MegaMan Legends (and the nearly identical N64 port, MegaMan 64) is hilariously unappreciated, and there’s really no realistic reason for it to have gotten any less attention or respect than many modern games get. Maybe it was a failure of marketing, or a problem of unmet expectations arising from the many differences between Legends and other Mega Man games. Maybe those who dislike the game are part of a worldwide conspiracy to smother genuinely good games with a pillow of bad reviews in order to reduce all of gaming to cheap Call of Duty knockoffs. Given the amount of unmitigated garbage that’s praised these days by paid-off reviewers and fans whose tongues are stained by shamelessly drinking the Kool-Aid, it’s amazing that a truly unique game like Legends has more or less slipped through the cracks and been lost to history. It deserves better.
MegaMan Legends is lighthearted fun
Right off the bat, it should be said that Legends isn’t exactly the most serious game out there. Everything about it is lighthearted, even toward the end when things get a bit more serious. If you’re looking for something complex and full of shades of grey, this probably isn’t the game for you. However, if you’re just looking to have some fun blowing up robots and don’t mind the cartoon-ish aesthetic or weird voice acting, this is definitely your game.
The voice acting is so bad that it’s good
There’s a good amount of voice acting throughout the game, and it’s all awful. Thing is, it’s that special brand of awful that circles around again to become good; all of the spoken dialogue is so overacted and befitting of the game’s cartoon-ish graphics that it reaches inside of you and forces you to love it, much like the voice acting in Grandia. It may not be perfect, but it definitely grows on you while you play.
The characters are ridiculous and lovable
Members of the Bonne family (pirates who build giant robots, basically) serve as the villains for most of the game, and they’re so eccentric and over the top that you can’t help but love them. As for the heroes, Megaman is an early teen version of himself, as is his partner Roll. They’re not as annoying as they probably sound, though. In fact, they’re so infectiously cheery and optimistic throughout the game that it’s almost contagious; just playing this game will put you in a good mood, and that means a lot coming from a notorious curmudgeon like myself.
The controls are a bit awkward at first
If the game has one flaw, that’d definitely be the controls. Left and right don’t move you left and right, but instead turn your character in that direction so that you can run forward. It’s kind of similar to Resident Evil and Jade Cocoon’s control schemes, only your orientation remains locked behind Megaman at all times rather than the camera being fixed.
Strafing is a virtue
Allaying the awkward controls somewhat is the ability to strafe. This isn’t only a feature, but a necessity—strafing is your single greatest defense against enemies. Since turning and running can be a slow process, strafing is how you dodge projectiles and rushing enemies, and it can even help you pick up refractor shards (crystals that works as money, basically) that enemies leave behind after being defeated. While strafing is less feasible in smaller spaces, boss fights always give you a large area to run around in, allowing you to run around your enemy while attacking them. A combination of strafing and jumping can get you through every boss fight in the entire game.
Megaman has his trademark buster gun, but it’s a bit different than in previous games. For one, he can’t charge it up and let out a huge burst of energy. In place of that are a number of special weapons you can use, ranging from grenades to land mines. Unlike the normal buster gun, special weapons have limited ammo.
Another difference is that his buster can be upgraded as you work your way through the game and find/buy better upgrades. There are 2 slots where you can equip upgrades (3 if you find the Joint Plug and have it turned into the Adapter Plug by Roll), and these upgrades can be removed and added at will, allowing you to experiment with different combinations in order to find the combination that best suits your situation.
There are four categories that these upgrades can improve: attack, energy, range, and rapid. Attack is how strong your shots are (and they change color as they become stronger), energy determines how many shots get fired in a row before a short pause, range determines how far you can shoot, and rapid determines how many shots you can fire in a given time.
Must love digs
Before long, you’re able to go underground on “digs.” Money and buster upgrades can both be found found by exploring underground, but it’s often easier to acquire both by simpler methods: money can be made easily by doing optional minigames, and increasingly powerful upgrades can be purchased at the junk shop as you go through the game. That being said, there are a few digs that are mandatory, but these are fairly simple and straightforward; if you just look around the areas for yourself rather than using a guide (it’ll just disorient you), you can often find what you’re looking for in a short time. Beyond that, these required digs can net you interesting new items that make it all worth it, like jump springs that allow you to jump higher.
MegaMan 64 is also great
I don’t know why so many people love to hate on the Nintendo 64 version of Legends, but that hate has no basis in reality. I mean, the controls work every bit as well as on the Playstation version, the graphics are a bit sharper, and the rest of the game is otherwise intact. I would even go so far as to say that I prefer the Nintendo 64 version, though that might be because it was the version I tried first. Whatever the reason, the N64 version of the game is better than 99% of the garbage that found its way onto the system, and anyone who tries to tell you that MegaMan 64 is the inferior version is out of their mind.
The graphics make me happy
They really do. It’s hard to explain, but they’re cartoon-ish, bubbly, and vaguely anime-inspired without venturing too far into the weirdness that typically follows that art style. Even when you go underground on digs and things become less colorful and cheery, everything is very interesting and distinct. I wish more games tried to achieve their own unique look, because Legends has that kind of original style that sticks with you. That’s something that the greyish-brown landscapes and trying-to-be-realistic graphics of other games can’t claim.
I even like the happy music
Let’s get something straight—I usually hate happy-sounding music. Songs written in a major key drive me crazy and make me want to claw out my eyes to escape. They’re my kryptonite, my fatal weakness that makes me writhe around in agony. That being said, a lot of the music in this game is in a major key and I actually like it. I have no idea why that is, but there you go. That’s not to say that all of the music is happy-sounding, because there are several themes that are in a minor key, but quite a bit of it is in a major key. It’s all very memorable.
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