Mega Man Legends
by sonicmega

In the age of console progression from 2D graphics to a 3D world, so many developers and game series had trouble adapting to the drastic changes that took place - scenery required more in-depth thought than simple textures and scrolling backgrounds, and on a metaphorical level the character that a player controlled was no longer as detached emotionally; with the advent of 3D movement came a closer "bond" between the gamer and his character, a feeling that you weren't just controlling a protagonist, but working WITH him to accomplish what was done. In that respect, few companies truly managed to capture that essence in the games that graced consoles such as the Playstation (although many, such as Final Fantasy, more than proved their worth in storyline alone).

Not so with Mega Man Legends.

Normally one would be worried about the substantial track that Legends takes off the main path compared to the other series - MegaMan "Rock" Volnutt's origins are far from related to the events of the original series, he doesn't ever obtain the ability to copy an enemy's powers (although this is made up for with a large list of Special Weapons), and even "Wily" is reduced to an octogenarian boat shop owner. Yet it is precisely this fact that makes the game so enjoyable to both veterans and new players; the former will find within the game's content the same "Blue Boy" persona they've known, albeit with even more backstory and characterization, and the latter can jump into this game without needing to worry about prior knowledge or information.

The story, although relatively quick and straightforward, is still consistent enough in its endeavors that it's hard to find a reason to be bored - when you're not chasing down henchmen of the pirates as they storm the city's center, you're likely to be facing off against some giant Reaverbot or even simply exploring the eerie, isolated Sub-Ruins that dominate the island. And, oh, does the scenery attribute to this - no matter where you happen to go the environment and its sound effects are sure to match your situation beautifully. In the city, peppy uptown music jingles as polygonal cars drive the streets; in the underground ruins, the music changes to a solemn and eerily 'lacking' tune with only the occasional clank or grind, allowing you to focus entirely on the soft sounds of Reaverbot movements coming from all directions - it is the little details like this that help make the experience so memorable (if you don't believe me, try exploring the Clozer Woods Ruins alone in a dark room at night).

MegaMan's primary weapon is of course his famous Buster gun, but the game goes about improving it in a rather interesting manner: Buster Parts. Rather than simply obtaining permanent upgrades over the course of the game, MegaMan can instead collect a large variety of different attachments that increase the power of his shots, how rapidly he fires them, how far they can reach, or how many he can shoot before he must pause briefly to recharge, or any combination of the four. Thus, the player is invited to create and edit their own guild to suit their needs based on the situation. Is the enemy close up but taking too long to defeat? Sacrifice some range to buff up your attack. Or perhaps they're just out of reach? Take away a little bit of your firing capacity to stretch out the range that little bit farther. The fact that there's no combination that provides a max-out of every stat (save for a particular item on Easy Mode) means that the necessity for these kind of choices is always apparent, and this further encourages experimentation and practice in a game that already involves the player so much.

However, MegaMan also has some support in his efforts against the Reaverbots, in the form of Special Weapons. Ranging from explosive mines to homing missiles (and even a laser!), the options our blue-clad hero has to choose from to accompany him on his adventures remains as variable as ever. However, there is an important catch he has to find them first. Each of the Special Weapons must either be obtained through a storyline event or by combining several different pieces together, most of which are found only through exploring the extensive caverns of the Sub-Ruins. Yet even after finally acquiring these instruments of power, there's still more that can be done each Special Weapon has its own set of areas that can be powered up (such as attack power, ammo amount, or even a special ability). While these improvements can range from cheap to wholly expensive in cost (and thus illicit a feeling of boredom from repetition of money farming), these improvements are entirely optional and absolutely none of them are required in order to finish the story, meaning the amount of time spent on them is left completely up to the player.

Perhaps what is by far the most appreciated aspect of this game, and most certainly appreciated by myself, however, is the voice acting. In a time where very few console games provided a substantial amount of voiceover work and even fewer did so WELL, Mega Man Legends stands as a huge testament to just how much a great performance can enhance a character or the game experience overall. I can guarantee you any person who has played Mega Man Legends beyond the first hour of gameplay will recall one or more lines spoken by the infamous Bonne family, from Tiesel's "I SAID....CLOSE the HATCH!!!" to Tron's infamous "It's a dog!" scene, or even just the adorable piping voices of the many Servbots. This is not limited to antagonists, however; MegaMan himself is graced with one of the most fitting voices I have ever heard for his personality, and the Casket family themselves are far from monotonous. Yet despite all this character, the actual vocal performance is so spot-on that it's hard to not find yourself growing attached to both good and bad guy alike; lines are so well delivered and emotion so well conveyed, and both occur so often, that the game jumps to life long before the timeline of events becomes intense, and the clearer audio quality provided by the Playstation version of the game (which was lowered down for the port to the Nintendo 64) means that you get to hear these conversations in strikingly clear fashion.

If you are simply looking to kill some time and relax, this game can provide that - videos and evidence exist of players breezing through the game's story in anywhere from 1 to 3 hours (depending on difficulty level), and Easy mode, once unlocked, is literally the definition of "an absolute blast" for those who aren't looking to work too hard. If you want to spend longer, however, the Legends can provide that too - between the numerous sidequests and the SUBSTANTIAL number of upgrades one can make to the Special Weapons (only after you find the parts to make them, of course!), one could quite possibly spend more time on the sub-events than they do on the actual story - and yet, it is all still so immersive.

Plus, there's a monkey. You use him to save.

With all this said, if you're already the owner of this unique and memorable installment in the MegaMan timeline, I hope that you continue to enjoy its nuances even if it's a been a long time since you played it. If you're new to the series or haven't played this game, however, I honestly implore you to pick up a controller and give this a try. Though one can fully admit there are games out there with more intense fights and gameplay than what Legends presents, few can match the sheer memorability and ingenuity that surrounds so many aspects of this work from Capcom. Whether a Christmas present for a nostalgic or a blast from the past for yourself, Mega Man Legends can really do nothing but good for the individual who allows the island of Kattelox to come into their life; though the light from Volnutt's Buster wasn't around for very long, it continues to shine in the hearts of so many still today.

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