Comcept’s Red Ash is repeating similar things that Mighty Number 9 did initially. Get in a team of people who have worked on previous games Inafune’s fans know and love and then proceed to reflect that team and the Kickstarter game with something these people seemingly want without. In Mighty Number 9’s case, Mega Man, and with Red Ash is Mega Man Legends. Whether or not this will be how Comcept will fund all of their games in the future is an open question, and a question that they need to answer at some point. If Inafune decides that they will pre-sell all of their games like this, I’m afraid they’ll burn themselves through sooner or later.
Let’s not forget that Mighty Number 9 was a game that would’ve been produced even without the Kickstarter.
Mighty Number 9 started with sketches and a mock-up image how the gameplay would look. One of the early things that they wanted to make work was for Beck to be able to utilize enemies as weapons, like a broader Variable Weapons System or expanded Zero Knuckle. However, it seems that gameplay aspect, an aspect that seems like a huge part of the overall rhythm and uniqueness of the product, was dropped for whatever reasons. Instead, the whole Xel absorb mechanics seem to have taken its place. Out of the two, the one implemented is duller.
It would seem the funders got a reality check; what is promised in the early planning phases really come to fruition. Mighty Number 9 had a pretty neat initial concept picture that showed how the game would look like overall, and it does resemble it, without a doubt. What we got looks like they simply pushed the generic Mega Man look through a filter and that’s how they got the generic look. Y’know, everything has a slight soft focus, every single thing that has even a bit of light glows in that exact same way every other light does. While it can be argued that some Mega Man games don’t do much with their backgrounds, the one of the trailers show few city bakcgrounds. One of them is just a bunch of gray buildings, and the other a darker shadowed city lacking in detail. Compared that to e.g. Mega Man X and X4. X’s Highway Stage has sprawling roads underneath and far away, details buildings in there and ends up in a park kind of zone. There’s more colours and details there than you’d expect. X4’s Sky Lagoon opts for a shadowed background for the city too, but it’s still lusher with details, having the lights blink here and there, roads sprawling and some windows are even open or unlit. They’ve even put an animated CAPCOM billboard in there.
Mighty Number 9 has to fight history for sure, and it does what Mega Man and other 2D Sci-fi games have done in the past. That doesn’t give it an excuse to halfass itself.
I am fearful for Red Ash because of this. Mighty Number 9’s Kickstarter lacked focus in the end, opting for movies and TV-series as a stretch goal rather than concentrating on making the product at hand better. While Studio 4℃ overall is a regarded animation studio, why would they be pushing Red Ash animation at this point? It looks like that they already have planned the animation and locked an agreement on it even before the Kickstarter was launched.
Red Ash is called a spiritual successor to Legends, and it shows. Some designs elements are 1:1 lifted from Legends, and while those do look good, they are suffering from the quick digital concept illustrations offered. When the gameplay mock-up was added, it suffers from the same fate, but also shows that you have already played this game. Lost Planet’s engine was developed Legends 3 in mind, which is why the two share resemblance with each other.
The character designs have a definitive Legends feeling with a dash of bit more modern design sensibilities that Studio 4℃ tend to use, but in that they’re also rather uninspiring. By sticking with delivering Legends 3 to the fans, they have tied themselves on reusing ideas as they are in the visuals, and on the long run that won’t do much in favour of separating Red Ash as its own entity. Of course, this might be their intention in order to pull the pre-existing fans in even further.
However, the team Inafune has collected for Red Ash seems to be far stronger than what Mighty Number 9 had. However, much like how the music for Mighty Number 9 sounded boring from the start, Red Ash’s main theme lacks the same oomph. However, it’s also true that Legends, while having a moody and fitting music, doesn’t have pieces that you will hum on your own. Looking at Manami Matsumae’s discography, there are not many titles that cause you to remember any particular piece. Area 88/ U.N. Squadron has some that I barely remember myself.
Much like how I didn’t back up Mighty Numbe 9 because it felt it was handled in a halfassed way, I’m against funding Red Ash either simply because there’s a huge lack of design info and how the game will play in itself. However, unlike with Mighty number 9, Red Ash gives me much more promising feeling. Depending on how well it will be handled, this game might be decent. It will not be a Mega Man Legends game, and it would do it only good if it managed to find its own tone rather than copying Legend’s.