor’ and the game was at the time, a fantastic action shooter, but it failed to sell amazingly well. In the words of many reviewers, it was “the best game that nobody ever heard of”.

So, when development on that wrapped up, Ted Price and the team looked toward their buddies right next to them, Naughty Dog. Both worked in the same building (Universal Interactive) and saw Naughty Dog develop a little game called ‘Crash Bandicoot’. So, interested in shifting gears and making a cartoony action platforming adventure, they set sights on making a more open 3D Platformer compared to the linear hallways of Crash.

Mark Cerny produced the game with Insomniac, providing a similar role he did with Crash Bandicoot.

This created the early ideas of ‘Spyro’ and development of the game began. Here is a part of the development history of the game featured on its Wikipedia Entree:
“The idea of a dragon was introduced by Insomniac artist Craig Stitt, while Alex Hastings developed a 3D panoramic engine containing some of the first level of detail renderers used on the PlayStation. During the development of the game, Spyro was originally going to be green, but the developers thought it was a bad idea because he would blend in with grass, so they eventually changed him to purple. There were many released demos of Spyro, which did not have many differences from each other besides music and some areas being blocked off.”

Spyro released in Fall 1998, the same year Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back launched. And, the game was very successful! It holds a 85% on Metacritic and people praised the game. I even have a PS Magazine that reviewed the game, giving the game a 4 out of 5. People loved it and work on Spyro 2 soon began. In many ways, Spyro 2 was the time the torch was passed from Crash to Spyro regarding Sony’s major platforming icon.

Gameplay:
The gameplay here is very simple; 3D Action Platformer where you run around, exploring large maps to find Frozen Dragons, Dragon Eggs and Tons of Gems scattered all over the place.

If this sounds fimiliar, then it should; the structure of Spyro is a more open take on Mario 64 or Banjo, with Spyro literally only having to run around and get X amount of things in each world before moving on to the next world.

But what makes Spyro so much fun to play, is how great he controls. This released with the PlayStation did NOT have analog control, so the game uses a D-Pad control set up (with no camera stick control) but Spyro still moves so natrual and smooth. Playing this with a D-Pad is just as great as playing it with a analog stick.

Jumping is interesting, as despite having wings, Spyro can only fly in very special Raceway Stages. Normal levels only has him gliding around with his wings and they work well enough. It is tricky to land correctly though, as Spyro does not have a good ‘hover’ mode when getting close to a ledge. So, you might just hit a ledge but Spyro misses it by a micro second, making you have to time your jump all over again. Spyro 2 fixes this with the Flutter move.

Spyro also has horns, so he can ram into people by holding down [] and man is it fun. He moves faster and if you run down special ramps, he speeds up quite a bit. Though during this, sometimes you can accidentally make sharp turns when trying to make a large jump.

Spyro’s main method of attacking is his charge move or his breath (used with the O button). His breath has large retch but combat gets interesting. If foes have silver armor, you cannot use your fire breath, so you use [] to ram into them and take them out that way. Makes combat encounters interesting.

The last element of Spyro’s gameplay is the Speedway Stages and the Dragon Egg Collecting. The former gives you the power to fly in the sky and it controls great! Lots of freedom to move all about all the while having clear objectives to complete (kill X amount of things, fly through X amount of rings, ect. These can be hard, as you are on a timer and you get higher time the more you get the items/kill the things needed. That makes these stages replayable and very rewarding.

The latter has you racing a little imp thing in any of the hub/main levels holding a Dragon Egg. You chase them down by Charging and when you get all the Eggs…..nothing happens. This mechanic is brought back with Spyro 3 but will touch on that when we get there.

Level Design:
The level design here is interesting, as its both something I like and something that bugs me.

What I like about it is how open the game is, with every location having so much to see and collect. This makes exploring each of the large worlds so rewarding. But…..you do the same mission for each level; Collect all the Gems, Free all the Dragons, Collect the Dragon Egg(s) if the level has them or not.

Nothing changes and that is a shame honestly. It makes the large levels, a bit empty and outside of the Dragons, Spyro does not interact with anyone else. So it can get a bit lonely. Again, like the gliding move, this changes dramatically with Spyro 2. So, will touch on that when we get there.

Presentation:
For a 1998 PlayStation game, this looks beautiful to this day. The character models are colorful and animated, with the game having a very ‘simple’ look but that adding to its charm.

The designs of each level creates this ‘otherworldly’ location for the games world and it is haunting to explore each location at points. The music adds to this, with this Wikipedia section covering that well:

“The game’s music was composed and produced by Stewart Copeland, the former drummer of The Police. The music is primarily progressive rock-themed. Many of the pieces from the game, or music motifs from them, have made their way into other Copeland pieces, such as the theme to The Amanda Show, Look Up, and Louis Hansa. The music for the level Jacques appears on Copeland’s compilation album The Stewart Copeland Anthology, referred to as Rain.”

Having a musician on board helps the game a lot, as the tracks here sound fantastic.

Title Screen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvFR…ECEC231DE28F97
Sunny Flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I76G…E28F97&index=4
Dark Hollow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhqN…E28F97&index=5
Toasty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THWs…E28F97&index=7
Dry Canyon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnRv…E28F97&index=9
Ice Cavern: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoIg…ECEC231DE28F97
Alpine Ridge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAqo…28F97&index=15
Dark Passage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhtR…ECEC231DE28F97
Icy Flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyUL…ECEC231DE28F97

Overall:
This is a great first shot at making a 3D Platformer for Insomniac, as the game really does a strong job making fun core gameplay, looks great and sounds amazing.

Spyro became a gaming icon not long after this games launch and its sequel is even better. Can’t wait to cover that, as I really love that game!

Mega Man X 2 & 3 – X Series

These two games are part of the Mega Man Retrospective, following the success of the outstanding Mega Man X. Mega Man X is one of the rare times in gaming where it is really close or is perfect, so it has to be hard to top such a great game.

The interesting thing about both X2 and X3, is that both do some really great things with the X gameplay style and introduce some really fun ideas, but execution of said ideas can be problematic. These are a set of great games but both have unique issues holding them back from being as good as Mega Man X.

Covering Both Games at Once:
Mega Man X2 and X3 will be covered via same thread, similarly like Mega Man 2 & 3’s Retrospective. I am doing that, as both of these games offer great compare/contrast opportunities. So how it is going to work is that I will be covering both games in unique sections, so it gives each game proper attention and respect.

Hope you all enjoy this and let’s get rocking!

This follows the events of Mega Man X1, with six months passing after Sigma’s defeat and Zero’s death. A new set of foes pop up, called the X-Hunters, with the main goal being to resurrect Sigma and defeat X once and for all. They also have plans to put back together Zero and have four of his parts. So as X, you are tasked with defeating 8 Mavericks all the while keeping an eye for the X-Hunters to find the parts of your friend.

The story here is a good excuse to shoot up some robots and earn new armor parts, get new weapons and so on. Before I touch on the bosses, which I have a lot to talk about there, lets go to the gameplay and level design first. One thing that surprised me upon reading this thread was that, Surges is Wily in disguise and the X vs. Zero (Light vs. Wily) fight is more meaningful then intended. Sigma calls Zero the last of the Wily numbers too. All of this critical information, is in the JP version of the game only. When localized, all of those elements were cut from the final game.

Here is the JP script translated into English: https://hondoori.wordpress.com/scrip…es/rockman-x2/

Thank you Syril for that information!

Gameplay is the same as X1, with X dashing, jumping, wall clinging/jumping and shooting. But you also get a great ability called the Air Dash after you collect the Leg Armor, and this really makes things interesting.

Mega Man has momentum, and using the Air Dash is very useful in keeping this. Mega Man X3 further improves on this but will touch on that when I cover that game in the next section. The level design is also more focused on playing with X’s wall jumping and sliding ability. One big example is Bubble Crab’s stage, where to get a heart tank, you have to carefully time your wall jumps underwater to cling to hovering platforms in the air.

I love level design like this and it pushes you to play around and look for secrets. Speaking of secrets, the weapons you earn are really fun to use and when you get X’s Arm Cannon Armor, you can play with some really fun charging abilities. The fire weapon’s charged stage is a blast to use for example and very useful with collecting items.

Stage design is also more dynamic compared to X1, with some stages having major set pieces. One example being Overdrive Ostridge, with his stage having a big focus on the new motor-bike (which can dash, shoot and jump….hard to control though) and when you reach the boss gate, you hop on a rocket, shoot the ship you are riding on, it explodes and you land in a large desert with Overdrive running into the background, and popping back into the screen. One of my personal favorite stages in the game.

The boss fights themselves against the Mavericks are good too, with them having fun patterns to figure out and they are very manageable to deal with you understand the weakness order. Overall, it sounds like I had a great time playing this game and love it as much as MMX, right?

Well, I have one major problem; The X-Hunter Fights. They are cheap, aggravating, frustrating, annoying……..hate these fights. They are very unfair and can really drain your health if you are struggling, like I was. So, one must think “Oh, these are super hard because you get a reward for beating them, right?”

Nope, all you get is avoiding one fight against Zero before you fight Sigma in the Castle Stage. How rewarding to tear your hair and throw your controller against the wall, only for the game to just say “You saved your best friend, good job! Why are you still here? You can move on to Sigma now, go now”. Like I said about the Air Dash though, this element is improved upon in X3 greatly.

X2 also has the Castle Stages and they are quite hard, with one interesting thing being the X-Hunters. You fight them at the end of each level and like in the main levels, they are very, very hard. Thankfully, they have weapon weakness like the main Mavericks, so they aren’t impossible to take out.

X2 also has something special; the very first X vs. Zero fight in the entire series. It is amazing, considering the history behind X and Zero’s creation (Light vs. Wily). This happens in a future game, and its just as fun as it is here.

The good thing about X2 is that you can avoid the X-Hunter Fights and play the game normally. And then, you get a really fun action/platformer that while annoying at points, is still a great time.

X3 take what X2 did but adds a few more things to the mix. Remember how I talked the Air Dash and the X-Hunter Fights? They are brought back, but done in interesting ways. The Air Dash can be used upwards too (in addition to right/left in the air) and you get it earlier in the game (Ice Stage). The X-Hunter fights come back too, but done differently. You have three guys to take out; Bit, Byte and a resurrected Vile. Each one is found across the stages, with Bit & Byte forced on you mid-level. They aren’t impossible to take out and Bit is weak against the Ice weapon, so makes sure to beat that Maverick first before moving on. Vile is found at different parts in the levels (via teleporter) and its best to fight him when you are close to beating all the Mavericks.

The games big gimmicks though are the inclusion of Zero being playable and Ride Armors being summoned via pads after you find special chips in the different stages. These are awesome additions, but they present annoying issues that make them worthless.

Zero can’t be used during bosses and cannot collect important items for X, meaning every time you play as him, it’s only to get through the level as fast as possible. This makes him completely worthless to play as due to the fact you might be missing out on important armor parts, heart/sub tanks and other items for X to collect. And you need them, as your defense is FAR lower compared to X1 and X2. The worst part is that you don’t get armor upgrades until very late in the game (if you go in weakness order).

The Ride Armors cannot be used until you find the very first one in the Wasp Maverick’s Stage, and his stage is not a great place to start the game. Overall, it sounds like I dislike X3 a lot, but despite these issues, it still is a good game.

The air dash rocks like it did in X2 and the level design is solid. I also like how if you go in weakness order, you get two sub-tanks very early in the game (making harder fights and damage in general being less rough). The boss fights are very hard and if you do not go in weakness order, they can be very hard to deal with.

I tried playing them on non-weakness order at first and died many, many times. But I had fun fighting them, as they were great fights. Weakness order is recommended though. The Castle stages are great to and this brings me one point I really like; if you take out Bit, Byte and Vile using their weakness, you do not fight them here.

Instead, you fight new bosses and some of the level design changes completely (mainly in Castle Stage 2, with it looking newer compared to it being in shambles if you let Vile live). I love this idea, as it makes replaying this place more enjoyable if you decide to not kill the sub-bosses without their weaknesses.

Overall, really enjoy X3 despite some small issues annoying me a bit.

Presentation:
Both games continue the great look and soundtrack of X1, with stages having bright colors and really interesting effects. X3 should be noted, as it used advanced tech for the SNES to have wire-frame models at various points in the game (weapon get screen, one of the bosses, ect). X3 also got a PS1 port in Japan and Europe, leading it having a different soundtrack and anime intros for every Maverick encounter. Overall, presentation for X2 and X3 is great.

X2 and X3 also were the first times Capcom’s Cx4 chip was used for a SNES Cart. Remember the wire-frame models I mentioned in X3? That was possible thanks to the Chip.

Here is the link to the PS1/X Collection version of X3’s cut-scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfHP…7C4F746080930F

Soundtracks for each game is less consistently amazing like X1’s but still rocks hard with some great tunes. The intro stages in each game and Zero’s theme in X3 are a delight to listen too.

MMX2 Into Stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUok…fQF-5PlYuBvtUs
Zero’s Theme (MMX3): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO6s…650BA&index=30
Wire Sponge: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbTL…uBvtUs&index=7
Bubble Crab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivJE…uBvtUs&index=9
Flame Stag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqLs…BvtUs&index=10
Overdrive Ostritch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTJ_…BvtUs&index=14
Absolute Zero: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvsJ…BvtUs&index=22
Zero’s Rebirth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ1N…fQF-5PlYuBvtUs
Judgement Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yG8a…fQF-5PlYuBvtUs
MMX3 Intro Stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQYQ…EB3FCAD02650BA
Volt Catfish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHll…EB3FCAD02650BA
Tunnel Rhino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou_B…EB3FCAD02650BA
Toxic Seahorse: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjGP…EB3FCAD02650BA
Gravity Beetle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsuc…EB3FCAD02650BA
Dr. Doppler Stage 01: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m50…EB3FCAD02650BA
Simga Battle 1 (MMX3): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yRT…EB3FCAD02650BA

The PlayStation version of X3 got its own soundtrack, so will link to a few tracks from that version here.

Intro Stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Am1…C6676C&index=2
Zero’s Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U4D…C0CB98B5C6676C
Blizzard Buffalo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqMt…C6676C&index=5
Tunnel Rhino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG1z…C0CB98B5C6676C
Doppler Stage 1 & 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCMM…C0CB98B5C6676C
Vs. Vile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ysv…C0CB98B5C6676C

Overall:
I enjoyed my time with both games quite a bit, with each game doing something interesting and in X3’s case, taking what X2 did and further expanding on it with new mechanics, ideas and concepts. Both are flawed, but they are still very enjoyable games in the Mega Man X series.

Mega Man X – X Series

This game is huge and is one of the greatest games ever made, so of course it would be part of this Mega Man Retrospective!

The Mega Man X series pushed the Mega Man IP into the future in a big way in 1993/1994 and is a game many site as one of the strongest games in the entire Mega Man series. So, what makes this game so good?

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We have to cover development history first and this went into development after sales of the NES Mega Man games started going down after Mega Man 3. They were doing well enough, but not nearly as well compared to MM2 and MM3. So, they told the core Mega Man team within Capcom to get to work on getting a new Mega Man ready for the Super Nintendo.

So as cited from the MMX Wikipedia page:

“Lead artist Keiji Inafune (credited as a planner as Inemuryar) recounted that the development of Mega Man X required a lot of brainstorming for its storyline and content where the team’s goal was to branch out from original Mega Man games while still maintaining their fundamentals. In the original Mega Man series, Inafune typically designed the protagonist while his protégé Hayato Kaji handled the supporting characters. However, their roles were reversed for Mega Man X. Kaji (credited as Rippa H.K) illustrated the protagonist X, but had a difficult time with the initial design. He was presented with much more freedom than he was accustomed with the SNES’s larger palette of colors when compared to the NES. Inafune and Kaji worked simultaneously on the various designs for X with different pieces of armor attached. The idea for the armor parts came about because the game was planned during a time when role-playing video games were becoming extremely popular. Inafune felt that Mega Man had always represented a classic action game formula in which the hero earns his defeated enemies’ abilities; the armor parts were added to supplement this concept.”

So, what does all of this mean? Well it means that Inafnue had a much larger role in terms of character design for MMX and it lead to Zero being created. Zero was supposed to be MMX, but due to his design being so different (and likely Capcom wanting Mega Man’s image to be consistent across the sub-series), pushed for Kaji’s MMX design over Inafune’s Zero design.

That is very interesting, considering future X games like X4, X6 and X7 when they are really Zero games in disguise, but will get to those when the time comes.

The team that made this game was much larger than MM1, which makes sense considering this beign a new take on the Mega Man IP!
Producer: Tokuro Fujiwara
Designers: Yoshinori Takenaka, Keiji Inafune, Sho Tsuge, Masayoshi Kurokawa
Programmers: Keiji Kubori, Kouichiro Nakamura
Artists: Keiji Inafune, Hayato Kaji, Kazunori Tazaki, Tatsuya Yoshikawa
Writer: Keiji Inafune, Sho Tsuge
Composers: Setsuo Yamamoto, Makoto Tomozawa, Yuki Iwai, Yuko Takehara, Toshihiko Horiyama

Either way, they made a whole new world and setting with MMX, taking place a very long time after the events in the Classic series. Will go over the story details in a bit but the general goal was to make things darker and more mature with the X series. They accomplished this with the MMX series well on the SNES series of games but when we get to the PS1/PS2 titles, it will be interesting to talk about that element there.

So, the game finally came out December 1993 in Japan with NA/EU getting the game a month later in January 1994. It was a critical and sales success, with Capcom comissioning a sequel game to follow MMX and the Classic series still continuing with MM7 a year latter. The Mega Man X Series was born, with more Sub-Series to follow as time went on.

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The story is set in the far future past the time of Mega Man Classic, with the world being composed of humans and robots living in peace. Dr. Cain finds a robot while exploring and using its core design, creates a new type of robot, the Reploids. These robots are living beings, with emotions and have free will. This is unlike the robots and robot masters in Mega Man Classic, where they have to listen to human commands despite showing personality and emotions.

The robot Dr. Cain uses to make the Reploids? Mega Man X of course! Dr. Light makes Mega Man X in old age and makes him to change the world of robotics. He hopes for a world of peace and feels Mega Man X will accomplish this dream. In the original game, we do not see X interact with Dr. Light at all, but in the PSP remake, this is touched upon. Will cover that when we get to Mega Man Maverick Hunter X.

So, what happened to ruin this peace? A virus; the Maverick Virus. The virus causes robots to go wild and have a warped perspective of the world around them, so like the robot masters before them, they attack humans and cause havoc. Sigma, a former commander of the Maverick Hunters gets infected himself after being affected from the Virus by a robot named Zero a very long time ago.

Zero is a partner robot to Mega Man X, using his Z-Saber and his Z-Buster to fight robots. But he isn’t a Reploid like others though, but he was made by the evil doctor himself, Dr. Wily. Its heavily implied that he caused the Classic Series to end, but not much is known about the series connections between Classic and X. Zero lost his memory and is a good guy though, so he works with X to take out troubled robots.

So, him and Zero work together to stop a now evil Sigma and take out the Eight Robot Mast….I mean Mavericks on the lose.

Strong set up for future games and the story does go in interesting directions.

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What makes MMX so great, is its gameplay. It is different from the Classic series on many levels thanks to two major abilities; wall jumping/sliding & dashing. These two abilities completely change how level design works with Mega Man and they are so much fun to use.

You can collect heart tanks (which increase you health bar), sub-tanks (which store health energy, think E-Tanks from the Classic series) and armor pieces. Dr. Light has these all over the map and they give you different abilities. The Leg Piece allows you to dash, the Arm Piece allows you to charge special attacks, the Plate Piece gives you more defense and the Head Piece allows you to avoid objects hitting you from above.

Later games make the armor system a bigger deal, with the PS1 X games giving you more armor options.

X can still use powers taken from defeated Mavericks, jump and shoot (with MM3’s charge shot also being a move you have from the start) but his dashing ability makes things more ‘faster’ paced. You can use the dash to get longer jumps, slide up ramps faster and most importantly, dodge foes better. This makes boss fights very fun, but will get to that in a bit.

What makes the game so rewarding though, is that it teaches you how to do everything, but with no messages on the screen. Not the biggest fan of Egoraptor, but his Mega Man X video is a really good example to look at if you want a complete break down why Mega Man X is such a good sequel series to MM Classic.

I recommend you map the Dash to R on the controller though; makes using it far more useful then double tapping dash with the D-Pad or pressing one of the face buttons.

The wall jump is very useful, as it allows you to slide down walls and jump higher & higher if you time you jumps well. This also allows for more vertical level design for te game, which leads to some really large levels for X to fight through.

Stage design itself is really rock solid, as you have a lot of great gimmicks to play with. Flame Mamoth’s stage for example has lava at points you have to dodge, Storm Eagle’s stage is very focused on tight platforming due to it being in the air, Sting Chameleon’s stage has TWO secret secrets to hunt for & introduces the ride armors (suits X can jump into). They are really fun to play through and depending on the order you beat bosses, they change other levels. Defeat Storm Eagle first? Then when you visit Spark Mandrill, you have to deal with his level having power surges that make the light flicker due to power going out from Eagle’s ship crashing on his power plant.

Makes replaying the game a joy, as things can change depending on your actions.

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The boss’s are a blast to fight through, as they each have unique set-ups. Flame Mammoth for example is a robot that you fight on a convator, with his fire breath having a long range of attack. If you use the Boomerang weapon, you can get his trunk off, making his fire breath have shorter range.

The designs of the bosses are great, with each one being based off different animals:

They have striking designs and the weapons they offer are even better. A boomerang that can pull objects toward you, flame thrower that is very powerful, storm blaster that decimates everything it passes, and charged versions of weapons that are even more effective? Awesome line up of weapons X can gain from defeating them.

I think one of the best examples of boss fights in the game are the two encounters you have with Vile, a Boba-Fet like character what is against X & Zero. You CAN’T beat him, at all. Every shot you have does no damage, but then, Zero shows up and pushes him off.

But when you face him again, the same thing happens, with you losing to him despite having more health, lots of weapons and as the player, more experience with the game. Then after a fatal blow to a helper, X gets pissed and more or less says “You’re done now”. Your shots count and you CAN damage Vile now. It is story through gameplay and I love that when games pull it off well.

Sonic did this great with Sonic 3&K, so its great to see the Blue Bomber pull that off well though the strong boss fights.

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Presentation for this game is outstanding, as they have more detailed sprite work, the levels have a lot going on, and the frame rate is lock solid. The only time the game has performance issue is in Armored Armadillo’s stage, where we get some slowdown at two points. Otherwise, rock stolid frame rate :).

The music though, has to be one of my favorites in the Mega Man series. Such a great set of tunes and I can still hum the intro stage to this day.

Intro Stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YROV…&nohtml5=False
Chill Penguin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uCO…71ACABC3369010
Spark Mandrill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eO1y…71ACABC3369010
Boomer Kuwanger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo8i…&nohtml5=False
Storm Eagle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngfn…&nohtml5=False
Sting Chameleon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0Vr…&nohtml5=False
Sigma Stage 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRCu…&nohtml5=False
Ending: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enH0…&nohtml5=False

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Overall, Mega Man X is a fantastic game and one of the series best titles. While it might be too easy compared to later X games and other Classic Mega Man games, it is still one hell of a ride and great way to re-introduce the series to SNES owners of the time period.

The series has a long legacy, with a sequel coming not long after. We will talk about that soon enough though.

Mega Man 2 & 3 – Classic Series

The next two games in the Mega Man Retrospective are some of the most important games in the Mega Man series. They continued refining the very strong base Mega Man 1 created and it was a labor of love by the developers.

These two games are both fantastic and they were a treat revisit again.

Mega Man’s 2 development was very rocky, with the game more or less being a side project for the Mega Man 1 staff. The original Mega Man wasn’t the hit Capcom was expecting, so they pushed for the team to make other, more profitable games instead.

This lead to Mega Man 2 being a passion project by the staff of Mega Man 1 while they were working on various other games. What were some of those games? Why of course, the NES Classics Ducktails, Ducktails 2 and Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers.

Mega Man 2 finally released and it was a massive success. EVERYONE loved the game and got universal praise. So, Capcom gave the team a bigger budget for the sequel, Mega Man 3, but the team got a lot of new hires. This lead to it being one of the hardest games for the team to produce, as they had to rush the game for the holidays, staff having issue understanding how to make a Mega Man game and the game not being optimized enough.

It released and it got great reception, leading to Mega Man becoming a pillar franchise for Capcom. And it lead to three more sequels being commissioned for the NES for the next few years.

While both games share the same Retrospective, they will have three sections:
-Mega Man 2 Level Design and Fights
-Mega Man 3 Level Design and Fights
-Wily Castle Stages and Bosses

They share the core gameplay systems but the differences in level design needs to be pointed out.

This portion covers the Robot Masters and their stages across both games, with Mega Man 2 being an extension of the original Mega Man. Level design that teaches you how to play. Types of level gimmicks that are common in Mega Man 2 include vanishing blocks and normally two different paths you can take.

Mega Man 1 had that too, but it happens more so here. What makes this games level design so memorable is how tight it is. Stages like Air Man, Metal Man and Bubble Man are hard & challenging but still quite rewarding. I particularly like the water gimmick Bubble Man offers, with Rock having higher jumps when jumping underwater.

Mega Man 2’s lineup of weapons is fantastic, with the Metal Blade being the best weapon in the game. High amount of ammo alongside very powerful damage output. You can even use it on most of the Robot Masters too. The Robot Master fights in MM2 are harder then MM1’s and have more strict patterns to take note of. Overall, MM2 core level design, robot master fights, and weapon powers are fantastic.

Mega Man 3’s section is going to be quite short in comparison to MM2, as I covered a lot of MM3 with the differences it has over MM2. But what makes MM3 so special is the sliding ability. It really adds a lot to level design and enemy encounters, making it a vital tool for dodging attacks and making effective movement. The level design is also really fun, as while MM2’s is great, MM3’s has little extra paths for unique Robot Master Weapons. You can use them to find little extras in the stages, but not as much compared to MM2. So, if you have a careful eye, using Rush Coil at the right spot is nine out of ten times more then enough.

Overall, MM3 is a fantastic game that like MM2, continues to improve upon the golden formula that MM1 established.

Before moving on to the compare/contrast between MM2 and MM3, we have the Wily Castle levels. MM2’s are great, but has two annoying moments. The fight against the dragon is great, but if you don’t time your jumps, very easy to die when navagating over tiny blocks. Not to mention the fight where you HAVE to use the Crash Bomber to destroy walls at the right moment. And if you run out of ammo? Have to re-do the entire level again.

MM3’s Wily Castle Stages are easier with a lot of items to pick up, Rush Abilities making a lot of the harder platforming elements kinda moot and just generally being easier then before. But you have a Yellow Devil Fight and the final fight against Wily has a weakness you would never expect. Spoiler: Its the Top Spin.

So, one must be asking, “Why did you lump MM2 and MM3 together for one Retrospective? MM1 and MMX didn’t get that….”

I’m doing that because while the games got new mechanics and more features as time went on, the base was very much the same. Iconic run-and-jump action across 8 stages in both MM2 and MM3, a Wily Fortress to take down and level design that pushes for challenge but also is fair with the level teaching you how to play as you play it with very careful and intelligent level design.

But gameplay wise, both Mega Man 2 and 3 are similar, but with some key differences.

Mega Man 2 in many ways, is prototype Mega Man 3. I say that, as a lot of its core elements carry over into Mega Man 3. Mega Man gets one of three items from Dr. Light after clearing a set of 2 Robot Masters, which unlocks new abilities. Item 2 for example creates a flying platform Rock can ride on while Item 3 allows you to throw a spider-like platform that climbs up walls for you to hop on.

They later evolve into this trusty robotic dog; Rush!

He is a major character for the classic series and the items Mega Man gets are passed down to Rush in Mega Man 3, and work even better hear. Rush Jet for example is ALOT better than Item 2.

Mega Man also learns the ability to slide on the ground by pressing down + jump (or O in the Rockman PS1 version of MM3, which is what I played on my Vita for this Retrospective). This is allows Mega Man to dodge attacks, slide under foes and even slide under platforms. Very helpful move that carries over into latter games.

Mega Man continues to jump and shoot, with tighter controls and even better Robot Master items. The Leaf Shield defending against some attacks, the Metal Blade being amazingly over-powered with a ton of ammo, the Time Stopper that freezes everything in place, the Stealth Snake that allows you to attack foes by little snakes crawling on the ground, the Magnet Missile homing in on foes; amazing line up of weapons in both games that are a blast to use.

Level designs in both games show a lot of growth from Mega Man 1 too, but with such a strong base, you can only get better and better as you build off that. More challenge is presented with the level design in terms of vanishing blocks, smart placement of foes and some really hard but rewarding platforming sections. Mega Man 2’s Flash Man’s stage and Mega Man 3’s Snake Man stage come to mind.

Boss fights are great in each game too, but Mega Man 3 goes a step further; the robot masters are brought back with beings called Doc Robots. These guys you fight in slightly harder stages you already visited (four of them) and you fight them twice but get a checkpoint after you beat the first one. What makes them ‘interesting’ is that they are more or less re-purposed MM2 Robot Masters; same attacks and patterns but with a larger hit box (which can be annoying to fight with).

These fights are okay enough, but they feel like padding in the worst possible way. Mega Man 3 also introduces a new character for Mega Man; Protoman or as he is called in Japan, Blues.

He is Rock’s brother that Dr. Light built before Mega Man and he has a powerful Mega Buster and a large shield. He is playable in latter games but he is more or less a foe you fight here in-between stages. His fights aren’t too hard but they can be annoying if you run into him with low health.

So, both Mega Man 2 and 3 improve on the core gameplay in Mega Man 1 in a lot of great ways. Nice to see sequels further improving upon gold you struck day one.

Presentation in both games is very impressive, with bolder color and more level detail compared to Mega Man 1. But Mega Man 3 suffers from its rushed state; sprite flickering is common and slowdown can be frequent. The version I played (PS1 JP version) ran well though and I only saw the sprite flickering; no slowdown.


Musically, both games are outstanding. They are some of the best soundtracks of the entire Classic series (with Mega Man 6, 7, and 9 coming close).

Mega Man 2 Theme – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpnT…CE66CD&index=2
Mega Man 2 Metal Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8ns…78DBAB74CE66CD
Mega Man 2 Air Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygqC…CE66CD&index=7
Mega Man 2 Bubble Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JY3…CE66CD&index=8
Mega Man 2 Heat Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JcY…78DBAB74CE66CD
Wily Castle 1 (MM2) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as_c…E66CD&index=17
MM 2 Boss Theme – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdoJ…78DBAB74CE66CD
Mega Man 3 Theme – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2kT…01BDBBF4783C7A
Mega Man 3 Stage Select – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xix6…783C7A&index=2
Protoman/Blues Whistle – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt4U…783C7A&index=3
Mega Man 3 Gemini Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2LF…783C7A&index=4
Mega Man 3 Snake Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqGL…783C7A&index=9
Mega Man 3 Top Man – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dgt…83C7A&index=11
Wily Fortress 1 (MM3) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfOE…83C7A&index=18
Wily Fortess 2 (MM3) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC0E…01BDBBF4783C7A
Protoman/Blues Theme – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIDk…01BDBBF4783C7A
MM 3 Ending Theme – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSma…01BDBBF4783C7A

Overall, both of these games are outstanding action/platformers of the 8-Bit era. They are hard, challenging, but fun & rewarding. I had a blast going through both games for this Retrospective and I hope that if you never played these games, this Retrospective gives you a ‘push’ to give them a shot!

You can play them on anything really; Original NES or Famicom Hardware, 3DS E-Shop, PS2/GC/Xbox, PS4/X1/3DS via Legacy Collection, Vita & PSP via PS1 JP Classics (on both NA & EU PSN Store Fronts), PC via STEAM and Nintendo Wii/Wii U via VC.

Lets get rocking!

Mega Man 1 – Classic Series

To start this long retrospective celebrating the Blue Bomber, lets cover where it all began, his very first adventure on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987.

Mega Man 1 established a lot for the series and action games in general during the late 1980’s, with its creative progression system and rock-paper-scissors ability system. Many jumped into the series with Mega Man 2, but this game started it all.

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So, the origins of Mega Man started in the late 80’s with Capcom trying to make a game that would work well on consoles. They wanted to make a big game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that would fit the console, so they got some of their developers to put something together.

A man named Inafune designed the character based of a sprite Kitamura made and made it very detailed, with his detailed version being his final look. That was the origins of Mega Man himself! He was inspired by the anime character Astro Boy when designing him.

He designed the robot masters and other foes in the game alongside Yasuaki Kishimoto, Naoya Tomit & Akira Kitamura. Akira Kitamura also was directing the game, Takashi Nishiyama produced the game & Nobuyuki Matsushima programmed the game. Between this six person team, the game released in Dec. 1987 in both NA and Japan for the NES.

It did well critically but did not set the sales charts on fire, so when work began on Mega Man 2, it was a side project while the team worked on various other projects such as Ducktails, Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers and Tailspin for Disney.

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The story behind the game is that a kind scientist Dr. Light and his two creations Rock & Roll are living in peace, with Dr. Light going to show the world his six robotic creations. They would help with important jobs such as construction, powering cities and other such jobs; they would better mankind.

Dr. Wily, a scientist that was working with Light during their college years got jealous of his success and high-jacked his robot masters, having them unleash havoc across the land. Rock sees this and volunteers himself to undergo rebuilding to become the super fighting robot, MEGA MAN!

So, he goes out to take out his robotic brothers and take out Dr. Wily for good.

Simple set up and it works wonders for the core game.

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The core gameplay of Mega Man is very simple, you can jump, shoot and use robot powers you gain from defeating the six robot masters across the six levels. However, the game does a lot of interesting things to stand out from other platformers.

Instead of having a linear level progression, you can select which level you want to go to first. What does this mean? You can tackle any level in whatever order you see fit. This was huge during the late 80’s, as very few games even attempted to do this. That design choice carried over to many other platformers post Mega Man, even other Capcom games like Ducktails.

The other interesting element is how the robot masters work, as instead of just being bosses that you can only take out with your basic shooting, you can use other robot master powers that they are weak against to make the fight easier. So, a rock-paper-scissors system is in place here and this carries over to many, many other Mega Man games.


(Time Man and Oil Man were in the MM1 PSP remake, Powered Up; will cover that on its own in due time)

With all of this in place, how does the core gameplay work? Like I said, you can jump, and shoot. But what makes this so special, is that the game is hard…..but in a fair way.

Okay, what I mean is, every situation you face is something you learn naturally as you play. Example, Gutsman has his stage open up with platforms that go in-and-out on a track. So, you hop on the first one, and you see a little gap, so you jump over it.

This happens with the other ones under you and you learn this, avoiding the issue. This type of level design echos across the entire game, making a very hard title have enough fairness that you never feel like the game is being cheap on you.

The game even gives you a bone; you can find the Magnet Beam in Elecman’s stage once you get the Mega Arm (Gutsman’s ability) and find it during the middle section of the stage. This allows you to make platforms using the beam, making other platforming challenges (flashing blocks) something you can avoid if you can’t deal with them.

Boss fights in the game are also very enjoyable too, as every one can be taken out with just your Mega Buster (basic attack) but like I mentioned before, you an use the bosses weakness to make the fight easier.

Here is the weakness order; going to spoiler tag it so that way if you want the challenge for yourself, then you can learn it on your own :D! ……But I’m sure most of you know this anyway XD!

Cutman: Super Arm
Elecman: Rolling Cutter
Iceman: Thunder Beam
Fireman: Ice Slasher
Bombman: Fire Storm
Gutsman: Hyper Bomb

Before I close this section, have to talk about Wily Fortress. This place is where you fight the robot masters again in a boss rush and face some really tough platforming sections. And…..fight this…..thing:

Please use the pause glitch when fighting the Yellow Devil (press pause when shooting an elec-beam).

Otherwise, this is a nice idea that only got better as the series went on. The Wily Fortress is an idea that Mega Man X continued in the future, but we will get too it soon enough.

Overall, I really enjoyed the gameplay here and it only gets better & better as the series goes on.

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Presentation is strong, as the sprite work is very nice and detailed, with everything looking expressive. The levels can look a bit space, but overall, its a nice looking game.

Musically, Mega Man is called ROCK for a reason; the music rocks hard, man!

The soundtracks only get better as the series goes on but the very first game has a lot of great tunes. Manami Matsumae is the composer for the game and she makes many more tracks for the series as time went on. Recently she composed a few tracks for the indie hit Shovel Knight :D.

Stage Select: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nHA…FDAF43&index=1
Cutman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsXE…FDAF43&index=3
Gutsman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2jq…9FC2ABF7FDAF43
Bombman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avju…FDAF43&index=2
Elecman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJdF…9FC2ABF7FDAF43
Fireman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTId…9FC2ABF7FDAF43
Iceman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUZl…FDAF43&index=8
Wily 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gg97…FDAF43&index=9
Wily 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CNI…9FC2ABF7FDAF43

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Overall, Mega Man 1 is a strong way to kick off the series and while its not perfect (Mega Man’s control could of been a bit better honestly and the flashing blocks are not a fun level gimmick sometimes :(), its a great foundation that other games built off of.

This starts a very long, grand series of games in just one era of Mega Man. And it continues with Mega Man 2 not long after.

Mega Man Legends 2 – Legends Series

This retrospective, part of the Mega Man Retrospective, took a lot longer to make then I anticipated. Between trying to get through a lot of the game and ensuring I experienced a majority of the game, I feel bad I made you all wait a good extra week then I originally promised. This is a little preface, as I will ensure this does not happen again with future Retrospectives.

Now that is out of the way, Legends 2! Following the success of Legends 1 and a spin-off game Misadventures of Tron Bonne, the studio behind Mega Man Legends returns with another 3D adventure for the Blue Bomber.

This is a great sequel that fixes a lot of the little issues many had with Legends 1. A proper lock-on feature, better controls/camera system, dungeons having unique visual designs and gimmicks and a story hoping across a wide selection of locations. Legends 2 feels like a world adventure and does this make it the better game than Legends 1?

The game has some history and here is what I found on Wikipedia regarding this:

“The demo, titled Rockman Dash 2 – Episode 1: Roll’s Critical Moment (ロックマンDASH2 エピソード1 ロールちゃん危機一髪! Rokkuman DASH 2 Episōdo 1 Rōruchan Kiki Ippatsu?), features an independent story in which Tron has kidnapped Roll and Mega Man sets to rescue her. It was only included in the Japanese version of the game and the PlayStation Portable port of the game. The game was released for the PlayStation in April 2000 in Japan, as a regular release and another one under the label of “PlayStation the Best”. It was later released in October 2000 in North America and in August 2001 in Europe] Unchanged Japanese ports of the game were also released for the PC in July 2001. In September 2005, Capcom ported the game to the PlayStation Portable but it was only published in Japan.[43] Like the preceding game, the music was composed by Makoto Tomozawa with the ending theme used in the Japanese version being Hara Fumina’s “Naite Ii Yo” (泣いていいよ?, lit. “It’s All Right to Cry”). In October 2009, Capcom released Capcom Special Selection Rockman Dash 2 (CAPCOM SPECIAL SELECTION ロックマンDASH2?), which is composed of a soundtrack including 17 tracks from the game and an artbook. The artbook also shows characters which were not featured in the game with all of them sharing the name of Mega Man like Mega Man Volnutt and Mega Man Juno.”

So the game got a great intro demo for Japanese players and NA/EU gamers got a lengthy demo covering some early sections of the final game. When the game released in 2000, it got high scores and everyone loved it, but sales wise, it didn’t like the world on fire. This lead to the Legends series hibernating for quite a while, with PSP ports of Legends 1 & 2 coming out in Japan (with the PSP version of Legends 2 fixing something I will be touching on when I get to the gameplay).

The entire Legends series would later release on North American PlayStation Network, with Legends 2 being the latest release early this month.

The story of the game is that Rock Volnut (Mega Man’s official name in this sub-series), Roll and Data relaxing on the Flutter, while Barrel (Rock and Roll’s father) is on a giant flying craft with an old partner. Both discuss plans on exploring a place called ‘The Forbidden Island’ with the Bonnes & Glide sneaking in on the ship as reporters.

The craft gets sucked into the Island, pushing Rock, Roll and Data to visit the island themselves, but they first land on as snow covered island to try and make a machine to penetrate the harsh climate of the Forbidden Island. The story gets more crazy when Rock finally lands on the Forbidden Island and accidentally frees two beings called Accents. After all of this happens, Rock is tasked to find three keys that will allow the Mother Lode to be unlocked.

If that sounds like a fun adventure, its because it IS one! The writing is as great as past Legends titles and the core story for the characters is quite strong. Morality comes into play to a points, with Rock’s actions while not affecting the core story, effecting little things in interesting ways.

Overall, I really liked this story and the strong characters of Legends 1 come back in full force here.

The core gameplay is a major face-lift from the original Legends. Core design is the same, with Rock finding various weapon parts that Roll converts into tools he can use to explore new locations and every main area has a hub to explore. But the gameplay is where a lot changed. The lock-on works like 3D Zelda, with it allowing you to move around when attacking instead of being locked in place. In addition, the game supports full analog control allowing you to look around and have greater control on Rock’s movement.

Really enjoy the combat now, as thanks to these improved controls, fire fights are streamlined and feel quite rewarding. If anything, I would not be surprised if Insomniac took Legends 2 to heart when designing the combat system for Ratchet & Clank 2, as the controls mirror how Ratchet works when you hold down the strafing button.

But, what about the dungeons? If the gameplay takes notes from 3D Zelda, so should they? Well, they DO and it leads to some interesting results. The core design of each dungeon is different, with them having unique themes, gimmicks and core design elements. The Forest Dungeon for example focuses on Rock climbing up to a higher floor and repeatedly taking on another Digger.

……Then we get to the water dungeon. I hate this. I hate this. I HATE this place. You want to know why? Because it takes forever to get anywhere. This place is the reason this retrospective too so long to write, because I spent five hours backtracking to get the drill arm, grinding zenny and getting lost for a good three hours trying to find the second water key. The design is fine, with a lot of floors to explore and its nice it has a lot of hidden goodies to find if you explore but when you are underwater, Rock moves like a tank and is really slow. And when the game asks you to do some platforming? Good luck with that.

I’m making it sound like its the worst thing in the world, but it really isn’t. If you take your time and come prepared, it should only take 2 hours at most to get through everything here. But it is a major flaw to Legends 2. Thankfully, the JP PSP remake of Legends 2 fixed this by making Rock faster when underwater, so it takes less time to get through the place.

The other dungeons are a lot better and the final one in particular is a lot of fun. Overall, outside of one sour dungeon, the rest are a lot of fun.

The game also introduces a lot of ‘prologue’ portions before you complete dungeons, with you either helping a town, saving some brothers sister from a pirate, and defending a flying base from being destroyed. It makes this world quite huge and makes the game feel longer, and that is always a good thing if done well.

The presentation here is a big step up from Legends 1, and that game looked great on the PlayStation 1. Here, the character models are more detailed, the music is more catchy and the dungeons have striking designs. Not to mention the cut-scenes got a big step up too, with better animation, more movement and them feeling ‘grander’.

The music is something I want to highlight too, as I really like a lot of the tracks in the game.

Flutter Theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-_c…RZTzeA&index=1
Abandon Mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeBZ…RZTzeA&index=4
Tron’s Jagd Krabbe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiXk…efpMh8iKRZTzeA
Flutter on Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhkG…efpMh8iKRZTzeA
Saul Kial Ruins – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-bh…efpMh8iKRZTzeA
Tiesel’s Blitzkrieg – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAhi…efpMh8iKRZTzeA
Reaverbot Boss – Wolfon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsf0…ZTzeA&index=16
Glyde’s Base – Area 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH9R…efpMh8iKRZTzeA

Just want to cover one final thing before concluding; controls and difficulty settings.

Control:
Special Controls – PlayStation 3/PlayStation TV/Vita TV
Analog Stick – Walking/Running
Right Stick – Strafe Left/Right
X – Jump (Left/Right + X = Dodge Roll)
[] – Shoot
Triangle – Special Weapon
O – Interact/Pick Up
R2 – Lock-On

Special Controls – PlayStation Vita
Rear Touch Pad (Top Right) – Lock-On
Right Stick – Strafe Left/Right
X – Jump (Left/Right + X = Dodge Roll)
[] – Shoot
/\ – Special Weapon
O – Interact/Pick Up

Special Controls – PlayStation Portable
L & R – Strafe Left & Right
D-Pad – Moving around
Analog Stick (Different Directions) Lock-On
X – Jump (Left/Right + X = Dodge Roll)
[] – Shoot
/\ – Special Weapon
O – Interact/Pick Up

Difficulty: You can complete a diggers test later in the game and you have two classes to unlock; A and S. Both unlock access to one of two extra dungeons to complete, which house items that can be converted into powerful weapons. But the game gets harder, with A being ‘Hard’ and S being ‘Super Hard’. If you do NOT want your game getting more challenging, ignore this or make a new save to try the difficulty out.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Legends 2. It is a great Zelda-like experience and its clear that the team making the Legends games got better from what they learned with Legends 1. Rock may be on the moon, but he got new life from newer generations playing the Legends series thanks to their North American PlayStation Network releases, like myself. I never played the Legends series before until recently, so I have the PSN releases to thank for me covering Legends in this Mega Man Retrospective!

Lets keep on exploring and one day, we will get Rock off the Moon…..

Mega Man Legends – Legends Series

Hello everyone! To celebrate Tuesdays release of Mega Man Legends 2 on North American PlayStation Network, going to be making a little retrospective covering the original Mega Man Legends! This is a real shining gem, with this title being the first for a lot of things. Lock-On Systems in Action/Adventure games, hub worlds that have a lot of life in them, gameplay mechanics that would come back in future games like Ratchet & Clank and Legend of Zelda: OoT and more! Mega Man Legends is an impressive game, so lets dive into this lost legend to see what makes it so special.

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Mega Man Legend’s birth was in some respects, forced to happen by Sony. Around the time of the PlayStation’s launch in 1995, they wanted ONLY 3D games, no 2D titles. Capcom was angered by this, as one of their flagship IP, Mega Man, was a 2D game. So they were quite bitter with Sony over this news and they ended up working things out; they still made their 2D Mega Man games (Mega Man 8 and Mega Man X4), but they had to make a 3D Mega Man game for the PS1.

This sparked a new sub-series for Mega Man, dubbed ‘Legends’. This takes place at the end of the Mega Man timeline. Long after the X, Zero, ZX, Battle Network and Star Force series; the very end of the Mega Man series.

So, what is the origins of this world? Everything is covered by water and people are divided into islands. People hear about this legend, the Motherload, a great treasure that holds a lot of power. This sparks the creation of people called ‘Diggers’, people who hunt for treasure across caverns and dungeons to try and find refactors, and maybe, the Motherload. They also hunt for refractors to power objects in the world, more or less being the energy powering everything. But one day, a old man and his daughter find this boy with a robotic body in some ruins and take him in as their own………

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I mixed the story and the development history into one section, as they are very closely connected. This game thrives on its characters, writing and wold building to be so special.

Everyone has a voice and a lot of dialog that changes as you go through the game. But you keep seeing the same people over and over again. Its sorta like Majora’s Mask, where you are interacting with the same people again and again…..but you don’t have to worry about any moons ;). Well……you do, but that is for a later game. We well get someone off the moon some day.

Anyway! That is what is most impressive about the game to me, the characters. They are so full of life and I love all of them. Roll is a great support character to Mega Man, as she talks to him when exploring dungeons and you can have optional interactions with her at different points in the game.

But by far my favorite characters are the Bonne Family, as they are just…..gold.

Trone Bone is a girl on a mission to get what she wants, but also has a soft spot for the Blue Bomber after him saving her from a dog early in the game. The Serv-Bots are priceless and they are really funny! They are all different, despite looking the same. A later game, Misadventures of Trone Bone, runs with this and its just as amazing as it sounds :’).

Teasel Bonne is a great character too, as he is loud, childish and unlike Wily is a bit of a goof ball. These are fun foes to fight and you fight them at every turn across the game through different mechs they make.

I love these guys and they are so great, we got a whole game starting them alone!

So the characters are great, but what about the games setting? That is important for adventure games after all.

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The setting for Legends 1 is Kattelox Island, a small location with a lot to do. Tons of shops to visit, buildings to go into and a full destruction set up in place that has buildings stay destroyed if they are, well, damaged and stuff. You can pay to fix that but that is really impressive for an early-PS1 title.

Various mini games are fun to complete, with you kicking the can to get an extra 1000 Zenny (money in the game) if it lands in the Flower Shop display, kicking balls to attack a dog chasing a mail man, and popping balloons with odd faces on them. You can get items from completing the mini games, which can help you craft items, more on that later. The city is split into five sectors; Shopping District, Main Town, City Hall, Industrial District and Media District. Each one has a lot do and see, alongside having you interact with the town’s people. If you help them out (like giving an artist red dye for her painting), you can get rewards too. ……Does this game sound a bit familiar? Almost…..Zelda-ish yet? No? Okay, so its just me then.

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The core gameplay is where this game really impressed me when I first played it last year on my Vita. You can jump and shoot, like all Mega Men can, but you also have a dodge roll and an extra ‘arm’ attack, allowing you to equip yourself with different weapons usable with the Triangle Button.

You can make these weapons from finding items inside the various dungeons and other spots in the game world, leading you to craft some awesome gear. Found a worn out drill? Visit Roll and she can make it into a powerful Drill to break through tough walls. Find a flash light and a toy sword? You get a lightsaber…..wait a minute, how is THAT possible O_O!

You can make all kinds fun weapons and its a great reward for hunting through the world. But you might be wondering about those ‘dungeons’ I mentioned before. Now this is when the Zelda comparison should ring a few bells; this was OoT before that game even came out! Mega Man can also lock on to foes (though his lock-on isn’t as good compared to Links, which Legends 2 seems to fix) and like a specific Lombax you can strafe using the L/R buttons on the controller (or the right stick if you configured things right on the PS Vita PS1 Emulator). This allows the combat to have more depth compared to the original 2D Mega Man games, where you have to really be smart with your positioning and fully use the 3D world around you.

The dungeons themselves are a bit drab though, but hunting through them is almost…..zen like. Just running through, shooting every Reverbot in sight and finding rare items by solving puzzle; you get that “I got it!” feeling the best Zelda and Metroid games tend to offer.

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The presentation here is strong, as the cut-scenes have proper lip-syncing, expressive facial animations and great character animations. Shows how well done the cut-scenes were and how the developers spent time ensuring they were well done.

The music is more atmospheric compared to other Mega Man titles, but it as a number of enjoyable tracks.

Another Sun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7zK…oh-rySF1D04Vnw
The Apple Market: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrCn…oh-rySF1D04Vnw
Feeling of Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vasf…oh-rySF1D04Vnw
Support Car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcA6…oh-rySF1D04Vnw
Case the Blumbear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Jt0…04Vnw&index=15
Lakeside Town: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff0D…04Vnw&index=31
Main Gate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhB-dm9-QOY

Very nice selection of music that does a good job setting up the games tone.

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Overall, I really enjoyed my time playing Legends and I can’t wait to play more of the series! It really is a special franchise and one of the better sub-series of Mega Man on the market. I can see why so many wanted a Legends 3 to happen; this world is too great for it to be lost to the PS1 Era.

If you enjoyed my comments……get Legends 1 then ! Its on NA PSN right now with Trone Bone being on NA PSN too. Will post the link to Legends 2 when it lands on PSN in this OP, so stay tuned!

May these Legends live on in our hearts and minds for the future!