Thirty years of Street Fighter

It’s not hard to see why Street Fighter matters to Capcom. While the first game was a bust all things considered, a mere curiosity that would set things into stone and where better entries in the franchise could be launched from, Street Fighter II was without a doubt their most widespread hit. A hit that didn’t just change what a V.S. fighting game was, but also the culture around it at a global scale. The original Super NES release of the game was Capcom’s best-selling title until Resident Evil 5 to boot. Without a doubt one of the cornerstone’s in Capcom’s arsenal of games.

You may scoff at my notion of Street Fighter II being a global phenomena, but that what it was. People in their thirties or older who spent any time in the arcades or had a Super NES probably spent some time with the game with their friends. Anecdote be damned, but I can testify knowing people from the US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Germany, Scotland, Britain, France, Portugal, Hong Kong and Russia who played Street Fighter II in the mid-1990’s and to this day were able to throw a fireball or two without much reminder how to play the game. Or in the case of the guy from Britain, pick up Dhalsim and beat the crap out of anyone who challenged him.

Street Fighter’s characters and their nationalities used to be relatable and for those who didn’t care, there were characters that were interesting, colourful and full of wonder. They weren’t fantastic per se, but that was part of the charm. These characters that were able to dish out projectiles made of life energy or spinning sound waves ultimately had rather mundane design and look to them, but something that would stand the test of time. The original cast of Street Fighter II do not age, as their design is very much rooted to reality with enough push of that fantastic element to give them a slight edge. Some later Street Fighter characters would meet a lesser fate when it came to their design, and for good reasons. However, this isn’t really a post about the design philosophy of Street Fighter, though there would be enough material for this for sure.

A big hit, said to have re-written rules of a whole genre to the point of the franchise being considered de-facto title and large cultural impact across the world. No wonder Capcom wants to celebrate all the major Street Fighter anniversary with the second game.

And there lies to rub. Five years ago, when Street Fighter was celebrating its 25th anniversary, and even before that, when the 20th hit the corner, I’ve argued that Capcom should go back beyond and remake the original Street Fighter game. Instead, Capcom decided to release a celebratory 30th Anniversary Edition of the original Street Fighter II for the SNES. Nobody should be surprised that it has already sold out, because collectors are crazy like that. I’d rather pick up boxed copy for less, if I needed another copy of the game on my shelf. Furthermore, it’s a sort of middle finger to European players, as the game only runs in NTSC region machines. Let’s not forget the warning towards the bottom of the screen warns you that the cartridge may damage your system, cause it to overheat and catch fire. That’s not exactly what I’d look for in a game.

But I digress. Street Fighter would use a remake and serve as a very soft retelling of the origin of the franchise as well as put the emphasize back to Ryu’s and Sagat’s rivalry, and have a legit moment where Murderous Intent Ryu appears for a moment in the canon. None of that really matters. What matters that Street Fighter is really a terrible game to play. None of its home computer or console ports ever improved on it.

The joke is that the franchise began with its second title, and as much a joke that is, it’s pretty applicable. We could ignore the original Street Fighter and lost absolutely nothing. Yet something always nags behind me skull, reminding me that all the sequels in the franchise had few iterations to them in the arcades or otherwise. Even with Street Fighter V, the updates and added characters have made it a different game from what it was originally. The mode of updating just changed from separate releases to updating the game itself.

Return to the original Street Fighter could also allow the developers to flex themselves otherwise, if they choose to take notion of the progression the series has seen in its thirty years run. They could choose to treat it yet another new entry and do whatever they wished, like usual, or they could take into notice the lack of super moves and advanced functions and design the game with more to-the-core approach. Not necessarily simplifying the game design to the point of gimping it, but looking at what made Street Fighter  successful enough and then improve on that with the experience gained thus far. Granted, that game already exists and is called Street Fighter II, but the point still stands. With all the hubbub of fighting games being too hard to get into, and the furiously fanatic hobbyists being afraid anything with simpler mechanics that don’t require half a year of training ends up being terrible, there is a place for professional house like Capcom to create a game that stands between two extremes.

Maybe it’ll take another ten years before Capcom gives this a thought. Hopeful wishing at its best, as Capcom is infamous of just letting franchises and games fall into obscurity and be forgotten. Just like how Street Fighter as a franchise was put into ice for better part of a decade after Third Strike and EX 3. Nobody sheds a tear for the original Street Fighter, and it’ll stay as a minor curiosity with little interest towards it. Then again, perhaps that alone would create enough impact.

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A Mega Man movie

The first question the whole thing raises up is Why? Mega Man as a franchise is not currently relevant to the game consuming crowd and has fallen into a niche. Yet, Twentieth Century Fox worked two years to acquire the rights. Exclusive news be damned, there’s something rotten in the land of Denmark.

Let’s step aside the fact that Hollywood reported used the wrong sub-series picture and managed to fuck up telling the premise of the games, as Rock is Mega Man’s non-hero name and he volunteered to be turned unto a super fighting robot. They are also using the Capcom method of counting the games, with ports counted as separate entities from each other.

The question we have here isn’t if the movie will be good. It’s almost guaranteed not to follow the little plot the original games had and will deviate from it like no other. All Mega Man adaptations have done this, for better or worse. What is relevant about this keg of horseshit is what will the approach be. Whether or not Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman will direct the movie is slightly less relevant on what the studio wants. I can see Twentieth Century Fox wanting to move forwards with video game adaptations in order to fight Marvel’s comic book movies, and adapting Mega Man is all about nostalgia, currently.

The original Mega Man is a children’s TV-show, essentially speaking. The same goes for the Legends series, which can be even played episodically like that with certain pacing. The X-series can be a cartoon for slightly older audience, but much like Zero-series, it could be adapted to a full war story, though both of them do offer interesting philosophical points about humanity and robotics. However, despite that, Mega Man as a whole isn’t about that, and a Hollywood adaptation most likely will miss the little point the games have going on for them.

Let’s not beat around the bushes, the movie’s probably not going to be very faithful to the games and will probably make the fans disappointed while the rest of the audience couldn’t give two shits. Saying this before any solid info on anything has surfaced is presuming a lot of things, yet that’s how it usually goes. Even decent game-movie adaptations tend to suck and have no impact whatsoever.

There is also a possibility for franchise confusion here. With the Man of Action cartoon coming out 2018, Capcom probably has been revving up to emphasize that as the main vehicle to resurrect the franchise. That’s all good and dandy, there is validity in resurrecting the franchise for children from a clean slate, even though it will piss off the older fanbase. However, all the current fans should recognize that they were catered when they were kids, and a kid’s IP should stay that way for future generations rather than change to be something it’s not.

These points worry me. It is possible that the movie will be aimed that older fans and the content of the movie will reflect this in content. This would mean the Man of Action’s take on the franchise could stay as the kid friendly entry, with all the toys and possible games aimed to cater them solely. An adult oriented Mega Man would not be a good idea, unless it specifically concentrated on the more mature aspects of the larger franchise, as mentioned.

That’s where I can’t trust Hollywood Reporter on this. They’re speaking of Mega Man all the while using image resource from X-series. Let’s suppose for a moment that Twentieth Century Fox didn’t just get rights to the Classic series, but for Mega Man movies in general. Then it would be possible for them to use any material from the franchise. I wouldn’t put past them to just use elements across the franchise rather than sticking to one, which Man of Action is kinda doing with their entry.

Chernin Entertainment, the company making the movie under Fox, has multiple action films under its belt,  like the reboot series for the Planet of the Apes movies alongside few dramas and comedies. Outside Parental Guidance from 2012, none of their production is something that would reflect positively on Mega Man. This bodes just as well towards a Mega Man movie as Fox as a movie studio. Their track record with game adaptations like Legend of Chun-Li is absolutely terrible, and while Tom Rothman is not working for them anymore, they’re not getting out from the low-quality swamp anytime soon.

Granted, Deadpool was a damn good movie, but Chernin Entertainment had jack shit to do with it. Telling me that fans that love Mega Man doesn’t carry any weight around here, and while Masayori Oka probably grew up playing the games, Fox is ultimately the ones to put the boot down.

Oka’s some sort of gleam of hope in all this, to be frank. In an issue of SFX Collection, he mentioned collecting Pluto, a retelling of sorts of  Tetsuwan Atom‘s arc The Greatest robot on Earth. It’s not terribly far-fetched to say that Naoki Urawasa’s works have affected Oka, and this influence could be seen in the Mega Man movie. That is, if Joost and Schulman won’t ignore their producer completely. More than a handful of movies have been completely and utterly destroyed by executive hands, like the recent Ghostbusters reboot or anything Rothman touched.

Knowing Capcom, they’re not going to care one bit either way. They have a long-time partnership with Hollywood ever since the film version of Street Fighter II came out, and movie adaptations of their games haven’t really gotten any better. Resident Evil is still going on, supposedly, and there were even Dead Rising films. A Mega Man to the mix is just a droplet in the river for them.

If this post reads like I’m losing all hope and faith in the product as I write this, that’s not too far from the truth. While the movie industry is pumping out products that sell millions at the worldwide market, they’re lacking in imagination. A movie about a boy robot fighting an evil scientist’s ambition to take over the world sounds like something that doesn’t carry itself. What works as a game doesn’t work as a movie, and that’s the crux that will nail the Mega Man movie’s faith to either direction.

Changing Mega Man

Ultimately, what was the strength of past Mega Man games? I would argue that it was the strength of change that kept it relevant as long as it was with rather constant quality, overall speaking.

Keiji Inafune, whatever you may think of him nowadays, was without a doubt the driving force the franchise for the longest time. In an interview in an episode of Game Center CX, one of the Mega Man or Capcom related episodes, where he tells how he had wondered many times throughout the years whether or not it was fine for the series to keep going. This was around the release of Mega Man Battle Network 3, and this contrasts his battle with the series. What he said in this interview was whenever he would face a block on the invention front, he’d go to an event for children and see what they liked the most, what was favoured.

This plan to to observe Mega Man‘s main consumers and record their interest is without a doubt a key factor in the franchise’s success, especially when it comes to Battle Network. While long-time fans moaned about the series (Battle Network was essentially Mega Man‘s Beast Wars in this regard [ROBUTT NOT NAVI]), a new generation of consumers took the series on themselves. Battle Network saw the most divergence of all the sub-series with comics, arcade games, card games, toys, tabletop games, a cartoon, spin-offs and shitloads of stuff that never really left Japan.

Let’s not beat around the bush, the Battle Network series was huge. Starforce never could hold a candle to its predecessor in any form, starting from the gutted gameplay to the more or less terrible plot. It combined card game strategy with fast and skill based gameplay, rewarding experimentation to a large degree. Even when 150 Battle Chips sounds rather small amount to choose from, there were loads of unique combinations and tactics that could be put together from them, though some were more viable than others.  A new Battle Network game would be behind its time and it would sell on nostalgia value. Card collecting is passé for kids, just like robots of all kinds. After all, Mega Man is a children’s franchise first and foremost.

Mega Man stopped working when it stopped changing with the times. The original series kept itself relevant by adding more complex gameplay mechanics in order to compete with further developing games on the NES. Mega Man 2 had additional items, which Rush replaced in MM3, which also saw the additional of new mobility function in Sliding. MM4 saw the inclusion of the Charge Shot. While it could be argued that this was the point where classic series started its downhill run, the series still kept changing in increments. MM5 had diverging paths to find Beat. MM6 had Rush Adaptors, which while where a small thing, changed how you’d need to approach higher jumps and the like. MM7 played it safe as with most NES based franchises jumping unto the new platform and tweaked things with further secrets and such that were becoming common. The same applied to MM8 to a large degree, but whether or not these changes made the games better is up to question.

However, as Classic series evolved, the franchise really took its changing nature to heart with Mega Man X. While it was mainly a revisit of the classic formulae with new lick of paint, what makes it stand out from the Classic series is the inclusion of RPG elements. According to the developers, certain kind of RPG were becoming popular with the consumers at time, and though I question the validity of this argument due to RPGs becoming stupidly popular years prior thanks to Dragon Quest, the elements in MMX  series is easy to see. Hidden Heart Tanks permanently increase X’s Energy akin to stat upgrade. Their hidden nature also encouraged stage exploration and trying out weapons on the environment to a larger degree compared to the Classic series. Hidden Armour upgrades serve the same function. The X-series continued with additional elements much like the Classic had.

However, not all changes have kept franchise relevant. As much fans like the Legends games, it never caught on. Low sales meant Legends died off. Perhaps it was too far off from what Mega Man consistently had been thus far, or perhaps the games weren’t what the consumers wanted. That’s a whole another post really, but one of the things that could be said is that if Legends wasn’t based on the wants of the child consumer, then it wouldn’t be success in the same manner as its two predecessors. Battle Network on the other hand was.

This leaves both Zero and ZX series in a place where they didn’t exactly see the same level of sales for being aimed at the older audience that had grown up with the franchise as a whole, but also show contradict the main audience. One of early fanfares the Western fans had for Zero series was that it made Mega Man hard again, which is bullshit because the franchise never was hard. Even a four years old child could finish Mega Man 2. Not all changes are for the better, and ZX further convolution with multiple Mega Men and having adventure-action layout with its game structure alá Space Hunter or Metroid really didn’t catch on. The games replicated a form that was out of fashion at that point, but also came out too early for Western audience starting to masturbate over again. Things with both Zero and ZX didn’t add up, and aiming for the more mature audience that wasn’t the best way to go.

Mega Man 9 and 10 were throwbacks, and as such they didn’t evolve or take the franchise forwards in any way. MM9 sold on nostalgia alone, and MM10 failed that too. Too much carry over design elements from Zero and ZX also meant that this wouldn’t continue.

Mega Man really is a good example of a franchise that renewed itself constantly to stay in touch with the core consumers. As Inafune said, as long as children enjoyed Mega Man, the franchise would have a reason to keep going. Changing the franchise to a mature one would do a major disservice, as you can keep it appealing to both adults and children alike. Renewing a franchise, sometimes in a very drastic way, is necessary to keep a franchise afloat. A stale franchise that does nothing new and is unchanging will have harder time to penetrate the wall of obtaining new consumers. It all really hinges on whether or not this change is well handled, or a complete catastrophe.

With the new cartoon coming out in 2018, we can only hope for a Mega Man renaissance of sorts.

Design comparison; Mega Man VS Mega Man

To say that the original design for Mega Man is iconic wouldn’t be wrong. The design of the character is synonymous of the game renaissance of the later 1980’s with Nintendo’s powerhouse of a 8-bit system and the many games it housed. The very sprite is revered in an iconic status similar to Mario’s or Simon Belmont’s and sees constant re-use. Hell, even the trailer for the 2017 cartoon has it, despite their design being vastly different.

Well, not exactly. The logo aside (it’s your run-of-the-mill logo, though I’m not a fan how they’ve cut the letters in an angle and don’t make the space between Mega and Man evident enough) the sprite jumping on it is a modified NES sprite. The earpieces have a glowing rim and a similarly glowing forehead gem has been added. The buster also has an energy line to it. The solar collector that runs from the forehead gem to the back of the helmet has been coloured black here as well.  Dunno what’s the point of using this modified sprite, but the intend is to appeal to the nostalgia. As I’ve said it previously, the 8-bit worship needs to end and this is the worst kind of retro masturbation.

Then again, using modern tools to represent an old character does something good at times. Mega Man 9 had great faux-retro renders of the characters

But let’s get to the business. I’m not going to compare original Mega Man to Man of Action Mega Man. Instead, I’ll be using another American redesign; the Ruby-Spears Mega Man. We’ll leave the Captain N version to its own devices. And oh, this counts as the Monthly Mecha design post, because row-butts.

Neat to see stuff like this turning up

The two American Mega Man redesigns are of two different school of thought. The Ruby-Spears redesign gives the main audience someone to look up to, someone they could become while growing up. Ageing the character from a ten-years old to a teenager was a necessity. Outside that, the core design doesn’t exactly veer too far from the original Capcom design.

I’ll just have to use this screencap from the trailer

The Man of Action Mega Man on the other hand aims to create a character the kids in the audience could identify with. A character that goes through similar issues and handles similar subjects, though maybe through a veil that is a Saturday morning cartoon, can offer kids new tools to handle difficult subjects. Somehow I doubt that’ll happen with the 2017 Mega Man series. Or as heavy handedly as in Captain Planet. I’ll refer this redesign as MoA from now on.

Kinda funny to see how the basic posing is still the same. I guess this is cultural influence to you.

The two designs are clearly from the same source of origin and thus share the same elements, and interesting, similar additions. To note some few of them; kneepads, changed forehead element and emphasized upper torso. Original Mega Man doesn’t have any sort of kneepads, the lower legs sometimes extend over the knee, sometimes it doesn’t. Depends on the revision. The earpieces on Ruby-Spears have red vents on the outside, giving them emphasize, just like how energy lines on the MoA redesign. The forehead element is probably the most baffling on Ruby-Spears, as it’s a diamond over a square. It doesn’t really mesh with the rest of the design, but then again the life gem stolen from Mega Man X on MoA’s redesign looks pretty much as terrible. Well, all the energy light lines do. Maybe those will change colours when another weapon than Mega Buster is equipped.

Let’s start from the top of the head and work our way down. The overall helmet is the same shape, but due to different styles, MoA’s big head is emphasised. MoA’s Mega Man also inverts the shades on the helmet. Classic Mega Man’s forehead element and solar collector are lighter shade than the main body. This is due to the colour pallet available on the NES. MoA chose to make the helmet’s main body about the same shade as usual, but the collector is almost black. The shade of blue, cyan even, used on the lighter shades on Mega Man is used on the edges of the cutaway for the face, directly lifted from Mega Man X. Ruby-Spear’s redesign sticks to notes from Capcom’s original, outside the whole diamond bit.

Furthermore, the cutaway on Ruby-Spears’ Mega Man is classical heart, whereas MoA’s opted to use a similar angular design to X’s, just with slightly less sharpness to it. MoA also added useless panel lining to the helmet. While face design may be different across the board, it should be mentioned that Ruby-Spears followed original’s round face closer that MoA. Both have blue eyes, just like original. It wasn’t until Mega Man X onwards that Mega Man main characters started having emerald green eyes.

The upper torso is where things get wild. Ruby-Spears’ Mega Man may be more muscular, but the lines added to emphasize this don’t break the core design. His neck may be exposed in this one, but that’s kinda business as usual as well. MoA’s Mega Man on the other hand opts for a leaner design, where the chosen elements break the traditional design. MoA’s Mega Man essentially wears a T-Shirt that has a stupidly high upwards arching cut in the middle, exposing his middle torso for no real good reason. Black lines coming underneath his armpits extent to his neck and extend the same way on the back. Underneath his arms he has two rectangle sections that have no reason to be there.

Is it just me or does all this stretching look strange? I just assume there’s fabric on top of parts that aren’t clearly metal, but then you have clearly metal parts warping. Eh, cartoons and animation

The arms are similar, only having real difference between gloved VS. gloveless hands. Due to how MoA exaggerates body dimensions, the arms are larger. However, because the upper arms (and the thighs) are so thin, MoA’s Mega Man looks more like a mix-match of a Sonic character. Ruby-Spear’s has a more traditional superhero muscle build to it, which looks a bit odd, but works considering the whole redesign is more in-line with American comic heroes.

Both buster has a similar overall design, but MoA decided not to include anything interesting and just added three glowing bars. Ruby-Spears opted two for button like squares. Ruby-Spears hits closer to the original yellow strip design. Both weapons seem to be tied to the left arm.

Considering that, the pants on Ruby-Spears’ are your plain ol’ whities coloured blue and with a belt. MoA opted to add an extra colour and separated power light lines in order to cut the shape downwards. Not really sure if they want to have their hero wearing pants like that, but these cuts are somewhat reminiscent of those that Mega Man X has, but again, just with curves.

Probably should post X as for reference. He has a big hand. Notice how his chest has an added colour on his… robobra? Anyway, his colours have accents that bring out each other and whatever the details there are, mainly the angles. The Life gem on his forehead is brought to attention because it simply stands out, but rather than breaking the scheme it works as a sole point of interest. That, and there’s red in his earpiece and at the tip of the buster. It’s a colour sparingly used for an effect, not slapped everywhere. Notice green eyes

The legs are the second busiest places after the Mega Buster. Well, that’s relative for MoA’s design, it’s so full of lines and lights everywhere. Ruby-Spear’s Mega Man have classic style legs, just with more muscle, clear kneepads, separated feet from the legs and lighter share at the tip of the “shoes” with black soles. MoA kinda went town with theirs. Darker kneepads, very clear ankle joints, separated feet and legs and darker soles. Everything covered in those damn light lines.

Let’s be frank, Man of Action Mega Man is overdesigned. The chosen colour scheme looks too dark to give the lights more emphasize and the sheer amount of them does make it look more like a Christmas decoration from China. A Mega Man knock-off. Yes, the original’s character sheet has tones about as dark as MoA, yet in-game and in other illustration work, even in Wish upon a Star, the colours are lighter and vivid. The darker tone balance is destroyed in MoA’s design due to added even darker spots and high contrast lights.

I had wishes that the design would grow unto me, but the inclusion of Mega Mini, worse song than Ruby-Spears’ opening and the constant use of Mega+suffix doesn’t install much hope. MEGANIZE ME! or IT’S MEGA TIME don’t have the same sound as ROCK ON! They’re actually more reminiscent of Captain N‘s Mega Man, who would shove mega into everything he was talking about. Hell, even in the intro he says MEGA HI! to the audience.

The design is also just too damn blue and uses too dark a scheme. Outside the insides of the buster, there is not splash of any other colour to give the blue a lift. Hell, the clothes he wears when he is just Aki Light are more interesting to look at. The design sure has become less rigid since we first saw it, but all the same eyesore points still persist.

Even the yellow inside the buster is broken ochra, not a vivid yellow. Why? To emphasize that neon cyan on the rims. The worst thing is that the wrist seems to have slightly brighter blue, but it’s all dull. That hand looks terrible though, but maybe it’s just the angle. Here you can see that the forehead “gem” is really just an intendation on the “solar collector” (probably isn’t a one in MoA’s version) and not a protruding gem

Ruby-Spears’ Mega Man is sort of the opposite, with less bells and whistles everywhere, and despite the changed age, he is visibly Mega Man American edition. He does have a dunce, round nosed face with weird eyebrows (not to mention eyes that are somewhere between Fred Flinstone’s and generic anime) and strangely bulbous legs overall, but these don’t really destroy the balance it maintains. The slightly overdone muscles does upset the balance to a point where the whole thing looks a bit off in an uncanny way. Whether or not one is better over the other is subjective, but the 2017 cartoon needs to be damn good to win me over.

Then again, it doesn’t need to. It’s a show for a new generation of kids, and if they like, maybe that’s for the better.

A multimedia Mega franchise

Haven’t written anything about Mega Man in a long time. With the announcement of new Mega Man toys and Mega Man games being included with the NES Mini console, a small freefall post about the Blue Bomber is in place.

The question whether or not Mega Man is back is not a question that never needed asking. The franchise has potential for expansions of all sorts. Breaking the mould is nothing new, CAPCOM has been doing it since Wily & Light’s Rock Board. The games had constant evolution of content and gameplay mechanics, the most drastic standard deviation probably being X series’ RPG elements with hidden Energy Tanks and Armour parts. The most drastic deviation in the franchise are in Legends and Battle Network, but these are what each major game series goes through. Well, Mega Man is not major any more, just a relic of sorts. It pains me to write that down.

As a successful game franchise, it’s weird to look back and see how little third-party franchising there has been in the history of the franchise. Before Battle Network became the hottest shit on the block for the first half of the 00’s, most toys were Japan-only models from Bandai. The Ruby-Spears cartoon, which is still pretty good show, was the first major step outside and stand from the games. Captain N‘s Mega Man was largely part of the cast and the show used the NES as a whole as its source theme, so it’s not exactly what Mega Man could’ve used. If we get down to it, the Ruby-Spears Mega Man is a sort of rarity. Not many  games got a show based on them like this. It tells something about the popularity of the franchise when its contemporaries like Castlevania never got one. Nowadays they are more common and almost dime in the dozen as the industry has grown to stupidly large heights.

Despite its seeming popularity, Mega Man’s franchising has been less than expanded. Outside Ruby-Spears cartoon, we had that three-shot OVA Wish Upon a Star, which more or less are educational bits above all else. Mega Man didn’t see cereals or the like, and after the Classic bits ended, there was a long silence until the aforementioned Battle Network. After that, franchising slowly but surely began rising in amount. Nowadays, we have somewhat healthy amount of material to choose from. Mega Man soundtracks, toys, more books, all sorts of tapes and whatnot are available for you to purchase. Whether or not purchasing these show that there is an interest in the franchise is another question altogether, as sometimes companies find better revenues in selling third-party franchise instead of producing the main product itself. Think Star Wars and how it has an immense amount of goods produced of when it only has seven movies and few TV-shows across decades. Originally all these third-party goods CAPCOM had for Mega Man served as advertising for the games themselves. However, when the sales of the games went to a decline, franchising saw a change. Now, Mega Man toys and whatnot are sold mainly to the core audience that have been fans of the franchise for a long time. Yours truly included, I’m afraid. The upside is that current Mega Man goods are of higher standard than what they used to be.

The decline of the games’ sales can be attributed to decline of the games themselves and the internal matters at CAPCOM. Mega Man was always a children’s franchise, and the while the X series is nowadays often cited as an edgy 1990’s edition, we can also see that the Zero series is a grim and dark future of already darker future. Like it or not, there is no levity in Zero that you could find in the Classic and X. Battle Network on the other hand stroke a chord almost perfectly, at least during its three first games. I expect the upcoming television series to have a lieu of toys and other goods to purchase. Time will tell whether or not they will be a success.

The thing is, CAPCOM has a point of comparison how well a new 2D Mega Man could sell with Mega Man 9 and 10. If the franchising rights bring them about the same amount money than what the games could, why put the money down for the development? After all, the current branding of CAPCOM doesn’t exactly have a fitting slot for Mega Man, despite the character being an unofficial mascot of the company still, next to Street Fighters‘  Ryu. Whether or not the 2017 Mega Man will fit that image, or if CAPCOM will loosen up their hard cased face to facilitate the franchise more than just re-releasing the same NES games for the Nth time. It’d be nice if they’d see the trouble of porting the rest over as a collection as well and not just circlejerking over the NES titles and trickle the rest through digital services.

There are those who would like to keep the franchise away from the children and newbies and only have CAPCOM catering to their wants. However, that’s not a healthy model, and to CAPCOM, it’s just not making the cut. It’s the same dilemma with every long running franchise; balancing with the core audience while trying to expand. Often companies get called selling out or the like when they try to get their titles to break some new ground when it comes to consumers, and while sometimes they fail, sometimes they manage to push the envelope a bit further. To go back to start, CAPCOM has always been breaking the mould Mega Man has been sitting in from time to time with variety of results. The franchise took its time to grow to a full multimedia franchise, thou still more limited in its scope than some others, thou I’m not sure how many game based franchises have a Settlers of Catan version after them.

So don’t think that purchasing third-party Mega Man merch will signal CAPCOM to return making some of the older titles. However, keep purchasing them if you feel that Mega Man should have more items outside its games, and  the whole buyer-provider game gets some sort of revamp when the 2017 cartoon hits with its merch. I’m still wagering for a CAPCOM published title to hit the stores at some point.

Was Mega Man not optimistic?

A new interview on the 2017 Mega Man show came out this week, and I decided to mull over it a little bit before making this entry because it really is an odd little thing. The title really says it; The New MEGA MAN Animated Series Will Have a More Optimistic Blue Bomber. The reason why I had to sit down and let it be was my very first reaction; But Mega Man had always been optimistic.

The article/interview doesn’t reveal anything what we already didn’t know, it’s more a slight insight into the mindset and workings of the people involved. A lot of the answers are non-replies, like how the first one about why would it be the right time for a new Mega Man, the answer is never given. Only that Mega Man is a timeless character. All Dentsu America seems to be excited about is that they have this iconic game character in their hands to play with. This is telling, as the studio Man of Action’s Generator Rex was not the big hit it was expected to be, and Ben 10 has largely run its course. Ultimate Spider-Man has not been as popular either, so it seems they are intending to tap yet another existing franchise in hopes for some name recognition. This seems to  be the reason why it would be the perfect time for a new Mega Man; it is a recognized name and has not seen any new entry in some time. Mega Man‘s solid concept is easy to adapt and mould for new purposes.

Joe Kelly’s suggestion that this is the first time an American team is handling Mega Man is also incorrect. I’m sure Archie’s take on Mega Man is in hold because of 2017 Mega Man. Archie’s Mega Man is a more direct adaptation of whatever plot the games had, but it’s a damn good one and a very American one in many ways. It’s excellent read. Before that, Dreamwave had the Mega Man license and had a very, very similar plotline about Rock(y) being sent to school to learn to be more like a human. Of course, you had the Captain N Mega Man too, and we never should forget Ruby-Spears’ Mega Man.

Honestly, this show is pretty damn good

It’s clear that Kelly’s not up to his history with his assertion, and it is doubtful he has checked the previous Western works either. Saying that Man of Action and Dentsu America are the first ones to give Mega Man an American take is simply false and made under intention of good press.

Then again, Nerdist themselves makes a really, really weird comment. Yeah, it would just be a huge bummer if Mega Man was this cynical jerk. It’s like, “Why was I created?” No Mega Man has ever questioned their birth. The closest we come across is Grey from Mega Man ZX Advent, and even then he’s amnesic. When you get down to it, it would be really damn hard to pin down any character in Mega Man that would lament their birth like that. Even Mega Man X at his introspective moment hesitated to fight or wondered what he would like to make of his life, what his dreams and goals were.

But looks like Man of Action intends to give Mega Man the same treatment as they did to Spider-Man, which doesn’t exactly fill people with confidence. Mega Man, the original character, is as stripped down as it gets already, a very simple concept. What Man of Action has done is they’ve simply added elements that never existed in the original mythos of the work (did in Dreamwork’s take tho), but the telling remark from them is when they mention how a lot of things have added to the character of the years.

These people think there’s one Mega Man.

Certainly they recognize that we have numerous unique Mega Man characters each in their own series; Classic, X, Legends, Battle Network, Star Force, ZX, and if you want to count Zero, ZXA and Xover, be my guest. Classic is the blueprint where the rest of the franchise has grown out, and so it’s really incredibly stupid to say that the character Mega Man has seen stuff bolted on top of him, but that’s the mindset here. They don’t think Mega Man as in the Classic series, they think the whole damn franchise as one. That explains a lot about the Aki Light Mega Man’s design a lot, as it’s the collection of bits and pieces from all the iteration in a very messy and outdated way. I’m not going to let go of that,t he design looks terrible.

Further evidence on them not really knowing about Mega Man as a franchise is Joe Casey’s mention how Mega Man has a lot villains, which is not true. Mega Man has only one villain who orchestrates everything else; Dr. Wily. Sigma and the rest belong to the other sub-series, but that doesn’t matter to them. Robot Masters are lackies, not the main villains, not even King.

At this point Man of Action really should’ve just made their own robot-kid-fights-for-good show instead of relying on Mega Man‘s recognition. Nerdist can go fuck themselves for saying some of the old names are wonky, they follow a true and tested way pioneered by American comics no less. Casey retorting that they’re intending to bring in more women characters in shouldn’t be taken as anything but few more girl characters, and that’s fine as long as they do it the right way. Like Archie and Dreamwave did.

Nerdist is being diplomatic and very, very sensationalistic when calling the art style striking. Their intention is to lift the issue up that fans laughed at the design quite a lot and only handful of people honestly seemed to like it. Kelly’s mention how CAPCOM wanted to keep certain things in sounds about right. After all, this should be a recognizable character and so certain elements have to stay in. Without a doubt Man of Action would have wanted to revamp the whole thing to look completely different. The best joke about the whole think is when Duncan Rouleau says his design for Mega Man stems from old cartoons like Mach GoGoGo /Speed Racer and Gigantor, but it really does look more like a Chinese knock-off than anything else. Going back to the inspirational roots of Mega Man would’ve done him some good. Tetsuwan Atom, Casshern, Kikaider, Tekkaman (not Blade) to mention some.

Whether or not a design has a lot of thought behind doesn’t really matter, not to the end-user. All that matters if it pleases him.

What throws me off at Casey’s comment about Mega Man having many different iterations is that it sounds like CAPCOM was the one dictating them elements they should use. I can see them wanting to reuse some of the elements, but dictating not so much, especially after these guys asserted that this Mega Man is an American take. Whether or not we should even call post-Classic series main characters as iterations of Mega Man is under heavy question. The fact is, they are not the same character and stand on their own legs who they are as characters.

Casey saying that the show will have dark elements, but Mega Man himself won’t be it is stupid. Mega Man himself has never been the dark element in the franchise. In Classic series he is a helper robot that is compelled to help those in need. In X series Mega Man X is the brightest thing in the series, fighting for peaceful coexistence of humans and Reploids. Legends has Mega Man Volnutt living a normal life as an adventurer. In Battle Network MegaMan.EXE may be the digitalisation of Lan’s brother, but that’s far from dark. It’s hopeful and their interaction really is very brotherly. In Star Force Geo may be a traumatised character at first, but he gets better and becomes a normal kid again. In ZX, the idea of Mega Man has changed and has classic hero type who gains his powers from a “mystical” source. Xover doesn’t really have any personality so don’t know where the hell Man of Action of Dentsu America got their idea of Mega Man, as a character being dark. Maybe they just played Mega Man Zero, which would explain it. The irony in that would be that you don’t play as Mega Man, and X is literally a digital angel in that series.

After this interview I’m expecting to see a show that isn’t Mega Man outside brand recognition. It’ll be just like any other Disney X D action show that will run for a season and then killed. CAPCOM seems to be producing game based on the show, but whether or not that will be good or not is another thing.

Honestly, this sub-series needed its own subtitle, like all the previous. Call it American Mega Man or something like that, seeing they’re so proud to think they’re the first American take on the franchise. Fingers crossed that this series will at least show CAPCOM that the franchise as a whole still has worth and greenlight more games to the other sub-series rather than just putting re-releases out.

Mighty Number 9 is just miserable

This one’s from a personal point of view, screw the writer persona. Mighty Number 9 is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with modern video games and their fans. It’s a Kickstarter product headed by a well-known game developer, who used his status with Mega Man fandom to drive through a new title that was seemingly supposed to be a middle finger to CAPCOM. Inafune used Mega Man‘s legacy as his most main tool for advertising. The sad thing is, the cult that had elevated him and those who just wanted to throw shit at CAPCOM bought this, and all they can do is blame themselves.

I did not back Mighty Number 9 because at the time I didn’t buy into idol worship any more. If you want to roll years back on the blog, you can see that I had some remains of it, but I recognize that each and every person making any product is just as dick gobbling as anyone. None of these people are nothing special, their works are works of hundreds if not thousands of people, all contributing to one piece. Screw the creators, they don’t matter. Only their product does.

And to quote all the critics, Mighty Number 9 sucks. It’s boring, mundane, by the books, slow, unchallenging, stages are awfully designed with equally awfully designed gameplay and it’s predictable game in every possible way. I pity my friend who backed it, but at least I got a go with his copy. Currently, the game sits at the bottom 12% at OpenCritic. There are reports of Windows 10 refusing to run the game or its installer, DRM free versions crashing for no reason, proofreading is non-existent (just like on this blog!), the Wii U version seems to brick your system, framerate issues, fucked up colours, DLC installer not installing anything, and then autodeleting itself, backers getting wrong DLC codes and God only knows what else will pop up in the long run.

Outside all the shit that went down during the Kickstarter, from Dina being a community manager to the fact that they cut a selling feature from the game, you saw even before the Kickstarter was finished how the game would end up being.

The first one was that there was no conceptual gameplay in video form or the like. Just an illustration roughly showing what they wanted to do, but barely did any of ’em. The Kickstarter page still reads using weapons and abilities stolen from your enemies to take down your fellow Mighty Number robots, a gameplay function that was dropped during the development. You don’t have the advertised body morphing either. Only Boss battle weapons stayed true, to some extent.

They didn’t learn from this, and resorted to show even less with Red Ash, which had even campaign promises and was saved by a Chinese company.

The second was the fact that Comcept chose to collect people from the original Mega Man. Let’s be fair here and remember that the original Mega Man is rather lacklustre and sits in the same position as the first Street Fighter when it comes to memorable titles. It’s there, but nobody gives a fuck. Mega Man 2 and Street Fighter 2 both are games that made the franchise. Shinsuke Komaki was a decent addition, but the illustrations and designs in Mighty Number 9 are lacklustre in largely every regard, so his history with Mega Man added absolutely nothing to the table.

The third bit is that they already had secured the funding to produce the game alongside Inti-Creates, meaning whatever money they’d get from the Kickstarter would go to polishing the game and none of that shows. I liked the first two Mega Man Zero games when they came out, but in hindsight the series reminds me of more polished Game Gear Mega Man, emphasizing all of its flaws. The camera is still the worst offender in those games, and the ZX series was just lacklustre every which way.  Mega Man 9 was a fun little throwback, but Mega Man 10 is just mediocre. It should’ve moved forwards and be something much more than just another 8-bit revival. Before anyone says Mega Man is only good in 8-bit are wrong. Just look at Mega Man X series and their genre relatives.

The fourth bit is that Inafune is a terrible developer on his own. He shines when he is paired with good support, which his cast at Comcept don’t seem to be. He essentially shines when he has someone to answer to. He allows strange ideas to flourish and bloom if they seem great, and later in the game development he was on the higher ladder rather in the grass root developing. Minakuchi Engineering’s Mega Man VI/ Rockman World 4 and Mega Man V/Rockman World 5 are shining examples a company that knew what to do with Mega Man through experience based on previous GB titles (outside 2) and managed to essentially make one of the best Mega Man games out there. All this came together because they were a small but competent team that had a good overseer. Minakuchi also did Mega Man X3, which is why it is so different from the rest of the franchise. Go play those instead of Mighty Number 9. Or Rosenkreuzstilette and Megamari if you want to see how Mega Man-esque gameplay should be copied. Notice how the camera functions as it should and doesn’t twerk around with every action the player does.

Comcept spend 3.8 million dollars of Marvelous’ money to develop Kaio: King of Pirates. Nobody knows what happened, but I’m sure they’re going to push more Senran Kagura and never work with Comcept again. I can live with that, Senran Kagura turned to be surprisingly entertaining franchise after the first game. Marvelous’ statement about their doubts which the developers had in mind regarding this project is quite telling.

I don’t even feel bad for people who backed this game. It was their choice just as any, and they choose to buy into the hype and PR. Or to spite CAPCOM, I know some of you did that. Whatever CAPCOM’s doing with Mega Man next year is an open question, we’ll just have to sit tight and see what happens. You can be certain that they have been following Inafune’s misadventures, and you can be certain they’ve taken into notice all the things he fucked up.