Mega Man – Anniversary Collection – Review

g-megaman200Mega Man Anniversary Collection

(Capcom for PS2)
by Mike Delano

Easily the hardest working man in show business, Mega Man has starred in well over 25 games since his inception on the NES in 1987 and done everything from soccer to card-battling to donning his blue tights for romps in the 3D world. But the roots of the blue bomber (and for many games in general) are on the hallowed ground of the 2D action platformer, eight prime examples of which have been rounded up here for your hardcore gaming convenience.

This collection contains Mega Man 1 through 8; the first six installments culled from the NES, 7 from the Super NES, and 8 from the original Playstation. These games are all Mega Man in his true original form, meaning those looking for titles from the X series (also soon to be in its eighth installment), or Mega Man Soccer, or his 3D adventures on the PS will have to wait for another, more sprawling collection.

What’s here is lean and mean, like the games themselves. They’re all exact ports, so the same disappearing block glitch that killed your ass on Heat Man’s stage when you were 10 years old is sure as hell going to kill your ass again. And this may be Mega Man’s greatest gift to the world in 2004: He’s going to transform all of the old-school gamers and newbies softened by today’s crop of forgiving, exploration-based games back into the red-eyed, frayed, mouth-breathing, trigger-happy adrenaline junkies of yesteryear. Don’t believe me? Pull your sleeves up for the disassembling orange Cyclops boss in Mega Man 1.

Mega Man (and if you don’t know his back-story, buy the friggin’ game – it’s $30 and you’re automatically cool if you can talk coherently about what an asshole Dr. Wily is), maybe more than any other game at the time, brought the absurd twitch-tastic pace of space shoot-’em-ups to Mario-style platform adventures. So instead of hopping around collecting stuff for high scores like a damn idiot, players could control some freaky little dude in a huge blue helmet and blast through hordes of robots while acquiring their powers.

It was sweet then, and it still is today. Maybe moreso. This is truly a pick-up and play, anytime. There’s no waiting for things to get good, no tedious cinemas, just action right up your nose. The first four games are all stone-cold classics, five is lazy, and the last three pick the torch back up nicely.

As for extras, the main draw is the inclusion of two unlockable Mega Man arcade games that were rarely seen in the U.S. These consist entirely of the intense one-on-one boss battles that defined the series. The other bonus of note is “Navi Mode,” which provides on-screen gameplay tips that range from semi-helpful to completely misleading.

For Mega Man fans, this is a no-brainer, and all gamers should experience this collection not just for the history of a company and character that have shaped the industry since the NES days, but because these are all worthy, addicting and endearing games through and through.