Since its recent re-release on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita it seemed like a good time to revisit Mega Man Legends. As a child it was one of my favorite games; garnering multiple rentals from the local video store before the eventual purchase. Hours of my life were spent kicking cans into counters and abusing poor servbots. I even remember arguing with a friend of mine on why Megaman Legends was far and above Ocarina of Time. While I can say that the game has retained some of its shine I can also say that I was a very dumb child.
Mega Man Legends stars a young hero, MegaMan, who is on a quest to find a mythical treasure. The world is primarily covered by water and the inhabitants must survive by pillaging old ruins in search of energy crystals. While this is an interesting premise it is mostly ignored for a large part of the game. After the tutorial you crash land on an island and spend the rest of your time defending the island from pirates, helping out the locals, and trying to stop an “ancient evil.” It’s enjoyable but rote. I can’t call the story bad, because it’s not, and asking for a wonderfully cohesive narrative from an original PlayStation game is a tall order. Its biggest fault is that it is just bland for 90% of the game. The other 10% however, does bring in some interesting ‘man vs. machine’ dialog but it only really hints at that and does not delve deeper. There is an ancient evil, a weird teen love triangle, pirates, a helpless people, and a funny talking monkey. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before.
Despite its age the game still looks kinda nice. Well nice is maybe a bit strong. Ready to look at some blocky blocks and warping textures? No? Well too bad because this is an early PlayStation game after all. Get ready for your camera to suck and NPCs to appear made of the aforementioned blocky blocks. The thing that makes this game appealing still is its use of color. The forest areas are bright greens and the cities are full of stark contrasting buildings. Even the dungeons have nice oranges and purples interspersed throughout them. Maybe it’s just because these past 10 years have been full of drab grays and browns but the colors in this game invoke an involuntary smile, even if they are just blocky blocks.
“So tell me something good,” you say. “I love Mega Man Legends and you’re an idiot,” you shout. “Hang the heathen,” the crowd chants. “Well,” I cry, “how about those dank ruins!? They span the entire island and are fun to explore,” I cry out as they haul me to the pyre. Because of their inter connectivity the ruins beneath the island lend a cohesiveness to the whole place. You could be idly exploring some sub-gate and stumble into ruins that you explored just a few hours ago. When this happens you can often break the old area with your new abilities; turning old challenges into trivialities or finding new areas altogether. It has a twinge of Metroidvania in this regard, though lacking the full depth of it. They are expansive, but not nearly large enough to get completely lost in. The largest challenge that comes from them is in the form of enemies and bosses because there are very few puzzles to solve within, I say as the flames lick my feet.
I did enjoy the enemy design in Mega Man Legends. Most of the enemies share an ascetic that combines both animal and war machine. They range from invisible hunter to giant train centipede. This being said the strategy for most enemies is to run in a circle and shoot them until they drop money. Not all enemies are like this, there is a shield guy that you have to shoot in the back which is probably a first for MegaMan. In Legend’s defense, you don’t see many of the same enemy over and over. They usually add new ones for each new dungeon and occasionally add wrinkles to the ones you have already seen. So while you don’t change much, the enemies do.
Side Note: While you can swap your right hand to an alternate weapon I found them mostly to be useless when compared to the “run in circles and shoot stuff until it drops money” strategy. They would be more important if you weren’t rendered completely immobile while using them.
The bosses are the highlight of the game for me. Some of the smaller bosses (and the final one) can be beaten by running in circles while others require a bit more skill. For example an early boss makes you knock out it’s treads and then jump on its back, while dodging bombs, to shoot directly into its only access hatch. If you get knocked off you have to avoid all sorts of artillery and line up another jump to its rear. Another has you flying through the sky standing one on one against a giant warship. They are not mind blowing encounters but they do a good job breaking the monotony of circle strafing.
So, better than Ocarina of Time? Not by a long shot, and I don’t even particularly like Ocarina of Time. That’s not saying that Mega Man Legends is bad. The game is a full on ‘perfectly fine’ the entire way through. The real issue is that upon completing it again I was left with nothing. Even though I had just finished it I found it hard to remember anything notable about it, which made writing this all the more difficult. There was a cool fight in the sky and the final boss uses a vividly colored laser beam. Those are just about the most exciting things in the game. The rest is a very dated 3rd person adventure with a flat anime story. In the end Mega Man Legends is an enjoyable experience but if the game didn’t hit you as a young adult it likely will not stick with you now. Nothing stands out as unique to this game and the things that do were done much better elsewhere. If you’re looking for a blocky 3D adventure it would be better to turn to the likes of Tomb Raider or Zelda. There is some fun to be had but this game should really only be played as a cultural relic.
- Colorful environments.
- Fun enemy and character design.
- It’s just fine.
- Really bland story
- Combat can become old quickly
- Vita slowdown, like a ton
- It’s just fine
What is a RE:View? The point of a RE:View is to take another look at a game of yesteryear by the standards of today. Does it hold up? Is it still fun to play? Should you give it a try? These are the questions we hope to answer with RE:View. Got a suggestion on how to make it better? Want to see us dive into another title of a bygone age? Let us know in the comments.