All Together Then: Mega Man Anniversary Collection
Yes, it's the one where they switched A and B
With the announcement that Mega Man: The Wily Wars has been added to the Mega Drive Mini line-up, I hurried to my typewriter to bosh out an All Together Then about it, only to discover that... erm... I already did. Bereft of inspiration, I have decided instead to produce one about this other Mega Man compilation, released on PS2 and Gamecube in the year 2004, with an Xbox port the following year.
A very generous ten games are included - the first eight Mega Man titles, covering the NES, SNES and PS1, as well as the obscure arcade games Mega Man: The Power Battles and its sequel Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters. More than enough has been written about this series over the years. I myself am responsible for about 40% of it. But, then, that's not the point of All Together Then. Let's look at how they presented these titles. And I'm afraid it begins with a downer.
There are copious bonus features, progressively unlocked as the included games are beaten. This is smart, of course, and the content is decent - you've got the first episode of the Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon (super fighting robot!), a G4 interview with Keiji Inafune (current persona non grata following the Mighty No. 9 debacle) and a bunch of music remixes. Outside of unlockables, you've got the arranged soundtracks for Mega Man 1 through 6 that first appeared on the Japan-only Rockman Complete Works series, as well as its "Navi mode", a system that overlays some of the game HUDs with more up-to-date graphics, as well as offering a hint system and weapon switching via the shoulder buttons. This may all sound great, and it is - to a point - but there's that aforementioned downer; the bonus features are split between the PS2 and Gamecube versions.
I don't know why this happened. Well, maybe I do; money and such. But it's absurd - why not just put the interview on both and get rid of the cartoon? Goodness knows. As it is, you're hamstrung to some extent no matter which version you buy. The Gamecube version is missing the extra soundtrack, but frankly this is no big loss given that I would never deign to switch it on anyway. The major issue with the Gamecube version is that its controls are ass-backwards, with the B button assigned to jump and the A button assigned to shoot. This is a decision so insane that it beggars belief, quite frankly, and is completely at odds with the way these games have always arranged their inputs. It's so bizarre it makes me wonder how on earth it could possibly have happened, and what in the world Atomic Planet (the developers) were thinking, especially given that the PS2 game's controls are what you'd expect. That version is missing the interesting interview, however. I was able to get used to the reversed controls on the Nintendo console, but frankly I never should have had to! The Xbox version ends up being the most desirable, with redefinable controls and all the extras from both versions, with the exception of the Mega Man cartoon episode which has been replaced with an instalment of the Megaman NT Warrior anime, which is frankly baffling.
It's a good collection in terms of its raw content, but bizarre presentation issues and the completely insane controls of the Gamecube version let it down. The inclusion of the arcade games is welcome fanservice and at the time it was fantastic to have the then-complete Mega Man classic series on one system. Mega Man Anniversary Collection has since been supplanted by Digital Eclipse's fantastic Mega Man Legacy Collection and its Capcom in-house sequel, but it's still an interesting package and was fantastic value at the time.