Completion time: 10:27:00
Like many games on the PS1, it’s been ages since I’ve played Mega Man Legends. I have beaten the game before, but it’s been so long that it may as well have been a blind playthrough. My worries over the game were around aged visuals and an archaic control scheme. Little did I realize, both of those elements aged rather well.
Visually, Mega Man Legends still has a very appealing look. It’s one of the early examples of a sort of cel-shaded visual style. You can see facial expressions change, along with lip movement during portions where each character talks. For 1998 on the PS1, and being an early era 3D platformer, it’s actually quite a beauty. I’m still taken aback by how well the graphics have aged. Same could be say about the mechanics, though not to such a severe degree. You can either set left and right as turning with L1 and R1 as sidestepping, or put sidestepping as left and right and turning with L1 and R1. I distinctly remember doing the latter years ago, but opted for the former this go, and I’m shocked how well it controlled. It’s not perfect still, as camera angles can get a bit whacked out anyway, but other than needing precision to pick up the currency that enemies drop, there’s little to complain about the controls here.
In fact, the only real knock I have is the music which, ironically enough, is a staple to the franchise. There’s such a scant presence of music overall, other than the town music, which I really didn’t care for. It’s pretty disappointing to have such a big part of the Mega Man experience put on the shelf, however there’s more tradition thrown by the wayside here as well. Legends doesn’t adhere to the same model as its 8 and 16 bit brethren; you won’t be defeating robot masters and gaining their attacks, but acquiring broken parts from different areas in the game, and having Roll fix it up as upgrades. In fact, the way the game plays out is nothing like the original titles, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Mega Man Legends etches out its own identity as a more story driven, almost RPG-like experience in some respects. You can buy other types of upgrades as well, to go along with the ones you find or are crafted for you. You have a different origin story, with a fresh new set of antagonists to thwart. There’s heavy voice acting here (and somehow, it aged pretty well too, especially when compared to the abomination known as Mega Man 8), and there’s really only four “dungeons”, which are all loosely interconnected, but inaccessible in that manner until the end.
I could live without robot masters, as well as the lack of linearity with just fighting robots and then through Wily’s castle. Mega Man Legends creates its own distinct universe, and it’s one that’s still extremely enjoyable all these years later. If you come into this thinking that this will be Mega Man but in 3D, you will be disappointed. However, if you come into this thinking that this is a unique take on Mega Man and are open to new things with the franchise, you will eat this all up. Although the playtime is much shorter than I recall, it’s still well worth the price of admission, and takes a slot in my top 5 favorite games so far in PSX Mania.