You may not remember exactly how the system slowdown during Needle Man's boss fight in Mega Man 3 makes it easier to aim the Gemini Laser, but your fingers do. Mega Man Legacy Collection is a game that understands that authenticity is in the little things. It retains the feeling of the classic Mega Man series with pinpoint precision, even as it introduces a few appreciated added features like better controls.
In fact, between its attention to detail and those additional bells and whistles, Legacy Collection is a better homage than 2004's Anniversary Collection. MMLC seemed like an odd choice for Capcom, given that the prior anthology included four more games. This one is strictly focused on the NES titles, in a series that saw diminishing returns later in its lifespan. However, it carries itself more reverently, to the point that this one stands out as a better package overall, even if a less complete one.
Most notably, the buttons are correctly placed. That may sound obvious, and it certainly should be, but the GameCube version of the previous collection made the fatal error of reversing the jump and shoot buttons. Longtime fans found the reversal so strange it rendered the entire game practically unplayable, because it simply felt backwards. Digital Eclipse was sure not to repeat that particular grevious mistake. On top of that, the buttons are fully mappable, so anyone crazy enough to prefer the switcheroo can have it their way. There's also a dedicated Turbo button, handy for mopping up tougher enemies with rapid-fire.
The classic Mega Man games are notoriously tough, and Legacy Collection doesn't pull any punches or change anything about their structure. However, it does make the task a little easier with the introduction of save states. These are a mainstay on bootleg emulators, where Mega Man games have been much more surmountable for years. You can save a state anywhere, at any time. It has to be done through a menu, making it slightly less convenient than if it were mapped to a button, but the utility is undeniably helpful.
If those weren't hard enough, it also packs in several challenge levels. These gauntlets are chopped up pieces of several Mega Man games, with small warp portals linking them and a timer ticking away throughout. You may be asked to play through all the disappearing block segments in a row, or to defeat every incarnation of Dr. Wily. They add some welcome longevity to an otherwise straightforward game collection.
In most games, museum content would be gated behind these challenges, but Mega Man Legacy Collection gives you all of them upfront. I appreciated being able to browse goodies like character art and rejected boss designs without needing to unlock them first. It makes the whole collection feel like a true museum piece. No velvet ropes, just content to enjoy however you'd like.
That's a feeling that permeates the entire Legacy Collection. Everything from the menu presentation to the game emulation is crafted with such care that its developers clearly understood the subject matter. It's the best Mega Man game collection to date, and shows how a classic series can be revitalized in the right hands.
This review is based on a Xbox One code provided by the publisher. Mega Man Legacy Collection is now available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One for $14.99. The game is rated E.