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.

Re-releases? Why not new products?

A nice thing with PSN is that you can carry your games across PS3 and PSV.  This is something all of the companies should aim to realize in further extent; an account system that allows you to carry your games across different systems. This would encourage production of new games, but of course game industry doesn’t want that, and it seems loads of hardcore gamers hate this idea too.

In a recent CAPCOM Ask, the issue of Mega Man Collections was brought up. How many times have these same games been released? You have the NES games on all sixth generation consoles, on the 3DS and on PS3. Wii and Wii U is seeing SNES game releases as it is. You have the Legends games on PSP as well, but only in Japan.

To cut the fat off straight away, vast majority of the people who want Mega Man Collections already have bought them many times over. There are those who own pretty much every released version of each Mega Man, and these people would be the main group this collection would be aimed at. People requesting HD collections of these games is something that is  bit amazing, as CAPCOM most likely doesn’t have resources, tools or will to do HD remakes, especially when it comes to games they would have to reverse engineer.

Let’s be frank about this. Any modern gamer who wants to play any of the Mega Man games will be emulating it.

Just as you can’t keep making the same game over and over again, you can’t keep releasing the same over and over again. Mega Man 1 and 2 were fresh, 3 started showing phases of standstill, and while 4 will always have a special place in my memories that game needed to be far more than what it was. Same applies to every Classic Mega Man in the series. The true sequel to Mega Man 2 is Mega Man X, and Mega Man X 2 fell back into the ditch.

What the fans need to demand is not re-releases of old games we all have played multiple times over. What the fans need to demand is new games that would bring the Mega Man franchise back to its former glory and status in the cultural mind. Mega Man was synonymous with quality and quantity meeting with each other, then it all went into trash.

It is very disappointing that a fandom doesn’t want their favourite series to be revived and advance. What else would re-releasing the Collections do in the end? Show that Mega Man is still relevant? Show that Mega Man games are still high quality products? No, what re-releasing would do is that fans would get another reason to buy these games and nothing more. That isn’t enough dammit, not by a far shot.

What made Mega Man 2 and 3 superior to 1? They took a tested and true side scrolling mechanics, gave it something new and overdid themselves in crafting the game. Stage selection, colours, music, difficulty level, controls and design were superb and they still stand up to the modern side scrolling games. Good games are like whiskey that doesn’t go bad with age, while bad games age like milk.

While I am to the one argues for games to be released in rather tidy pace, this does not exclude the fact that games still need to be crafted with care. There is EA way of making milk games, and then there’s the Old Nintendo way of making games, where every release was an event and mattered… and made a difference for what it was. Re-releasing another Collection set would send a message that CAPCOM is not able to bring out quality any more and that they just ride on the past success of Mega Man rather than making it a new shining series.

Well, this is completely true, if we’re serious for a moment. They’ve been pushing in Mega Man characters into Sound Rangers to the extent of using characters from unreleased Legends 3. This is, above all else, extremely pathetic. While it does make sense to reuse unused assets elsewhere, CAPCOM has managed to destroy their company image as well as their monetary assets. The small amount of fans still clinging to CAPCOM’s empty bosom, and in the case the tit gives out any milk, it’s sour and rotten.

If CAPCOM would have any eyes and ears what the fans want, they’d see that all the 2D Mega Man games and their imitations produced by the fandom, they would have a strong basis what to make next. Next to this they could do some serious customer research and voilá. The problem here would be that CAPCOM most likely would ask the fandom again what they want and this is never a good idea. Mega Man used to be enjoyed by people who aren’t fans of the series, and asking the modern fandom what they want would just exclude everyone else. Well, they did this at one point and that didn’t work out at all.

The thing is that the brains lie 95% of the time what the heart wants. A good customer research never goes in asks questions and be done with it. What is needed is observation and analysis of what the customers do, what they do and how they do. This leads into not just into the best product, but into best products. There isn’t one best product out there, but a whole slew of them. In this sense Mega Man used to be able to cater rather large crowd with its different iterations, but the numbers show that there has always been one way to make Mega Man to make the most of it.

Mega Man has never been work of one man. The fandom worshipping Inafune and his creations as the Second Coming. I admit that I used to see him in similar light, but years have taught me to see beyond one man when it come to anything. Inafune had less and less to do with the games as time progressed, and it can be argued that it was Minakuchi Engineering that made the last truly outstanding Mega Man game in form of Mega Man (World) V. Your mileage may vary of course, and we can always argue about that.

CAPCOM doesn’t get it #4

While I was washing my dishes today after being sick on/off for three weeks now, I pondered on CAPCOM and their latest moves regarding Mega Man and Ducktales. It’s something to think about for sure, but then I realized that it’s something that has been clear all the time and doesn’t ask for any pondering or discussion.

Modern CAPCOM shouldn’t touch Mega Man as they are.

While everybody seems to be drooling over the Mega Man statue, I’ve been questioning CAPCOM’s intent of getting the PC Mega Man X ports on Good Old Games. While the site is good and all that, I have to question why the hell would they like to have Mega Man X PC version available anywhere? It’s a horrible port. Modern hard core PC gamers would laugh at it, much like they did back in the day. You get a better version of the same game through emulation nowadays, and the game itself is available on multiple other platforms as well, not to mention Maverick Hunter X exists. Mega Man X8 on the other hand has a decent PC port, and some mods to boot for what I remember, but the game itself is boring, and with it the subpar results of X6 and X7 pretty much confirmed that X-series wouldn’t see any more games. That, and the fact that other Mega Man games were selling better and X8 was a failure in CAPCOM’s eyes. Most fans look at it through rose tinted glasses. However, seeing that the progress is slow we can say that the chances of getting those games on GOG is closer to nil. Knowing how CoJ has been thinking lately, we won’t get them.

Well, PC games aside, CAPCOM’s intent on Mega Man at the moment is further merchandising the brand to cash on the nostalgia. While that’s what CAPCOM has been seemingly been doing for a while, now it’s actually what they’re doing… ever since Mega Man 9 was released. No, Mega Man 9 and 10 were not good Mega Man games, they were subpar Mega Man Zero games in Mega Man cloth. 9 and 10 pretty much doomed the Classic series as far as we can see. I’ll use one of Josh Hadley’s favourite terms here and call them cash-ins. While not completely applicable, Mega Man 9&10 completely fulfil the requirements of cash-ins, such as relying on an existing product, not doing anything special or even trying to be their own product.

The same can be said for the Ducktales Remake. Oh look, Aalt hates Ducktales! Shush you peasant, listen before you open your jabberjaw. The reason why this Remake, alongside the Dungeons and Dragons; Chronicles of Mystara, is cashing on nostalgia with minimum of effort. I admit that I am a huge WayForward fan, so saying this isn’t easy, but this looks halfassed. Why 2D sprites for characters and everything in 3D? WayForward, you’re better than this, you’re one of the last proper 2D game developers on the world, why not go all out and make this look like the cartoon? The sprites already do, so why not make he whole game look like the cartoon? Bloodrayne Betrayal looks extremely good with its full 2D approach.

Every sprite seems to have a good amount of animation frames, thou the trailer shows that Scrooge has the same walk cycle as in the NES version, thou the test version at PAX seemed to have later version, where Scrooge has increased animation. In that version you also hear that the music is pretty spot on and the pogo sound is still there, but some things are just really strange, like a fade into black when walking into a new area rather than the screen sliding. This is a technical issue I’m sure. Still, it’s weird to see Scrooge all smiling and happy when his nephews have dropped through a  trapdoor. WayForward has good designers and 2D developers working for them, and if Ducktales would get same full 2D treatment, the game would not only look better, but feel better.

Then again, if you’ve ever liked Ducktales cartoon or comics, you’ve already played both of the NES games, and you even might own them like I do. The question is if these additions really are worth the price? Hype says yes.

As a trivia, the NES game red Scrooge palette isn’t inaccurate. At the time CAPCOM followed Carl Bark’s design on the McDuck, so red isn’t inaccurate as such, but it’s not show accurate. Then again, I live in a region where Duck comics are more common than bread and everybody used to inhale them more than oxygen, so variations on Ducks isn’t anything you’d call uncommon.

When we get to know how much the remake costs, we’ll then have a proper price on what nostalgia costs. I will most likely purchase it as well, as it is from WayForward. I’m not infallible either, but I’m sure I will struggle with the decision on the future.

Nevertheless, these are few reasons why I do not want modern CAPCOM to make a new Mega Man game of any kind. They simply can’t do it. It’s like having your leg on a samoflange. The fact that they have an ongoing discussion about Mega man is as good as doing absolutely nothing. It’s a common thing to say that discussion is ongoing when everything is on hold. I will believe that there has been discussions when I see proper hard evidence on it, namely development of a new game that’s not halted or cancelled a year after letting it die in silence.

Outsourcing Ducktales to WayForward was a good idea. WayForward has a good record on doing justice to old games. If CAPCOM wants a new Mega man, they should outsource it as well to WayForward. Seeing that Zero and ZX series was developed by Inti-Creates rather than CAPCOM, it explains why the games have their own feel and swing. Then again, Inti-Creates fell victim to the myth of Mega Man being difficult, and is one of the main reasons why Mega Man 9&10 are dim jewels without proper cutting. Mega Man doesn’t suit CAPCOM’s modern image, thou neither does Ducktales, but that’s WayForward, right?

Imagine if they had decided to do Ducktales 3. Just add 1 and 2 as options, you could even use same sprites. Nevertheless, it would be a completely new game, which would be a proper reason to actually purchase this game. Not only because of nostalgia (that will always be a part of the charm for both good and bad) but because it would mostly, if not completely, be a new product to enjoy. The applies to Mega Man; modern CAPCOM would try to cash in what Mega Man was and mythically is instead concentrating on what Mega Man really is and should be.

It’s like Mega Man would be the best grilled cheese sandwich ever, and CAPCOM thinks Mega Man should be a fajita with horse shit in it.

CAPCOM doesn’t get it #2.5

As this isn’t really Mega Man celebration, but close enough to be put under this label. So, what I’m talking about is that CAPCOM wants your input what would you like to have as a digital download.

There’s version 1.2 already out, but in version 1.0 they made clear that this survey isn’t going to do anything. It takes ten minutes to do, and the region selection basically lumps most of the world in one selection number two, saying that if you live there, you don’t matter.

The thing this survey shows is that CAPCOM thinks that digital distribution is completely different from traditional distribution. While they certainly are different things, but overall the distinction they’re making is really weird. How digital distribution isn’t retail, just digital retail?

Let’s get this over fast. Basically the survey is asking what kind of game would you like, how much money you have to spend and what platforms you own. But here’s the thing; they ask if Mega Man was one of your favourite franchises. This is highly important. During the last two years CAPCOM has got more than enough bad press on how Mega Man has been handled, and now they’re asking if we’d like to have a Mega Man game. The thing is that CAPCOM is trying to use sloppy tactics to basically get a decision whether or not to release digital Mega Man games.

I’m recommending everyone to tell CAPCOM that no, you do not want digital ports or releases. This survey basically tells that CAPCOM doesn’t know what to do with old franchises. Their brand management is in shambles and nobody has no idea to what direction to take each series. By saying that you’d like to get digital downloads of said series basically signs that they’re free to release these game again on modern platforms without any effort. I wish there was an option to say Release a compilation on physical disc at least. No, scratch that. Do your damn job and make new games that we’d like to play works the best.

This is a stupid survey. If I’m honest, CAPCOM won’t do anything, and if I’m dishonest they’ll just release old games on digital stores. Again. Why do they even need input whether or not release old games on digital distribution? It’s nothing from them. Asking if we’d love to get a new, properly developed game would be the right option from their part.