Two-One Punch of Mega Man Million

Capcom recently updated their sales data in their Game Series Sales section, and with that we saw Mega Man gaining one more million units sold from 34 million to 35 million units since February 2019. That’s three million more units since June 2018. Their Annual report from the end of last, year, which I have a post about, stated that Mega Man 11 performed well. We could read between the lines that they were expecting it to perform worse, but the Blue Bomber still has some pulling power. With the cartoon series running, though not exactly making the biggest splash out there, the franchise has resurfaced again, much like how Devil May Cry made the news once more. Devil May Cry 5 performed a lot better, and if we’re completely honest, is the better game of the two. It was ambitious project that was true to the core gameplay but also pushed the 3D Action games just a little bit further once more. Mega Man 11, as much as the game is loved, did end up somewhat a shelf warmer. Compared to DMC5, MM11 is a lacklustre title. It was too safe a title.

It is because of Mega Man X Legacy Collection that the series gained one more million sales. Mega Man  11 sold some 870 000 units, so previous digital titles and X Legacy Collection must cover the rest. This is how Mega Man ultimately worked ever since the X-series was released. The Classic-series may have solidified the series’ status as an icon. Good games, to which Capcom would churn up sequel after sequel year by year, until they put the franchise in ice.

Neither Mega Man 11 or Mega Man X Legacy Collection sold one million units, as they don’t appear on Capcom’s Platinum million titles sold list. I don’t know Mega Man Battle Network 4 has sold so many units, it’s the very bottom feeder of the franchise itself. However, outside the NES era of games, most of Mega Man had one more or more sub-series running side by side. At best, Capcom offered 2D Action, 3D Action and RPG under Mega Man brand name during the busiest days of the franchise, and even more if you were in Japan.

If you were wondering, Mega Man 2 is the best selling title in the franchise

I would argue that outside the NES days of Classic series, when it showcased quality game design and tight controls in comparison to some of the schlock the NES and (especially) Famicom had, Mega Man‘s strength later on relied on its multiple approaches and titles on the market at the same time. Capcom did manage to avoid brand confusion by clearly having different kind of visual flavour across the board. The core mistake between Mega Man and Mega Man X is, really, that the two look too similar. X simply looks an older, edgier take on Mega Man. Which he arguably is, but that was the 1990’s. That was par for the course and I love it. Each subsequent Mega Man was different enough to tell the difference, even at their games, but recognisable enough to say that they were, indeed, a kind of super fighting robot.

Mega Man is a multimedia franchise, make no mistake about it. Despite the games are its main product and lot of the side pieces like comics and toys were there to support the sales of the games themselves, Mega Man saw its most success when you had a little bit of everything out there. Mostly in Japan, sure, but that really reflects the nature of the franchise world wide; the little bits of that everything that West ever got was cherished by the fans like nuggets of gold. When Hitoshi Ariga’s Mega Man Megamix got its English release, the fandom celebrated like no other. This wasn’t the first bit of comics Western world got from Mega Man, but it sure was one of the most wanted.

How did Mega Man gain all those millions of sales since the last update without neither of the two big releases hitting platinum sales point? I told you that already; combined sales of multiple products. Whether it is because 2D action games just don’t have the same market pull they used to, or because Mega Man had become such a standard for the genre that despite their high quality they’re seen as run-of-the-mill titles or just because the franchise’s envelope can’t be pushed all that easily like DMC’s, one Mega Man title hitting that platinum point in the current era of video game market must have something significant behind it.

On the other hand, Capcom could go the true and tested route, put together a standard Mega Man title like MM11 and comp it with something that’s a bit different. If they were brave, which they might actually become with these increased sales, they might even try to make a new sub-series that would break the mould. Love it or hate it, Battle Network was a smash hit. Legends, not so much. Still has a stupidly dedicated cult following, who still keep hope for Capcom reviving Mega Man Legends 3. 

Maybe that would be a decent pull, start the project from scratch and make it play better than what Gaist Crusher did. If you didn’t know, Legends 3‘s engine and very basic gameplay was more or less directly lifted and heavily adapted for two-part game series, which never really went anywhere despite having a cartoon and toys that interacted with the games. I’ve got few posts from 2013 (Christ that’s old and they’re terrible) about Gaist Crusher but never got around getting the second game and reviewing it. I guess I lost my interest in seeing how the series did, just like the Japanese kids it was aimed at.

Capcom could just go full stupid and release Mega Man titles like usual, throwing compilations left and right all the while not really considering how to grow and further the franchise. You know what? Give Mega Man Legends the REmake2 treatment. Take the base elements of the game, expand on the whole connected underground tunnels concept, polish and fully upgrade the gameplay, add more optional parts and possible modifications, explore further the concept of Rock being able to turn black rather than just have it a an interesting joke element (I’m pretty sure this ultimately evolved into the whole Black Mega Man and Synchro concept in Battle Network) and make the game look like a real Saturday morning cartoon it was clearly mimicking.

I can always dream.

Still, with these sales, Capcom probably will be making few Mega Man titles in the future, that much we wager to be certain. If they want to revive Mega Man properly rather than just with one game and collections, Mega Man X9 is probably high on their to-do list.

Remakes and remixes

The one question that was thrown at me few weeks back was whether or not Resident Evil 2 warranted a remake. Ultimately, it did not. The original Resident Evil 2 is one of those timeless classics that still play well to this day, even though the PlayStation era 3D graphics are rather outdated. The game itself is still solid, but that goes for all games that are solid for their era; they’re solid for the future as well. However, not all games can stand the test of time, or even their timely competitors, but some games just tend to have a possibility of being great and for whatever reasons just didn’t measure up. Be it budgetary, lack of experience, skill or whatever, there are numerous fan favourite games that are more or less terrible, yet we love ’em. Chances are that those games would never get a remake.

The argument goes as follows; games that have good design and yet were terribly made should get remade because they would benefit from it. Effectively, realising the original concept properly. While that’s a nice sentiment, the business side of things doesn’t really support the notion. Why remake a game that didn’t make sales, has a very little or not following or has some sort of infamy around it when you could tap something better? Resident Evil 2 remake cost a lot of money to make and advertise. It’s part of Capcom’s current big three titles, Monster Hunter World and Devil May Cry 5 that are effectively the titles the Big C is banking on as seen in their last year’s annual report I have a post about. It’s no coincidence that all these three titles are part of their respective franchises. After all, creating a new IP has its own risks that your company probably doesn’t want to undertake when you’ve just put millions into some restructuring and R&D in order to make a new engine all the while demanding high-end graphics that pushes the visuals as much as possible. Square-Enix follows the same line of thinking with Final Fantasy VII‘s remake, even though they’re taking their sweet time to actually finishing it. However, there’s also one snag that applies to both RE2 remake and FFVII remake; they’re effectively completely new games.

Let’s question if remaking a game by completely changing it from ground up like these two did is actually remaking anything. The remake of original Resident Evil will be used as the point of comparison, a golden example of a remake. What makes it different from the two aforementioned remakes is that it still uses the same systems and designs from the original game, just improved in every way. You can still see where the roots are and side-by-side comparison is completely possible. For RE2 and FFVII, that’s largely impossible due to their nature of completely remodeling and changing the groundwork of the games’ designs. RE2 remake is effectively nothing like the original game and are separate products altogether, whereas with RE‘s remake uses the same base work. FFVII doesn’t even belong to the same genre as the original, opting to go for full-out action. It’s almost like Square Enix is wanting to move away from the time tested Wizardry+Ultima model they’ve made their bed with all the variations we’ve seen in most of the mainline Final Fantasy titles.

Remake is a nice word, because its semantics it usually is associated with in the game industry offers a lot of leeway. Sometimes upgraded ports are marketed as remakes, because it’s easy and has a nice ring to it. The positive association a remake tends to have nowadays would imply that it’s a whole new upgrade to push things further. An example of this would be the HD remakes of few last generations we’ve had, which offer nothing more than higher resolution graphics, sometimes wide screen support and nothing else. Questioning whether or not this is a proper remake or just an upgraded port shouldn’t be an issue. Reading the marketing slang shouldn’t be hard.

Then again, this line of thinking may be completely wrong. Should we consider remakes as something that takes the core essence of a product, like RE2‘s concept of surviving inside a zombie infested city and completely remodeling its game play and concepts, as proper remake instead? After all RE‘s remake can be called exactly that as well, but seeing that is effectively the original game with prettier graphics and updated stuff, shouldn’t that be more or less a remix instead? Sure, all the assets have been recreated from the ground up for the game and so on, but ultimately it is more or less a remix recreation of the original Resident Evil. Compared to remixes like this, a remake should push the game’s concepts to further extents and stand as its own standalone title. This would fit the idea of remaking FFVII as an action game as well, despite the whole genre change it has going on for it. Our golden example of a remake doesn’t really stand against how RE2 was remade. It would be possible to remake the first Resident Evil and change everything about it without losing the core concept of a resident filled with evil. Then again, Resident Evil itself is a sort of remake of Famicom’s Sweet Home, genre changes and all to go with it.

As said, marketing’s have their hand in this quite a lot. Using a dictionary or the like to determine the true meaning of a remake is largely useless, when it’s a nice term you can drop around to whatever re-release it fits even remotely. After all, marketing department have their hands full already trying to push whatever latest editions they have at their hands now. It’s like how Super Robot Wars titles tend to be affected largely by what Bandai-Namco wants to promote currently or if some series has an anniversary, in which case they can push few more units by having it include in a game. Let’s not forget that sometimes games that are completely new are sometimes dropped into the remake category just because it uses its franchise in some ways. The recent contest oriented Pac-man games at one point were marketed as remake of the original Pac-Man game, despite this being not the case to any real extent. That’s like saying Mega Man 2 is a remake of Mega Man just with new stages, music, bosses and weapons. That would apply to any kind of sequel, though there’s an argument there how Hideo Kojima remade the original Metal Gear three times around.

The original question remains; Did RE2 warrant a remake? Apparently the sales data showcased that it did. In a perfect world, there would be no need for remakes. In a less perfect world, the money to make remakes like this would go for games that mechanically would require one. The one we got is still driven by sales and demand, and by the fact that Capcom recognizes the position Resident Evil 2 has in the franchise, among the fans and as an overall game. No other title in the series warrants anything similar. RE4 is still modern enough to run as it is, and perhaps that’s the best justification for remakes nowadays; to modernise games that have a ready audience. You don’t see remakes that don’t already have an audience, or games that the devs themselves don’t dare to touch. There’s a goddamn good reason Nintendo doesn’t do remakes like most other companies.

Perhaps its generational. Most of the faces we know from the industry tend to tell that they don’t really want to work on sequels or keep a series going once they’ve finished it in their own minds. Sakurai was pretty much done with Smash Bros with Melee, yet here we are. Kojima meant Metal Gear to end with pretty much every major entry in the series. Shigsy didn’t touch 2D Mario in almost twenty years due to how much work they are compared to the 3D games. However, with new blood coming into these companies, it might become more viable to remake old titles that still have a place and possibility to strike true. The same applies to the consumer side, perhaps even mores so than towards the devs. The generation that grew up with the 360 and PS3 would have a hard time going back to earlier consoles, some have even remarked how not even the Third Generation of consoles look like, and I quote a younger friend, real games. Updating PlayStation era games to modern visual (and game play) standards would open new avenues without really losing anything due to the build-in fandom. On one hand, you serve the fans with an arguably better version of the game and attract customer who missed the original, or didn’t or couldn’t touch it because it was on PlayStation, PSN not withstanding. As much as even the industry likes to think otherwise, very few games are timeless in the proper meaning of the term. They may take the test of time within the context of the era, but putting them face to face with their modern counterparts, they lose in almost every area of design. Direct comparison without taking context and capabilities of each of the era would be rather unfair, but for a timeless classic that should not be a problem. After all, if Super Mario Bros. 3 can stand toe to toe with modern 2D action games in terms of designs and gameplay, the rest of timeless classics should be capable of this. For the early 3D games, that’s not exactly the case, just like how first games can’t really stack up against most other modern 2D games of similar nature.

REmake2‘s success probably makes Capcom wonder what other titles they have they could give a similar treatment. With their interest to resurrect some of their sleeping IPs thanks to Mega Man 11, IP which saw a raise in sold units from 32 million units to 34 million since June 2018, it’s not entirely impossible that Capcom would wake one or two of their classic series with a remake. Chances are that they’ll be testing the waters with some releases and bundles before green lighting anything, but you never know. Then again, they should finally remake the original Street Fighter.

Music of the Month: Rock the World

After spending good three days of building my new PC and troubleshooting things that have been popping up now and then, I completely forgot that I was supposed to write something for Sunday. That’s not the only thing I’ve forgotten lately, due to being so damn tired. Enough excuses, let’s get this on the roll.

So, whatever plans I might’ve had are more or less out of the window thanks to people ordering more and more stuff from the place I work, meaning the speed and production amounts have been upped ever so slightly but enough to push the proverbial breaking point of the manufacturing process. Rather, I’ll have to approach things by case-by-case basis and hope that I don’t put things out too late. Well, I’ll be doing Mega Man 11 at some point.

As such, I’ll use this opportunity to comment on the previous post about Capcom’s IR materials. It’s a long post in comparison to most and has quite a lot of hot air, but something that needed to be covered. Rather than spouting what Capcom says, here’s my personal take what Capcom wants to do in the future; high-end games.

Monster Hunter World and Resident Evil 7 have been big hits, and Capcom seems to think it is thanks to the games having high production values across the board, especially in the graphics department. While the term artisanal design was thrown in there, it ultimately means very little if not expanded. Effectively it means master craftsmanship and how something is worked by hand to perfection, but how well that applies to Capcom’s titles is up to interpretation. They are infamous for dishing out game sequels after sequels, though this has been on the slower end as of late. Game development has gotten more expensive with each generation and they feel it. Each title has to be bigger and more successful than the previous. The two aforementioned titles fit the bill perfectly, something Resident Evil 2‘s remake and Devil May Cry 5 do too. While the games will have something the consumers will have to scratch their heads over with, Capcom is putting a lot of money and time into them, hoping to get return in their investment. MHW is regarded a cornerstone within the company in terms of success, and they want to replicate that.

Furthermore, Capcom is surprised by the success of Mega Man 11. Without a doubt it has come as a surprise, and the Man of Action Mega Man cartoon basically exists to drive brand recognition, especially among younger consumers who have no previous experience with the franchise. The initial sales have been very positive and the reception of the game has more or less followed the same pattern. Above all, Mega Man 11 is a PR victory for Capcom and does go against their set idea of high-end games, something consumers should be somewhat happy about. MM11 was relatively cheap to develop, which probably served more to its favour than most think. It also shows that games don’t need to be at their highest ends in order to make a mark. Capcom probably took notice of this, as they’re also noticed the good sales the Mega Man X collection was having.

This has lead them to consider reviving some of their old IPs and the upcoming Capcom Belt-Action Collection is probably is part of the whole deal to see what sticks to the wall. Sadly, Capcom doesn’t have the licensing rights to some of their best beat-em-ups, but at least the collection has the first ever home port of Battle Circuit, something long-time Capcom and CPSII fans have been waiting for. When’s Wazrard getting a proper home release? Does this mean fan favourite IPs will be revived? Naturally, no. First three people who I saw commenting on the post said Breath of Fire, but I don’t see that being very likely. Firs being that BoF was never a great seller and that they have better options to fill the RPG quota if they want to. However, the one thing that is in BoF‘s favour is that Capcom recognizes themselves relying on limited genres, with fighting games, action and horror taking the top spot. Capcom has to diversify its selection at some point, but that may go toward mobile gaming.

According to the materials, Capcom has been making loads of money in the smartphone market, but still don’t have much success in there. What does this mean, exactly? They’re not the top dog and despite the few titles they manage to get money out, the competition is making bigger bank. This is largely an Asian thing, as the mobile game market is absolutely bonkers huge there, eclipsing both console and PC market without any margins of error. It’s no wonder companies like Blizzard want to release a game into the market like they were horny teenagers with free access to the corest of hardest porn. We’ll get to Blizzard’s PR disaster with Diablo Immortal on Wednesday, it’s a damn good example how not to do consumer service. But this is Capcom, they don’t give a damn about the mobile market in the West, as Asia’s the gold mine and they don’t have the tools or skill to mine money. Maybe Capcom wants to see if they can do something else in the market, or maybe they’ll put more effort into expanding genre selection on consoles and PC. That’s why testing waters with cheap releases and collections is important to them. I’m not saying you should go buy MM11 or any of the collections in hopes to gain BoF Collection, you should always buy only what you think is the best value for your money. More RPG related stuff Capcom has been putting out might sway them more, or showcase how something similar makes good sells. Like most Japanese companies, Capcom seems to be data driven. Showcase them data and examples to support your claim or suggestion, and it has geometrically highest chances of getting through.

Whatever Capcom puts into production and announces within the next year will be based on the success and methods MHW and Mega Man 11 have laid out when it comes to consoles and PC. Mobile, well, we’ll have to sit tight and see.

Capcom’s future; more DLC and possible resurrection of sleeping IPs

I was supposed to do this one few weeks back, but work’s being hell as we come closer to the annual end of the business year for the company. Working like a dog has its downsides.

Anyway, Capcom Investors Relations, Annual report. Maybe we should note that in their statement of corporate philosophy, the core statement is to create entertainment culture. Video games may be Capcom’s main business for sure, but movies and arcades are part of that too. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’m dropping a tl;dr read version at the end.

Kenzo Tsujimoto, CEO of Capcom, makes a statement that what made Street Fighter a globally recognized brand was the movie they invested in, not the games themselves. This is an interesting point to take, and if taken as face value, further enforces Nintendo’s old tactics of cross-media advertising. All the Super Mario cereals, cartoons and the like were there to make the brand recognizable in order to have the main dish, the games, in the consumer head space. Hollywood may think they have the jackpot when it comes to entertainment, but when it comes to games, no other media can replicate the feeling of doing it yourself. This applies to sports as well.

The 4 billion yen Capcom invested into Street Fighter the Movie netted them 15 billion yen. That’s no slouch. Tsujimoto continues that despite movies only getting few weeks of attention in the theatres, each new home release and licensed showing, like on television, always extends the time public is being exposed to the brand. It’s easy to see why Capcom would continue to invest into the Resident Evil movies. While they may not be all that great, they’re further putting exposure to the brand.

The games are still the main point, and Tsujimoto’s take that having something else to exist along the games’ three years of development is important to keep consumer interest relevant. The reason why so many game franchises fail to garner expanded audience attention is because there is no expanded media around them. You can argue that games can makes great sales on themselves and having targeted audience is great, but that really doesn’t expand the market all that much.

Japan manages to keep its brands relevant through numerous comics that adapt the games. These comics can run anywhere between few specialised chapters to years. Considering how much Japan reads, this is relatively traditional way to keep things in the consumers’ minds. In the West this doesn’t work as well, despite the latest Mega Man comic being excellent. The problem of course was that there was no Mega Man game to make use of it.

While this multimedia approach seems like done deal and what most companies do to some extent, this isn’t so. Vast majority of companies are more or less ignoring the world wide stage when it comes to their IPs. The few game based movies we’ve getting here and there have been less about expanded media and trying to capitalise on the Comic book movie boom that’s been so successful. These have been more or less failures, but as said, the brand just has to be kept relevant in the consumers’ minds. Twitch and word of mouth are good ways to get into the core consumer market’s mind, but this does not expand the market itself. This is Red Ocean, where companies cannibalise each other. Electronic games industry has to expand their market in order to survive and advance, and Capcom’s approach to expand the awareness of its brands into movies series like Resident Evil is doing just that. This is why we are getting the Monster Hunter movie. The game has a strong brand recognition, part of Capcom’s Big Four million-sellers, share the title with Street Fighter, Resident Evil and Mega Man.

Capcom notes that during the last gives years since 2014, the operating costs have risen. Monster Hunter World‘s success has increased revenues, but overall the trend isn’t exactly healthy. Capcom had almost a ten-year slouch between 2005 and 2015, and it is noted that sales declined in 2010. With constant major releases since 2014 has seen raise in net sales and thus in income. All this really means that Capcom has to keep releasing new and well developed titles at a constant pace, something that applies to every game company out there. More importantly, this does no mean the games have to be high budget, but we’re going to get to that a bit later. With Capcom internally reforming itself since 2015, things have become more rosy. This would sign that Capcom has somewhat new internal direction, which has resulted in successful titles like Resident Evil 7. Of course, the cost and workload of new titles on new hardware has been on a rising trend, but that’s to be expected if the company intends to push graphical and interface boundaries in their usual pace.

Hauhiro Tsujimoto, the COO, mentions that he intends to continue on Single Content Multiple Usage strategy. For example, Street Fighter V is a title like this, where the the base game is expanded upon rather than creating creating an additional, new title. He also mentions changes in the mobile market and specifically uses the term over-reliant when mentioning gatcha. Using lottery in the same context however would signify that in countries where any form of lottery is considered gambling and require governmental approval, these titles may be breaking the law. Tsujimoto also mentions that he experts esports to still have a rising market, something I do not share with him, considering the aforementioned SFV and Marvel VS Capcom Infinity have not exactly being mass successes compared to their rivals like Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Capcom’s further strategy to grow franchises as global brands is very similar to Sega’s on outer appearance. The major part of this is simultaneous launch of games across the world. Capcom has also taken steps to listen more to the consumer feedback, and uses how they approached Monster Hunter World‘s PC port’s problems solely based on user feedback. Beta testing was also important in making the title. All these have been more common among PC gaming, but considering how much modern consoles are dumbed down PCs, this only to be expected.

Another example with more robust examples is SFV. Server problems, continuing improvement of the game, expansion in esports scene and pricing strategies have all served the game more or less in a positive light, though the overall perception of the game is still questionable.

All this really amounts to Capcom aiming to iron out issues before launch and concentrate on consumer feedback whenever possible. The idea of One content Multiple Uses however does signify that Capcom will rely on digital distribution further, meaning future Capcom games of this caliber will be used as a base platform and you won’t be buying a full, one-package deal game, at least not on launch. SFV had an updated retail version with most additions included, but whether or not we can count that as a true new version of the game is somewhat an open question.

This also shows in Capcom’s financial strategy. Kenkichi Nomura, the CFO, mentions that Capcom intends to enhance their development environment and Digital Contents business. While this does not mean Capcom will cut production of physical goods, it does signify that the aforementioned plan most likely will be carried out with further titles in the future. However, digital titles do have longer lasting power thanks to them never really vanishing from digital stores, unless license runs out or the company goes down.

The most interesting bit of Nomura’s notions is in What is the status of Internal reserves and fund procurement?, where he states that game development has been on the rise since current-generation and multifunctional game consoles arrived. While it is natural for higher spec machines requiring higher development costs, singling this out is strange. Does this mean multifunctional consoles have some inherent in their nature that raises development costs?

Overall, it would seem Capcom wishes to further streamline their development process and eliminate  stuff that would only cause costs. Usual business, nothing special to see here. However, Digital Content will have further emphasize still.

Of course, Capcom can’t compete in the field without original content, and that’s something they wish to emphasize.

The three titles showcased are Devil May Cry 5, the remake of Resident Evil 2, and Mega Man 11. DMC5 is the weirdest example, mostly boasting about the RE Engine and how engaging the IP has been across mediums. It would seem that this is more a showcase piece towards the fans at its core over everything else. In contrast, Resident Evil 2 is used to showcase of constant releases of their flagship franchise. Both emphasize the level of realism in their own ways, making both of them graphical cornerstones in the presentation, and how proper utilisation of both recognized brands will make a mark on the industry.

Mega Man 11 however is the most interesting of the three. The foundation for Mega Man 11 was diversity; all the members had different histories, different views what Mega Man was and had a wide variety of experiences from young newcomers to industry veterans working on it. It is specifically mentioned that the game may not look technologically advanced, but is designed to play extremely well. Or as they out it, it is loaded with techniques that could be described as “master handicraft”.

Capcom has a thing for technologically advanced games and they’re not afraid to use it in their PR. Pushing boundaries has been their thing for a long time now as a company, but at some point this meant that games that could not really push boundaries were put on the back burner. Mega Man games do not require to push the hardware to the maximum anymore, and titles like Mega Man X8 arguably suffered from trying to make a big-budget Mega Man game. It would seem that the success of Mega Man 11 has made Capcom take notice of this, it being lower on the budget and relying on visual design and style over raw graphics power. Reawakening dormant IP is Capcom’s keyword for MM11, and if they were to follow in suite, Capcom could have a one-two punch strategy with high-end games accompanied by less costing games with higher emphasize on core design. Without a doubt the upcoming Capcom Beat-Em Up collection is testing waters whether or not they should dabble in that genre again.

This coincides with Yoichi Egawa’s foundation to produce World-Class quality and profitability. He puts Capcom’s thinking to simple words; first, if the game isn’t good, it won’t sell; second, if you don’t pursue global brands, you won’t survive in the game industry. Considering Capcom had a slouch where their game simply weren’t all that great, this would ring true. Capcom is also one of the few Japanese companies that truly try to keep itself on the global market, and ultimately modern Capcom has surprisingly low amount of Japanese exclusive titles. They were also publisher for titles like GTA in Japan, meaning they’ve been dabbling on trying to introduce Western games to the Japanese market as well.

In addition to this, Egawa wishes to create hot mobile titles (in which manner is open to question) and address development of esports and long-term sales model. This would combine with his wanting to further enforce online-multiplayer. Long-term sales can be tied to the Digital Content method discussed previously, whole esports and multi-player is directly tied to competitive scene. He specifically mentions having artisan pride in developing games, something which further has emphasize on how Capcom wants to approach their titles at this moment in time. Capcom, however, is still a corporation intending to make profit, but it would seem that they are a corporation wanting to make profit with master craftsmanship level products, but they can’t do that without proper personal and budget. Thus, hiring and training has to be considered.

As for Social sections, Capcom has initiatives to hire more non-Japanese and women. They have installed a system that enables workers to have childcare leave and shortened work hours in order to allow them to spend more time with their child after birth. This also extends to men, and there a number of male employees who have taken up on this chance. Capcom states that 21% of their workforce and 10.3% of their manager staff are women. None of this should matter in terms of business, only that they drive business up. This is PR however, and part of this PR is that Capcom has follow the General Employer Action, which sees women consisting 20% of the newly graduated staff and have at least 15% manager women. While this would fight against the idea of best first, it is probable that Capcom’s training program will level the new workforce across the board. Successful business tends to run on pure meritocracy, but it nice to see Capcom extending its child leave program across the board. How Japanese corporate culture sees this is another issue altogether.

Part of the social strategies Capcom is enacting attempts at revitalization of areas across Japan. This includes helping with events and business by paying money to advertise on buses and such, using Capcom’s characters to promote regions and include arcades in given areas. Similarly, Capcom has managed to cut out environmental loads via Digital Content and further promoting power saving methods across the company, but the most important bit can be found in their aim to reduce environmental impact of their Pachislot machines. If you follow any pachislot manufacturer long enough, you will see parts and gimmicks being redressed and recycled. There has also been a slight trend to tone down the flashiness of pachislot machines, which would save power further.

With that all the way, Capcom’s risk management pretty much covers everything discussed thus far. Expanding market, making their IPs more global, developing regions, stabilise revenues and so on. The weirdest bit is to expand on VR, but this most likely coincides with Capcom’s wishes to cultivate a VR game market in amusement equipment business, meaning arcade-specific VR titles. This probably is better option than to dedicate workforce on home-use VR.

There are few statistics that are interesting relating to risk management; used game sales in Japan are on a downward trend, mostly likely due to longer development cycles and increase of digital content, and arcades have seen ever so slight increase in users. Is there a generation that wishes to be play more outside of their home in Japan? This would require further studies and statistics to say for sure.

Further risks and responses are Capcom usual; create sequels or remakes on obsolete games, expand market and boost brand recognition if core consumer disinterest becomes relevant, expand game sales periods with sluggish sales, and establish recurring cumulative revenue models and expand to different media if decrease in users is met for more boost brand recognition. Risk assessment section is probably one of the more important parts, as it has to be straightforward, cutting away most of PR bells and whistles.

Capcom’s analysis on the game market shows that they see console and PC market overlapping. This is due to the overlap of titles released across the two, whole mobile market is its separate thing. The continuing rapid growth of mobile market is still present, but Capcom hasn’t had the best success with their mobile games due to their over-reliance on gatcha and the way how smartphone gamers tends to jump between games. Furthermore, Capcom’s lack of know-how in the market is marked as one of the reason why they’ve been failing on mobile while PC and consoles have seen increased revenues.

Capcom’s constant move towards more DLC in their One Content Multiple Uses philosophy comes from sheer sales data; DLC has taken over package game sales as of 2017 and is estimated to increase with time. Mobile market is estimated to rise on a similar manner, though it should be noted how fierce the competition ultimately is; vast majority of smartphone users that make revenue for the company reside in Asia. However, in terms of best growth was seen in PC market, mainly in China and other Asian regions, but unlike with smartphones, the rate of growth is estimated to slow down. The Western view of markets are a bit skewed, and what we see in Capcom’s analysis’ that Asian PC and smartphone markets are on the rise and making more profits than their bread and butter console games consumer market. Furthermore, Capcom intends to capitalise on esports’ rising popularity and they are intending to see it to rise as a valid new form of sports in order to further their sales in competitive titles like Street Fighter V. In addition, Monster Hunter World is effectively cornerstone in current mindset Capcom has, despite their initial hesitation whether or not it would be a success. The same level of emphasize on graphics and polish should be seen in future titles, like the remake of Resident Evil 2, though clearly Mega Man 11 is buckling this trend a bit.

The SWOT analysis is pretty much everything we’ve covered thus far; Capcom’s main strength is in strong quality development of titles and their own IPs, but at the same their weakness is reliance on specific genres. Overall, Capcom mainline library of current games has a limited scope in these terms, and they are more known for their action titles than anything else. Another weakness is of course the lack of any major success in the mobile market. However, the opportunities Capcom sees is in the decrease of competition, meaning that the titles they put out like Monster Hunter World have no direct competition. There are no games like MH that would be on the surface. Expansion of esports and VR are soon a market possibilities, though with the lacklustre expansion of VR market overall puts this into question. Main threat is noted as the diminishing consumer presence due to the increased presence of entertainment in general. The ways we entertain ourselves nowadays has changed since two or three decades ago, something the electronic games industry should consider a threat in terms of general market. Of course, in mobile gaming the sheer amount of firms and titles released is Capcom’s main concern, especially with them lacking in software and skills in the market.

tl;dr version

Capcom intends to increase brand recognition via movies and other forms of entertainment. There’s going to be more DLC in the future, as Capcom has taken the philosophy of One Content Multiple Uses. The success of Mega Man 11 has made Capcom aware of the their sleeping IPs’ values. Monster Hunter World will be used as an example how to go onward with business in the near future. They also intend to expand in esports scene to promote their games and wish to see esports recognized as legit sport. They suck at mobile market and still want a nice slice of that pie. They have an upwards trend in profits since 2015, and they intend to keep it going with titles they consider to be high-end and have a high-cost.

 

 

Sega’s Mania effect

So after couple of decades of failed starts, concepts thrown around and DMCA’d fan titles, Streets of Rage 4 is a thing that’s coming out. Finally, might I add. Sega and Streets of Rage fans, rejoice.

 

I have to say, these redesigns are pretty damn nice

There are three companies involved with the game, outside Sega as the licensee; Lizardcube, who were in charge of the recent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap; Guard Crush Games who have a history with beat-em-ups (or belt-scrolling action games if you’re Japanese) like Streets of Fury; Dotemu, who function as a publisher. Lizardcube is in charge of graphics, while Guard Crush Games handles the programming, though Dotemu has the handle on game design. This is pretty nice package, as Lizardcube has a pretty nice, French comics style that fits so many of these older titles’ revival, and Guard Crush Games seems to have a handle on programming just fine. Y’know, the hardest part of making a game.

I’m probably going to make a comparative post regarding the character designs, because both Axel and Blaze got a real nice new lick of paint.

There is exactly two things this game needs to do in order to be accepted by long time fans and be at least a relative hit with the general audience; faithfully replicate the Streets of Rage formula, and expand on it. This is effectively what Sonic Mania did, and it has been hailed as the best Sonic the Hedhehog game to date, which isn’t too hard to accept.

Which raises the question; did Sonic Mania‘s success kick this title off the ground? Both it and the new Wonder Boy were well received and raised new interest in certain section of older titles. Both of them function as data to further the idea putting the money and effort to realise a Streets of Rage title in its proper 2D mould rather than take the Final Fight route with Streetwise. After all, game genres don’t just die because new technology makes new genres possible with extra dimensions or additional gimmicks like VR. Despite how 90’s marketing wants you to believe, 2D hasn’t gone anywhere at any point. Sure, you the newfangled thing always gets pushed, but you can’t deny the customers the things they want. Just look at how well 2D Mario sells over 3D titles. That’s another dead horse I need to stop kicking.

All this data of revival games doing at least decently well is most probable reason Streets of Rage 4 got greenlit. Add Mega Man 11‘s upcoming release to the mix and we’re entering an interesting era, where old franchises are getting new releases in more budget range, but with none of the lacking elements. Hopefully more companies realise this; you don’t need AAA budget to make great damn games. Pretty much all of these classic franchises could be revived and developed at a fraction of the cost with modern tools. Easier to make profits. The only real problem is to deliver a wanted product, which didn’t really happen with the New SMB series after the first few entries. Once a franchise is revived, it needs to move forwards. Mega Man 10 failed in this term by simply being same thing again. We now have three Mega Man 2 games and that’s two too much.

Sega of course wouldn’t develop this themselves. They don’t care about the IP. Sega hasn’t given two shits about Streets of Rage since the mid-90’s, when they essentially gave the middle finger to the Western consumers. Eternal Champions used to be a big thing, but then Sega just neutered it. You can’t treat Japanese, American and European markets the same. Hell, you have to treat Europe as multiple market zones if you want to do it right. This was clear how Sega’s tactics with the Genesis in the US region only kicked off after the US branch pushed through their tactics of including a game with the console and marketing Sonic the Hedgehog their own way. If most of the data is to be believed, Sonic‘s been the most popular in the US. Sadly, Sega of Japan’s management killed all the motion their American and European sections had going on, effectively beginning their own downfall from grace. Westerners do classic Sega better than Sega themselves.

Streets of Rage 4 probably won’t be as large a success as Sonic Mania. If the game gets a physical release afterwards its initial digital showcase, we can deem it successful enough. If it gets a physical release from the very beginning, even if it was a Limited Run title, then the developers and publisher have boatloads of trust towards their targeted consumers. There are enough Sega fans that would purchase this title in an instant.

While Sonic Mania was clearly an international title, a game that didn’t have any specific region in mind, the same can’t be said about Streets of Rage 4. Both Guard Crush Games and Lizardcube are European companies, and that flavours oozes through in a very positive manner. Hell, even Dotemu is based on France. I hope they shower more than the average French. However, that probably will rub some people off, as Streets of Rage originally had a very American atmosphere to it, especially considering it was inspired partially by Streets of Fire. Hell, Blaze’s design is essentially Ellen Aim with more streetwise to her. The bits about Sega not giving a damn about the IP still stands, and their actions towards Western markets have been changing only during the last years. The Yakuza franchise is a good line to follow modern Sega in this. English dubbing usually drives sales, but there are titles where this isn’t case. Yakuza dropped this in favour of cheaper releases and simply because the fans didn’t like it. Despite Sega censoring and removing elements from some of the games, the audience kept growing. Despite this, none of the spin-offs outside the zombie romp got localised. Now that the Western audience has grown far greater, Sega’s taken the series’ position in the market into notion with better releases, and now is even considering publishing further remasters and spin-offs in the Overseas regions. Sega of Japan is slowly but surely taking a notion of Western markets.

If we’re going to go down this path, it’s relatively easy to see Sega considering the wants and needs of the Western markets to some extent. The IPs they’ve been giving up and ignoring still have a strong consumer base with nothing to fill that niche. A high quality title here and there goes long way in making profits and keeping your fans happy. I would say Altered Beast and Golden Axe could be next on the list of revivals, but seeing how terrible their last titles were, there’d be a lot of work to fix those damages in the eyes of Sega themselves.

Music of the Month; Give it a Shot


Funny that, this is the best song on the album. Otherwise it’s extremely disappointing

Generally speaking, I don’t do music album reviews, but for this once I’ll do a short exception; Rockman X Anniversary Collection Soundtrack is not worth the price. Outside the two versions of Give it a Shot and RE;FUTURE, the album’s pretty bland. Spending track space and time to remix six first games’ Boss Battle themes. These were clearly chosen because they could been easily selected over stage themes. If we’re completely frank, the Boss Battle themes are not the best parts of Mega Man series’ soundtracks. Most of these songs simply end up being grey background noise. This is a far cry from previous releases’ quality, like Chiptuned Rockman.

Speaking of reviews, you got two last month. I’m not exactly happy how either of them turned out (though I never am with my posts) and I know the end result of the Muv-Luv Kickstarter goods did give rather negative view. However, that’s mostly due to how high standards I tend to use in my reviews. If there’s something I see that could or should have been included or improved, I aim to mention it. If there’s a point of comparison to be made for improvements, I always aim to make that comparison. In that, the aim often is to give constructive criticism, the kind of I’d want to have. It’s no use calling things shit or terrible, it ultimately ends up meaningless jabber. While improvement suggestions are always welcome, those should never be expected unless separately requested. This may sound harsh, but the reasons why something may be lacking don’t matter, as this can lead into further questions. Too many times I’ve seen and experienced people pointing the lack of experience for a reason why something is lacking in design, which always follows with questions like Why didn’t you hire a professional then? or Why didn’t you find professional to help? The reasons, ultimately, don’t matter. They can make interesting trivia though.

The JoyCon review was approached the same way. However, a controller review has to take into account ergonomics, and this breaks the whole Why isn’t necessary question thing into the air. There I tend to look for why certain shapes were made in the form they are, and often the answer is to conform to the general shapes of hands. It’s not exactly the same question or reason, but close enough for some people to bring the point up.

Pachislot Rockman got announced and we’ve got our first look at some the characters somewhat recently. I’ll be doing a comparative review of Mega Man’s redesign, just like how I did one on the Man of Action cartoon design. While we don’t have multiple angles to use, the one in the linked page is more or less enough to get a good feeling what elements were incorporated across the franchise. Pachislot and pachinko machines tend to redesign characters, sometimes to very large extents, but often do keep the core aspects intact. To use an example, CR Cutie Honey has designs that combine some previous series’ entries into one with healthy dose of detailing. People who handled this knew what they were doing as well, as the bunny girl form is named Cutie Bunny.

As for the rest of the month, I’m planning a short overview on what are Lunatic Dawn and Exogularity booklets âge is self-publishing at Comiket. I should not be surprised that the fandom seems to have taken Exogularity as the title for some story or setting, when in reality Exogularity is rebranded Lunatic Dawn. Well, I guess that’s it, they’re both source books with different names. The actual post will have examples, of course, but that’s the gist of it.

You’ve probably noticed how weekend posts have been appearing on Sundays recently rather than on Fridays. This is me moving towards the new schedule I mentioned a month ago or so. I’ll take this chance to also mention that there’s no post next weekend, as I’ll be away. Truth to be told, I intended to write this post for Friday, but thanks to rain I fell ill. My fever’s not going down, and I’m actually writing this on a phone. You can see the irony here, as I’m giving you a Why despite my arguments above stating the contradictory. Well, I do think there’s a wide gap between a KS and this blog.

Remember to sharpen and oil your kitchen knives and such. Cooking will be much safer and enjoyable afterwards.

 

It’s Mega Time?

This week has seen slight avalanche of Mega Man related news. We’ve seen more gameplay and stages revealed from Mega Man 11, some  footage of the cartoon has been made available, a Rockman pachinko was announced and Rockman X Mega Mission is getting a States-side released.

To start with Mega Man 11, the one thing I mentioned early on was that it looked like it’d hit the spots with controls and add some neat new controls. To use an official source, check this gameplay in Fuse Man’s stage. Early on there is a showcase for change in the sliding mechanics that gives more control to the player, where previously sliding was more or less dedication motion to a direction. Now, you can change direction mid-slide. This is accompanied with slight yellow sparking and a sound effect. The reason why I’m pointing this separately is because this is detail quality is build on.

Should I also mention that enemy explosions are very 1980’s?

With the introduction of Power and Speed Gear the game’s core play has changed to a significant degree. Previously this sort of elements would’ve been relegated to supportive role and mostly as gimmick function. In Mega Man 11, the Gears are part of the core design to make stages and enemies easier. It would appear that neither of them are not required to complete the stages, but are used to make them significantly easier at places. This is an extremely welcome decision, as it means the core Mega Man play design is left untouched for those who would rather have purist approach to the game.

This doesn’t seem to extend to the bosses to certain extent. The Fuse Man Boss fight we see around 13 minute mark, the normal pattern is something that’s easy to deal with. Its power attack is specifically designed to be taken advantage of with the Speed Gear, though without a doubt a player can beat the boss without the use of it. However, saying that you don’t need to use it doesn’t null the fact that the bosses patterns and attacks are designed around the Gears to a degree, effectively making them additional weakness to the normal Rock-Paper-Scissor weapon cycle. This isn’t a negative in itself, as all this means the Gears are more or less completely integrated to the overall design rather than bolted on top of standard Mega Man design. On one hand, hopefully this won’t mean that future Mega Man games all share different important gimmicks jammed on top of them, but on the other hand, can the Gears be recycled into future titles with revisions to it? Is the Classic series to become like the X-series, where each game has a new gameplay mechanic in form of Gears to X‘s armours? We’ll have to see.

Otherwise, the game seems to be coming together just fine. The run cycle’s still a bit jarring and visuals are still rather plastic, but overall Mega Man 11 looks like its been carefully crafted to be a good entry in the series. You don’t need a million dollar budget for that.

To stick with “base” Mega Man for a bit, the whole thing with Pachislot Rockman came pretty much out of nowhere outside the rumours, but for Western audience this means jack shit. You’ll be playing this only in Japan, and we don’t even have a cabinet pictures, just few low-quality magazine scans and an announcement pdf. The designs are all over the place with this, combining elements from all the mainline series into one. This is easiest to see with Blues/ Proto Man there, as he has that hair from his Battle Network version and glasses look like Star Force‘s Rogue dropped them by, with the Life Gem on his forehead and chest being something that’s prevalent in the X-series. I’m interested in seeing how they’ll include Mega Man series’ elements into pachislot, and how garish the machine will end up being.

Speaking of Mega Man X, Capcom has hinted that Mega Man X9 will be a thing. With the X Legacy Collection hitting store shelves early in Japan, the manual mentions that the story isn’t over yet. Mega Man 11  was teased in a similar manner. It’s good that Capcom decided to pack all the X games into one package, as there’s less nostalgia for the newer games in the series to pull in the audience. Mega Man Legacy Collection should’ve been one package as well, with the Game Boy titles with it, but those won’t be re-released anytime soon outside Virtual Console. Hopefully they’ll drop most, if not all pretenses that there’s some sort of deep and meaningful story in the series and concentrate on making a damn fine game with Sigma as the final boss.

Udon has also procured the license for Mega Man X: Mega Mission, a one-shot Hitoshi Ariga adaptation of the Carddass series of the same name. Sadly, it’s in full colour, so we’re going to miss the intended gray scale. I’m guessing they’re doing this because the previously coloured Ariga Mega Man comics sold more than their untouched originals. If you’re interested in checking what the original story was about, The Reploid Research Lavatory has you covered.

Then we have the cartoon, fully titled as Mega Man: Fully Charged. While it looks slicker than previously and this particular trailer drops all of Mini-Mega, who we see more in the US region only preview, the show’s pretty much Cubix remade. It says Mega Man on the tin, they’re forcing sprite graphics to tell a story, they’re even using cues from Wily Castle I theme from Mega Man 2, and yet it doesn’t look or feel what you’d expect from a Mega Man cartoon. Then again, like a broken record I am, this isn’t exactly an adaptation. This takes the idea of a good boy robot fighting evil robots with some general resemblance to its namesake. However, the more there’s footage, the less impressive the whole show looks. Neither the 3D or the designs look impressive, but seeing this isn’t supposed to be anything groundbreaking, it’ll get the pass by the viewers.

All in all, Capcom is gearing Mega Man for the next few years, and depending how all this goes, the franchise may become relevant again. It won’t happen overnight, but maybe in few years if things keep at a steady pace and all good things are taken advantage of.

Capcom to push forwards with online multiplayer

The title of this post is really self-evident, but sometimes its good to check some other invest relations information outside Nintendo. For whatever reason, I always go for Capcom’s. Too bad their latest Shareholders Q&A summary is very short, but there are points on interest.

The current state of Capcom is rather hard to estimate. Originally, they went from an arcade game provider to console game developer, with healthy licensing of their games to PC markets. For example, Ghost ‘n Goblins exist on pretty much every platform of its era, from Amstrad CPC to C64. Capcom has dropped the arcade side almost altogether due to their niche nature. They’re more or less the posterboy of a generic electronic games company at the moment, developing and publishing games across the platforms. This has been their modus operandi for some twenty years now, roughly speaking. However, it must be emphasized that Capcom still considers arcades as one of their main line of business, it being the first thing mentioned in their Company profile video, though for Japan only in form of Plaza Capcom arcade centers.

Fun fact; Capcom still producers PCBs for multiple companies to use in arcade games, pachinko and pachislot machines.

Again, all this is self-evident, as is Capcom’s lip-service that functionality and specifications of each platform differs. Nowadays only Nintendo platform/s have any special specification to it. Modern platforms can be counted with one hand anyway. It’s first a strange answer to a question how will Capcom think the ratio of sales per platform, but it’s not all that different from all other third party companies; one title, multiple platforms. Nothing new on this front, but is also means specialisation per platforms will be nil. Effectively, Capcom’s playing it safe.

Street Fighter will continue as Capcom esports flagship title in the future, for better or worse. They don’t specify Street Fighter V but the series in general. This rarely means anything special, but understanding how SFV has not been the most popular piece, there might be some motion to push the sixth entry into the series at some point SFV has run out of its steam. While SFIV was run in iterations, SFV was split into seasons and updates came to one title. This has cut costs, though it did backfire harshly, with the initial release extremely bare bones and online multiplayer was effectively the only thing going for it. An arcade mode for a game like this, which is effectively bred and born in the arcade halls, really needs to be closer to those roots in all respects than PC or console market demands. This approach has proven to make sales, and continues to make sales.

Capcom mentioning Monster Hunter specifically in the same breath gives a strong hint that the inside-view of the what esports can be split into two; the tournament community and online multiplayer. Effectively, SFV’s esport scene outside tournaments exists on the online multiplayer, and its by all means the same as any other multiplayer. Pointing this out seems like something self-evident again, but stopping for a moment and pondering that esports is effectively a step away from any sort of multiplayer must be made. Before the concept of esports, competitive playing was more than enough to encompass the same thing. However, for whatever reason competitive playing wasn’t enough and a more marketable term was coined. Esports, after all, is about the money it can generate rather than the competition itself. Just like sports in general.

This idea continues with the Switch question. The investors clearly would like to see more games on the Switch due to its sales, while Capcom itself would like to push for more esports, ie. competitive multiplayer games.

It is clear that Capcom wants to push Monster Hunter here, despite it being rather poor example for competitive gaming. However, its sales and the amount of players it has online exceeds pretty much everything similar Capcom has done, effectively making the example Capcom wants to push. Of course, it doesn’t fit the bill all that well, but it fits well enough when you consider the meaning behind either competitive or esports; the multiplayer aspect. People have a skill to make anything into a competition, and even co-op game like Monster Hunter is viewed in this light with hunting times, style and such. Competitive Monster Hunter wouldn’t be in the spirit of the franchise, though an asymmetric gameplay mode, where one of the players would control a major monster, would be an interesting idea, but in practice would probably yield less than optimum game session.

Effectively, Capcom’s future aim seems to be more online multiplayer, be it disguised as esports or not. Without a doubt this means social game on mobile devices and expanding on the online multiplayer aspects wherever possible. Online multiplayer is an old concept by now, but considering how many Capcom games ultimately lack one, it just might be that they find themselves designing more games towards dedicated multiplayer than one-player titles.

However, Capcom does seem to have enough sense to choose their battles properly and not force titles like Mega Man 11 have such modes. Please, don’t come up with some sort of forced multiplayer aspect in MM11.

It should be noted that Capcom’s stock has been a steady rise since Q2 of 2017. It has its usual dips and rises, though midway March it had it had a slight downwards trend. It would seem that Monster Hunter and multiple other titles that consumers seem to be keen on has raised their margin. Their analyst section also recommends buying stocks at a neutral range, outside Credit Suisse Securities JP ltd. considers Capcom to underperforming, and in terms of expanded electronics industries they probably are right. However, Capcom is in a spot where they are rather leveled out.

Remember when we checked Capcom’s sales data last time few years back? It hasn’t changed much since then, though it has an addition of Dragon’s Dogma. Resident Evil still reigns supreme, followed by Monster Hunter and Street Fighter. It’s still heartwarming to see some of their older, classic titles listed, despite them effectively being dead, like Commando and 1942. Wouldn’t seeing those revived as well, in a modern form or another.

Asimovian Mega Man

The opening crawl of Mega Man X states that Mega Man X, the title character. is the first type of new robots able for independent thought, or to quote, has the ability to think, feel and make their own decisions. Right after this, the first rule of robotics is mentioned in a shortened form; A robot must never harm a human being. This is how the first rule was originally quoted, if not for verbatim. However, the full updated rule is as follows; A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. As such, the game directly states that all previous robots in the game franchise, have been under the rule of Asimov’s Laws.

Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are a cultural cornerstone, as Asimov’s robot stories explore and make extended use of them. While they are capable of independent thinking, they are governed by the three laws. To what extend they are able to independently act and think depends on the level of the technology, but all are ultimately slaves to the three laws. However, as Asimov’s robots are based on logic rather than reason, these three laws are easy to get around with proper logic.

Each three laws override their predecessor, meaning the protection of human comes before the second law, fully quoted as a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. This overrides the third and final law, which stahtes that a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

In Mega Man, we see these three laws playing a role in how Rock becomes Mega Man. The canon states that it was his strong sense of justice that convinced his transformation from a household robot into a super fighting machine. What concept of ‘justice’ Rock had is unknown, but the result wanting to fight injustice, even if it required setting himself under threat and oppose commands from a human, Dr. Wily in this case, enforced the first law in form of no human being would be harmed. The logic here is that by opposing one human, Rock is able to prevent harm or injury of many more.

This, of course, is as according to the 0th Law of Robotics Asimov later added; a robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

Combined with the Asimov’s laws and the clear statement that X is the first robot able to independently think sets to stone the fact that all robots in the Classic series are slaves to pre-determined models that they can’t branch off from, and are slaves to the Three Laws of Robotics.

Within Asimov’s robots, the three laws have been embed into robots on mathematical level to their positronic brain. Without completely redesigning and reconstructing the positronic brain as a concept itself, these three laws can’t be removed. However, it is possible to remove a rule in descending order depending how advanced the robot needs to be, halving the needed brain size and pathways.

However, Mega Man robots don’t have positronic brains. Instead, they have micro-electronic brains, which seems be more dependent on the creator driven programming than the Three Laws. We can take two stances on the laws here; either the laws are universal among the robots, or that the laws must be implemented into them by design in each separate case.

If the laws are universal, we can assume that Dr. Wily was capable of creating some sort of separate method to circumvent the First Law, which would yield the whole Robot Virus Project. While not canon to the games, Hirotoshi Ariga’s Mega Man Megamix the Three Laws are circumvented by Wily implementing a separate chip that allows the original six Robot Masters to injure and harm humans by direct action. As such, it would not be necessary to change the design of function of the micro-electronic brain, when Wily has a ready made chip he can install into whatever creation he makes. This also assumes that the micro-electronic brain works in a similar fashion to the positronic brain.

The second take of course means that there is no standard template for the robots’ brains in Mega Man and are completely dependent on the coding skills of the creator. The basic hardware may be shared across the board, but the Laws themselves are not burned to the core design. This would give more leeway in how the robots function. After all, the canon states that Dr. Wily reprograms  robots he capture, thus we can assume the basic template does not function similarly to the positronic brain, but the Three Laws are a software function.

Even without the Three Laws governing the actions of the robots, they would be slaves to the predetermined to the lines of code. This makes them nothing more than automatons, unable for creative thinking. However, with the existing Three Laws, a robot must be able to device ways to upheld the laws. When Proto Man tells Bass that he can’t defeat Mega Man, because he has nothing to fight for, this can be taken as Bass lacking the Three Laws. He is inert in how he fights, as his main drive is to defeat Mega Man. Mega Man, however is governed by the First Law, and knows that his lost would contradict said Law. Of course, this is more about the moral of the things, but the two don’t exclude each other.

However, there is a place that in-action provides context for Mega Man robots essentially functioning according to Asimov’s robots, including the functions of the positronic brain; the ending of Rockman 7. In here, when Dr. Wily reminds Mega Man that he is simply a robot and can’t harm a human being, the First Law kicks in and contradicts his actions, causing him to pause. This is a moment many Asimov’s robots go through, where the probability is calculated within the brains for the route of least harm at that moment. This was changed in the localisation, where Mega Man 7 has Mega Man stating that it is more than a robot, Giving Mega Man the Pinocchio syndrome is an interesting idea in itself, but it fights against what the series has established.

While the robots in Classic series seem to exhibit natural personalities, they are far closer to pseudo-personality, similar to Star War‘s droids. Droids have a pre-programmed nature that they can’t deviate from, exactly like Mega Man‘s robots. Both also accumulate data, which they can then make decisions on, but in Mega Man‘s case, they can’t learn without additional data to their coding. Hence, why Rock’s transformation process was more than just donning an armour and weapon; it required rewriting some of his core pseudo-personality.

Within Mega Man X era, Reploids are robots based on X’s design. X was sealed to test whether or not he would be reliable. How, is the question, with the Three Laws of Robotics being the answer. Without them, X must be tested based on his reason and morals rather than mathematical probability and logic. Whatever brain he has must be more advanced than positronic or micro-electronic, perhaps similar to gravitonic brain in Roger MacBride’s Allen’s Caliban series of books set in Asimov’s universe, which allow X to have empty pathways, which would then build during the testing. Funny enough, both the first Caliban book and Mega Man X were published the same year.

If we consider the Three Laws to be suggested, something that’s learned rather than implemented, the very nature of the created Reploid should be beneficial from the get go. This would put greater emphasize on the initial creation of the programming, especially seeing how Reploids are created as mature beings rather than educated. Think of the training the clone troopers get in Star Wars, which teaches them skills and ethics required. Similar flash training could be adopted for Reploids in faster pace, but this does not seem to be the case. As such, mental deficits and errors are at the hands of the creator.

The viral reason for going Maverick seems to follow two corrupting paths; removal of any resemblance of the Three Laws and corruption of the personality. I say resemblance, as they’re exactly like moral laws any human society has. They’re not set in stone, and can vary widely. Secondly, Dr. Wily is the origin of this virus, meaning its coding has to be tied to the original nature of Classic series robots. Because of this, the free-willed robots of the X-series will uphold their own morals, even if it would clash with the Asimov’s laws.

Reploids, despite most of them seen in-game being more animal in appearance, resemble Asimov’s advanced humaniform robots, where there would be no distinction between humanity and robots when advanced far enough. Many times over in the series, Reploids labelled as Mavericks simply wish to gain their independence from humanity. However, no Reploid group has been allowed to so, and it would even seem that Reploids are labelled as Mavericks for political reasons, giving hints how oppressive the human government is over mechanical life forms. There is large amount of story potential in here, something we’ll never going to see.

The true end realisation of Asimov’s humaniform robot, as discussed in Robots of Dawn, is seen in Mega Man Legends, where the civilisation the player sees considers themselves as humans and are generational, able to reproduce, live and die. In effect, outside the ability to customise one’s body, there is no distinction between human and artificial human life. Both the World and Master Systems are bound to the Three Laws of Robotics, as their prime directly is to protect humanity, and do not recognize Carbons, or Decoy’s in original Japanese, as humans. Furthermore, the Mother Units of the System are built with the positronic brain, as mentioned by the games, creating a very Asimov-like situation, where Mega Man Volnutt recognizes that Carbons are humanity through their nature. This enforces his First Law function to protect them, further explaining how he ends up being the one defending Carbons, especially after the Master, last living human being, enforced Volnutt’s logic through their discussions. The System’s other parts, however, still act according to the logic of Carbons being artificial, thus the First Law does not concern them.

It might seem that Reploids are the most advanced form of robotics in Mega Man series by this comparison. However, it does seem that the ultimate end of humanity and robots is to become one within the frachise, and whether or not the Three Laws of Robotics governs Carbons is not important at that point, as they have already become the legacy and successors of humanity.

New faces of Mega Man

In an interview with Venture Beat, the producer of Mega Man 11 Kazuhiro Tsuchiya tells that the reason why there was no new Mega Man game for such a long time was because there was nobody to helm the ship. As much as Keiji Inafune gets shit flung at him because of Mighty Number 9, he was the force that made Mega Man happen for solid decades. Despite that, he was but one man, and games at this scale are never a single man effort.

Tsuchiya’s assertion that the atmosphere within the company wasn’t right, that nobody wanted to tackle the challenge to make a new Mega Man. It is without a doubt partially because Inafune’s rank that held the series in place, but just as much corporation’s own politics played in the mix. We’ve seen from Capcom’s own titles they’ve released that their library’s style has changed little by little this past decade.

For Koji Oda, the director of the game, it was the Casshern situation; if he’s not going to do it, then who will? Oda’s right in that social media and fans overall have been pining for a new game in the series.

However, would Capcom allow a new game just like that? Highly doubtful. Mega Man‘s 30th anniversary celebrations probably was the largest reason why the Mega Man 11 got greenlit, especially after the reception all the leaks and trailers the Man of Action Mega Man cartoon have been less than favourable overall. Banking on the core fans going balls deep into anything carrying a franchise’s name is not the best idea, not even for Star Wars or Metal Gear.

There is one quote from Oda that must be given a high emphasize;

Inafune’s departure was a big part of it. His leaving Capcom left a void, and people were hesitant to step in and become the new “Mega Man guy.

This, dear reader, is the power a face has. Inafune, by all means, was father of Mega Man, the carrying force of the franchise, someone who would drive it onward, someone the consumer can latch unto and associate with. An inanimate product in itself needs some sort of association with something positive, be it a good time with a friend and a bottle of Coke, a friendly dentist recommending an Oral-B electric toothbrush or some representative from a corporation talking about something you love.

These two have been largely unknown to the public in terms of being a face. Tsuchiya was a programmer on Mega Man 7,  but as usual, nobody gets glory as a programmer despite being one of the most important roles in game development. Perhaps his most known title is Asura’s Wrath, where he was the producer. Oda’s worked largely on Resident Evil titles, mainly as director with remakes. He was system planner on the original and got Special thanks in Street Fighter Alpha 2, but Shinji Mikami always took the spot as the face of Resident Evil in every regards when he was still with Capcom.

Because these two are now heading Mega Man, there is a marketable face again. They don’t come from scratch, there’s already something we can associate them with. If Mega Man 11 ends up being a massive success, and the fan expectations for it are massive, one of them or both will end up the successor to Inafune’s place as the face of the franchise, someone the consumer can reflect upon.

However, just as I said that Inafune leaving was just part of the equation, so are the sales, if not even more so. Oda saying that the sales figures for Mega Man Legacy Collection were the driving force behind Mega Man 11 being put into development jives with what I’ve been commenting on for these years; data matters extremely so for Japanese game developers. When there is established data and form, it is easier to get through the execs to get something done. A simple thing like having a name’s localisation into a correct form from may take numerous already existing sources to assure executive powers that its worth it. A single name. To assure Capcom’s higher rank of being allowed to put a new Mega Man title into production has required more than solid sales numbers. It has required fan feedback of all kinds being collected and presented in proper form.

Mega Man as a franchise didn’t go kaput only because Inafune left, but because its sales potential had been waning most of the 00’s. The consumer is a fickle thing, first claiming that Capcom is just rehashing franchises by making a title after a title to satisfy market wants, but then is being criticised for not having new titles for the franchise. I doubt its just the sales data of Legacy Collection that was presented for the execs, but also the data of sales from previous digital releases. After all, Capcom’s a corporation that must make profit. Making games that would have meager sales is not exactly in their favour. They’re not here to make art, but cold hard cash through commercially viable products.

I would argue that Mega Man‘s absence has done it good. Call it the Godzilla effect if you will, where an absence of a product for number of years will allow the market view reset a little bit and most of the baggage previous movies have delivered have managed to level out. It’s much easier to make a new entry after some time have passed with rejuvenated interest. However, there are times when something can get so hyped and becomes so expected that it simply can’t meet the expectations for whatever reasons. Star Wars Episode I is probably the example of this. Disney really screwed up by making Star Wars mundane, but that’s another topic.

Will Mega Man 11 deliver? At this moment, it looks like something that can probably excel decently. It’s not exactly what could be described a pretty game, some of the animations still look janky and the Double Gear system seems rather generic way to try forcing a gimmick into the game. It’s not something the franchise hasn’t done before, but can they make it work with the standard formula? Will the stage designs be excellent? Will the music be up to the standard?

And of course, there’s how Capcom is releasing the product. They intend to make most of it, but if you’re European and want the game for the Switch, you’re out of luck. There is a petition up that asks Capcom to release the game in physical format, but seems like the interest isn’t there. This isn’t the first time Capcom of Europe makes less than ideal decision.