A series gets popular. It falls into a rut. The game's creators and the publisher's marketing department conspire to redefine its image, often resulting in total nonsense. Capcom's popular Mega Man, however, fared better than most, starring in an enjoyable series of spin-off games that started with 1993's Mega Man X. The mood may have been darker, but the trademark Mega Man gameplay was tighter than ever, to the point that it surpassed the originals in some ways.
Now, Capcom's doing us all a favor by tossing all six of the 2D Mega Man X adventures onto a single handy disc, throwing in the rarely seen Mega Man-themed racing game Mega Man Battle & Chase for good measure. The aptly named Mega Man X Collection is packed with so much quality gameplay that there should be a warning on the box.
That's not to say it's all robo-peaches, as the Mega Man X series has had its ups and downs. The first game is quite possibly the best, a superb platform action game (also recently redone from the ground up for the PSP) that retains the basic elements of the classic adventures while shepherding in a solid set of fun gameplay additions. (The music is killer, too.) Mega Man X2 doesn't fare as well; it's actually a bit painful. Mega Man X3 swings back toward quality, while Mega Man X4 actually excels. Sadly, Mega Man X5 and Mega Man X6 are low budget cash-ins that demonstrate the principle of diminishing returns, but it's good to have 'em for completeness anyway.
The most impressive thing about Collection is the quality of the ports. Unlike the poorly programmed Mega Man Anniversary Collection, the games in Mega Man X Collection look and play identically to their SNES and PSone counterparts. The graphics, music and control are all dead-on. This is the rare example of a retro pack done perfectly and little bonuses like art galleries will satisfy the completist in you.
Capcom's asking 30 bucks for the privilege, which is less than the going price for a bare Mega Man X3 cartridge on eBay. Mega Man X Collection is a true bargain that should please Mega Man fans and anyone else who's into retro-style action and platform games. And if you're not, maybe you will be after playing this.