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LONG BLOG

PS1 REVIEWS: Mega Man Legends

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I think it's weird how much people like Mega Man Legends. Objectively, I don't think it excels in any one thing that it does. It has charming graphics that are terribly constrained by technical limitations. A well-realized world that is absurdly small in scope. Good gameplay ideas that become repetitive and boring on closer scrutiny.

Yet, it combines all these partially flawed systems into a passionate package that manages to charm despite itself. It manages to evoke some special feeling that I think stuck with fans of the game since its release and grew with its sequel and the unrealized hopes of a third game.

Mega Man Legends managed to become a truly legendary game.

#A53(S): Mega Man Legends:-
Year: 1997, 1998.
Genre: Action Adventure.
Publisher: Capcom.
Developer: Capcom.

First things first, I am changing my rating system to a simpler 10 point system. Games that get above a 7 I fully recommend, and those that get below that are mostly a waste of time. That leaves the score of 7 to depend on your taste.

"The Mother Lode--a treasure so great that if it were discovered, it would provide so much power that the world will never fear running out of energy"

Other than the name of its protagonist, there is nothing in Mega Man Legends that remotely suggests a connection to the series at large. Instead, it takes place in an entirely new world that appears to be a vague post-apocalypse of sorts. The earth was flooded at large, and civilizations thrived in pockets of islands in a vast ocean and supported themselves by digging for "ancient" technology. In that world, Mega Man is part of a family unit of diggers comprised of Roll and her grandfather as well as a cute pet robot monkey.

The set-up is unique and creates a world that is slightly reminiscent of Studio Ghibli films (especially the early Future Boy Conan anime). However, that only works because of the delightful characters which come to life with great animations and some surprisingly competent voice acting. Seriously, it is surprising how much better the VA here is than the legendary bad lines in the Mega Man 8 cut scenes.

Both the acting and voice acting is really good in this game

At the start of the game, Mega Man and crew crash land into Kattlelox island, a large settlement with a lot of mysterious ruins underground. As they attempt to fix their airship, the island comes under attack by a group of lovable pirates, the Bonne family, who try and discover and steal the island's treasure.

Mega Man's frequent run-ins with the Bonnes and his attempt to uncover the potentially disastrous secret of the island constitutes the rest of the game. Meanwhile, you can get to know the residents of Kattelox and help them with their various problems.

All hail the Bonne family

Although the game's final twist does give it interesting lore, Mega Man Legends is all about the feeling of being in a Saturday night's cartoon main hero. The Bonnes are a classicly "evil" pirate family with charming characters, over-the-top acting, and motives, and a weird knack for surviving the explosions and always coming back with bigger and badder robots. In that comedic conflict, Mega Man builds his reputation as a hero for the town.

Obviously, this was the intro to a bigger narrative, and it builds the character of Mega Man and the supporting cast to a great degree.

"There are a lot of stories about the treasure, but no one knows exactly what it is"

With its transition into 3D, I am sure it wasn't immediately obvious how the core Mega Man formula and experience can be effectively translated into 3D space. Maybe Capcom has tried many things before simply coming with something drastically different.

Basically, this is an Action-Adventure game that even predates Ocarina of Time, with dungeons replacing the typical stages in a Mega Man game, and a sort of 3rd Person Shooting action as the core gameplay mechanic.

Mega Man can move around and shoot his buster gun and can stop and lock on for better accuracy and to hit flying enemies. It's not very smooth in the first Mega Man Legends game, but the kernel of a good thing does exist here.

Learn to strafe and shoot

The main detractor is that enemies simply rush into you too fast, which makes the only viable and best tactic to deal with them is to strafe around them while rotating the camera. This move is the main one you need to learn, and you will need to use it for most fights in the game.

Other than the buster cannon, there are a lot of other sub-weapons that you can use. However, you can only swap between them outside of a dungeon, and using them costs energy that cannot be recouped inside. This significantly reduced my desire to use them, nor did I ever feel compelled to do so for anything except bosses.

As for the dungeons themselves, they are uninspired in their construction and a poor replacement for the iconic and challenging stages of the past 2D games. With the concept of digging, you would expect more labyrinthian designs and/or puzzles, but the focus is mostly on light confrontations and getting three key items in each dungeon.

"I will use my ultimate digging machine, the Marlwolf, to dig up the treasure myself, and I won't let a little blue boy get in my way either"

Although the main gameplay segments of the game are not really engaging, Mega Man Legends wisely shakes things up with the Bonne family confrontations and bosses. The Bonne family fights are presented as "missions" and they frequently have a unique hook to them and some kind of time limit.

For example, one mission has you protect the government building from their robot tanks, while another is a battle in lack. These showcase a different side to the gameplay, that while not mechanically great, is varied and fun in its execution.

The dungeons can get a bit boring

The variety in mission is not matched by the boss fights, which are exciting with how big they are, but you will still deal with all of them the same way, strafing around and shooting until they explode. Admittedly, that's still fun to do with the big bosses, especially since these are the best fights in the game.

Outside of battle, there are some light RPG mechanics and a number of sidequests and mini-games to play. The RPG elements come in the form of upgrades you can buy and install to your buster or upgrading the sub-weapons with the money you get from enemies. Upgrading all weapons can be extremely expensive, so it is recommended to only upgrade what you are going to use.

One interesting thing is that stuff you find in dungeons can be used to make more sub-weapons and even some key equipment. For instance, you get a helmet that improves your defense, and a skating shoe that makes it a breeze walking around town.

The city is fun to walk around in, but there isn't much to do



Speaking of the town, this is a well-realized place with a lot of character and side-quests that remind me of a lower-stakes Majora's Mask town. It's fun talking to everyone around, and there are some side quests and fun mini-games you can take part in.

However, a major issue with some of the sidequests is that they are dependant on the passing of real in-game time, which frankly meant I didn't do all of them. This is a shame because the ones that I did added to my experience despite their simplicity.

"He'll see, it will be the Bonnes who get the last laugh in this game"

The Mega Man series is known for its great graphical design, which culminated with the excellent sprite work of the Mega Man X series. Naturally, the fledgling scene of 3D art could never compete with the absolute mastery that Capcom had with 2D sprites, but the artists had a solid background to work from. This was most apparent in the design of the various Robot enemies, the Bonne family, and the game's own minion-like Servebots.

It resulted in crafting a charing and memorable world that pops despite low polygon count and its blocky edges. Taking a more colorful style than the X series, Mega Man Legends goes full throttle with the Saturday Night cartoon look that hides the limitations of the hardware. Sure, there are clearly some graphical hiccups here and there, but the result is something that is playable and nice despite its age.

It even looks amazing in some instances

Like many early 3D games, it looks especially good in motion, both inside and outside of cut-scenes, which is due to the good animations which even extend to typical anime-like facial expressions.

Unfortunately, I don't think the music approached the level we are used to with this series, and this is most apparent in the dungeons. Mega Man stages have great stage music that ranges from action-packed and blood-pumping to mystical and atmospheric. Here, except for the last dungeon in the game, it's just a constant mysterious droning noise.

Ironically, I don't think that's due to the soundtrack itself though as much as the sound direction. Simply put, music is not well-utilized in the game.

Other than the music, the voice acting is really good as I discussed above. In fact, it complements the in-scene acting really well, which was actually made using motion-capture.

In Conclusion:

With its charming world and characters and a story that looks like it is directly pulled from the classic cartoons of the past, it was inevitable that the game would make some people fall in love with it. It is a seriously charming game with lots of things to like.

However, I cannot but wonder if perhaps there should have been more substance to the game, especially when it came to its limited dungeons and the repetitive combat. Also, while the story was charming enough, you feel like they shouldn't have kept the stakes so low until the very end and maybe should have explored the mystery of the world a bit more.

I think these faults ultimately keep the game from being a true great like it aspires to be, but I am hopeful that its sequel ironed some of those issues out because I already love the game despite its flaws.

Final: 7/10

*******************************

Pros:

  • Charming world and characters
  • A unique feeling that is difficult to explain
  • Just like a Saturday-night cartoon

Cons:

  • Not a very good use of music
  • The combat gets repetitive after a while
  • Simple dungeons and stages

**********************************************************************

Tips:

1-Learn the strafing shooting method (run around while rotating the camera and shooting).
2-Look inside holes on walls to find stuff, they are obvious.
3-Upgrade the sub-weapons you want to use first.
4-Play and win the mini-games to get stuff.
5-Look inside trash cans and boxes.
6-Learn how to use the terrible lock-on system.
7-Sub-weapons can be very useful.
8-The big brown walls can only be destroyed by an end-game drill sub-weapon.
9-Learn the strafing shooting method.

The Bonne family can teach the value of perseverance

Series:

For those reading one of my PS1 review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

I already reviewed both major Generation 4 consoles, and am now reviewing Generation 5 consoles. I already finished reviewing the Sega Saturn, so I am now reviewing the PS1. In these reviews, I take a top 100 games list and review the games that interest me in that list.

This time, my review series is based on this list from Retro Sanctuary along with other sources, since the PS1 can handle a list bigger than a top 100.

Also, note the following:

-If you have any suggestions for a game that is not on the Retro Sanctuary list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Hopefully in the sequel

Next Game

After strafing and shooting my way through Mega Man Legends, I think I can clearly see how the second game improved on it in many ways, but I still managed to love this game nonetheless.

The next game on my review list will be Mega Man Legends 2, where I will finally beat this game after losing my save when the game was first released. My guess is that it will just make me wish for a Mega Man Legends 3 game even more than I already do.

Stay Tuned.

For Previous PS1 Game Reviews:

The List

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:





Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
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