Mega Man fans rejoice — nobody has given up on one of the most celebrated franchises in gaming history. Mega Man Legacy Collection is now available on PS4 (as well as other platforms) and both hope and hype are running high that we’ll finally see the extended release of games from the Mega Man X series. However, it’s important to separate speculation from facts. Below, we’re going to delve into Mega Man history and take a look at how the franchise is appearing on modern console hardware. Moreover, we’d like to be able to tell you where and how you’ll be able to play your favorite Mega Man games, and what systems are going to be necessary to do so.
If you’ve been a longtime fan of Mega Man, you’ll have a fair bit to tuck into, here. If you’re one of those uninitiated folks who has yet to experience the old school fun of this fantastic series, then hopefully we’ll pour some fuel on that fire.
When people think about the longest-running franchises in gaming, several come to mind. Mario. Zelda. Final Fantasy. Hell, even those once-per-year sports games like the Madden football games, or the NBA 2k series. They all speak to the longevity of this industry, and players’ commitments to their favorite game series and characters. However, you’d certainly be remiss in assembling this list and not including Mega Man.
Capcom might not have a finger in the console gaming market, being that it’s always been a third-party software developer. However, Mega Man is nevertheless one of the company’s most beloved intellectual properties. Mega Man games have been around since the early days of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the 1980s. As of the publishing of this article in 2017, that’s thirty years ago. In fact, the Mega Man franchise might even be older than a majority of people reading this.
If that doesn’t speak to industry longevity, I don’t know what does. Mega Man is part of video games’ cultural lexicon, which means that we absolutely should not be surprised to know that people want to get their hands on vintage Mega Man experiences.
Mega Man Games
Without a doubt, the Mega Man franchise is one of those that immortalized the mechanics and game design of 2D platformers. You’re familiar with the genre — you navigate a character in a 2-dimensional landscape, hopping from platform to platform while solving puzzles and battling a variety of different enemies. Countless other franchises, including Mario and Zelda, began as 2D platformers.
However, they also managed to migrate out of that genre, finding purchase in 3D landscapes thanks to innovation in game design. This happened around the time of the original Sony PlayStation and the Nintendo 64, and 3D experiences have only improved since. Mega Man is one of those game series that did not make a graceful transition into 3D, and thus, we haven’t seen much in the way of new Mega Man experiences for several years.
The old games are great, but the distinct lack of new titles has left many series fans wondering if Capcom has forgotten about one of their most important IPs. Thankfully, we can say that’s not the case, even if we’re not seeing much in the way of new Mega Man games.
When we talk about the current console generation, we’re referring to fairly specific hardware — Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo’s Wii U, 3DS, and the newly-released Switch. Of course, the PC has always fit into this paradigm, but for that reason, it hardly bears mentioning. Taking these consoles into consideration, we can absolutely know that Capcom is committed to putting Mega Man games on new hardware.
In fact, Capcom has never stopped supporting Mega Man. As long as you’re willing to consider rereleased versions of the game to be supportive (and really, we have to) then there hasn’t been a drought of games; just a shortage of new Mega Man experiences.
Mega Man Legacy Collection
One of those that we’ve seen most recently is the Mega Man Legacy Collection, and Capcom has pushed this compilation to as many modern platforms as the company was able. In fact, almost every platform that we listed above has seen a release of this particular collection of vintage games, remastered (but not remade) for modern hardware.
It hit retail in 2015 and was available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo 3DS. The Legacy Collection featured the first six Mega Man games to ever be released on the NES, making it one of the most tantalizing and accessible forays into early Mega Man years that gamers could get their hands on. It’s not a difficult collection to find, either, and most major games retailers are still selling this compilation, in spite of some reports that it’s now out of print.
That fate has become less of a worry in this console generation, thanks to the prevalence of games being available digitally. Now, almost anything you want to play can be purchased online and simply downloaded, no longer dependent on your willingness to visit a physical retail location to purchase the game disc, itself. That’s probably what allowed the Mega Man Legacy Collection to make its way to Steam for PC gamers, in 2016. So even if you’re not interested with any of the above consoles (are you crazy?!) you can still pick up this collection of games with relative ease.
Mega Man X
Those unfamiliar with the Mega Man franchise simply think that Mega Man X is the tenth game in a long-running series. However, Mega Man X is practically its own franchise, begun as a continuation of the original Mega Man series when the Super Nintendo (SNES) made its debut in the early 1990s. In the same way that the original series of Mega Man games is legendary, so too is Mega Man X, and it’s had its own rereleases, remasters, and compilations intended for newer hardware.
The Mega Man X series has been prevalent for several console generations but did skip out on the Nintendo 64. A focus on primarily 3D gaming, as well as a dependence on clunky proprietary cartridges, kept it from making that leap. But it certainly persisted across the portable Game Boy consoles and showed up once again on Nintendo’s follow-up, the Gamecube.
And unfortunately, things ended there, too. Mega Man X Collection was a fantastic release of previous games in this series, but it was only available on the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube. The series itself hasn’t continued since then, which means that the PlayStation 3 and 4, as well as the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, have missed out on much of the old-school fun present in the Mega Man X games. Capcom was initially interested in a spinoff to further explore the lore of this decades-old series of games, but after the project was canceled, we’ve heard absolutely nothing.
What’s Coming for the PS4?
For now, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners will have to satisfy their Mega Man cravings with the Legacy Collection. You can also pick it up on your Nintendo 3DS, but from our experience, the versions intended for home consoles are a bit more enjoyable.
As of right now, nothing has officially been announced regarding further Mega Man games on current consoles. Unfortunately, that means those of you who want to play the Mega Man X Collection will have to do so on the hardware that it was originally released on — the PlayStation 2 or the Gamecube. Apart from that, it’s a compilation that hasn’t seen release anywhere else, even on the PC.
What About Other Consoles?
Here’s where things become a little bit tricky, and we’d have to rely too much on speculation to put forward any concrete details. However, there’s no reason to think that we won’t continue to see rereleases of Mega Man games on existing hardware. The only thing that stands in the way of this is the hardware itself…but perhaps not in the way that you might assume.
When it comes to older games being playable on new systems, only two names have truly been knocking the ball out of the park — Nintendo and Steam. PC gamers have access to a massive library of games, by way of Valve’s online game store and digital library haven, Steam. If you have a PC that’s up to snuff for gaming, there’s no reason that you shouldn’t have a free Steam account set up, so that you can search through the many thousands of titles currently available. Yes, Mega Man Legacy Collection is available there.
Nintendo’s Virtual Console has existed on the 3DS, the Wii, and the Wii U. And though there have been many frustrations with the fact that games you purchase on one console don’t transfer to another by way of your account, it’s still a system that has given gamers huge access to a variety of vintage games. If you own one of these consoles, drum up some Mega Man goodness next time you visit the Nintendo eStore!
If only we could read the minds of Capcom’s developers, to know when we might see more Mega Man games on contemporary hardware. You can easily find the Legacy Collection for your PS4, Xbox One, or 3DS, but if you want to play the X Collection, you’re going to need to take a trip back in time. If that changes anytime soon — or Capcom willing, we get a new Mega Man game — you’ll know about it, here!