Retrospective: Mega Man Legends (PSOne)

Mega Man Legends was ahead of its time.

Releasing in 1997 in Japan, Mega Man Legends was ahead of its time. Truly groundbreaking for its time with its use of stylized anime visuals, full voice acting, and run-and-gun 3D platforming, it was a rather unorthodox spin-off of the popular 2D franchise. It remains popular even today, with hardcore fans still hoping that we’ll eventually see a third installment in the franchise.

I remember picking it up shortly after its release from a Blockbuster and was instantly hooked. My three brothers and I were transfixed by visuals and how surreal it felt in comparison to the classic Mega Man series on the NES. I was, unfortunately, relegated to being the audience as my older brothers hogged the PlayStation, but this gave me a unique perspective on how the game was visually presented as well as to how the story unfolded.

The anime visuals and voice acting give you pause almost immediately. Mega Man Legends was released one full month before Metal Gear Solid in the US; yet, it almost feels like it was trying to build upon the stylistic presentation of MGS. The visual style of the 3D models allowed Capcom to cheat a little bit with the acting, but it was still impressive to see actual mouths try to lip-sync what the voice actors were saying!

Taking the simple yet challenging platforming from the 2D games and transitioning them to 3D was no easy task; yet, Capcom was able to not only keep what people loved about Mega Man intact, but also added a slew of extra features and a different way of playing. Releasing early on in the PlayStation’s life span, one would think that it was closer to the PS2’s release given its more complex battle mechanics. With an auto lock-on system that made combat much easier to being able to freely control the camera around the main character, it’s almost like Capcom had some inkling about where controls were headed in the near future.

The music is another area where this game shines. Mega Man music was already considered to be a high bar to achieve at this point, so living up to that original series was a nigh impossible task; thankfully, Capcom was up to the challenge and was able to produce a wonderful background soundtrack that really helped to accompany the combat portions, leisure areas as you are wandering about town, and tense boss battle themes that really get the blood pumping.

I firmly believe this game is an underrated classic, and that its significance in the history of gaming should not be understated. The PlayStation was a console that pushed the limits of what can be accomplished in gaming, and I would say it deserves a top spot among the pantheon of great games that the PS1’s library boasts. If you are a fan of Mega Man, you owe it to yourself to pick this gem up and experience all it offers.