CAPCOM’s modern image is far removed what it was in the early 2000’s. With less games that everybody could enjoy, and the games they produce that could fit that category staying as Japanese exclusive, it’s no wonder Mega Man hasn’t had any room to bloom in. One could argue that Monster Hunter overall has become the unofficial mascot to CAPCOM over Mega Man or Ryu.
Some argue that Mega Man went south with Inafune leaving CAPCOM, but in truth the series’ decline started around the mid 2000’s, or in the mid 90’s depending your viewpoint. That is more or less beside the point, as the franchise has become more or less a cashcow. Well, the series was always one after the success of Mega Man 2. With the games series dead, CAPCOM has licensed the franchise to various companies to produce toys and whatnot.
The latest one is a vinyl record of Mega Man music.
If you like LPs, that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong in liking an older media format, especially if that format has movies and music that has never seen a proper transfer to a new format, like with how VHS has huge amounts of movies that does not have a digital versions of them, but LP of Mega Man music is a downgrade from the previous CD releases.
What does LP bring in that the previous releases don’t? Absolutely nothing. LPs are a sort of technology that adds pop, hiss and noise to the mix, something that the clean music from the games never was intended to have. When people talk about the analog warmth, they’re mostly speaking out of their ass. If a song is not intended to sound clean, then that’s a whole another matter altogether, but in case of NES’ music format it’s a digital data. The music NES produces before pushing it out is digital and very clean, and this is very apparent with Mega Man 9 and 10.
The LP release supports the overall notion that CAPCOM really is just hitting what my friend aptly called the hipster market. Overall music enthusiasts won’t buy it, most core fans already own complete collections of the Mega Man music and the few that don’t most likely don’t own a turntable. The market this LP is for is very limited, but hey, it’s better than getting this than nothing, right? Not exactly. This is a company giving trite to the consumers without actually putting any effort in the products. Even the April’s Fools Mega Man X got that toy due to Kickstarter, yet it won’t support creation of a new game. They couldn’t even get the correct typing right on the LP, resorting to recycle the Japanese style logo.
CAPCOM’s not in the best sort of shape right now and it is understandable for them wanting to keep at least some sort of presence of one of their most iconic franchise, despite being wholly irrelevant in the current climate. If there is a demand for these products and they do make some profits for CAPCOM, then by all means they should continue to do so. Retrofanatics will flock over these mediocre releases and long time hardcore fanatics that who just have to have everything that has a Mega Man or Rockman plastered over it will purchase them. Mega Man has become a niche people talk in past tense about a thing that was, and that won’t change until a new primary product is made that would bring it back.
The problem in bringing back Mega Man is CAPCOM’s image. It’s not the best out there, and their game output goes against Mega Man’s own image. Their finances don’t allow a big budget game, but why would Mega Man have to be a big budget game? The idea if bringing the series back would necessitate a needed budget for sure, but the series never had any need to for the current rates Triple A game development demands. Rather, a modern Mega Man game simply requires people with skill and passion to make a game that would be a hit with the market. Mega Man 2 is not the end of all Mega Man games. It is treated as such due to its legendary status. The Classic series games defined Mega Man, and this is also the reason why the 8-bit Mega Man appears everywhere to almost masturbatory levels.
Celebrating the arguably best bits of something is alright and all that, but when you’ve done nothing but that for the last fifteen years, there’s something wrong. The constant re-releases of Mega Man games whatever success they are having does not tell CAPCOM to make a new Mega Man, it tells that they are able to re-release the exact same games without any modifications over and over again because they will sell enough to bring back the money the porting process cost.
A dead series is a stagnated series. That much is evident on itself. We don’t have any proof that CAPCOM isn’t producing any Mega Man games out of spite, as Mega Man products are still made and references still appear all around the spectrum. Mega Man X and Zero appear in Project X Zone and Palicoes have Mega Man gear in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. As Mega Man games didn’t bring much revenue in towards the end, and Inti-Creates wanting to create stories with these characters rather than games, it’s no wonder there’s no push in creating a new proper Mega Man. Then you of course have that image problem with modern CAPCOM.
Someone said recently that if CAPCOM would make a new Mega Man game in 8-bit style, they would make millions. They wouldn’t. Mega Man began milking on nostalgia far too much to the extent of trying to replicate NES games with Mega Man 9 and 10. The moment when Mega Man could’ve been launched into success was with Mega Man 10. If that game had shown everything that modern Mega Man could be and then some, then that could’ve been something. Instead, they pandered and lost it.
The more time passes, Mega Man will only see these secondary and tertiary products made of it. Nothing can really replace Mega Man as a franchise, but franchises die all the time. Give it ten more years or so, perhaps in 2023 we might get something interesting.