TL;DR(eview) - Mega Man is as glitchy as it was on the NES by design to preserve the feel of those games. A love letter to fans of the series that could easily frustrate newcomers and veterans alike, as modern gaming has become much more likely to hold your hand.
As much as gamers can complain these days about how "broken" games are when they're released - Assassin's Creed Unity, Halo Master Chief Collection, and Battlefield 4 come to mind - people seem to forget that games like Mega Man shipped broken nearly 30 years ago.
Is it playable? Absolutely. Just like Assassin's Creed Unity, Halo Master Chief Collection, and Battlefield 4 were. Buggy as all hell, but playable, nonetheless. What I find fascinating is that the Mega Man Legacy Collection intentionally preserves its glitches and is championed. If this were the first time these games were being released, they would be torn to shreds for the frequent slow down, screen flicker, and unresponsive controls. But as a collection honoring the iconic Blue Bomber, the game instead receives praise. I don't have a problem with this mentality, but it does suggests the weight of nostalgia might be higher than people are willing to acknowledge.
Something else I'm constantly reminded of playing through this collection: video games used to be harder. One of the first things I thought as I replayed these games from my youth (all of which I beat on the original Nintendo at the time) was that no other game has ever made me miss the Game Genie this much. I figure that must be the only way I had the patience to play these games as a kid. That or I had all of the password codes worked out so I could work my way through the game little by little. Even with the Mega Man Legacy Collection's quick save feature, I've have a few instances where I got so frustrated by repeatedly dying because I didn't hit the pixel-perfect platforming that I've shut the system off. When I was a much angrier kid, I must have been throwing the controller at the television screen after going through that many lives.
These games were easily the Dark Souls of its time. You lose multiple lives on every stage because enemies will come from nowhere at just the right moment to knock you off a platform to an instant-death fall. You had to learn boss patterns and even how to use the glitches of the game to work in your favor if you wanted to actually get through the game. And in the days before the internet, every game was trial and error until you figured out which bosses were weak against which weapons and the best order to tackle them in (or you had help from Nintendo Power).
The extra bells and whistles of the Mega Man Legacy Collection are pure fan service. Each game includes a "Museum" filled with galleries of artwork and design sketches. The aforementioned quick save/load feature makes the hundreds of deaths you'll suffer almost bearable. Options to play the game with filters like an old television or computer monitor are a nice touch to give the games an extra-retro feel. Each game includes a Database that gives you an overview of the enemies and Robot Masters of that game and, thankfully, the weaknesses for the Robot Masters. You can even hop into a test battle with each master to train yourself on their patterns before you fight them in the game proper.
The most notable bonus, the Challenges, let you play through specifically-designed mashup challenges mixing and matching elements across the six games included in the collection. It provides a nice change of pace and even a fresh experience for people who already know the games well.
Overall, the Mega Man Legacy Collection is a great package of six classics from the NES era, worthy of picking up for the history alone. But every time I spend ten minutes trying to get through a tricky platforming section or boss battle, I find myself wondering just how different the reception would be if this were a brand new indie title instead of the remastered classic from a bygone era.
The Mega Man Legacy Collection is available now on Steam, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One and will release later on the Nintendo 3DS.
More information can be found here.