I really wanted to love Mega Man Legacy Collection for 3DS—the 3DS, after all, being one of my all-time favorite places to play games from my childhood, and Mega Man 3 being one of the mighty mighties—and generally speaking, it’s a solid little collection based on last year’s PC and console port. Unfortunately, there are some rather glaring issues that, to me, speak of a deep disconnect between the game’s developer—a team led by the knowledgeable and deeply passionate Frank Cifaldi—and its publisher, who’s long seemed interested in putting in only the bare minimum effort required to make a quick buck at the expense of Mega Man fans.
I was a big fan of the PS4 version of this collection, released in the summer of 2015. Here’s what I said about it at the time:
“You don’t need to buy Mega Man Legacy Collection to play Mega Man 1-6. For my part, I tend to play my six Rockman carts (the Japanese releases of the NES games) on my HDTV via a Retron 5; I’ve also got the 3DS Virtual Console releases which are great when I’m traveling. In fact, Mega Man Legacy Collection wouldn’t have made even a blip on my radar except for one tiny detail: developer Digital Eclipse’s dedication to presenting the games as accurately as possible to the way they appeared upon their initial release reaches Criterion Collection levels of obsession. If that excites you, you’re in for a treat.”
Despite some insignificant bugs involving crackling sound that occurred when loading certain games in the collection, the PS4 version remains a viable option for players who don’t collect old video games, or for whom the various digital releases available via PSN, eShop, etc., weren’t accurate enough to the original experience. Actually, viable probably isn’t the right word: I’m still deeply enthusiastic for Digital Eclipse’s work, and I hope it’s an indication of more to come from the boutique developer. But I’m afraid I can’t say the same thing for the 3DS version.
When I first got my hands on review code for the game, things felt off from the start, but emails and private Twitter messages shared among other writers with access to it seemed largely indifferent to my complaints. Colors were off—in-game reds, such as those seen on Rush in Mega Man 3, hewed far closer to fuchsia. A long-delayed response to my observation from the game’s developer via my contact at the publisher was that this was due to the difference in the way color is displayed on different types of displays. As a home theater enthusiast, that’s a response I’d be able to appreciate… if the colors weren’t so wildly inconsistent with the character art on Legacy Collection’s optional screen borders. Strike one.
Once I’d allowed myself to look past magenta Magnet Man and not-red Rush, I started to truly appreciate the clarity of the images in Legacy Collection on 3DS. Sure, the aspect ratio was slightly off, but for pixels so sharp you can cut with them, that’s a concession I’m willing to make. Wrong colors aside, Mega Man Legacy Collection on 3DS is gorgeous. But for reasons I can’t comprehend, it struggles to keep a steady clip, with transitions between screens on most games dropping frames randomly. Later games suffer far worse, with Mega Man 5 presenting a uniquely perplexing issue: while the U.S. version of the game seems to be displaying somewhere between 50-75% of the frames players are used to seeing (resulting in a choppy, unresponsive, and downright uncomfortable experience), the Japanese version also included on Legacy Collection 3DS suffers absolutely zero issues. It’s perfect. So on one hand, the fact that the game’s performance issues can be avoided simply by switching to a different ROM is fantastic… but on the other, it’s disheartening that players should discover the solution before the developer is even aware of the issue. Strike two.
To put things into perspective: the insignificant issues with last year’s version that I mentioned briefly above were eventually patched out of that version of the game, making it by far the easiest way to legally experience Mega Man 1-6 in the best presentation possible today… but that patch came out only a few weeks ago, with absolutely no fanfare or apology from Capcom after seven months of complaints from fans who wanted to love the game. That the patch had been completed by the developer months ago but the publisher sat on it silently for no apparent reason speaks volumes about the prospect of a fix for the actual gameplay issues with Mega Man Legacy Collection on 3DS, and as of right now, no patch for the 3DS version has been commissioned by Capcom, despite their awareness of the issues. Strike three, Capcom. You’re out.
I’m sure this review will be dismissed by a lot of folks as petulant whining, but the fact is, I can’t recommend playing the games this way. And that’s a shame, because when Mega Man Legacy Collection works well, it’s a beautiful thing. But new challenges and archival material, as much as I appreciate that kind of thing, don’t amount to much when the games themselves feel like they’re running on a flip-phone emulator.
At least it’s cheap.
Invisible Gamer’s review of Mega Man Legacy Collection is based on a 3DS download provided to us by Capcom shortly before the game’s release. The game launched on February 23rd, 2016. And Mega Man 3 is still better than Mega Man 2.