The pixels are intact. So are the colors. At a time when the industry believes games from a generation ago are not “good enough” and incessantly remakes them comes Mega Man Collection, low resolution and all, from decades ago. It’s still good enough. As much as this may be Capcom coasting on one of their iconic characters, Collection’s preservationist heart is beautiful for its inaction.
Trinkets like a soundtrack, museum, and glossy guide sheet are appreciated, yet Mega Man Collection is a highlight for capturing the character’s legacy intact. There’s slowdown, there’s flicker; those are necessary. Microsoft’s revisit of Halo 2 altered color and tone. Collection chooses unfiltered authenticity.
There are no reasons to believe these games need to be made “better” or somehow “fixed.” It’s senseless pursuit (although Capcom tried on PSP). Capcom’s approach now is akin to film restoration, pulling the inherent detail lost to limiting technology of the time. Results are gorgeous, stair-stepping pixels evocative and charged. Mega Man’s own iconic sprite emotes with determination and pain, facial definition rare for the 8-bit era.
Mega Man 1-6 stand as 8-bit darlings, ferociously unfair as they are satisfying. Thin stories drape action in good-versus-evil with few twists, Mega Man 3 chasing the Pinnochio-like idea of Capcom’s robot wishing he were human. A new villain later in the saga proves of limited consequence – Mega Man’s rival should always be the eyebrow-flashing Dr. Wily, an amalgam of Hollywood’s old mad scientists and the genius of an inventor. Their repetitive comic book strife is comfortable, same as Batman and the Joker.
Previous sets have re-issued these games (and more), although the additional marketplace attention levied on Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 6 the better. Mega Man 4 invested in the totality of ideas – a charge shot, slide – and MM6 carried the unusual application of complexity late into the NES’ life. Gadgets grew on Mega Man and strategies matured as levels became brazen in their design. End stage robot masters appeared to be learning between games, altering their domains to better challenge their nemesis.
Cutting away the obvious, familiar rhythms of Mega Man 2, it’s MM4 which holds the greatest works of composer Kouji Murata. Enemy robots Dive Man and Skull Man have level themes which rival Rocky in their inspirational power.
Not including the games which followed – the series to date ceased at Mega Man 10 – does feel cheap, although this digitally recreated catalog of six remains enough to justify the existence. There is something to be said for leaving these games alone, together, and untouched.