There’s a lot being said about gaming history and its preservation these days. See, we run the significant risk of losing a lot of games forever as time goes on. Take Flash games, for instance – as that platform is deprecated, we’re watching classic Flash games disappear, and the same can be said for older iOS games as Apple releases compatability-breaking updates. Toward that end, it’s probably a good thing that we’re seeing companies release collections like Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2; whatever you might think about their pricing and the quality of their contents, at least there’s now a reliable way to play these games in the future.
As the name might suggest, what you’ve got here is a collection of the various Mega Man X games thrown together Much like the original Mega Man Legacy Collection, you’re getting a fair amount of bang for your buck here. X Legacy Collection 1 offers X1 through X4, while 2 offers the rest of the series in X5 through X8.
X represents a newer and egier take on the Mega Man formula, a sort of branching offshoot of the original series with some elements of character progression and development, a few more electric guitars and a shounen anime storyline. Our new Mega Man faces off against animal-themed robots, defeating them and collecting an arsenal of copied special weapons and armor upgrades, then faces off against the villainous Sigma. Along the way he teams up the lightsaber-wielding Zero and the forgettable shapeshifting Axl.
These games are of wildly varying quality; I would say that the original series stays fairly strong throughout, but I’m also generally of the opinion that Mega Man X falls off precipitously after X3. Around this point the fundamentals of the series start to fade into the background, replaced by bizarre upgrade systems, goofy unskippable plots and loads upon loads of filler. I’m almost inclined to say that the real value here is in the first collection and you might be best served by only playing that one.
X through X3 represent the high point of the series, offering a fantastic Metroidvania-esque experience with large levels ripe for discovery; X1 in particular is a classic for good reason. X4 and X5 try their best to continue that tradition despite a clear push for more impressive presentation thanks to their move into the 32-bit era; fan favorite character Zero takes more of a lead role here, though, which is nice. X6 then takes the X4 and X5 formula and unleashes a big ol’ dump all over it with terrible level design and ancillary game systems that add little to the experience. X7 takes the series to 3D and introduces a new and unlikable hero character in Axl, neither of which work at all, and X8 does its best to patch up the many holes left by X7.
Summarized, then: your best games here are X1-5, while X6-8 are skippable, with X6 in particular being a bit of a turd. Get the first Collection and you’re in good shape. Along with the various games you’ve also got a few goofy bonus features here and there, including a new easier Rookie Hunter mode, a handful of filtering and scaling options, special art gallery and museum content and an X Challenge mode that allows you to engage in a unique set of multi-boss battles. X Challenge is about as close to new content as this collection gets and it’s decent enough, allowing you to become more familiar with X’s arsenal of special weapons and play around in situations that don’t occur in the original games.
Let’s be real about two things here: first, in Two Thousand and Eighteen there’s no real reason Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 couldn’t have just been one collection. Second, at least it exists at all, especially in a world where there’s headway being made against emulation sites. Any chance we can get to preserve a little gaming history is one worth taking, and the Mega Man X games are a pleasant chunk of history indeed. Well, most of them. Stick with the first collection if you’re short on cash – X5 and X8 are the winners from the second, but they alone might not merit the asking price.