I’ve been replaying a bunch of games lately and come to the realization that the modern generation is a complete failure at appreciating gaming correctly.

I’ll grant that that’s an unfair statement to make for everyone ever, but it’s a pretty good generalization. After all, an overabundance of testosterone and the ability to say whatever you want since no can see (or punch) your greasy, pockmarked face brings out a part of people that should never be released.


At the same time, all anyone seems to be able to do these days is find things to complain about in the single player games, some exceptions aside. It’s either too short or too repetitive (which is also a pretty stupid claim coming from people who play a game where all you really do is shoot and/blow up other people or throw a ball through a hoop) or the story leaves something to be desired. The reactions of those that are, shall we say, late to the party – predominantly the shooter and MMO generation – have missed out on many of the things that make us (and by us I mean people born in the ’80s or ’90s) appreciate what we have now and how great it all was then. Without the context of the retro game, modern gaming is filled with whining preteens and ADD infused douchery that leaves the rest of us that really want to enjoy ourselves out in the cold.

And as such I’ve decided that I want to relive some of those days, and I want to share that with all of you.

So I recently dusted off my old copy of Megaman Legends. And it’s totally awesome.


So the name “Megaman” usually conjures up imagery of 8-bit side scrolling (terrifyingly difficult) awesomeness. It always had that awesome Dr. Light vs. Dr. Wily story, the whole cautionary tale about reliance on technology thing, and of course robot masters.

Like this guy.
And this guy.

But there have been some departures from this style of gameplay. (See: Megaman Soccer) But I think none really managed to capture the core concept of Megaman in a genre shift while also eschewing the majority of the old story elements. Rather than setting itself in some cyberpunk sort of city in the year 20xx, it opens over a planet that has been totally flooded. Various islands remain, many of which are littered with ruins that point to ancient civilizations that dotted the landscape. A culture of “diggers” has grown that explore these ruins, salvaging for scrap and technology. Among the most valuable things that can be recovered are quantum refractors, huge gems that can act as hyper-efficient power sources for all sorts of devices. After Megaman barely emerges from one of these digs with a new refractor, their ship crashlands on an lonely island that ends up housing some intriguing insights into Megaman’s past. Gone is Dr. Light, Protoman, Dr. Wily and his army of evil robots. What replaced them was a charming cast of lighthearted characters, from loving adoptive fathers to bumbling pirates, and for an action game that held a focus on a more cohesive story, it didn’t do a bad job. It wouldn’t win any awards, but it gushed charm and knew how to operate without taking itself too seriously.

The game operates like a dated third person shooter. Remember how excited everyone was when Resident Evil 6 allowed your character to run in a direction that was different from the direction the camera was facing? Megaman Legends did that. In 1997. You ran around fighting reaverbots in 3D space, with some platforming elements that didn’t totally suck. Playing the game now, I can say that the controls feel mildly unresponsive in a dated kind of way, but you can fairly quickly adjust to the system of movement and how Mega reacts to the commands he’s given. The game made use of enough simplifying tools (auto aim and the like) to make the game simple enough to play and derived more of its difficulty from limiting resources during longer dungeon crawls. It’s not like it requires Dark Souls class focus, but the game has its tough moments.

The visual style had a cool anime-esque cel shaded look that (at the time I first played it) totally blew my mind. It had half decent voice action and wasn’t too terribly buggy, to boot. There was a great sense of reward in your actions. Exploring the ruins could get fairly dangerous if you went deep enough, and you’d find busted up vacuums and fans that Roll would use to make you new weapons to help destroy your enemies.

All-in-all the game left a mark on me. It was an awesome way to deviate from an established formula without trying to compromise between something new and something old. A grand example of a bold change in direction that, I think, paid off for Capcom. After all, look at the stink that was raised when they finally announced that Megaman Legends 3 was cancelled. Check out some early scenes from the game below, and consider trying to find a way to play this one.



ABOUT >> Ray Allaire
  • ACCOUNT NAME >> The Reasonable Gamer
  • BIO >> Ray tries his best to bring some calm to the conversation, despite the fact that moderate voices are often uninteresting. It is not uncommon to find him at the bar, slightly slurring as he breaks down Star Trek technology between sips of rye whiskey.
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