CAPCOM doesn’t get it #7; Being in Smash is…

Yes, I was glad to see Mega Man. I was pumped. I even loved the overused Wily Stage music and the fact that we get a good representation of the Blue Bomber. This is a classic and important character getting his rightful place in a major showdown with his equals. Now we just need that proper Simon Belmont and we’d be good to go. That’s the problem here. This is just a representation of Mega Man. I hope I can clarify on this as we go by.

First of all, this is a whole new design we got here. I’m sure CAPCOM gave Nintendo free hands on re-designing him in order to fit the cast. The thing is, this redesign, while grounded on a really neat core design idea, is rather flat.

While I like it, he looks a bit too much like toddler
While I like it, he looks a bit too much like toddler

From this alone we see some of the generic design choices the has been going on for some time in various sci-fi franchises and then some; the addition of useless lines. Worst offender in this sense with this Mega Man design is the helmet, where it has a seam going in the middle from earpiece to earpiece, which also have so many lines. The pants also have gone a slight redesign to look more like armour pieces rather than part of the overflowing surface. Overall, he has been armourised a bit more than usual, almost like Mega Man X could be. Now there’s some bits and pieces of Hitoshi Ariga’s design, mainly the collar and the glove hands.

However, this is not amalgamation of designs. This is an inspired redesign and this time not the bad kind. So what’s the source?

No, not this one
No, not this one
No, they're not using the character model either. Look, a collar!
No, they’re not using the character model either. Look, a collar!
Contrary to the popular belief that was roaming when the video came out, the redesign is NOT based on this either
Contrary to the popular belief that was roaming when the video came out, the redesign is NOT based on this either

The one they based the redesign on was… the 8-bit sprite.

That's the one
That’s the one

We can see that the posture is based on the sprite, as are the colours. I can’t say I agree the serious look on his face, but I guess that’s what the sprite is. I always saw him with a hint of smile, but that was mostly due to the eyes. Nevertheless, just basing your design on the sprite gives you truckloads of freedom with the detail, and the designer has been going overtime with his artistic vision by basically inventing all those new details out from his ass. So, while this is based on iconic look the of the character, it is not the iconic look of the character. It’s a mediocre redesign at best, and far too busy for Mega Man. This is not like Mario’s slight upgrade for Smash Bros. where he gets more textures and details (Mario’s design itself doesn’t change); this is more like what happened to Captain America’s suit in the movies.

Despite the design changes they still have clipping issues, where Mega Man’s legs clip through his pants or arms clip through the gauntlets.

Because this representation is very much the 8-bit incarnation in motion, movement, stance and so on, it boggles my mind why CAPCOM isn’t able to properly do next generation Mega Man game. The walking speed seems to be pretty spot on, as is jumping and all the animations. Hell, even the weapons seem to be spot on how they were used. There’s also a nice bit with the weapons; Flame Sword. Flame Sword appeared in Mega Man 8, which wasn’t released on any Nintendo systems stand-alone. The weapon selection seemed to be a bit too Mega Man 2 heavy, as three of the weapons we saw came from that game alone. Leaf Shield could have been changed to Skull Shield, or almost any other shield weapon, for example.

So, why isn’t CAPCOM doing this? Well, actually they’re doing this with Nintendo if we were to believe a tweet from  Brett Elston. Seeing that his is a design collaboration makes me chuckle. This is what they ended up doing? The 8-bit throwbacks MM9&10 weren’t that good of an idea (well, MM10 wasn’t) on the long run as people were expecting the next step of Mega Man rather than step back. This is a problem. While Mega Man 2 is the most fanwanked game in the series, it’s also holding the whole series back. We have two additional moves; charge and slide. These are good tools that were more or less not taken into account in some Mega Man level designs. Sliding doesn’t change the levels too much, but it adds strategic depth that the first two games lacked. Charge is pretty much the same thing, and X series seemed to be better at balancing it out as it existed from the very first game. From MM 5 on the Charge shot balance was further fixed thou, and from MM6 onwards there’s only few issues here and there. Personally I like how the Charge Shot was represented in Mega Man (World) IV on the GameBoy with a slight kickback. No such kickback in Smash Bros. thou, and perhaps for the better.

So, taking all the advances Classical Mega Man has been through, Mega Man 11 could be the best game in the series if it combined the history with the modern in proper amounts; the tested great gameplay and mechanics with new coat and high production values. My first reaction on seeing the Smash Bros. trailer wasn’t HOLY SHIT I CAN PLAY MEGA MAN IN SMASH but How cool it would be to play a real Mega Man game that looked like that? This is CAPCOM testing yet again if Mega Man is a viable option any more. I can say, that if CAPCOM decides to produce a Classic Mega Man with this sort of production values, direction and core ideas, I’d buy it. That’s a promise from me. As long as it’s developed in-house or by COMCEPT. If it’s Inti-Creates that develops it, then fuck you CAPCOM.

But it’s not just CAPCOM doing this a bit wrong. Both Nintendo and CAPCOM are riding the Mega Man 2 cocksuckery like most of game industry. That’s why there’s Mega Man 2 Wily Castle, that’s why there was Wily Stage 1 from Mega Man 2 as the music and so on. It’s sad to notice that in the current state of the industry Mega Man can be summed up with one game’s music. Mega Man has tons of great music and before the mid-2000’s there was larger variety of of them out there. Then again, Okkusenman was and still is rather popular song with multiple covers, so tapping the kewl crowd seemed to be the best option. I hope that the tracks Mega Man will have will be more than two variations of MM2 Wily Stage 1 music and then something random. Mega Man 3 Intro, Mega Man 4’s Skull Man stage, Cossack’s Stage 3 & 4, Pluto’s theme from Mega Man (World) VI… actually, every Mega Man game has great music. However, as much as I would fight against it, I can’t deny the iconic state MM2 Wily Stage music has achieved.

If I may step outside the flow here for a moment, I always saw Mega Man 2’s Intro Theme as most iconic and Mega Man’s own theme because it’s the music that ends Mega Man 1, starts MM2 and ends MM4 again. Well, MM4 has a remixed version, but it’s still the same song.

It’s sad to see that after all these games, both Nintendo and CAPCOM have to rely on the NES Mega Man. Again. What does that say about them as developers? If Mega Man were to be revived, wouldn’t it be time to make that next step with him rather than just relying on his old glory? Why copy when we could learn and built something new and great? Because it would take effort and care. Now we have essentially 8-bit representation in new clothes fighting against characters that have already stepped away from their original roots and have made been used in those new and great things. If we we’re using New Super Mario’s Mario in Smash Bros., we’d be using Mega Man 2’s Blue Bomber still. CAPCOM’s understandably afraid to take that leap and learn,  because the wall of anticipation is so high and expectations for the next Mega Man game has always been enormous. How is a company to meet those expectations?

By doing something like Super Mario 3 was to Super Mario 1. Not just do Super Mario 2 (the Lost Levels version,) but to take step even further. A new Mega Man 2 is not needed. Interestingly enough, Mega Man X might be the most suitable sequel to MM2 in spiritual sense that it advanced the game series further.

What I’m trying to say that we have had quite a lot of 8-bit Mega Man already. It’s time to do it better.

But then again… well, CAPCOM doesn’t care too much about this either way. Slew of NES Mega Man games were released for the Wii U without any real fanfare, and Europe even got Mega Man 6. That’s something you’d might want to advertise. Actually, it would have been an excellent move from Nintendo’s and CAPCOM’s part to mention that classic Mega Man games will be in the Wii U shop to commemorate this crossover as  well as Mega Man’s anniversary. Rather than having that commemorative 25th Anniversary game we get mugs and trinkets. How long can CAPCOM keep franchasing Mega Man without having a Mega Man game? Before we get that completely new Mega Man game, the game series is still dead.

Well, now there’s more pressure on them, and they most likely just realise how big of a deal it was to let Nintendo have the Blue Bomber in Smash Bros. However, ask yourself this; Why is Mega Man in Smash Bros.? Because he is an iconic character. Why he is an iconic character? Because his games were good and had an impact. And then I can see the realization in your face.

7 thoughts on “CAPCOM doesn’t get it #7; Being in Smash is…

  1. I don’t suppose you happen to have a higher resolution scan of the “Mega Man 20th Anniversary Artbook” character sheet with the precise pantone colors handy do you? 🙂

    1. At the moment I do not have the book at hand for scans, won’t have it for some time due to location and situation I am in for a time being. However, I’m sure you are able to find proper scans floating around the Internet.

      1. That’s a shame. I’ve found some scans, but none of them are high quality enough to be able to read the writing.

        Thanks for responding, though. I was trying to find the right colors in order to properly color Mega Man here:

        Hopefully, this 3D model is more to your liking. 😉

        1. I wouldn’t worry too much about absolutely correct colours, as they change within the series illustrations with every illustrator to some extent, eg. metal blue instead of matte blue. Thus, a pantone made for Mega Man 1 differs a lot form a pantones for Mega Man 8. I would suggest using colour picker to check the colour codes within a sprite, as they’re rather absolute in their colouration. This way you would also get game-accurate colours.

          1. I ended up using sprite sheets for “Mega Man 7” and picking what I considered the most suitable colors from it. Seemed like the best way to go.

            On a side note, Mega Man was more of a pain in the butt to model than I’d imagined. There’s very little consistency in his character design between games, illustrations, and merchandise when it comes to certain things – such as the size of his hands and shape of his irises and pupils, for example – and I pretty much ended up having to pick and choose the details I thought were most aesthetically pleasing or worked best in 3D, which was a pain considering how much of a stickler for details I am. 😦

            1. Most Mega Man designers in-house added and tweaked their take on Mega Man to some extent while still keeping the core of the design the same . There’s generations of Mega Man designs that almost follow illustrator to illustrator, but these also reflect the era to an extent. As such, you’re pretty much doing what every new Mega Man illustrator is doing and cherry picking elements and giving them your own twist. Modelling Classic Mega Man and X characters 3D difficult due to the simple point that they don’t work in real life. After all, they’re cartoon characters.

          2. I’m not so much cherry picking elements and giving them my own twist as I am trying to reconcile the differences and come up with something that works. ^_^;

            As for getting them to work in 3D, aside from the ever-present problem with anime eyes, what I was really referring to as a pain in the butt were the inconsistencies. It’s kind of hard to make something that’s accurate when there’s no fixed design for a character and everyone interprets or alters details according to their whims.

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