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20 years ago, Mega Man Legends bucked series tradition and became a fan-favorite

  • December 24, 2017

Mega Man Legends turned 20-years-old recently, and Mega Man Volnutt has his blue butt stuck on the Moon. Capcom has yet to send a rocket his way to bring the poor guy back, meaning that a third game in Capcom’s beloved spin-off series still seems further away than ever. Even with the announcement of Mega Man 11, this game’s devoted following feels that they might never get the closure they’ve waited all this time for.

However, we’re not here to mope or pout. We’ve done our fair share of that since 2011, and nobody knows this more than those at Capcom who have to stomach it. Instead, we will take a look at the first game and how an incredibly progressive and forward-looking direction helped establish it as a classic that beat many masterpieces and legends of the video game world out their gate.

For example, when you think of an open world adventure with 3D dungeons and a fully fledged map, there is only one game that really comes to mind for doing it first: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. This game is the blueprint by which most video games build themselves around. You have a mini-map, checkpoints, fully 3D environments with NPCs to interact with. Baddies are tackled with the aid of an efficient and effective lock-on system, and dungeons contain multiple levels with puzzles that take advantage of the game’s revolutionary 3D capabilities.

Ocarina of Time, there really wasn’t anything like it…

Except for Mega Man Legends, which yes, did all of these things in 1997, a full year before Ocarina of Time hit the retail shelves. The game’s setting, Kattelox Island, is a winding maze of underground and interconnecting tunnels, loaded with treasure, zenny, and upgrades for Mega Man’s armor and weapons. On the surface, Kattelox Island sports a large population of NPCs and even an entire community to interact with.

It is in this intimacy with the locals and how easy it is to memorize the map that fans constantly find new reasons to return to this game. However, Mega Man Legends also beat another classic out of the gate and used a tool that classic is famous for to boost and improve its own presentation an entire year earlier.

We’re talking now about Metal Gear Solid, a game that is somewhat credited for both utilizing voice acting in video games to make a cinematic experience and being the first noteworthy localization job in North America. While both are certainly true, these ideas also happen to be wrong in that they did it first. Mega Man Legends’ tale might not be as complex as Snake’s desperate mission in the heart of Alaska, but its voice acting does perfectly deliver by setting up a believable world covered with endless water and creating fun personalities, tense drama, and involving cutscenes.

And as for localization, Mega Man Legends has never been a slouch. The opening text crawl might come off as a bit whimsical, but each voice actor owns their role before the end of the game in ways that were unheard of in 1998. Mega Man Legends’ localization had it finished in August, Metal Gear Solid came out that November.

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