Red Ash can’t become legendary without its own soul

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.

All hail the great corporation and their face

If you’ve visiting pretty much any Mega Man related sites as of late, you’ve probably noticed that there’s absolutely nil news on Mega Man on itself. Rather, the sites have turned into general Keiji Inafune & related news. These sites are more or less a good example of consumer idol worship, where the consumer idolises any providing company that has a face to associate with.

By associating their favourable opinions on a product via a face that sits high in the company, the consumer is more lenient and forgiving on any misgivings a company, or rather, the person has made. This is why Keiji Inafune himself is pushing his games and always pulling his history in at every single turn with Mega Man as this causes people to associate him with the good memories. Of course, if you didn’t care for Mega Man, it’s a miss. A face can’t really attract every kind of consumer towards the company, thus sometimes you see multiple faces.

Nintendo employs the multiple faces tactics with Reggie, Iwata, Miyamoto and some others to the extent that these people have become the brand. Inafune is his own brand, and those who worship Inafune will follow him and ignore whatever would come. While Nintendo has kept the name Nintendo as the brand, it can’t be ignored that it has become a tertiary brand over Miaymoto and company rather than the corporation itself.

Millennials trust face more than the corporation. Baby Boomers on the other hand stuck more with the companies themselves. The Internet and social media has changed this quite a lot, where Millennials are more dependent on the opinions of their peers and social media in general. Some Youtubers have become influential in what can become successful and what will fail, especially when it comes to entertainment industry. User created content often becomes as something that’s just a hobby, but then becomes a full-fledged job. A consumer becomes a provider in this case, and companies often want to influence these entrepreneurs in order to maximise their positive image. It’s not too uncommon to see consumers starting to idolise these sole providers for information and reviews. It’s a double effect if the consumer feels attached to both big corporation and smaller provider.

It should be noted that Boomers trust far more their friends and family on recommendations what company and product is to be trusted, whereas Millennials trust anonymous sources slightly more, and are three times more likely to turn to social media for input. Millennials are also far more willing to engage with companies for a dialogue, despite they recognize that this dialogue will mostly be used to tailor a product to be more successful on market and advertise it further.

Here the whole face things really applies. While a face is still attached to a company, these faces usually are represented as the consumers’ friend and someone who levels down with them. This is your normal marketing tactics and it works. How many Nintendo fans think Reggie is their friend in some manner and wants to bring the best entertainment you can have? Or how Miyamoto is a struggling artist who has to fight the corporate power to realise his true dreams of the perfect game? Reggie has become the brand and reflects Nintendo in many ways, and Miyamoto’s filthy rich who can do whatever he wants as money is no problem. Hell, he is a semi-professional dog breeder. It should be noted that Miyamoto has been producing force in the vast majority of the games that are associated with him rather than named as Designer or Director. To put that into an extremity, it’s like sitting in a chair and yelling people how it’s done rather than getting yourself into the work.

It’s no wonder Mega Man fans are sticking with Inafune in this regard. His name is largely associated with the series, despite he too worked more as a producer than designer or the like with the series. This applies especially to the GameBoy Mega Man games, which were outsourced to two other companies. Minakuchi Engineering is the people tend to remember most, as they produced the better games in the series and managed to think outside the box with Mega Man V with Mega Arm and managed to make Mega Man X 3 stand apart from the two predecessors, a thing that divides opinions.

It doesn’t help any that CAPCOM is doing nil with the Mega Man franchise at this moment. There’s that collection coming up, which amounts to very little. They are basically watching their own creation, the Church of Inafune, having sermons to their idol without profiting any of it.

Red Ash is another spiritual successor to Mega Man Legends, which means you’ve most likely played the game. Lost Planet’s engine was made to be used in a Legends game, and they play very similarly to each other. E.X. Troopers is far closer how the engine would’ve been used in a Legends game, thou the whole hub-mission instead of overall-dungeons makes the game a very different experience. It’s like playing Monster Hunter with Legends mechanics.

Red Ash in itself shows that Inafune is willing to push his image with Mega Man out there. Mighty Number 9 has gotten a lukewarm reception from various funders already, and there has been some criticism on franchising the ever living shit out of it before the game is even out. With this much hype, it better be successful. Red Ash follows the same lines, and it’s very clear it’s a similar copy of Legends, and to this extension, Lost Planet in the sketched looks and mechanics they’ll put in.

Inafune is a businessman and knows that he has a following that will buy whatever he puts out. The same applies to Miyamoto. Putting your trust in the corporation or in the face is something a consumer should avoid. Nobody is your friend, everybody wants your money. It’s up to the consumer to say whether or not they’re willing to throw their hard earned money at them.

Different take on customers; People love clowns

Every hundred posts we take a different stance on customers and industry. Except something different from the usual.

One thing that is absolutely stupid with customers is their inability to realize who owns rights nowadays. It is the person who pays for them. In the creative industries, more often than not the company owns what the people produce. This is largely a standard in the creative industries. Movie companies own the rights to the movies they produce as they pay for the writers and directors to make them these products. This applies especially to video game companies, where they employ people to create these games. It’s their damn job. It has always been about money and it will always be about the money. You own what you pay for. Except Steam users.

People are saying Konami is taking Kojima’s baby away. That is nothing short of horse shit. Kojima may have been the creator behind Metal Gear and yet you need to remember that it has been a job for him. He did it because he was employed by a company to make games for them to sell to the customer, not for himself. If you want to own what you do, you make it yourself. Now Kojima has all the possibilities to exercise his freedom to put  a new company and have free hands to do whatever he ever wishes. Of course, it may end up being absolute shit, as any and every creative person needs to be reined in to cut the excess far and rot off from the product and fry it to perfection.

The whole recent thing about Konami’s and Hideo Kojima’s downfall is an example where there is an idol worshipping cult following one man and his wish to make money on the expense of these cultists. These people have been sucking Kojima’s dick to the extent that Kojima has been waging a power struggle with Konami, that much is evident from the recent events. It’s easy to see how Metal Gear games have been eating most of the budget Konami has been able to sustain, and seeing how Konami almost became Kojima the Company, it’s no wonder either one would’ve fallen.

Do Kojima’s fans even know what he does? He has been mainly the idea guy behind the products that carry his name, the guy who directs and writes them. He has been in the role that is essentially a project leader and less the person who sits down and makes the game, i.e. programmer most of his life. Don’t be mistaken, his contribution is important and vital, but he would never had the products without the people who actually got their hands dirty with the games. Then of course you can question his writing, as it is cliché as hell and extremely derivative from Hollywood movies. Of course, you can even question if the Solid series is even all that good when you have hours upon hours of FMV, a prime example being Metal Gear Solid 4 with its laughably small gameplay time compared to the insanely long movies. It’s no wonder his ego has grown across the years with the fanboys backing him up every time, while other projects have been killed in order to save money for Kojima’s next brain art. Konami could release that ready Bomberman game and make good money, but it seems that at the time they didn’t care about that franchise.

What is even more stupid is that the fans seem to think nobody else could do a Metal Gear game, which is absolutely laughable idea. There are four examples of Metal Gear games that have little to none to do with Kojima and all have been taken in with great acceptance. Snake’s Revenge was first sequel to the MSX Metal Gear and was met with high praise. Fans have done pretty good job by rewriting history with the Internet, but they don’t stand a chance against people with memory, much like how Zelda fans want to rewrite Zelda II as some sort of awful game and a black sheep of the series, despite it being a huge success. It’s only the younger fans in both series who are pushing this kind propaganda, because that doesn’t fit their world view. The AC!D games had nothing to do with Kojima, and despite their different gameplay nature they sold relatively well considering they were on PSP. Portable OPS was the first Metal Gear game that was met with incredible hatred from the fans because Kojima’s name wasn’t attached to it, showing that they are easily swayed if one person isn’t associated with it. The game tried to shove home console Metal Gear on handheld and suffered from it, and its follow-up Peace Walker is actually less a Metal Gear game than its own thing. This brings is to Rising and how the series has changed with the time. Every game series, outside certain exceptions, have changed significantly throughout the years and will continue to change. There are times when new franchises are made under the same overall brand name, much like how Solid is different from base Metal Gear, so is Rising from Solid.

If you want to talk about game series that have sucked after the original creator has left them, consider the following; game industry sees constant staff changes. A creator may be programmer early on, but later kicked up to become a producer, thus having less to do with the actual production of the games than their overall visage. Miyamoto is a prime example of this. We know of his interviews that he made some coding in Super Mario Bros., but after the he most likely never has touched a line of cone, but has been directing them. Nevertheless, Mario games without Miyamoto’s involvement have been more or less big successes, especially the Game Boy Mario games.

Metroid is a series where you had the original creator killed by a car accident and was given to a whole different company to produce a 3D Metroid. We can argue whether or not the Metroid Prime series is better or worse, but we can’t dispute that at least the first game managed to deliver top notch 3D Metroid experience.

Then you have Mega Man, a series that had its original creator not even being involved after the initial design phase. Inafune has stated that Mega Man as a concept and design was ready before he was brought in to take it to the end. Inafune has been the person working longest with the series, and yet the most important changes to the series and its success should go to those who have worked under him. Then you of course have Minakuchi Engineering and Inti-Creates, completely different companies from CAPCOM, making excellent Mega Man games with Inafune in the producer’s seat. Minakuchi Engineering did better job with Mega Man IV and V on the GameBoy than CAPCOM’s own staff with Mega Man 5-8, or Inti-Creates with 9&10. Of course, people love Inafune and were willing to give thousands for his totally original piece of work that would have been produced anyway, and it ends up looking like crap.

Devil May Cry is an example, where the high staff changed after the first game, and then proceeded to make the best games in the franchise. DmC by Ninja Theory is the exact opposite, where people who didn’t give two cents about the customers or about the franchise got free hands to butcher it. You can mostly put that on Inafune and his wanting to have Western developers to make CAPCOM games. Thank God that Irregular Hunter X FPS game never came to be.

But of course, consumers want to idolise those people and think they are their friends. Of course they act like they’re the customers’ best buddies, because that’s good PR. They don’t care about you, they never had. They only care that they can keep their work and get your money. It’s business, it’s work. You have to make a living. It’s easier to become superstar developer with immense amount of fans looking up to you, as this give you leverage over the company you work for. A cleaver customer would be able to see through all this and look at the product itself rather than the clown marketing it to you. Fan boys are willing to dish their money into anything these clowns slab their name on, even if the product is laughably poor and that’s just sad. Of course, you are completely free to enjoy poorly made products, nobody is taking that away from you.

It’s a common kind of psychological phenomena, where the customer thinks a company or an individual is their friend because they make speeches or advertisement that promote a product in a way that hits the spot with them. It’s a well planned show, a rehearsed one. The words are chosen carefully as are the expressions and movements. It’s a show. All they care is to make a product good enough to make that living.

But of course, the customer rarely can even make a difference between a designer and a designer. Ask them what design is, and the chances are they’re either making shit up or call it art. Of course you can ask them to define something more specific, like what is product design, visual design, production design, service design and so on. Design is a mess, so it’s no wonder only those who work in the industries can get what design in itself encompasses. This of course has the trouble of customers and companies making shit up like responsible design, which is more or less a mindset that should be included in any design than its own field.

Outside graphic and visual designers, it’s more or less uncommon to see the designer to do the actual work himself. In production, like with games or movies, you have loads of people working on the product and you should never underestimate the amount of work these people do. It’s a collaborative effort through and through, and it is a travesty to see one person getting all the credit. But hey, why should the customer care? All they want their product and to have nice clown to love.

I’ll be honest; it feels a bit weird to “celebrate” 500th post like this, but it’s already a tradition. Next time; Nintendo NX and how Nintendo is doing on the rights tracks again.

Mega Man fandom or a cult of worshippers?

The Mega Man fan community, on its surface, has been slowly transformed to something else. When you go the more known news site on the franchise, you’ll notice that there’ a lack of actual information worth reporting. These sites have, to a large extent, become a sort of unwilling marketers for CAPCOM’s Mega Man products that are not games. Statues with horrible sculpts, modelled helmets for outrageous prices and music CDs the hardcore fans have already owned at least once already.

And then there’s the Gunvolt and Mighty No.9. It looks like in desperation the sites are now throwing out news on games that resemble Mega Man rather than on Mega Man itself. No, the front of the fandom has become more like a fan community of games like Mega Man, except it’s not even that. It’s become a cult of Keiji Inafune and that’s something it should have avoided like a plague.

Mighty No.9 is a Mega Man game but in name only, that much is true. However, with every progressive report from users and videos put out, it’s clear that Mighty No.9 is nothing special. Some have said that it doesn’t play like a Mega Man game, and while that’s not a negative point in itself, it’s a point that hits negatively with the intended core audience. The core gameplay is already set in, and it doesn’t look all too attractive. Music is still bland based on the tracks heard thus far. Mighty No.9 is becoming a very mediocre title.

The same with Gunvolt. Inti-Creates has no strong franchise of their own. They got a lot of lift with the Mega Man Zero series and despite the games’ shortcomings and certain bad design decisions that never were corrected, they made a big name out of themselves. Looking at their game library, we see that their list of games is less than stellar. Inti-Creates has always been a company that puts out budget grade titles. There are few high budget games sprinkled here and there, but the overall sum quality of their products is seriously lacking. Gunvolt follows this suit and after spending some time with the game, it’s like Mega Man but cheaper. The game feels cheap and doesn’t elevate the status the company has one bit. The fans and core followers will argue otherwise, but that’s expected.

As the community has become more like a cult following Inafune, there’s a serious lack of reporting on the negative sides. Mighty No.9 has seen some negative points that have gone largely unreported, mainly the issues concerning with the community manager Dina Abou Karam and whether or not she will have an impact on the end product. I agree that she’s not doing her appointed job well and bringing her own bias into something that doesn’t need them, nor has the backers paid for, she needs to go. However, that’s not going to happen because Comcept doesn’t really care. This has gone far enough with Karam banning GamerGate supporters. Well, noting that she got her position via nepotism it’s not surprise she would feel threatened as GamerGate as a movement is against such corrupt events taking place. This is horrible customer service and breaks pretty much every basic rule in the book. If I had supported Mighty No.9, I would do everything to get my money back, as I would not be getting the product and service I paid for.

In perfect world Inafune would manage the community himself, but we all know that he doesn’t care. Inafune has always been a man of his own wants and interests, disregarding the consumer and other outside views. Despite CAPCOM’s inner workings being horrible with their multi-tier development approach (a game can be half-developed before it’s actually greenlit,) Inafune has always gone with his own things to the extent he has wanted. However, he is willing to put out products simply for the sake of job and because they’d sell, which is a good thing as that meets demands of the consumer. Yet, with the whole Mighty N.9 backing community basically hating the guts of their manager, Inafune doesn’t care. He has his money for a game that would have been produced despite the results of the campaign and that’s what really matters for him.

Then again, that’s exactly what the community’s front seems to promote. The Mega Man Network had an interview with Inafune, and the interview is actually worthless to read. It’s nothing but pandering and addresses no questions of importance. Questions like What is your favourite Mighty Number is kiddy tier interview crap and rest of the questions are no better. These people had the best possible situation addressing questions of the community and bringing Inafune closer to his backers by voicing their concerns, but no. Idol worship prevents this and encourages bias.

Of course, you can’t ask hard questions; you may drive the person away and never get another interview from him again, but what would that tell about the person then?

A product and service will, can’t ever, become as demanded or intended if critical feedback is not given. It doesn’t take any courage from the fan community to start addressing the issues, but they don’t care because of all the bias they have towards Inafune. Traditionally, this sort of idols are seen infallible, unable to make any mistakes and deliverers of all great. It is clear that Inafune built a team of original Mega Man developers. That would be a nice thing, if Mega Man wasn’t such a mediocre game. Mega Man 2 and 3 are completely different beasts, and then we start seeing The Pattern forming, which is only broken when Inafune is no directly involved with the games. Minakuchi Engineering made most of the GameBoy Mega Man games, and once they understood how Mega Man is wanted by the audience as opposed how developers saw it, we got Mega Man (World) IV and V, games that can be argued to be in the top 5 of the Classic series. Hell, I’ll out myself and argue that Mega Man (World) V is the best in the Classic series if nothing else but the sheer amount of work Minakuchi Engineering had to do in order to make the game stand on its own and be measured as equal to its NES brethren. However, as a side game, it’s place will always be in the second class.

Then you have the X series, which was undermined by Inafune’s favouritism towards Zero, which also reflects in the rest of the series, where his own creations (Mega Man wasn’t Inafune’s brainchild, which is a common misconception) have always seen more push.

Perhaps the worship has gone to Inafune’s head. Perhaps he has always been like that, but has managed to handle his public relations extremely well. Then again, perhaps no interviewer has ever challenged him with a tough and critical inquiry. It is a fact that Inafune has been an important part of Mega Man franchise. That can’t be denied, but it also can’t be denied that the series might’ve seen the same popularity with someone else in lead. But these are ifs, and ifs are rather pointless at this point in time. Whatever the case is, I would be glad to see the fandom, especially their fronts, addressing the pressing issues openly. There are criticism that needs to be given.

Let’s finish this with somewhat relevant mix.

Change is always good, they say

With the recent news on CAPCOM’s less than desired financial situation sparked an interest to check Mighty Number 9 again. After the initial brouhaha I didn’t really keep up with the news, but I decided to check the trailer for it after certain circumstances had developed at my end.

Well, it might not be a finished product, but it shows where it comes from.  The constant comparisons and contrasting has been detrimental to Mighty Number 9 to a large extent and it has been portrayed as the spiritual successor of Mega Man, which can’t be agreed on. Mighty Number 9, by all intent and purposes, is on the same level as Mega Marisa and Rozenkrautzstilette; a take on the Mega Man gameplay formula with some key elements to differentiate it from the source.

Mighty Number 9 looks like the game we’ve played before. There’s a fire boss, an ice boss, an electricity boss, a brute force boss… all the elements that were tired during Mega Man 4 are here and they’re even more tired after about two dozen platforming Mega Man games and their imitators. Not even that, but the design on most of these bosses is pretty uninteresting. The whole look of the game looks like an amateur product. Without a doubt, there will be elemental stages to correspond with each  of the bosses’ style, and I don’t expect seeing any new  or interesting designs in these stages, much like how Mega Man 9 and 10 had no stage that could’ve been called new. Why is Inafune even doing Mighty Number 9? He didn’t do Mega Man 9 and 10. What’s the sudden rush to make a Mega Man like game? Was the Kaio such a disappointment to him?

The music they’ve showcased thus far is mellow and uninteresting. When Inafune made a proud statement that they had the same people working on Mighty Number 9 that worked on the original Mega Man, the first reaction I gave was Why? Like it as much as you want, but Mega Man 1 is pretty damn mediocre game even for its time. You’ll most likely hate for saying this, but Mega Man 1 doesn’t really have good music and this seems to be carrying over to Mighty Number 9.

However, the thing I feared that Mighty Number 9 would fall into is here; the paradigm of 1980’s is there. Nothing has evolved or changed, and this is the thing that made Mega Man die out in the end. There’s still eight Bosses. While some people say that Mighty Number 9 is not constrained by Mega Man gameplay standards, it reeks of said constraints.

Of course, you have that multidirectional airdash, and it would the player gains enemy weapons by dashing through staggered enemies. This is a Mega Man standard, and Mega Man Zero 4 expanded on this with the Z-Knuckle, which worked pretty well. Too bad most of the weapons you could get were utter and complete garbage. Competent weapons would mean that normal enemies in Mighty Number 9 would have competent mooks, but I don’t see that happening with current paradigm. Why does the game tell me when I’m doing good? This isn’t something like Ouendan and Mega Man got rid of useless scoring after the first game, even thou they brought it back later on for no real reason.

I see Mighty Number 9 getting a lot of positive attention for the people working on it and as a card against CAPCOM. It’s seen as a hero underdog going against a twisted corporation. However, CAPCOM had every right to can Mega Man as it was. The games had not brought anything new to the table since Battle Network, and even that’s debatable. We have more than enough Mega Man games to play, and the gameplay has been explored pretty throughout. Yes, there is something that can be done with it still, and you won’t see any of it with Mighty Number 9. We have 131 Mega Man games. That is humongous amounts of games for one franchise within twenty five years. The only franchise to have more games is Super Mario with 250+ game.  As much as I love Mega Man, we do not need more. Mega Man 9 and 10 were successful only with absolute core fans who gobbled them down like no other. Everyone else saw Mega Man 9 as a nice tribute, but goddamn CAPCOM dropped the ball by not actually making something good with Mega Man 10.

If we were ever to get a new Mega Man game, it needs to be stellar, outstanding and done in a manner that would sweep the floor while still respecting the series’  past and still break the mould and embrace a new paradigm. This is like asking Josh Hadley to be a kind person to things he hate, or Moon from the sky. It just won’t happen because of realities. In best case scenario, where people want the best possible thing, this shouldn’t be a problem. It would take a lot of work, money and effort. It would also take a person who would willingly dismiss his wants and the wants of the hardcore Mega Man fandom and concentrate on making the best Mega Man game.

There has been few times when CAPCOM took input from fans what they want from a Mega Man game. This was a mistep, as there is no one thing fans want of Mega Man, and what fans want won’t make a best selling game. Catering to a one audience is one thing, but only catering to that audience all the time won’t see growth, and growth is needed for anything to become a successful story.

What I personally, outside the writer’s persona is as follows; I seriously want to play a Mega Man game. I don’t to resort on something that’s similar any more to fulfil my want. That is a want that doesn’t need to be fulfilled on the larger scale and is a want that is selfish and can be ignored. However, I do believe there is a niche that is left unfilled on the market, but it’s a niche that is not all to worth tapping into at this current moment. Mighty Number 9, for all what it is now, might have passion behind it, but it lacks ambition.

Mighty no.9

If you’ve read this blog for some time now, you probably are familiar with my history with Mega Man. Inafune leaving CAPCOM hit me hard in a time when even the little things got under my skin. Now, Keiji Inafune has entered the fray with a Mega Man clone Mighty no.9.

This is a dividing project. On one hand we haven’t had a true Mega Man for a while now (and we’re going to have to wait a while more) and Mighty no.9 is by all means Inafune’s own Mega Man reborn. On the other hand this is what Inafune wants to do and the Kickstarter video he has made is filled with elements screaming Mega Man to the fans in most unsubtle ways possible.  Inafune voiced his opinion on the stagnant state of Japanese video games few years back, and now the enters the fray with… a Mega Man clone. This isn’t a spiritual sequel or anything like it. Mighty No.9 is what Bass is to Mega Man within the story.

To tell you the truth, the first thing initially did was that I checked how much would I need to support the project to get a packaging with a disc. Then slowly I started thinking and going through things about the project. The group of people making this game have some good and some bad. Naoya Tomita is in charge of Game Design, but I have to say that Mega Man 1 has some awful level designs. Good thing later games improved on this, and I seriously hope all the experience will come together in this project. Lead Character Designer Kimo Kimo has worked on good designs and he knows his stuff. Manami Matsumae is in charge of the music, but the few samples on the site aren’t all that good. The question here is if Matsumae will be aiming for something different, or towards a Mega Man experience. If it’s the latter, then she must overdo herself and do the best soundtrack in her career. The Art Director Shinsuke Komaki is giving Mighty no.9 the exact same feeling as he did to the Battle Network series but with a twist, and I can’t fault him.  Much like Kimo Kimo, Komaki knows what is expected of him. However, the development is handled by Takuya Aizu, which means that Mighty no.9 will have that distinct sour taste of Inti Creates in there. I don’t care much for Inti Creates and their take on Mega Man games has always been more or less unsatisfying, especially the ZX games. The Director Koji Imaeda has only worked on three Mega Man games, which all sucked. The fact that he grew up playing Mega Man doesn’t mean that he is able to make a good Mega Man or similar game. That’s an asinine thing to say.  The rest of the group is more or less completely unimportant when it comes to the developing the game.

From the visuals to the presentation of the group one thing is clear; Mega Man. Everything about this is telling that this is Mega Man. This isn’t Mighty no.9, this is Mega Man reskinned. From now on, I will call this game as just no.9.

Will I support this game? I want to, but I won’t. This game is getting attention mostly because it’s a Mega Man clone made by the guy who has been responsible most of the Mega Man’s success and nothing else. The same guy who preached how Japanese games can’t match Western standards and are recycling old stuff without coming up with anything new. This game looks and feels like the antithesis of his own words. The advertising, videos, layouts, visuals and everything are of Mega Man and nothing else. This game is not standing and will not stand on its own feet as long as it is shadowed by Mega Man and its legacy.

The only people at this time wanting a Mega Man game are its fans. There has been too much time for Mega Man to be relevant without a high-impact game. no.9 will not be a high impact game. no.9 might generate some buzz in the overall field, of which CAPCOM could utilise to put gears into motion and announce the return of the One and Only Blue Bomber. The more you look at it, the more it looks like Inafune’s giving CAPCOM the finger with this project. It’s a one big Fuck You at them. There’s also the point that Inafune keeps emphasizing on the fact that now he is able to do games he and his crew want to make, which is never a good attitude with a developer. I have to give him credit for saying that it’s important to listen to your fans in the pitch video and that’s great. That’s awesome to hear him say it, but there are three or five instances everywhere on their page where they emphasize the What We Want portion. Another positive credit goes to the fact that they want to make it a modern game using modern aesthetics, not in 8-bit style most Mega Man fans ejaculate all over the place. I’m expecting them to use 3D models as per usual, but I’d love to see extremely detailed and high resolution sprites.

There’s still one bad shadow over the whole project, and it’s the idol worship of Keji Inafune. This project most likely got majority of its current backing simply by the fact that he is involved here and that’s stupid. The developers don’t matter if the product is good, but at this point we’re just seeing the initial planning stage for this project. It’s clear that this project is based on two things; One is that Inafune wants to make a Mega Man game and show The Finger at CAPCOM, and Two; this is one of the easiest way to get Mega Man’s core audience to shift their interest to him and Comcept. I’m positive that Inafune would have enough backing to create no.9 rather than e-begging money at Kickstarter. We haven’t heard much from Inafune’s previous project, Kaio: King of Pirates mostly because Inafune has not been promoting it itself, and it’s not really a high-class product even if its getting a TV adaptation.

I’m disappointed in myself of getting all excited about no.9. It’s the blue and green eyes that did it. The more I ponder this game, the more I want a real Mega Man game.

Interestingly enough, the game would be made even if it hadn’t get funded at all. Their FAQ states that both Comcept and Inti have the resources to make this game. Why would there be a need to fund this game if the companies already have the resources to develop the game? Wasn’t Kickstarter for projects that had no other way of getting funded? 

Inafune supports Legends’ revival

According to Keiji Inafune’s own blog, he has now stepped in to support the Mega Man Legends 3 Revival group that’s going on in Facebook and all around the ‘net. He goes on how the feelings of fans will, in the end, go to the creators of the game and will strenghten the resolution to finish and release Legends 3.
However, I doubt Inafune’s support has any weight. While he was with CAPCOM, he was the second most important driving force behind the Mega Man franchise. The most important driver were naturally the customer base. It’s not easy to say whether or not the game have had been released if Inafune had kept working for CAPCOM, the probabilities of Legends 3 been released would’ve been a bit higher.

However, I had to ask myself a question whether or not I want to see Legends 3 anymore. As an avid fan of the series, the answer without a doubt is Yes. As an observer the answer is… no. I would be content if we never had another proper Mega Man game in the future. We’ve seen that this franchise has had astouningly good games, as well as games that nobody wants to remember. During these last years we saw subpar tries to revive the interest in the franchise (ZX and Starforce) and few throwbacks to the early years (MM 9 & 10.) Legends 3 seemed to have proper gameplay and atmosphere, but the fact that you didn’t play as Mega Man but with a new character from the beginning never sat well with me, and many of the fans agreed.

The fact is that vast majority of Legends fandom wants to see the end of the story. As such Inafune, or anyone who was in charge of the writing after he left, could write a light novel to finish the story and we’d get what the fandom wanted. If I may personally say what I expected from Legends 3 since the end of Legends 2 was that we could play as Mega Man wandering around the Elysium’s corridors and meeting up with his past while fighting with various Reaverbots and such. Bringing in a new character to spice things up and attract new customers is an old trick, tried and tested… that rarely worked might I add. Even the Simpsons parodied this with Poochy.

Mega Man needs same kind of rest as Toho gave to Godzilla.
Perhaps even let it rest, until someone with enough zeal and passion for the franchise, similar to Inafune’s. The key of understanding Mega Man, as a franchise, is fourfold; the first is the gameplay as per series; every one of them has a different kind of underlaying basic mechanic. This is why X7 and X8 are not good X series games, because the directors did not understood what they were making. The second part is to find a good level design and work everything in it. A Mega Man game with bad level design is like chocolate cake where the chocolate has been replaced with plastic. The third part is that the characters must be understood in order to make the atmosphere right. Again, X7 and X8 failed in this regard completely. The fourth is simply to let fans design the bulk of the bosses. Boss design contests have been a large part of the franchise and this makes the audience care about the games more than normally.

As such, Mega Man has been exhausted for the time being, especially now that Inafune wants to be just another player among other fans. When the other of the two most important pillars have fallen, the franchise can’t stand. Thus whether or not Legends 3 will be, it won’t reach the quality the series demands without someone strong person leading the whole project.

It’s nice to hear that Inafune supports the fans, but support doesn’t really do anything way or another in their cause.

Pirate Penguing in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms

It has been some time now since Keiji “Inafking” Inafune left CAPCOM and we’re seeing his first game project since, well, Mega Man Legends 3.

Is that a goddamn pirate penguing?

Well shit, this looks pretty swell, except there are things that do not sit well in general picture.
This is a concept video, meaning that the game will have elements of the trailer. It’s completely normal to see this kind of videos, but I had hoped for gameplay video or the like. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms with penguing pirates sounds something like Inafking would do. The trailer overall seeps his touch and spirit from character designs to voice acting. However, do we need yet another Musou -type game? Here lies the problem; Inafking is doing a game he wants to make, and it’s going to be trilogy because the story is too large to fit into one game. Game’s story should never take over the gameplay, and it saddens me that story seems to be the emphasize with King of Pirates, unless Inafking does it like he did in the Mega Man Legends series, where the plot served more on the gameplay part rather than just being a window dresser like in most modern games. It’s also on the 3DS, and while Inafking admitted how the console has problems, he also has best hopes both for the system and the game. Ouch. Perhaps he can put some of his magic at work as he did with Mega Man / X series.
I’ve been through this many times; developers these days are making nothing short of pet projects and then expect them to sell like hotcakes. While I’d love to see Legends 3 more than anyone in this country, I am admitting that it would never sell enough to warrant complete production, especially on the 3DS. Life is a bitter thing. I’d like to see Inafking taking more cautious steps now rather than doing this game at first, and while he admits that people are expecting zombie games from him (who’s expecting zombie games from him?) he assures that they will come only after King of Pirates.

As always, a service provider is not the one to choose what service customers need. A designer is not to choose what kind of design customer needs. A game developer isn’t the one to choose what kind of game customers want to play. They’re the one getting the customers’ money, the customer that should be their god in all regards. I had hoped that Inafking would do something that’s his own, but something that would seem to sell better. Perhaps King of Pirates is a sleeper hit, hitting the points that Inafking has been known to hit previously in his career. However, in these ages the price of “selling decently” is far too high. King of Pirates has a pressure upon it and there are people with power expecting this game to either outsell or become a miserable failure. Depends on what side these people are.
One thing is certain; if Inafking gets a decent devcrew, they’ll be making games outside the market at times, and perhaps there will games in my niche as well. The future seems shady, but there’s always hope.