Game Review

Mega Man Legends 2 (2000) [PS1]

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“Elysium is a perfect world, created by the Ancients thousands of years ago. A world of eternal youth… a world without disease, hunger or war.”
-Yuna, Mega Man Legends 2

 

 

coffeemageResized The following is a contributor post by the Hyperactive Coffee Mage.”

Fortune favours the bold. 

It’s a phrase encouraging individuals to do what scares them, as they are often rewarded for doing so. This saying originated in the age of the Roman Empire and has been used throughout history as an incentive to push for big innovations, power moves, discoveries and the like.

So why am I leading off with that quote? Simply put, it’s the phrase that succinctly describes the time between 1997 and the mid-2000s in the gaming industry. If the early- to mid-’90s represented 3D gaming’s infancy, then this period would be considered the toddler years. It would be a time when 3D textures in games became smoother, the visuals matched the grandness of the stories being presented, the controls tightened up as gamers started getting used to playing in the third dimension, and developers started taking risks with these games. For example: Capcom, when they released Mega Man Legends in Japan on December 31, 1997, and in North America/Europe eight to ten months later.

The game was the brainchild of Keiji Inafune and was the second Mega Man game developed in 3D, after Rockman: Battle & Chase. Inafune wanted this game to appeal to gamers of all kinds and so, he blended traditional Mega Man elements with those from action, adventure and RPG games with the hope of drawing them in. Despite adding those features in, he was skeptical that Legends would accomplish that goal due to its radical departure from its traditional 2D side scroller roots and its focus on story. He even expressed doubts that the game would be entertaining. 

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Inafune and Capcom eventually took that risk and it paid off for the most part. Critics saw that there was promise in the title and the spin-off series as a whole, praising the storyline and mechanics all while retaining elements from the Mega Man series that ties this game to the rest of the mythos. However, the game’s biggest criticism was the awkward tank-like controls. It was released around the same time the DualShock controller was released and very few games were compatible with the upgrades at its release, including Legends, so the game had to make do with the combination of D-pad and L1/R1 triggers for movement. The Well-Red Mage has covered the first entry of the series extensively, with a particularly interesting segment in the narrative section that examines the notion of a Utopia and Biblical references to Eden – concepts introduced in the first game.

Despite Legends popularity with gamers, it didn’t sell very well. Inafune would reason that it being released in a time when open world games were starting to emerge was why the sales numbers were so low. But the game’s popularity allowed Capcom to risk greenlighting the spinoff The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. That game was a prequel to Legends and starred the popular villain Tron Bonne and her family of pirates.It also polished the controls and mechanics introduced in the first game, including adding analog stick control for character movement. On the game’s release, a technical demo of Mega Man Legends 2 was included (as it was developed shortly after Tron Bonne), which showcased a larger, expansive world and a refined version of the gameplay changes introduced in Tron Bonne.

Fast forward to the new millennium, and the release of Mega Man Legends 2 in late October in North America. I only found out about its release when I popped into my local Blockbuster on a whim and saw it on the New Releases shelf. I rented it that weekend, was blown away by the game, and then ended up getting a copy for myself at a flea market a month or two later. 

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While Legends 2 was fairly received and sold better than its predecessor, it would take almost a decade before talks of a sequel would emerge. In 2007, Inafune and the original team behind Legends expressed a desire to create a sequel to Legends 2, which ended on a cliffhanger. Three years later, Mega Man Legends 3 was announced as an upcoming release for the Nintendo 3DS at a New York Comic Con event. Fans had an opportunity to influence the development of the game by submitting artwork and ideas to a website. Capcom would then pick and choose the best designs to be used in the game. It was an exciting time to be a Mega Man fan.

In November 2010, Keiji Inafune left Capcom. It was sudden and unexpected, but Capcom assured fans that development of Legends 3 would continue. A prototype version of the game that was to be a prologue to the final version was to be released in 2011 on the 3DS eShop. But in July 2011, citing an internal lack of communication between the teams created to help with development, Capcom cancelled Mega Man Legends 3. The company decided that the risk was far too great and that fortune would not favour them to continue this project, especially with Inafune out of the picture. It was then, coupled with the cancellation of the highly ambitious Mega Man Universe game, that Mega Man – the Blue Bomber, that enduring legend of Capcom – started a steady descent into the background, the luster of his blue armour dulling. 

Meanwhile, fans of the character didn’t give up. They did their absolute best to beg Capcom to reconsider the cancellations. A Facebook group calling themselves “100,000 Strong For Bringing Back Mega Man Legends 3” actually got the 100,000 members they needed to try and persuade the gaming giant to restart development of the game. While they obtained plenty of coverage from the popular gaming sites, the group’s attempt ultimately failed. Five years later, they released a documentary about the game’s torrid development history, which you can watch below.

At the same time, Inafune offered to help with the development of Legends 3 using resources from his newly launched independent development studio, but Capcom refused his help. Seeing that his efforts were futile, Inafune moved on from Capcom and launched his Kickstarter campaign for Mighty No. 9. From that moment on, the Legends spin-off series was effectively dead, leaving the second game’s cliffhanger moment, sadly, unresolved.

Along with Legends 2, I also owned a copy of The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, but I eventually sold both games almost two years ago. The games were rare titles and fetched a high price with collectors. I then used the cash to buy a pre-owned PS Vita and then purchased the two games that I sold digitally after waiting for sales to arise. Of the three, Legends 2 still captures my imagination, despite the story being unfinished and despite the almost eight years since I touched the game before I tackled this review. With the game being as accessible as it is today, I’m hoping that it will capture the imaginations of others as well.

So, the history has been laid out and the brew has been set up. Let us craft a #magecrit of legendary proportions.

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visuals1 Visuals: 8/10

As the Well-Red Mage had mentioned in his writeup, it is difficult for the critic to judge graphics in retro games. However, if one narrows the lens to focus the original game and its sequels, then it becomes clearer how much the visuals have improved between titles. Rather than put it to words, I’ll let the images speak for themselves:

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The same effect of painting on expressions on the faces of polygonal characters from Legends has been applied to Legends 2, but the ones in the sequel look much crisper. You can hardly tell that the animations are 2D. Not only that, but the character models look slimmer and more detailed than in the first game. Even the way that the shadows highlight the contours of characters faces and bodies was fairly well done – it evokes a feeling that I was watching a Japanese anime unfold. Indeed, Inafune and his team pulled all the stops out with the level of detail they put in each character, particularly Mega Man Volnutt. 

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This iteration of the Blue Bomber looks extremely impressive compared to the first game. Everything from the shoulder pads, to chest armor, the light blue coverings around his upper arms and legs, the boots and leg casings, and even the small backpack have been rendered with exquisite detail. What I’m particularly impressed with is the helmet: it looks more like a helmet and less like a set of LEGO blocks on top of Mega’s head in the first game. In addition, Mega Man’s animations are very fluid to watch. He moves like he’s portrayed: a young teenager at or near the peak of physical fitness. All these combined together make Mega Man Volnutt’s model a tremendous improvement from the first game.

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New to Mega Man Legends 2 is the ability to travel to other islands; no longer are players stuck on one island for the entirety of the game. Each island has its own clime, varying from frozen tundra to hot desert. I felt that the game did a fairly believable job in depicting these areas. Yosyonke City on Calinca Island (Mega Man fans will recognize the name as Doctor Cossack’s daughter from Mega Man 4) has lightly falling snow, while the snow-covered outskirts of the city look pristine and austere. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Saul Kada Island’s desert areas evoke the wavy “heat distortion” phenomenon, shown as rolling waves slightly distorting the screen. It’s a clear example showing just how hot it must have been when Mega Man had to walk to Kimotoma City after the Bonnes occupied it. This wavy screen distortion effect also occurs in Nino Island’s ruins (the second main dungeon of the game) after Mega Man floods the rooms. I’ll touch on this particular dungeon later in the review in regards to the mechanics, but I thought it was a nice effect. Bottom line is, the environments looked much more alive than in the first game, where everything looked static and unchanging.

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Speaking of ruins, the backgrounds in the optional dungeons in this iteration look much cleaner than in the first game. I wasn’t a fan of the shades of gold and brown and the textures looked muddy in the first game, but the second improved by leaps and bounds. 

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The main dungeons in the game also look quite impressive. Whereas the first game’s main dungeons looked bland and austere, the sequel’s dungeons were much more detailed and, to me at least, seemed to evoke a feeling that “yes, this is a ruin that hasn’t been touched in centuries, maybe even millennia.” And that feeling persists even when entering Elysium, the game’s final area.

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On Elysium, austerity and uniformity is the theme. The foreign world portrays itself as a utopia but in reality is a dead world, as the player learns previously that all humans have died out. The surface world in the Central Area looks like a paradise, with the twilit lighting and the endless sea in the background. At the same time, it’s cold and empty; devoid of any organic life. The Defense and Mother Areas showcase the inner workings of Elysium itself. The aesthetic reminds me of the Wily/Sigma Fortresses from the original Mega Man and Mega Man X games.

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Gorubesshu (Legends 1 on the left Legends 2 on the right)

If we turn to the enemy designs, some of the Reaverbots in Legends 2 were rehashes/redesigns of older Reaverbots from Legends 1. For example, the shield Reaverbots (called Gorubesshus) changed from the single red-eyed version to a slimmer model with two smaller eyes. Similarly, the most common of enemies, the Horokkos/Zakobons have been redesigned with the two smaller eyes like the Gorubesshus. 

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On top of reusing and redesigning the old enemies, a whole swath of new ones have shown up. In general, the enemy designs of the newcomers (pirates, Reaverbots, etc.) are very well done.  

What’s most impressive, visually, are the game’s bosses. The boss of the Third Key ruins is a gargantuan Reaverbot called Wojigarion that possibly towers over Bruno, the final Bonne boss in Legends 1. It’s skeletal, dinosaur-like appearance combined with the low lighting of the Saul Kada ruins makes this boss quite fearsome looking. Added to the fact that it’s virtually invincible when players first encounter, it just ups the intimidation factor. It’s easily my favourite boss to fight in the game. This boss was also showcased on the Mega Man Legends 2 demo packaged with The Misadventures of Tron Bonne

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Another interesting boss (my second favourite) is the Fourth Key ruins boss called Rimblemenji – a spherical Reaverbot surrounded by a rainbow-coloured polymorphic substance. Visually, it reminded me heavily of the Devil series bosses from the original Mega Man games. It seems harmless and non-threatening at first glance, but once you get the Key, all hell breaks loose and it goes nuts, showing off its ability to expand, contract and launch blob-like shots, just like the Yellow Devil and its ilk.

If we broaden the scope from the original game vs its sequel to all games released in 2000, the visuals in Mega Man Legends 2 start to get lost within the crowd. In 1999, the Dreamcast was released along with Sonic Adventure and 2000 saw the release of some notable games such as Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes and Crazy Taxi, each with great visuals. Paper Mario was released for the N64. The game featured 2D paper characters and settings occupying a 3D background, which was impressively charming to watch. Also released in the same year was the follow up to Ocarina of Time: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. It is these two games that I’ll be referring back to later during the Gameplay section, but the graphics in Majora’s Mask were quite eye-catching.

But it is Final Fantasy IX, released in November of that year, that ultimately beats Legends 2 in the graphical department. The environments in IX look and feel so much more alive compared to Legends 2, in which the visuals in towns, dungeons, and other environments look and feel stiff. Comparing character models in both games, the cast in Legends 2 behave similarly to marionettes; their movements look somewhat stiff during cutscenes. Movement animations get worse on the field as characters show hardly any body expressions, except for the occasional movement of an arm when talking to Mega Man. On the other hand, Final Fantasy IX’s models are highly expressive. The characters, both playable and non, look and feel more alive due to the way they express their body language.  

audio Audio: 8/10

I felt that Mega Man Legends 2 did a better job in the music department than its predecessor. The Well-Red Mage mentioned in his write-up that most of the music in Legends 1 was forgettable. For the sequel, I find that it’s quite the opposite: there are quite a few tracks in the game that I found to be highly memorable. One such is ‘The Mother Zone’, featured prominently at the very end of the game. Running through the corridors at the very bottom of the Zone while listening to this song makes me feel like the fate of the world rests on my shoulders:

The lead up to the final area features a gauntlet against the four main dungeon bosses; a throwback to classic Mega Man games. The music played here reflects the feeling as you descend lower and lower towards Mega Man’s end goal of stopping Sera:

Speaking of the four dungeon bosses, the themes of the dungeons they inhabit are pretty good. For me, the Saul Kada Ruins dungeon theme sticks out in my mind the most. It’s a brooding, almost unsettling theme that captures the feeling that something could jump out at any given moment. In this case, it’s a giant Reaverbot.

Another great and ominous dungeon theme is the one for Calinca Ruins. I feel a brooding sense of heaviness when this song plays throughout the dungeon, like something is lurking around the corner and I can’t find out what it is. It’s also slightly unsettling.

The overworld/above ground themes are also well done. One that stands out is the theme to Calbaina Island – it sounds as though you’re in the midst of a grand, sweeping journey.

On the opposite spectrum, the field music for Yosyonke Island is poignant, calm and serene tune and is reflective of the tundra environment.

The theme for the Sulphur-Bottom is Vivaldi’s Spring from the Four Seasons suite. It’s incredibly fitting given how luxurious and opulent the monstrous airship is. Easily one of my favourites to listen to in the game.

Really, there are a lot of great songs in this game. On top of that, the sound effects are also well done. The one issue I have is the voice acting in this game, particularly Mega Man’s.

While the majority of the voice work is performed by the actors who worked on the first game (Tron, Barrel, Roll, Teisal, etc.), I find it stunningly baffling that Capcom continues to think that Mega Man sounds like a girl. He’s fifteen in this game, so he should sound more like a teenager with a slight crack in his voice due to puberty. Instead, he sounds girly and it’s jarring to listen to at times. Capcom, in my opinion, should have at the very least retained the VA from the first Legends game – at least she sounded boyish. This isn’t the first time Capcom gave the Blue Bomber a high-pitched voice; one would only need to look at games such as Mega Man 8 and Mega Man X4 to find further examples. 

gameplay Gameplay: 8/10

While Legends 2 retained the same control scheme as Legends 1 did, the game still made some significant changes with the advent of the DualShock Analog controller. Players could either use the old tank controls (control schemes A – C) or play with the new controls (scheme D) optimized for the DualShock controller. Bear in mind, the analog controls are not perfect – there are some sensitivity issues when it comes to moving the camera using the right stick, but it is a significant improvement from the first game. 

Mega Man can be moved forwards, backwards, and strafe side to side using the D-pad/left analog stick. Turning is accomplished by using either the L1 or R1 buttons or the right analog stick. In addition, the right stick can be used to look up or down; combined with movement, this allows the player opportunity to pick off enemies on walls or ceilings, or hitting hard-to-reach targets without having to stand still and aim manually like in the first game. For players using the classic controls, by holding R2 and then pressing up or down on the D-pad they can adjust the camera upwards or downwards.

Like in the previous installments, the Square button fires Mega Man’s Buster Gun. The player can customize the Buster Gun’s characteristics by equipping Buster Parts. Initially, Mega Man can equip up to two parts, but early on in the game, players can purchase an Adaptor Plug to increase that limit to three parts. Each characteristic affects Mega Man’s shot in various ways. Attack increases the damage output per shot. As attack levels increase, the colour of the shot changes, starting from orange and leading to ice blue. Energy dictates the number of shots Mega can fire without pausing. Range dictates how far a shot can travel before fizzling out. Finally, Rapid dictates how fast Mega can shoot. The various parts available make it easy for players to customize the Buster Gun to their preferred playstyle, whether they choose to engage at a distance or face enemies head on. In towns, the Square button allows Mega Man to kick at objects. On the DualShock controls, this button is also mapped to R1.

The Triangle button activates an equipped special weapon when in combat. When a special weapon is not equipped, pressing Triangle activates the Lifter – a mechanic added to Mega Man’s arsenal but introduced in the prequel game The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. The Lifter allows Mega Man to lift all sorts of objects, like boxes or blocks, and place them around the field for puzzle solving. It can also be used in combat as certain enemies can be picked up and thrown at other enemies to cause massive damage. What I like about the Lifter mechanic is that it’s engaged as long as Triangle is held, making it easy to pick up objects without having to worry about precision. In fact, there are a few instances where Mega Man needs to catch enemies in mid-air – like the rocket riding Servbots in the Gemeinschaft (Train) boss battle in Yosyonke – and throw them back. Not having to worry about precisely pressing Triangle to catch things mid-battle makes it easier for players to focus on the battle itself. A neat thing about the Lifter icon on screen is that it can tell the player whether an enemy could be picked up by the Lifter sub-weapon when you’re locked on to them! Green means they’re liftable and red means they’re not. It’s incredibly helpful as it allows players to implement a variety of combat strategies, such as throwing the shielded flamethrowing Reaverbots (who usually appear in pairs) at each other before they activate. Triangle also acts as the cancel button in menus and conversation options. On the DualShock controls, this button is also mapped to L1.

L2 allows Mega Man to lock on to targets. The lock-on mechanics have changed from the first game – no longer does Mega Man stand in one place as he’s locked on to a target, but he can now freely move about. This alters the combat dramatically, but I can’t help but feel that this mechanic was pulled from another well-known and iconic video game…

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Regardless of its similarities to Ocarina of Time, the improved combat mechanics make battles much more fun and strategic. Like the Lifter, the lock-on reticule indicates whether Buster Gun or sub-weapon shots will reach an enemy or not. Red signifies that the enemy is out of range, while yellow indicates that the enemy is in range. 

Moving on, the Cross button allows Mega Man to jump. Mega Man can also cling to ledges to pull himself up if his jump is not high enough to reach. Quickly tapping left or right on the D-Pad/analog stick while pressing Cross allows Mega Man to perform a dodge roll to evade attacks. Mega is invincible during the roll, so it’s worth it for players to execute. Later on, Mega Man will have access to a Padded Helmet, which allows him to dodge roll after taking several consecutive hits without falling. Environmental factors and status effects affect jumping as well as movement in general, but I’ll touch on those below. Cross also acts as the confirm button in menus and conversation options.

The Circle button allows Mega Man to investigate points of interest or interact with objects in the field. These include reading signs, talking to people, opening doors and treasure chests, or inspecting holes in the walls within ruins. Moving around while holding down Circle allows Mega Man to walk. With the Jet Skates or Hydro Jet boots equipped, holding Circle while standing still activates the Roller Dash function. The difference between the two is that one works on land and the other underwater. While Roller Dashing, holding up increases speed, while down decreases it, making tight turns much easier. A new feature added is the ability to leap off of high cliffs and precipices using the Roller Dash; before, Mega Man would just drop, land and then dash away. Here, the dash jump can be used to reach platforms or alcoves inaccessible by conventional means. And, as physics dictates, the faster you go, the higher and further you can jump. 

The Select button opens the submenu, where players can check their inventory, use recovery items like the Energy Canteen or Medicine Bottle, equip Buster Parts, Armor, Boots and Helmet parts, check the map of the area (either in towns or dungeons) and change options. In the main submenu, players can switch between their main sub-weapon and the Lifter by pressing Circle. This quick-change mechanic is a welcome improvement from the first game, but I would have loved to see an in-game quick-change mechanic without having to go into the submenu to change weapons each and every time. Finally, the Start button pauses the game and gives the player the option to return to the title screen.

One minor complaint I have is the inability to remap controls. Usually, Capcom is pretty good with this (citing recent Playstation Mega Man entries such as X4 and Mega Man 8), so I found it strange that they wouldn’t allow players to modify the controls. 

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Item development has improved dramatically. No longer do you have to play trial and error to see what parts you find fit together to get a new sub-weapon or item. Instead, Roll will give a clue as to what parts may be required to complete the weapon. For many cases, no more than two components are required to create new items. Mega Man can also purchase special chips that can be developed into boots. The Light Chip, for example, converts into the Hover Shoes and prevents Mega Man from paralysis when he steps on certain floors. The Spike Chip converts into the Cleated Boots and prevents Mega Man from slipping around on icy surfaces. There are a total of four chips to obtain in the game, and players would find it in their interest to go out of their way to pick them up.

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Keeping with item development, a new item introduced are the Mechanical Notes. These are blueprints which transform into a key component for new weapons once they are delivered to Roll. The Mechanical Notes also emphasizes the whole archaeological aspect of the storyline; Mega Man and his fellow Diggers search for clues to their ancient past and use those findings to improve their lives or rediscover lost technology that could be adapted to modern use, just as we humans do in our own archaeological pursuits. I found that was a neat little touch.

On the topic of sub-weapons, there should be an additional subtitle to this game called “The Quest for More Zenny.” Seriously, upgrading sub-weapons in this game is a grindfest, requiring tens of millions of Zenny to fully upgrade your arsenal, not to mention the near two or three million required for things like Armor and Buster Parts. There are plenty of opportunities to obtain money within the game (chests, racing contests, selling items found in ruins, etc.), but the main way most players will obtain cash in-game is farming it from enemies. During my playthrough, I must have spent a good 25 to 35% of my time between story objectives farming cash within ruins.  Even at the endgame, I’ve spent about a couple of hours farming Zenny so I could upgrade the Shining Laser to near maximum. 

I also dislike the fact that you can only take one sub-weapon with you wherever you go. There have been times I’ve been exploring ruins with one of my favourite sub-weapons on hand (the Hyper Shell, featured on the cover art), only to run into a cracked wall hiding items like new Buster Parts to increase Mega Man’s stats, or items used to create more powerful sub-weapons. So then I’d have to travel all the way back to the Flutter (which can be a pain at times), talk to Roll, equip the Drill Arm, and then travel all the way back down to the area in question with the breakable wall. Having the ability to take multiple sub-weapons with you would have been welcome as it would have saved any unnecessary backtracking.

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Another new feature is the Digger’s License Test. In Legends 2, certain optional ruins are closed off by the Digger’s Guild and can only be opened up when Mega Man obtains a specific license. Mega Man initially starts off with the Class B license, which allows access to the ruins at Manda Island. Obtaining the Class A license opens the ruins at Calbania Island while obtaining the Class S license opens the ruins at Saul Kada. However, the licenses also confer additional benefits and penalties each time Mega Man passes the requisite test. Moving from Class B to A results in an increase of 50% more Zenny but at the expense of enemies being 50% stronger. From A to S, money and strength of enemies are basically double that from the Class B. In essence, a player could manipulate the difficulty of the game by upgrading their license, but take note that this only applies to the Normal difficulty. Obtaining a new license requires taking and passing the License Test either at Yosyonke or Nino (the Guild Headquarters). The Class A test should be an easy affair for those who’ve played and are familiar with Legends 1, but the Class S test is a different beast that forces you to use some unfamiliar strategies to pass the test: using the Lifter to defeat enemies, for instance.

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Mega Man and Roll’s airship, the Flutter, acts as the game’s hub. In the Flutter, players can talk to Roll to travel to new destinations, enter the R & D room to develop new items and equip sub-weapons, or give gifts/repair the Flutter (as the interior living areas become damaged thanks to Data at the beginning of the game). When traveling to other islands, yellow markers show the locations where Mega Man has visited, while red markers show the next destination for the story.

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Data, Mega Man’s robot monkey, also makes a return and operates the same as he did in Legends 1. He operates as a save and health/weapon restore point, provides information about the area, and gives valuable advice to new players. 

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There have been changes to how Mega Man’s Life Gauge operates in Legends 2. The game removed the Life Shield concept (prevents knockdown) introduced in the first game and instead adds the knockdown protection automatically into certain armors available for purchase within the various junk shops. Armors have a base version, which improves defense, and an Omega level version which includes knockdown protection along with the defense boost. I like that the Life Shield was removed – it was kind of a useless item to have on hand since I very rarely broke it and I was close enough to Data to restore it. The Energy Canteen, a refillable tank that can restore life, makes a return unchanged from the first game. 

New to this game are status effects. Walking on certain floor surfaces or getting hit by certain enemies will cause Mega Man to incur a status effect. There are four in total: Energy Leak causes Mega Man’s sub-weapon energy to rapidly drain and also decreases his Buster Gun range to near zero. Paralysis greatly decreases Mega Man’s running speed and jumping ability. Burning covers Mega Man’s body with fire and his health constantly decreases with time. The last status, Frozen, operates the same as the Burning status, but with blue flames instead of red. A new canteen, called a Medicine Bottle, can be used to heal the status effects that Mega Man incurs. Furthermore, purchasing a Flame or Light Barrier either helps to prevent or reduce the effects of the Paralysis and Burning statuses. Of the four, Energy Leak is the most annoying to deal with, since there is no way to avoid it. It’s especially frustrating to deal with during the Licence test and on harder difficulties, both of which I’ll talk about later.

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Another new feature is the application of environmental factors such as water, ice, lava and even gravity within dungeons. The water effects are especially interesting. First introduced in the Second Key ruins at Nino Island, Mega Man will come across walls that are too high for him to reach with his normal jump and blocks too heavy for the Lifter to carry. A bit further into the ruin, there is a sluice control which floods the floors and allows Mega Man to jump higher and carry objects that were too heavy pre-flood. Water affects Mega Man’s movement by making him run and fall slower than he normally does. These limitations can be taken advantage of to access hard to reach areas, especially when combined with the Hydro Jets.

Throughout the Elysium Defense Area, the gravity can be increased or decreased by changing the gravity settings on panels through the area. Increasing gravity makes Mega Man heavier and is used to crack panels on the floor to access hidden rooms below. Decreasing the gravity does the opposite: Mega Man moves faster and jumps higher. Gravity manipulation not only affects Mega Man, but also affects the behaviour of enemies. Furthermore, there are sections within the Defense Area that forces gravity changes on the player (via gravity gates), with the intent to challenge the player to fight under limited or increased movement conditions. I thought that these new environmental additions were well implemented, though I do wish more was done with the gravity system as it was so short-lived.

Moving on to enemy behaviour, the majority of enemies will start attacking Mega Man on sight. Some Reaverbots will leave him alone until he disturbs them; if Mega Man approaches a Gorebesshu or a Miitan (doll-like kamikaze Reaverbot), they will activate. One enemy, the Sukaritt, only strikes if Zenny is on the floor; they race to steal them before Mega Man can collect them. The most common of enemies, the Horokkos, act as a sort of random encounter on the field and in dungeons and attempt to surprise Mega Man by appearing in packs and striking quickly. Some of these Horokkos even cause status effects on contact, like Burning or Frozen, so care must be taken not to be touched.

As for the pirates, they pose a significant challenge compared to the first Legends game. Glyde’s forces can seem overwhelming to new players when they strike Nino Island, given the Birdbots’ ruthless nature. Even the Bonnes, when they overtake Saul Kada, pose more of a threat than they did in the first game. These increased threats force players to adopt new strategies, like using the buildings in Saul Kada as cover or activating anti-air weapons on Nino, to effectively counter them.

But it’s the bosses of this game that pose the most significant threat, while also looking extremely impressive. Each boss can be quite threatening if one doesn’t plan ahead by bringing an appropriate sub-weapon and enough Energy Canteen units to survive. Of them all, I really enjoyed the boss fights in the Third and Fourth Key ruins, the final Bonne/Glyde fights in Yosyonke prior to entering the Fourth Key ruins, the fight atop the Sulphur-Bottom against Geetz, and the final battles on Elysium against Sera. 

One boss fight I had issues with was the large mammoth Reaverbot called Rush Mammoo, fought on the Forbidden Island. Because it’s so big and the Buster Parts and sub-weapon selection is so limited (since this is right at the beginning of the game), you’re forced to get up close and personal with the boss, forcing the player to fight at an awkward camera angle.

narrative Narrative: 9/10

*MAJOR spoilers for the story of Mega Man Legends 1 & 2*

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The first game, Mega Man Legends, revealed a distant future in which the world was covered in water and the small landmasses that remained were dotted with ancient ruins filled with old, powerful technology. The people of this world dug into these ruins for resources in order to survive. Energy came from a fuel source known as quantum refractors, and Diggers of all sorts risked their lives to retrieve these and other artifacts from the ruins. These dangerous underground areas were infested with robots called Reaverbots, who were solely programmed to eliminate any foreign entities that trespass on their territory. It appears to have been a hard life, but the people of the world were able to cope and eventually thrive.

What they didn’t know that there was a system put into place to oversee this water-logged world. It was introduced as ‘Eden’ – an otherworldly presence that subtly controlled the population of humans (called Carbons) on the surface via population control. Mega Man himself was a creation of Eden – a Purifier model tasked to eliminate abhorrences that threaten the system, designated the codename Mega Man Trigger. He learned of that truth after activating Mega Man Juno in the Main Gate during the game’s final act. Juno was a bureaucratic administration unit tasked to oversee Kattleox’s population and manage it when necessary. Seeing that Kattleox has apparently become overpopulated, Juno decides to activate the Carbon Reinitialization Program, designed to wipe out the inhabitants of the island. Realizing that his friends and family were in danger, Mega Man defeated Juno and, with the help of his robotic monkey pal Data, stopped the Carbon Reinitialization Program. 

 Legends 2 starts a year after the adventures on Kattleox. Of the landmasses that remain on the world, one is still heavily uncharted – the aptly named “Forbidden Island.” Many Diggers had attempted to land on this island for decades, only to be turned back by the turbulent winds. Those who tried to push through the storms found themselves shipwrecked and left for dead. Only two Diggers were able to land on the island and come back alive: Roll’s grandfather, Professor Barrell Caskett, and his friend Verner Von Bluecher. Bluecher was obsessed with returning to the island, and was convinced that it held the key to a treasure called The Mother Lode – supposedly a source of vast, unlimited energy. It’s every Digger’s dream to find the Mother Lode, including Bluecher’s. To that end, he invested his entire fortune on building an enormous airship called the Sulphur-Bottom and convinced his friend to join him to explore the island once more. Reluctantly, Professor Barrell does so, and leaves Roll and Megaman back on the Flutter.

Roll here is dejected at the start of the game. Her entire journey to find the Mother Lode centered not on finding the actual treasure itself but finding her parents. When Roll was a baby, her parents – both Diggers – also attempted to land on Forbidden Island but were unsuccessful and lost to the world. Throughout the series, Roll believed within her heart that her parents were still alive somewhere and that by finding the Mother Lode she would also reunite with her them, no matter what she was told about her family. That unwavering belief is something I appreciate about her character.

On the Sulphur-Bottom, Von Bluecher holds a press conference announcing his impending journey to Forbidden Island. One of the reporters, a mysterious woman, asks Barrell a question and he reacts in shock as the reporter is a dead ringer for his lost daughter, Matilda – Roll’s mother. Realizing her cover is blown, the mystery woman commands a sentient Reaverbot named Gatts to disable the ship. Instead, he causes the ship to careen towards the Forbidden Island, to Roll and Mega Man’s horror. This initiates a series of events that leads them to Forbidden Island, where they inadvertently awaken the game’s main antagonist – Sera. 

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Sera instructs Mega Man and his friends to find four Keys, of which they would be used to find The Mother Lode. Standing in his way are Mega Man’s old foes, the Bonne pirate family. They had left the crime life to open a department store after the events of the first game. With the store’s finances flailing, they resort to piracy to get the necessary funds and supplies to keep their business afloat. I found that to be a hilarious and fitting outcome for these characters, as they try to follow the straight and narrow path but ultimately resort to what they’re good at – grand larceny. In Legends 2, they start off undercover as reporters on the Sulphur-Bottom, using that position to listen in on private conversations to further their goals. When they learn of the Keys, they set off, hoping to get to them and any other treasures within the unexplored ruins before anyone else can. The Bonnes aren’t alone in this venture this time around; they’re joined by former foe Glyde and his Birdbots. They were last seen in The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. Also joining in on the fun are two veteran Diggers, Bola and Klaymoor, searching for the Mother Lode for their own personal reasons. They honestly have very little to do with the story. They make interesting boss fights in the Manda and Nino Ruins, but then disappear afterward. 

In the end, the characters discover that Sera was manipulating them the entire time. She truly wanted the Keys in order to return to Elysium and execute a worldwide Carbon Reinitialization Program, as explained by Matilda. The Program would essentially wipe out the Carbons and restore the original versions of humanity on the planet (hereby called The Ancients). Sera departs with the keys while leaving her associate, Geetz, to extract the genetic code of someone called “The Master” from Mega Man.

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Mega Man is critically injured after the battle with Geetz on top of the Sulphur-Bottom. Matilda, along with Data, initiates a form of a reset within Mega Man to restore him to his original parameters, thereby healing him. During this reset period, he relives his memories of his time when he was Mega Man Trigger, attending to The Master of Elysium. This sequence brings to light events that tie into the ending of Mega Man Legends, specifically about Mega Man’s past. 

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Legends 2 also clarifies some of the details from Legends, such as the Eden system. Eden itself was a stand-in for Elysium – a planetoid built several thousand years ago by humanity. It was designed to be a perfect world without disease, pain, and even aging. Humans lived in idyllic bliss with their techno-organic companions waiting on them hand and foot. An undetermined time later, they realized that they needed people on Earth (noted as Terra by the Elysians) to be the planet’s caretakers, which is how the Carbons were created. Humanity on Elysium enacted population control measures so that the Carbons wouldn’t overrun the planet and deplete what remaining natural resources were left. Matilda, whose original name is Yuna, was designated as a Mother Unit of the Carbons on Earth – essentially an administrative overseer of all the systems established on Earth by the Elysians. 

Sera, meanwhile, was designated the Mother Unit on Elysium and tasked to oversee all of Elysium, while attending to the whims of the last remaining human, The Master. Unlike Yuna, who strayed from the System due to her interactions with the Carbons, Sera operates fully within the System and follows it to the letter. She does not understand the Master’s oddities and aberrant behaviour and instructs her fellow units to disregard him if he says anything odd – Mega Man included after he was assigned to accompany the Master.

Themaster

The Master is an interesting character. He is apparently the last remaining true human, having been alive for more than three thousand years due to the effects of Elysium. While not explained, it seems that over time, humanity started to die out. Whether it was by choice or due to some unforeseen circumstances, the game doesn’t explain. Regardless, all of Elysium lives to serve this last human, including Mega Man. The Master was especially fascinated with the Carbons and how they lived, something that bothered Sera greatly. This combined with the fact that he preferred Mega Man’s company over hers led to her feeling jealous, something that she doesn’t admit to until the very end of the game.

One day, the Master asks Mega Man to take him to Terra. They fly a pod down to the surface and land in Calbania Island. The moment the Master touches down on Terra, away from the protective confines of Elysium, he begins dying. Knowing full well the effects of leaving his home, the Master admires the lives the Carbons live and realizes what they as humans, living in an eternal paradise, have missed – the ability to experience life, however brief it may be. The Master then instructs Mega Man to destroy the System, handing him a device which is inferred to be his genetic code, although the game doesn’t explicitly say so.

The memories end here, but in-game lore explains what happens next. In Yosyonke, at the start of the game, a local legend explains the story of two Goddesses; the Land Goddess who guards the Keys and the Sky Goddess who protects the gates to the sky. The Sky Goddess descended to borrow the Keys from the Land Goddess, but wound up in an argument. The Land Goddess sealed up the Sky Goddess and allegedly left her on Forbidden Island. 

Yuna and Data later elaborate on Elysium that the legend described above was accurately true. Sera was system bound to execute the Carbon Reinitialization Program after The Master died. Requiring his genetic sample and the Keys to execute the program, Sera descended to the surface of Terra and fought with Mega Man. However, she could not bring with her the full extent of her power from Elysium and so the two fought to a stalemate. Yuna took the opportunity to seal both of them in stasis, having declared herself a neutral party due to her understanding Mega Man’s desire to fulfill his master’s last wish. Mega Man, being almost completely destroyed in the fight, had to be reset to his base parameters, essentially turning him into a baby. He transferred all essential files to Data before the reset, including the Master’s genetic code, both so that they could not be tampered with and so that he could recover them when he was able to. Many, many years later, Professor Barrell discovered Mega Man in the entrance of the Nino Ruins and the rest was history. I liked how these two stories interconnected with the legends described in Yosyonke. 

As to why she took on the appearance of Matilda, Yuna also explains that she stumbled upon Roll’s mother when she and her husband were stranded on Forbidden Island. She was able to save the husband and send him back to Yosyonke, whom the player learns is the amnesiac Joe, introduced at the game’s first dungeon. Matilda’s injuries were far more serious. Yuna tries to save Matilda by implanting her nanomachines into her body but she ended up using too much, leaving her to borrow Matilda’s body while her original body recuperated over the past decade.

At the end of the game, Sera finally understands the Master’s desires. Her original body ends up being destroyed, but she transfers herself into Yuna’s unused shell, which Yuna brought with her. Sera’s destruction, however, initiates the activation of an even older system known as the Elder System. Furthermore, it seems that Mega Man, Yuna, and Sera are now stranded on Elysium, since their main mode of transportation (Gatts, who integrated himself into the pod Mega Man and the Master used all those years ago) sacrificed himself to slow Sera down during the final fight. Somehow, Data makes his way to the surface and tries to assist Roll and Tron in building a spaceship to rescue Mega Man, which is where the game – and the series as a whole – ends at.

The Elysium concept in Legends 2 also had an impact in at least one future Mega Man title: Mega Man X5, released the year after. In one of the endings in that game, X speaks to Aila (a Navigator) about a future where robots and humans can live peacefully and in which the humans would never suffer again. He calls this concept “Elysium,” thus connecting the world of 21XX to the far-flung future of Mega Man Legends. I thought that was a neat way to interconnect the timelines, even though this particular ending in X5 was considered a bad one.

All in all, I have to say that Capcom did a fantastic job in tying up the loose ends from Legends 1 and went into detail about Mega Man Volnutt’s/Trigger’s origins. While I was disappointed about the cliffhanger, I found that each character was well fleshed out and their stories within the series were tied up with few loose ends. The game could have done without Bola and Klaymoor, however – they contributed little to the overall story. 

challenge Challenge: 7/10

Mega Man Legends 2 presents a fair bit of challenge. Combat-wise, the first section of the game can be a bit tricky due to the limited amount of parts and weapons available, but it levels off after the First Key ruins thanks to an increased availability of equipment. From that moment on, the fights follow a gradual curve upwards in terms of difficulty. The final boss battles can be difficult without the proper equipment, sub-weapons, and a healthy amount of Energy Canteen packs. The puzzles within the dungeons are fairly straightforward – find a set of keys, activate a panel to open a gate, etc. It seemed that Capcom prioritized engaging combat over challenging puzzles.

Interestingly enough, the Normal difficulty can be adjusted thanks to the Digger’s License test, as mentioned in Gameplay. Players on Normal have the option to permanently increase enemy strength in exchange for increased Zenny drops. Hence, Class B (The default on Normal) could be considered Normal-Easy. Class A is the true Normal difficulty and Class S can be considered Normal-Hard. 

replayability Replayability: 7/10

Beating the game the first time unlocks Easy Mode, which grants Mega Man a maxed out Buster Gun and quadruples the Zenny drops players would obtain if they collected the Class S license in Normal. Speaking of S Class, beating the game either on Normal mode with the Class S license in hand or beating the game on Hard mode unlocks Super Hard mode. Super Hard is exactly as described: enemies are four times stronger, and you receive only half of the Zenny one would obtain in Normal mode. 

Beyond that, there isn’t much to do once players reach the end of the game. The most one could do is farm the nearly 40 million Zenny required to max out each sub-weapon, but that would be an exercise of tedium in this writer’s opinion. Other than that, players can undertake several side quests, one of which includes (oddly enough) a trivia game featuring pop culture questions from before the year 2000! For a game that takes place several thousands of years from our present time, reading and answering these questions made me lose the immersive feeling from the game.

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uniqueness Uniqueness: 8/10

I’ll be frank: the combat system in Legends 2 is a variant of Ocarina of Time’s, in that the lock-on system was lifted from the Zelda title and modified to work with ranged weapons. Aside from that – and looking at it from a retro perspective – there wasn’t many games around like Legends 2, apart from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Open world games didn’t hit their stride until Grand Theft Auto III was released in the early 2000’s, so Legends 2 being released before then helped it to stand out slightly. 

What I found to be unique was how the game and the series in general showed the post-apocalyptic setting in a positive light. The genre itself is characterized by the complete and total destruction of the world via natural or non-natural forces, followed by chaos, anarchy and the downfall of civilization. However, here civilization seems to be thriving despite the majority of the world being underwater. Diggers, while living a hard life, discover new things about their past and seemingly enjoy their craft. The people continue to live, setting up new cultures and beliefs centered around the ancient ruins that dot the lands. It is as The Master said within the game: “For one brief moment, the people here shine as bright as the sun.”  With the constant deluge of post-apocalyptic content released ad nauseum by the entertainment industry, Legends 2 shares a unique perspective of what life after a great, world-ending flood would look like and I thought that was pretty cool. 

mypersonalgrade My Personal Grade: 9/10

Replaying Mega Man Legends 2 after all these years on a PS Vita has made me appreciate all the things that Capcom did to improve from the first two games. It introduced analog controls making it feel closer to some of the popular open-world action-adventure games, all while tightening up the combat mechanics and making it feel like a traditional Mega Man game. The story itself still stays with me; I was so enamored by the characters and the narrative that I wish that Legends 3 could be made to tie up the remaining loose ends. To top it all off, Volnutt’s design in this game is by far one of my favourite iterations of Mega Man, second only to X’s design. 

Mega Man Legends, as a series, is one that all fans of great story and fun combat should try for themselves at least once. Capcom and Inafune made a pretty big risk in making this game, and I for one am glad they did. My hope is that one day, Capcom will remaster the series and release a follow up to finally conclude the story. I’m sure the fans (including myself) would greatly appreciate that.

C’mon, you executives at Capcom (supposedly and hopefully) reading this! Make Legends 3 happen! Remember what you read at the beginning: Fortune favours the bold.

Aggregate Scored: 8.0

 

Engineer by day, adult-responsibility juggler and caffeinated gamer dad by night, the Hyperactive Coffee Mage is a coffee-fueled writing machine and expert gaming historian. Check out his cool beans at gameswithcoffee.com.

 

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4 replies »

  1. Easily one of my favorite games ever created. The lore, the mystery, the machines . . . and the ending . . . all of it has left me so pensive and curious for years. And yet, I am not completely distraught at the lack of a proper conclusion to this, what would have been, trilogy. Perhaps that’s just the nostalgia talking, but it’s that special to me.

    This is one mammoth of a post, but boy is it a good one. Awesome work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so epic with this thing. Congratulations on completing it! It is officially one of the top 5 longest critiques on TWRM! :O

    I really love the world of Mega Man Legends, with Misadventures maybe being my favorite game in it. I really wish we could revisit it officially through Capcom, but alas and alack. Anyhow, I actually didn’t remember a whole lot of MML2 and now I’m wondering if I ever even actually completed it…

    Liked by 2 people

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