In the year of 1987, a robot called Mega Man was created. Dr. Inafune created Mega Man.
Mega Man was created to bring twitch-based platforming, jumping and shooting fun to the NES. His first appearance in Mega Man was well received by gaming fans and more games followed. It’s hard to think though, that that series has gone on to live for 25 years now. We are now in the year 2013 and what has been done to celebrate the Blue Bomber’s 25 years in the gaming world? If you ask Capcom, a lot. If you ask people in the real world though…not a lot.
The biggest part of this whole Anniversary deal though? The fact that that we’re celebrating Mega Man’s big 25 years in 2013, when in fact his 25th year was in 2012. What gives? Why is this happening? I guess there a few factors to it all, none of them really good excuses in the eyes of Mega Man fans. We’ve had to deal with a lot of blows in the past few years, the catalyst being the depature of series creator Keiji Inafune himself from Capcom. But why does it seem that Capcom just wants to shaft the franchise? Sure it may not be a property that sells 5 million copies, but I feel it still deserves a lot of respect, being a game that helped push Capcom into success.
Maybe it was due to the fact that last year was also the anniversary of another of Capcom’s flagship franchises, Street Fighter. With the release of Street Fighter 4 and it’s huge success, it’s understandable that they spent time, money and effort to celebrate it’s 25 years, but I still feel that Mega Man should have been front and center with it. To an extent it was, with the release of Mega Man X Street Fighter, but even that was scooped up from someone else who loved both series. Minimal effort was put in on Capcom’s part, and while it should be applauded that they helped someone with spreading and releasing the game, the fact they didn’t even consider something original of their own to celebrate the series isn’t too great.
Even go back a few years ago, to when Inafune was still on board, and look at what he was doing with the series. We’d had multiple rereleases of old games, redone and enhanced, new games that only niche groups cared about and got excited for, then out of nowhere, Capcom surprised everyone with Mega Man 9. A true sequel to the original series, new bosses, levels and power ups. It didn’t feel like a cash grab, it felt like a passion project, something Inafune felt proud to release and it showed in spades. It was a huge success and people called it a comeback. A sequel followed soon after and while it was still well received, it didn’t garner anywhere near the attention 9 did. We soon heard about Mega Man Universe and Legends 3. It seemed that Mega Man was back in a whole new and big way. Universe was soon cancelled and Legends 3 followed after. Why would Capcom do this after they placed some reestablished faith in the series again?
Our own Doc What? is a huge fan of the Blue Bomber. I asked him about the whole ordeal and he had this to say. “I don’t think Capcom GET Mega Man anymore. They don’t know what it is or what they should do with it. It’s not Street Fighter and that’s pretty much all Capcom knows now. Resident Evil is going the same way. Same with their “on-Disc DLC” thing. Capcom are just so out of touch with, well, everything at the moment. But Mega Man is a strange case in that they just ignored him for so long and now fans are clamouring for more, they have no idea what to do. I think they realise that they can’t just do an NES style Mega Man 11 but as far as I can tell, that’s all they know. They tried doing a new Mega Man Legends game and that was an absolute disaster. They tried something new with Mega Man Universe (The first game to be called Mega Man in Japan) which was looking great but apparently played like shit, so they canned that too. Right now Capcom have no idea what to do with the franchise which is sad, because Mega Man is possibly one of the most versatile franchises out there. They could literally do anything and people would accept it. What other franchise could go from being an amazing platformer and then BAM! it’s a strategy JRPG about computer programs! ”
“The thing about Mega Man, the amazing thing about Mega Man that Capcom just doesn’t get, is that they could do a third person action shooter game. A gritty game unlike anything they ever did before and call it something like Mega Man Rush, or go more modern with MM: Burst or anything like that and it would be fine. As long as they did it well, it would all be good. Mega Man can be anything as long as whatever it is is good. They can always go back and do a new X game, or a new Legends game or a new Battle Network game too. Hell, if they were smart they’d have gone all out this year and released a Mega Man game from each franchise and seen what one sold best and decided where to go from there. Everything Capcom has done for Mega Man’s anniversary has been done by someone else. Third parties making crappy novelty items. Oh, and Xbox Avatar items. Were they even made by Capcom or do Microsoft have some guys who do that for them? As far as I can tell, all Capcom have done is signed off on some merchandise. Which WOULD be fine. That 3DS case would have been awesome had there been a game released at the same time. Street Fighter got classic games rereleased on consoles with new online multiplayer modes. It got sales and new Street Fighter IV content. It got Street Fighter X Tekken. It got an awesome box set with games, sound tracks, merchandise and movies. Street Fighter X Tekken also had Mega Man, but that’s more “part of the problem” than “part of the solution”. It was like a big “FUCK YOU” to everyone upset over the games that had just been cancelled. For the 15th Anniversary Capcom released the Mega Man Anniversary Collection AND the Mega Man X Anniversary Collection. But ONLY in the US. I’m pretty sure that if updated collections were offered, one with Mega Man 1 – 10 and another with Mega Man X 1 – 8, then people would be throwing their hats into the air in celebration and preordering both on the spot.”
The point about Xbox Live avatar items and Mega Man’s appearance in Street Fighter X Tekken is interesting. The Xbox Live avatar content has an incredibly limited appeal, it’s not a game and it’s something only a few people would even bother caring about, how come it takes precedence over something else, say, like a collection of the best Mega Man games? And the character in SF x T, while I do see the humour in it, it’s certainly quite a slap in the face for hardcore fans. After all they’d been dealt with, that would come as quite a surprise to see.
What have Capcom really done though to celebrate the series? I mean really? So far, all we have is a 3DS case, avatar items, soundtrack collection, a fan made game, a cameo in a fighting game and an arm cannon cushion. It’s not much in the way of celebrations is it? If what I listed was supplementary items to a boxed collection of games or something similar, I’d say most fans would be happy. But we aren’t seeing anything like that which is a disappointment. Capcom have lost what Mega Man means and the fans are seeing that. They better do something quick, otherwise when they do end up doing “something”, there’ll be no fans to enjoy it.