Whenever I hear somebody saying that we need something in our lives, I question whether or not we truly need it, especially something that is not vital for our lives. Games are not important to our lives, despite electronic games being one of the biggest industries out there. The chances of a single game being something we’d need is very low. One could argue that a game like Super Mario Bros., Pacman, Space Invaders and any of its brethrens in cultural impact are the games that we, are the needed bodies of works.
This post is a response to Matthew Jessup’s entry in Nintendolee.com. The bold claim that Mega Man Legends 3 is a needed title stems from loving fandom, a thing I share towards this somewhat dead game franchise. However, I will be playing devil’s advocate here and balance with further issues.
While I’d like to concentrate on Legends 3, Mega Man Universe is mentioned first. It’s one of those titles nobody expected and nobody wanted, and Jessup is right in that it would have been the Little Big Planet of Mega Man, which in itself is already something to worry about. Little Big Planet became a franchise of its own and hosted multiple different themes, which made it work so well. While Mega Man has seen its own genre shifts, they have been kept logically separate and allowed to exist on their own terms, Mega Man Battle Network being the best example. MMUniverse would have ridden on the fame of the Mega Man name, which alone should raise some eyebrows. CAPCOM has a strong line of franchises to utilise rather than stick with only Mega Man. This of course raises another question; Why concentrate only on Mega Man when you already had confirmed visiting characters and variations of iconic characters? The game could have been called CAPCOM universe and could’ve contained multiple different franchises across the board as well as allow multitude of different tactics to tackle stages. Then again, comparing it to Mega Man 2 seems to be fishing fan credits. For better or worse, Mega Man Universe was cancelled, and for all the good reasons. Using a 26-years old game as your main advertising point only works once, after which it’s time to move onwards.
Also, we got to play as the Bad Box Art Mega Man in SFxT, which only very few individuals found likeable, and CAPCOM really went overboard with this particular meme in the turn of 2010’s anyways. It was apparent that they were trying to pull in the old guard, the thirty-something gamers rather than doing expansion like most previous instalments.
Unlike Duke Nukem Forever, Mega Man Legends 3 was not in making for 11 years. Duke Nukem was in development hell for 15 damn years, while Legends 3 merely sat in the minds of the devs. I bring this comparison up because Duke had no relevancy in gaming anymore when Forever finally came out. The game was out of its time, despite all the modern systems bolted unto it. Fans of the Legends franchise have built their own expectations on the game, and it would be insanely hard to meet these expectations.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons Legends 3 saw such a huge backslash from the fandom, as they finally got their hands on actual designing of the game with the Dev Room. Unlike how Jessup makes it look, the DevRoom wasn’t anything revolutionary. BETA access is nothing new and Mega Man has been known to run Boss Character contests. Then you have all the customer driven early access titles, which are similar how the end-consumer could affect the final product. DevRoom was far more transparent, but that transparency wasn’t necessarily all that positive. For one, it required the team to handle a lot of PR with the DevRoom as well as keep the contests running as well as post concepts that may not even end up in the final product. It’s a lot more hassle than one would initially think. These models, enemy designs, concept art etc. would have ended in our laps nevertheless as per artbooks and other documentation.
The DevRoom could have been a good idea when Legends 3 was approaching its final deadline after the actual, final greenlight. In modern development cycle, games may be scrapped or drastically changed in the middle of production for various reasons, and there are more games cancelled that eventually get out. DevRoom never took into account that Legends 3 could be cancelled, and I have no doubts one reason DevRoom even existed was to keep the consumers aware of it in hope that CAPCOM would keep it under active production. Whether or not Legends 3 was cancelled due to Inafune leaving is an open discussion I do not take part in, but it would have been probable that his levity in CAPCOM would have kept Legends 3 in production.
DevRoom ultimately is the only controversy surrounding Legends 3, which is that a game that was promised by certain person within the company was ultimately cancelled. DevRoom game the customer a glimpse to the functions of game industry, where even people who worked with the game with great anticipation saw the product cancelled. Well, there’s the CAPCOM Europe claiming the fans didn’t want the game bad enough, but that’s not a comment made by the DevRoom. It still reflected badly to CAPCOM overall.
Jusspe uses DevRoom as one of the points why Legends 3 needed to be later on by using his pre-established arguments. As much as DevRoom showed some of the development done on the game, it ultimately was a facade in itself. We knew of this one team working on the game, whereas there was most likely a lot happening behind the scenes than what we ever saw with DevRoom. Sargon of Akkad has a long discussion with a electronic game concept artist, who opens the doors of generic game development more than GameDev could even hope to show. It’s an interview anyone interested in game development wants to listen to.
Understanding that stories can have multiple kinds of endings seem to escape a lot of people. Jussep suggests that we are in need for an ending, a closure, for the Legends series. Whether or not Legends series was ever to be intended to be a trilogy should be questioned, as I’ve found no valid proof of this assertion. The Internet does not yield any relevant interviews and source books have nothing to say about this. Then again, Legends series is already a trilogy on the home consoles when you consider the Misadventures of Tron Bonne is considered as the third entry in the series even by CAPCOM themselves as evident by Rockman Perfect Memories sourcebook.
Was Legends 2 ending planned Legends 3 in mind? Probably it was, but it’s also an ending in of itself. It may be an unfulfilling ending to many, seeing Rock is on Elysium, and Roll and Tron are building a rocket to go pick him up. It’s an ending western world has some tough time to swallow without chewing it some. Open endings can go either way, but it is nevertheless an ending. Games should be able to stand own their own feet in every regard, and if Legends 3 would require people to know the Legends 2 ending in order to be introduced to the gameworld, it’s not very well designed game. Metal Gear Solid went full stupid with this. The closure the fans need is not necessarily the game in of itself. CAPCOM could just employ some light novel writer to make a small book how the story would have its closure. There’s nothing to prevent this from happening and it would be much cost effective rather than developing a fully fledged game.
Second point made is how Legends 3 would have been a system seller. This would not have been the case. A game called Mega Man Legends 3 makes anyone question where is Legends 1 and 2. Another thing would have been that the player would have began playing as Barrel rather than as Mega Man, the titular hero. For a fan this would’ve been a system seller for sure, but to the majority of game market it would have been a curiosity. Jussep is right in that 3DS has no real system seller of its own, but by that definition Legends 3 couldn’t be one either as a sequel to a PSOne game. The author does admit openly that it would have been a system seller to him personally, and I completely agree with him. People have bought game systems for worse games anyways.
Jussep remarks how 3DS has gone the way of the GameCube, which went the way of the N64, and marks how 3DS is in need for high value third party games to ensure success. I agree with him, but note that Nintendo itself has not put too many high grade games on the system that are original. Legends 3, as it was shown in its early stage, would not have been truly original either. It’s status as a sequel already denies it that merit, but also the fact that Inafune developed Lost Planet’s game engine in plans of using it in Legends 3. If you’ve played Lost Planet games, especially EX Trooper, you’ve already played how Legends 3 would have played like, overall speaking. It’s also very apparent that assets from Legends 3’s development cycle ended up in Gaist Crusher, which seemed to be successful enough to warrant that sequel I need to get around at some point.
Was Legends 3 the end of Mega Man? No, Mega Man was finished before Legends 3 even set into production. All these productions that were cancelled were like unsung swansongs. As I mentioned earlier, you can only advertise yourself with a 26 years old game once. Mega Man 9 was a nice shot of nostalgia, but after that CAPCOM should have picked it up and develop a proper sequel rather than Mega Man 10. I would put more emphasize on the lacklustre design and success of MM10 on how the series ended. It wasn’t a big bang, it wasn’t even a damn whimper. It was a blocky retro sequel.
Jussep’s final argument is that Mega Man is CAPCOM. This argument was valid in 1980’s and 90’s and first half of 00’s with Battle Network’s Mega Man.EXE. The author makes extremely good point how Mega Man is, by all means, an ageless character that can stand the test of time as long as he is treated properly.
That is exactly why CAPCOM has been franchising Mega Man lately in any other form but games for a long time now. The Archie Comic indeed is one of the best thing that has happened to the Blue Bomber, but I’m afraid the dropped the ball with Mega Man X. Let’s not kid with ourselves; Mega Man games saw a dip in quality from 2002 onwards, from which they never quite recovered. Starforce saw very low sales for a reason.
Legends 3 would not have been an entry point to a new generation. The Mega Man Jussep refers to is the Classic Mega Man, not the Legends’ Volnut/Trigger. Battle Network is a good example how to introduce a Mega Man to a new generation by creating a new generation game for them. Some could argue that Mega Man X followed this idea as well. I agree with Jussep that Legends series carries bright and chunky visuals, as it is very clear how Legends is modelled after morning cartoons. All you need is a clock on the top corner. Gameplay is divisive, and while I enjoyed the Legends1, 2 and the Misadventures of Trone Bonne gameplays myself.
So, against Jussep’s conclusion, I would argue that we do not need Mega Man Legends 3. We need a Mega Man game that would introduce the franchise to the new generation without shackling it to the old, but allowing expansion to multiple directions. Not only that, but the game would need to be something unique in its own rights and make itself stand against the almost thirty years of Mega Man we now have. The notion that any company should make a game for loss, especially nowadays, has not gone through enough thinking. Any and all products out there are made to make money, even when it’s recognized it would be a niche product. It is very true that Legends fans had their hearts with this game, but it’s also undeniable that Legends series never had as high profile reputation as its fellow series within the franchises.
Jussep’s last few sentences are something we all should remember; games are about fun. Not politics, agendas or ideologies. I agree with him that Legends 3 would have been fun to play, if the games using Lost Planet engine and its derivatives are anything to signify. However, playing Legends 3 on the 3DS may have been awkward, much like Monster Hunter without the Slide-Pad Pro.
In a perfect world, everybody would get what they want, but even in the game industry when it comes to the the customers the needs of the many out weight the needs of the few.
I admit; I know the lyrics of this song by heart, almost as well as Makenai Ai Ga Kitto Aru.