Twenty and five years of Mega Man

I used to hang around Mega Man messaging boards and discuss pretty much everything that was to be discussed about the Blue Bomber well into the start ofthe Zero series. Then, ERAS died and I did not have a place to go back to. I think I have some account in Mega Man Network, but I haven’t posted on any board since Planet Mega Man vanished. The current mainstream fandom is not for me, and I think it never really was.

During these twenty-five years we’ve seen many iterations of Mega Man from his 8-bit classic to the 90’s more serious X-series brethren and all the way to far future Legends. I talk with very few people about Mega Man anymore, as the franchise’s fandom went through some sort of… change.

The last try CAPCOM gave to Mega Man was X8. They took in fan input, which I saw as something strange. Why would a company that has made the game for almost twenty years suddenly ask for fan input? I took it as something that continued the time-honoured tradition of Boss Design contests. I find it a bit sad X-series never saw this. I remember seeing the suggestions and thought that these are strange. To be honest, I do not remember the details, but I remember myself thinking These are pretty damn weird requests to be inserted into the game. How much CAPCOM listened to the fandom is open to discussion. I did not suggest anything. I always believed that it’s the developers’ job to do the game for us, not the other way around. I did like the Boss Design contests for classic series thou. Damn those were popular back in the day…

And then the game’s PC demo was released and I saw all the small things that were there. I didn’t think much of them, but things didn’t make any sense. When the actual game was released I bought it onDay 1. I played it through within few weeks, and I remember saying that this wasn’t a good Mega Man game. It was good for generic action platforming, but Mega Man was supposed to be the crown jewel in the genre. All the small character attribute changes (why would Zero have the least useful Dash when he is supposed to be theclose-range specialist?) and the added stuff that was never needed, like the new Operators and the heart-tank purchase system. X’s armour system also went through a change that was for the worse. The gameplay also went through a changewhich still throws me off every time I play it. If the PlayStation games managed to keep the same tight controls and accurate mechanics of the 16-bit games, there’s no reason why X8 couldn’t have those same characteristics. But I now know the reason, and the reason is 3D.

But you know what threw me off? The complete lack of respect for what Mega Man X, hell, all the games prior had been. Sure, X8 was meant to be a change for the series, and change they did. We got this 00’s overly simplified look with character designs made to appeal Battle Network fans and the like, and the main villain of the series turned into a third rate mini-boss AND resurrecting one of the biggest baddies in the series… again.

Why am I glossing over Mega Man X8 this much? You know the reason. It’s too hostile in its nature for anyone but a hardcore Mega Man fan, and CAPCOM expected this to sell like hotcakes, because hey, they got a fan input! If they had learned their lesson, they wouldn’t have put up that laughable transparency system with Legends 3. It’s not the customers’ job to design your game CAPCOM, it’s your goddamn work.

And now the idiots are really taking a goddamn fan game into… I refuse to call this anything but a fan game. On top of everything else, they’re going to measure its success to determine if they should continue making Mega Man games.

Let me get this straight; CAPCOM took a fan game and turned it into an official product, and now they intend to measure the franchise’s popularity through this product. To quote;

“We’ll be using this as one of many means of gauging where we’re going,” Christian told me. “One of the challenges that we have is figuring out what is the path forward in terms of, you know, Mega Man has five brands: Classic, X, ZX, Battle Network/Star Force, and Legends. Some of these things are in the same ballpark as one another, and some of them are completely different. That’s part of where the, I’ll say, the disagreement comes in — a non-unified vision of where Mega Man should live on exists within our own company as well as it does in the market.

“I would argue that if anything, if we get a million downloads of [Street Fighter X Mega Man], and certainly I think that’s the floor I hope to see — it’s free, it should hopefully do more than that! — that just helps raise awareness for the brand across the board and creates fertile ground for things to happen regardless of which direction that it kind of comes in.”

Even Hitler is shocked by this
Even Hitler is shocked by this idiocy

I have no clue what the hell CAPCOM is smoking but I want some of that stuff. When I made the initial post about Mega Man X Street Fighter, you got my genuine reaction. I did not know that it was a fan game or anything else surrounding it. But now it’s easy to see what it is. You know what this tells us, dear reader?

This tells us that CAPCOM has no idea what the hell to do with Mega Man. I keep calling it Mega Man X Street Fighter, because it clearly has to do more with Mega Man than Street Fighter…

True, they have five brands; Classic, X, Zero, ZX, Legends, Battle Network, StarForce… wait, that’s seven. They count the BN/StarForce and Z/ZX as one brand? Why? Because the story is over? That never stopped them making BN4 for Christ’s sake. Managing all of these does take a lot of work and developing one game for each brand that are almost different from each other is hard. I want CAPCOM to explain to me how this fan game’s downloads will help them to determine how to continue with what brand of Mega Man. How are they going to measure other brand’s success rate? Does the game have optional playable Mega Men in it and the game sends data to CAPCOM HQ what which character gets used the most? That doesn’t really tell what games they want to use, just what character they use most in this kind of game…

Early to mid 00’s was a blessed time. Battle Network was all the rave and we got X and Zero series games. There were lot of talks about Mega Man, but then CAPCOM kinda stopped caring about the customers. The games didn’t really get stale as much as CAPCOM lost their sight what Mega Man was all about. CAPCOM has lost their sight on general good business, but a Mega Man game is simple to do; inventive weapons and good levels to use them in. Add hidden armour parts and you got X-series game. This is a very, very crude way to put it, as there’s how the player character moves etc. to be noted, but there theyare part of good level design. There’s also clearly a certain mindset that goes into each series. For example, Zero-series has a lot more mid-boss fights than any other series, but Inti-Creates forced these same mini-boss fights into Classic series. Not to say that Classic didn’t have any, but they were much rarer and not nearly as obtrusive. After all, a platformer is all about the platforming even if it is with a gun, and bosses are a necessary evil of sorts. Having four stages out of eight with rather difficult and boring mid-bosses kinda sucks all the fun from platforming. Mega Man 10’s Strike Man stage is horribly layed out and extremely boring to play through because of repeating mid-bosses that do not add to the gameplay; rather they stop the player and force them to fight in onescreen multiple times before the Boss itself with little variation. It’s not even fun.

I didn’t really like Mega Man 10. With it was even more clear that it was just a reskinned Mega Man Zero game than with MM9. If I wanted to torture myself with its level designs andwith crippled mechanics, I’d play Zero series with nothing but the buster and no charging.

Actually, now that I stop and think about it, the one game that destroyed Mega Man as a franchise was Mega Man 9. Contrary to the popular belief, Mega Man games are not hard. It’s a myth that Mega Man games are made to be hard on purpose, and Mega Man Zero is the first series in the franchise that embraced this myth. You know why we only got four Zero series game and no TV animation of it? Because it wasn’t a big hit. Battle Network was, and it deserved all the attention it got. There was still hope, but Mega Man 9 destroyed all the hopes we had for proper Mega Man games in the future.  Because of the myth, we got Xover, a game that is made for retards. CAPCOM allowed Inti-Creates to follow this myth, and thus allowed the whole franchise to die. I mean, I know a bunch of five year old kids who can beat classic Mega Man games, but barely manage Mega Man 9. Why? Because Mega Man 9 does not flow like the game that made the franchise known.  MM 9 and 10 wage a war against all that Classic series stood for, just like Mega Man X8 waged war against all the previous X-series games. Yes, even X7.

Mega Man was an arcade game. Easy to get into, decent difficulty curve and designed to chomp your quarters. As they added stuff, they become more console games. Too much stuff most of the times thou, like the different Rush Armours. Arcade games weren’t about getting the highest score or something like that, it was about getting to the next level and see the rest of the content, and Mega Man really follows this. You want to see the end of the stage, you want to see the boss’ weapon and use it. You want to go beyond those initial eight stages. X-series made the right move with the Introduction Stage; beyond it, the rest of the game followed. I have to admit that CAPCOM did right about rewriting a new game engine to Mega Man X8. Sadly, all potential that X7 had is now all but lost.The game was released unfinished, and unfinished it shall always stay and mark one of the darker moments in Mega Man history. That doesn’t make X8 any better thou.

CAPCOM isn’t against impossible expectations. The general audience has an idea of what Mega Man is and how it works. As always, pandering the small Red Ocean market is not really the best way to make good products, as was with X8. And X6 and X5. And the Zero-series. And the StarForce. And ZX. Well, and the latter half of Battle Network really. And to an extent, the Legends series.

Where am I getting with all this?
Download the game from somewhere else. Don’t let them have the downloads. I hate to say this, but giving this game hits would mean that CAPCOM would do yet another bad game we’d get all hyped for. It’s not worth it. If you must, download it from some other server. Ask somebody to upload it to somewhere else. Personally, I will watch a Youtube playthrough if one ever pops up.

Quarter of a century. That’s a long time. Out of those 25 years some 15 or so are truly noteworthy, especially the first ten. I really don’t want old Mega Man games anymore, we’ve got those three times over by now. I’ve played them through and through and so have you. I’m on the deeper Blue Ocean, waiting CAPCOM to do something new and good with their franchise that would fetch my money.

I will most likely buy the revised R20. That much love I have left for the series. If they decide to publish all those cool Japanese comics in English, I’ll most likely buy them too. That’s good business; giving the customer what they need while making profit. Even when CAPCOM is saying that they’ll celebrate the whole next year we know that it’s a hollow promise. During these past two years we’ve seen nothing but cancellations.

As I’ve already iterated some time ago; Mega Man’s dead. Downloading this game won’t help in the matter at all. Let’s stop shooting Metal Blades at the dead horse, even if the meat is delicious in sausage. We need a proper change in Mega Man, the like of which we haven’t seen since… Mega Man X? Shit, the series has always been about evolution, and while it did evolve, nothing changed. We, the hardcore, were happy but the general audience is right; it was the same thing over and over again.

Unbeatable love does exist, she sings.

Y’know, Makenai Ai ga Kitto Aru was the song that kickstarted my study on a certain language. Yeah, learning a language because one song…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.