Question: when is a 256 kilobyte game like a 393,216 kilobyte game?
When it’s on the Mega Man Anniversary Collection!.
Long story short, if you have the choice, avoid the GameCube version of the game. It’s not that it is a catastrophic disaster (still a damned good collection!), it’s just that Capcom and Atomic Planet dropped the ball with this title and, as a result, the GameCube version is the lesser of the two. It pains me to say it, as most of the Mega Man games in the set deserve to be on a Nintendo system, but get the PS2 version instead.
Before I get to the reasons (and the stupidity), first a bit of good news: despite not being emulated (?!), they are truthful conversions and are as good as ever. The Collection is not a case of nostalgia painting a pretty picture over a poor quality title. These classics are genuinely as fun now as they were during grade-school. In that sense, the Collection is a can’t miss release — regardless of which system’s version you pick up.
Beyond the accurate ports, there are also a bunch of extras and enhancements. One welcome addition is the inclusion of an autosave feature after you complete a stage, which takes away the need to write down those annoying passwords. The controls have also been “upgraded” a bit (for the PS2, at least). You can now use the L and R buttons to switch between weapons (you don’t have to pause and go through the menu). It’s a small, but welcome addition. Lastly, there’s the new Navi Mode.
Navi Mode, which has to be manually turned on in the settings menu, doesn’t change the gameplay or game graphics at all. What it does do, however, is mostly tweak the UI. The power/energy bars are tweaked and they show the number of lives left, the weapon menus are updated and show “hint” messages from various Mega Man characters (when a help icon is visible on the map), and there are little navigational markers that show up at key places telling you which way to go. Certainly, the games are straight-forward enough already, so I wonder for whom this passive hand-holding is targeted for. If someone is clueless enough to not know to go down that ladder (or whatever) that person isn’t going to be able to handle the difficulty anyway, so this has marginal function (and it doesn’t help that the option to enable the feature is somewhat hidden anyway).
The best feature of Navi Mode, though, is that it offers up remixed versions of the classic tunes in game. They’re accurate and alright renditions, even if they do sound like a cross of advanced SNES chip-tunes and MIDI. The old-school Mega Man tunes are revered classics, so it’s a neat bonus. However, this is where the GameCube version breaks down.
You see, these games are not emulated. They are ports. It’s understandable when you consider the addition of Navi Mode, however… most of these are simple 8-bit games with simple 8-bit graphics and simple 8-bit sounds. You’d expect a port of this kind to grow in size a bit. Maybe it would be 10 times larger. Maybe 100 times the size. But not 1000 times. Yes, what was once a simple 256 kilobyte game is now nearly 400 MEGAbytes.
Yet, despite being ports, you still get the same old NES issues like flickering sprites. Really fucking odd that is. They bloat up a game a thousand times over, but they still can’t remove flicker and other glitchy NES-related graphic issues. Really stupid.
Anyway, the point: a GameCube disc’s 1.5GB of space is not nearly enough to hold 6 NES games (*cough*Animal Crossing*cough*) a SNES game and an old PS1 game, so cuts were made. Yes, you read that right. A collection of mostly ancient games can not fit on a 1.5GB disc. As such, Atomic Planet (who had no problem fitting Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo on a Gameboy Advance!) had to cut some corners, and one of the features cut was the in-game remixed tunes in Navi Mode. Instead, they offer some bullshit rationalizations.
Does this omission affect the gameplay? No. Does it make the games any less worthwhile and fun? No. Does it annoy the completely anal completionist? Absolutely yes.
There is also the issue of reversed controls on the GameCube, with no option for customization. Dumb, but forgivable. So if you want a bunch of classic Mega Man games and aren’t a stickler for remixed tunes in-game and exact controls, then by all means go for the Game Cube version if that’s your only option.
But if you have the choice and are 120% anal about such small omissions, then you really must pick up the Playstation 2 version.
Then, after picking it up, you can ignore all these issues while you bitch about Quickman’s Stage. Fucking lasers.