Monday, September 21, 2009

Mega Man Legends Review (PSX)

Mega Man Legends, an eleven year old game released by Capcom for the original Playstation is somewhat of a lost gem in the mixed emotions of the 32-bit era. Set in the far future of the Mega Man universe, you play as Mega Man Volnut, a futuristic treasure hunter known as a digger, hunting through long forgotten ruins in search of refractors, large crystals used as power sources that fuel the rag tag technologies of the current society. With him, is his adopted family of Gramps Caskett, an old historian and retired digger and his granddaughter, Roll Caskett, a spotter that watches his progress in the ruins from on high, giving him heads-up on traps, and oncoming enemies. With their flying ship, The Flutter, they explore the endless ocean world.

The plot of the game specifically is incredibly unique, as the setting is quite different from previous Mega Man games. Here, Mega Man and company crash land on Kattelox Island, a modern city built upon ruins upon ruins. Here they are quested to explore the various caves around the city, and unlock the mysteries of the island’s long and violent past. This is not easy, as they are constantly in conflict with a set of dastardly pirates known as the Bonnes, who are a comical cast of characters that fit the word, “bumbling,” quite nicely. There is Tron Bonne, a beautiful young inventor who hides a secret crush on Mega Man, Teisel Bonne, the leader and mastermind of their operations and Bon Bonne a child-like character inside a robotic suit, limited to only saying, “Babu!”

The game seems simple at first, but the talented storytelling devices used peel back an amazing layer of detail into the history of the world as well as a mixture of emotions ranging from laugh out loud antics, to grim and serious emotional drama. You clearly see the progression within the characters, their relationships building with the citizens of the island as well as with the player yourself. You become attached to the characters and in that attachment you are taken for an enjoyable story ride.

All of this is exemplified with smooth, crisp cell-shaded-esque styled graphics. Characters expressions are clear amidst the backdrops of bright and colorful colors on the surface, giving way to darker and more foreboding tones when going into the ruins. These stylistic choices help add to the overall presentation, which is top notch, even more so since it is an original Playstation title.

Functionally, though, the game falls into some common pitfalls. This title was the Blue Bomber’s first foray into the third dimension and with this went through a lot of growing pains. The controls seem awkward and clumsy, using the D-pad for movement, shying away from the analog thumbstick and use the right and left shoulder buttons to rotate the camera. The game also features a lock-on system that targets the nearest enemy, which conceptually is an excellent idea, although it was implemented with major flaws. Targeting airborne enemies can be difficult with more than one present, causing a glitch-ridden camera that gets flung around aimlessly, making it impossible to target anything. This would not be a problem if it wasn’t a recurring theme in the game.

This can be overlooked however, as the game features a set of robust RPG elements. Mega Man can purchase upgrades to his buster gun, adding range, fire speed, number of shots and overall damage. As you explore ruins, do sidequests, interact with citizens and partake in entertaining mini-games you can also discover various junk parts which you can give to Roll and allow her to invent new weapons that you can upgrade and use to demolish your enemies. These weapons are varied in style and abilities, ranging from short ranged energy swords to long ranged homing missiles and even drill arms. These elements add a lot of style and replayability as you approach different bosses and enemies in unique and fun ways.

With the open ended world, catchy soundtrack and somewhat withstand able voice acting, you can easily overlook the problems that lay in the controls as Mega Man Legends is a series that truly stands high in my eyes. Its characters are incredibly enjoyable and the world is full of life and possibilities. I cannot recommend this game higher to fans of a fresh take on a fan favorite franchise. Find this game and play.

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