I’ve been ranking the games from many franchises in the last couple of months. The Mario games, the Legend of Zelda games, the Sonic The Hedgehog games, the Final Fantasy games, the Dragon Quest games, and even the Pokemon games. The thing is, this really only works for franchises that have enough releases on the platform to make for an interesting list. Even after the Switch has had more than six years on the market, that well only runs so deep. When looking around for a suitable subject, I thought back to my younger years. You know which series had a lot of games in a short time? Mega Man.
The super fighting robot hasn’t had the easiest of times in recent years, but thanks to Capcom’s devotion to getting a fair bit of its legacy content out there again, the Blue Bomber actually has quite a few games available on the Switch. I’m not counting anything in Nintendo Switch Online’s retro apps, but I am including the DLC for the Capcom Arcade Stadium releases as they can be purchased individually. Those are my arbitrary rules; we’ve little choice but to accept them. Now, from worst to best, here are my personal rankings for the Mega Man games on Switch.
11. Mega Man Battle & Fighters
Pulling in at the rear of the pack is Mega Man Battle & Fighters, the NEOGEO Pocket Color collection of the two Mega Man arcade games. Frankly speaking, these are really good ports for the hardware. Nevertheless, they aren’t quite as good as the actual arcade games, and the fact that the in-game text is Japanese only makes it a little tougher to fully enjoy the package. More of an interesting curio than anything at this point.
10. Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium: Mega Man: The Power Battle
Capcom was enjoying a lot of success in the arcades in the 1990s, and Mega Man was more or less the company mascot. It’s perhaps not surprising that the company would get the idea to try to bring Mega to the arcades, but how do you translate the appeal of the series in a market that is almost completely fighter-bonkers? Capcom opted to focus on the boss battles, and it could have gone worse. The Power Battle isn’t a bad game, though it probably isn’t one people will come back to often if a more traditional fighter is within reach.
9. Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium: Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters
With a new playable character and the ability to choose the order you want to tackle the stages in, Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters is an immediate step up from its predecessor. Well, Capcom always was pretty good at sequels. The Power Fighters has a lot of improvements that make it more challenging, more interesting, and more fun. It also contains some fairly important series lore that you can’t find elsewhere, in case that’s a thing you’re into. With all that said, this is still a bit of a quirky entry that is best enjoyed in short bursts with a friend.
8. Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2
Let’s wade into the collections now. All of them have at least one or two games worth playing on them, but if one has to be last then it is clearly this second volume of Mega Man X games. While Mega Man X5 and Mega Man X8 are playable enough, if somewhat uninspired, Mega Man X6 and Mega Man X7 may well represent the absolute nadir of the series in terms of quality. It would have been nice to see the pot sweetened here a bit with the Mega Man X RPG, but when all is said and done this set gives you a couple of decent-at-best games and a pair of absolute stinkers.
7. Mega Man 11
Let me start by saying that I like Mega Man 11. It tried some new things, and while they may not have worked out perfectly, the effort was appreciated. The game is not content to coast on nostalgia. Indeed, adding the gear system to the familiar Mega Man gameplay really changes things up, and I can envision a world where it might have rekindled the flame of the classic franchise. Unfortunately, the level designs just aren’t up to par in many cases, and that results in a very middle-of-the-pack entry. That seems like a decent enough place to put it in this list, too.
6. Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Vol. 1
Perhaps even more so than the classic series, the Battle Network series probably went to the same well a little too often. These action-RPGs had a fantastic set-up and it’s little surprise that a successful TV show sprung from it. This set will let you enjoy the origins of the series and some of its most cherished installments, but I’m of the mind that the experience got more refined as time went on. As such, I’ve got this set ranked just a bit lower than the second one. Running through all six distinct chapters of this series in a short time is a great way to burn yourself out on it, and if you’re only going to do one of these Battle Network collections, I’m not sure this is the one I would pick.
5. Mega Man Legacy Collection 2
Of all of the two-part Legacy Collections, the classic series is the only one that seemingly wasn’t planned to be two parts from the get-go. As such, the two volumes aren’t quite balanced the way the rest are. This second collection contains four games, including the moderately contentious non-NES games Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8, plus the throwback games Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10. While fans are sometimes split on these games, all four are at least decent. Some would say Mega Man 9 is among the best in the series, even. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I think you get three very earnest efforts that mostly work out here, plus one somewhat cynical chaser.
4. Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Vol. 2
I think the context in which you play this particular sub-series matters a lot. If you come into the back half of the series already burnt out a bit and looking for some fresh ideas, you’re probably not going to have a great time. If, however, you come into these games without that baggage? Well, they’re simply the most refined versions of a very creative and enjoyable set of RPG systems. While I didn’t mention it when talking about the other volume, the extra features and overall handling of these collections is quite good, and that’s not something we can say for all of them. You’ll get the Battle Network games more or less at their best by playing them via these sets.
3. Mega Man X Legacy Collection
And that’s me teeing up my thoughts on this collection. Mega Man X is arguably the high point of the entire franchise. Mega Man X2 keeps enough of its energy to still be fantastic. Mega Man X3 gets a little too complicated for its own good, but it has plenty of appeal. Mega Man X4 was a roaring return to form, and is in my opinion the second-best X game. The extras and options are more than fine here, as well. It seems like a total winner, but the emulation on the Super NES games isn’t as good as it should be, resulting in some dangerous input lag at times. That’s enough to keep this from the top despite the very high quality of the games contained within.
2. Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection
This series of games, spanning the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, certainly had its ups and downs. The level of difficulty was too much for some players, and there’s no question that it started running into the usual Mega Man problem of coming back to the well too many times. The two Nintendo DS games are both rough at times, though I would happily stand behind both of them despite their flaws. It’s the Game Boy Advance games that really drive this set however, and they’re just as good now as they ever were. The games are fun, the emulation quality is solid, the extras are welcome, and you get a fully comprehensive set for this branch of Mega Man in just one volume. A definite winner.
1. Mega Man Legacy Collection
Of course, we wouldn’t have all of these mounds of game collections if it weren’t for the foundation they’re built on. The original six NES Mega Man games are a lesson in great game design, but also a lesson in diminishing returns. That said, even at their very worst, these games are excellent. This particular collection is the only one developed by the folks at Digital Eclipse, and it is up to the company’s usual level of quality in terms of extras and features. If you only get one Mega Man title on the Nintendo Switch, this is the one to grab.
That seems about right. Probably. Well, if it’s incorrect I’m sure someone will let me know. Would you rank these games differently? Head into the comments and let me know how you feel about these games, especially Mega Man 11. I’m curious where others would place that one. I’m not sure which series of games on the Switch I’ll rank next, but I’m starting to feel like I’m running low on ammo. We’ll see what I can do. As always, thanks for reading!