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.

A multimedia Mega franchise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First look at the Mega Man of 2017

I got a bombshell this evening after a long day of spending time with some friends; the first look at the new Mega Man that’s coming in 2017 from Dentsu Entertainment USA and DHX Media, executive produced by Man of Action Entertainment known mainly for their Ben 10 series. Let’s dig into their press and CAPCOM Unity release and give it a look…

Dentsu Meg Man

Deadline Hollywood broke this story as well. Essentially, Dentsu will manage global rights for the cartoon in Asia, while DHX will handle the rest of the world. Aimed at children just under age ten, essentially young boys, and instead of rolling with the name Rock, his civilian persona is Aki Light. Protodude has a very short description on what the series will be about, and it looks like the show will be more generic than anticipated. It doesn’t help that it sounds like they’re going to add a stupid generic helper character, like Godzuki, to the franchise in form of Mega Mini. Mega Man already had a vast cast of characters to use, you’d only need to introduce the school setting.

I’m not going to talk about the logo though, there’s nothing special and I’ve been over that already. It’s just another re-design.

Here’s the thing; Mega Man is very hard to make as it is portrayed in the games. Hitoshi Ariga managed to weave a story around the games because he took the best parts of then, and made them nicely episodic. The Ruby-Spears cartoon did the same, but just made its own plots and it honestly was pretty good. However, for Western audiences, especially to North Americans, it is more approachable and easier to make a story about a robot boy trying to fit in and be a normal kid while hiding his super powers from everybody. Y’know, like with Spider-Man originally and loads of other masked heroes. For whatever reason, that clicks with them.

This isn’t the first time this approach has been used with Mega Man. Dreamwave’s Mega Man comic used this exact same premise, but only four issues were printed before Dreamwave folded. It was pretty close to the game designs, visually, but the content was very different, and Rock was renamed to Rocky. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad comic, just very generic child hero serial.

And that’s what I’m afraid this one will be as well, especially in wake of Ben-10 and the like. If Mega Man is to have a civilian personality and have that robot-human interaction, there must be better ways than this, more original and imaginative ways to utilise the setting. The thing is, that is Mega Man X’s story. X is the one that had the human element to him, the first robot ever to be able learn and was beyond anything that had been before. I like to give the example what X was compared to others through Iwamoto’s Rockman X manga; he was able to cry.

X1Ch1-11

What was Mega Man’s story was simple; he was programmed with a strong sense of justice, of right and wrong and will to help those in need, and when he saw what the Robot Masters were doing under Wily’s rule, he felt a need to fight back, thus asked Dr. Light to convert his body into a that of a war machine.

But this is not my Mega Man. This is Mega Man for the new generation of children and I shouldn’t stand in their way of enjoying possibly good piece of entertainment. This does not negate the Mega Man I grew up with and played, those memories and games won’t go anywhere. Mega Man Classic had a good run, all things considered. I hope this new Mega Man can stand up to the challenge and as a franchise be superior in every regard. If not, then all of it has been useless. Make the old games and cartoons obsolete, make them look like pale shadows, that’s all I ask for.

But, let’s get to the meat of the design. If this design is what they will go with, or have some variation of it, it’s clear where they’re coming from. Aki Light Mega Man overall is the Classic Mega Man in proportions and shapes, with some cues taken from Mega Man X. Helmet design is the most prominent place to find X’s influences with extra ridges around the rim as well as having a gem on the forehead. From down from there, the torso is largely nondescript, similar to Ariga’s Mega Man in that there are added detail compared to the original. Shoulders have faux-pads, while the arms are largely ported from X directly, excluding the three energy bars. Classic Mega Man had yellow segments instead of blue, and I guess this could be used to indicate charge/energy levels. He seems to be wearing skin-tight boxers from the Classic, and the legs are very similar to Smash Bros. design revamp.

Personally, while the elements are there to make a good design, the way they are implemented look garish. Extremely so. The constant neon blue glow from every seam is overused and clichéd at this point in time, dating the design harshly instead of trying to make it timeless. As a friend put it, It looks something somebody drew in Flash in 2006 and he is right in that. Even now the design is dated. This makes the design look less like a real Mega Man, and more a Chinese pirate copy.

Rockman X3Rockman Zook

Add in the fact that Tron energy lines is overbearingly overused at this point, and you have largely a design that’s not just uninspiring, but also generic to a fault. He looks less like a character for Mega Man, and more something that could pop-up in Kingdom Heart’s Tron section. Maybe that’s their intention, but at least turn the lights off and give those blues lighter shades. The only reason those blues are so dark with black hands is that the neon lights would glow through.

To be completely honest, even when noting that this is a completely new Mega Man product and is to stand apart from the previous ones, this design doesn’t instill confidence. On the contrary, it makes me worry that they are aiming for a rather generic and flashy look, to have it be just a flash in the pan instead of impacting popular culture like the original games did. This new Mega Man has a legacy to stand up to. It doesn’t help that the neon light darker blue Mega Man was already done for Mega Man Universe, so its unique stance among all the designs is further diminished to near nil.

Universe Mega
But to be fair, MMU’s Roll was pretty damn cute

In 2017, Mega Man will live in a new form. I will give it a chance and will do design reviews as they drop in, and I will be fair. I’m not playing favourites, I don’t do that with âge’s pieces either, but I have been worrying about this series for a while now, and I really hope that it will be something phenomenal instead of run-of-the-mill action cartoon. Mega Man has potential to be more, we’ve seen it before. Despite them saying this show is also meant for the older fanbase, that is only lip service. We, the veterans, are only cashcows for to be milked with re-releases. This is meant to revitalise the franchise from grounds up, and by God I hope they do. Mediocrity is not tolerated this time. It needs to be damn good.

And I hope they won’t introduce X or later series’ characters. Just keep it Mega Man and no time travelling, please?

Mega Man and doppelgängers

It’s really strange. When you start looking at it from a distance, both Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog fandoms share far too similar things. Namely, strange obsession to make their own characters by recolouring existing ones, coming up a low quality bio for them and making the most powerful beings in the universe. It’s even sadder when things get official.

With the Truforce Mega Man X toy, we’re getting what essentially is a licensed fanfiction character in form of X-Kai.

X-Kai’s whole backstory reeks of fanboyism and mary sue. Tied to the original Mega Man’s stolen blueprints, X-Kai was given higher stats than X with cutting edge tech. This is of course bullshit when it comes to the lore. Wily didn’t have a need to steal Mega Man’s blueprints, he was an accomplished robotics scientist himself, building far superior robots and war machines by himself. Hell, Bass is a straight up imitation of Mega Man, and the reason why the Blue Bomber wins is not because of his tech specs, but because he has something to protect. That’s stated in the games themselves, dammit. Would Dr. Wily stoop as low as copy Light’s work to make enemies?

MMCopyRobot[1] HolographMegaMenMM3[1]

Capcom has a history with Mega Man and doppelgängers. The above examples are from Mega Man 1 and 3. Copy Robot is exactly what Mega Man is, and in Powered Up he gets an upgrade in his functions to copy any robot character. Holograph Mega Men don’t replicate the weapon usage, but can shoot in any direction they want. Furthermore, Mega Man has a Shadow counterpart that’s a common enemy in Plug Man’s stage in MM9.

Mega Man X himself never fought a true doppelgänger in the games, mostly because CAPCOM was too busy making characters that weren’t repaints of the same character. However, we have Return X/ iX from the Cardass Mega Mission card series, who fills that place just fine.

MMC105[3]

Keisuke Mizuno is the designer of Truforce’s Mega Man X, who came up with the concept and realisation of X-Kai. It is technically true that CAPCOM  has never produced a doppelgänger for X. Bandai has, and he has followed Bandai’s footsteps. Hell, X-Kai even shares similar lines under his eyes with Bass and Return X. Mizuno’s idea is not original.

Both X-Kai and Return X fill the same spot as Nemesis Prime does in Transfomers; the reuse of existing assets. X-Kai is repainted Mega Man X with a new bio. Return X similarly uses the same basic frame of the Mega Armour series X, but bolts new parts on top of it. If you remove the extra parts off, you’re left with two toys that share 90% of the same parts.

As a sidenote, the Mega Armour model toys are pretty damn great, I used to have a few before they got broken during one of my moves.

The rest of the franchise has seen other evil duplicates to boot. First ones that pop into my head outside Classic and X-series are Battle Network 4’s Shadow Mega Man.EXE and Omega from Zero 3.

Doppelgängers are not bad from the basic idea up, but they have been used in anywhere and everywhere to the point of them becoming completely stale, like a ten years old soda that was left open. It’s not to say that a doppelgänger could not be done well, but it needs to have an impact outside that goes further than Evil Twin or Nemesis Counterpart.

Castlevania is chock full of the most basic variants of doppelgängers ranging from basic character copy bosses to Mina’s bait copy in Dawn of Sorrow, but the best use of character-copy enemy in this nature comes from Symphony of the Night. In SotN, you fight fake version of Trevor, Grant and Sypha in the Reverse Colosseum. While the description says they’re zombies faking their appearance, they act like any other Evil Counterpart variation. The reason why this threesome boss fight is well done is rooted to the fact that the three characters Alucard is fighting are twisted versions of the same characters the player played in Castlevania III back on the NES.

A Doppelgänger needs that kind of treatment. It needs to be more than a simple evil version of a character fighting the original. X-Kai essentially replicates what Bass is to Mega Man, and that’s lazy and pathetic. Much like with the whole cooky cooking Inti-Creates made up to solve the Maverick wars and explain things, X-Kai is in no form any more official or canon than those tidbits or Return X.

Let’s talk a bit about Mega Man design

So, the concept art for the FPS Mega Man X has surfaced on Granov’s official Tumblr. Let’s take a look at it.

It's like Ultron had taken over Iron Man armour again and painted it to look burned metal
It’s like Ultron had taken over Iron Man armour again and painted it to look burned metal

I could be done with this post with two more pictures posted here; any Iron Man armour Granov has worked on and one of the Pantheon from the Zero series. There would be no need for words, but I need to open this issue a lot more. The thing is that the character Granov designed is not X; it’s an Iron Man take on one of those Pantheons.

But let’s get this Iron Man comparison out of the way now. The similarities FPS X shares with the Mark III armour are in the overall shape and composition with only few key differences, which actually would tell that FPS X design would actually fit very well as a more advanced version of some Iron Man armour. Some of these things are later on shared with some of the movie-verse armours as well. First of all, the plating of FPS X is very similar, if not exactly like, to the Mark III armour. This is not just the selected style of Granov himself, but something he can’t get away with. All great designers have their own style, but they can change their styles according to the needs of the job. For example, while McQuarry’s style is very easy to recognize, the way he made his works look like between different pieces has always been unique. For example, with just one glance you can tell the difference between the man’s Star Wars concept art and Star Trek Phase Two concepts he made. Granov doesn’t bother changing what he makes, which just makes the both of these designs less unique. The main difference in the aforementioned plating between MkIII and FPS X is that X shows more internal components, a weird designer fetish I can’t grasp on when it comes to mechanical designs, but even then the later suits of Iron Man show progressively more internal components. This is one of the reasons why the FPS X design just fits with the Iron Man line.

Now we could say that the both overall lines are similar just because they both follow the design of human body. I would agree if this was all about that. All powered armours are built on the idea of human body shape [Edit:I mean, duh?] and we all know how wildly different designs there are out there. Hell, even the Ultimate Iron Man armours tend to look different. As such, the overall core is the same and this results in a design that is essentially the same. MkIII armour has more bulk than FPS X for obvious reasons, such as it was one of the earliest suits Stark built, it has to actually accommodate a human inside with some extra bulk to make it look like a (modern) powered armour and to follow the selections of shapes in many places. Granov’s style also invades every past Iron Man armour he has made, as the tends to redesign them on the fly which is highly unprofessional. On top of that all, I’m afraid some of the design elements in FPS X are because of the live-action Transformers films. Perhaps from there the “shattered” armour lines came from.

Overall, it’s an unimpressive design which lacks recognizable Mega Man characteristics.

Speaking of these characteristics, let’s talk about them now and how the whole thing misses the points of androids like the Mega Man lineage. First of all, it lacks more shades of blue. No Mega Man is never composed of one blue. In FPS X we only see one shade of burned steel alongside dull grey in the inner components. The only contrast we have is from red, which is now overplayed. Sure, it comes from two region only, but the lack of all other colours just makes it scream the design’s lack of lustre. There was a sort of rumour going on that I haven’t seen confirmed about X’s face, where it changed according to his wishes from the robotic X we see now to more human one as he grows. Ok, sounds decent, but what use would X have for a holographic face? It sounds gimmicky and doesn’t really serve any real purpose. Humanity rarely is shown with a face that looks like humanity, but through actions.  On top of that, it would not have been too difficult to make X learn the expressions humanity has. Then again, this all goes against what Mega Man X is as a character, but we’re here to speak on the design alone.

The most prevailing element with any Mega Man through these years we’ve seen in is the eyes, the expressions they make and the feelings the characters convey. X is the player character, and we are to become him as we play the game. Face, especially the eyes, are perhaps the most powerful way of doing this, as from those few elements we can deduce what the character is feeling, thinking. Faceless heroes usually just talk their intentions and wants out, making it all kinda dull. It’s more or less shooting yourself in the leg, as now having a face on your character quickly makes him either a ruthless killing machine, or you’re telling the player what kind of character he is. Games share a common rule with film; show, do not tell. Too often we hear and/or read the characters in a scene and that’s just not good game. Sure, we could make X into a ruthless, cold killing machine that just ends up killing everyone and everything that comes into his way and—

Oh yeah...
Oh yeah…

Disregarding the differences between East and West, FPS X by all means is just a Pantheon. The idea of Pantheon is to make the hero’s look into the aforementioned cold and merciless killing machine. In Pantheon’s this is realized to the full effect with multiple varieties of Pantheons. For the uniniated, Pantheons are mass-produced cannon fodder of Mega Man Zero series. They are modelled after a copy of Mega Man X, who serves as the boss of the first game. This explains why they are modelled after the legendary hero. The simplest of Pantheons, the Hunter pictured above, shares its weapon element with what Granov had designed. They’re both menacing in their own way. I’m sure Granov had very little to say to the matter of what the weapon is in function, as CAPCOM and Armature Studios most likely dictated most of this. I’d wager that Armature was the one who decided on this more violent and cruel X rather than CAPCOM, but Granov was mostly just following what he was dictated. This doesn’t change the fact he designed an awful Mega Man X, it just shows some elements he had no input in.

One thing that drove the FPS X design was the story of the possible trilogy, where X was supposed to go mad over power and end in the third game in Zero’s hands. I will never agree that X should become the antagonist in the games and in the story. I have gone over this before, and I will shorten the core reason here; X is a hero. While heroes have falls, they always rise back and redeem themselves. The original intended game canon that went from Mega Man X5 to Legends tells that X’s dream is to create the perfect place where humans and Reploids could live together. Neo Arcadia from Zero series is not his dream in any form or shape. The original story wanted real X to be the enemy, but CAPCOM wisely opted out for the better. A Copy X explains why and how this dream got twisted. It would be a misnomer to say that Mega Man X is a perfect being, unable to go insane or make mistakes, but he is a hero more similar to the classic Flash Gordon than the Spawn. It would be a waste of character to make him into the evil end boss. X5 had a decent way of making the player fight against X, and it worked. Out from the two, Zero is the most likely candidate to go batshit insane and start a killing spree.

Back to the topic for now. While on the technical level the design is superb, it’s held back by its intention and the designer’s inability to step outside his comfort zone. The world has no need for uninspired and boring designs like this that do not meet the qualities desired by the customers.

Editor addition; After all, you do not need to design all things to fit one mould. Not all chairs have four legs and they’re just as good to sit on.

CAPCOM doesn’t get it #5

The original name of this post was something really vulgar, like CAPCOM, you dense motherfuckers don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, but I decided that something like that would be a bit overboard. Only a bit.

Since Mega Man X7 came out, CAPCOM has been out of the loop on what to do with the series. They have no direction for it, no idea how to manage the brand or what Mega Man even is. It’s something they see unfit for their current image. This is why those online titles were announced. I never liked their idea, as Mega Man is a single player game through and through. Something like Power Battles works as a multiplayer simply because of its arcade nature. Mega Man Legends 3 was on the right tracks with what a Legends game should be, but CAPCOM axed it like a crippled horse.

Let’s get to the core now, so I can get it all out before I smash another plate in a fit of fury; there was once  a Mega Man X First-Person-Shooter project called Maverick Hunter.

MEGA MAN X FUCKING FIRST PERSON SHOOTER
MEGA MAN X FUCKING FIRST PERSON SHOOTER

Metroid Prime worked because at the core it was the 2D Metroid transferred into 3D. For every change it adapted the core of the 2D Metroids in some form. The style was there, the atmosphere was there, and music was there… basically everything you want from a good Metroid game was in there. While the gameplay was different and all that, everything in it was Metroid.

Who the hell thought it was a good idea to rework Mega Man X into a grimdark FPS revival? It boggles my mind that somebody at CAPCOM thought that because the Prime series was a relative success, similar treatment would benefit Mega Man. I want to punch both the author and everybody involved this project, and kick those people in the nuts who thought this could’ve been good. It’s not unfortunate that this project was cancelled; it saved us from losing what had been built thus far.

Why?

Because this game was not Mega Man X game at any point.

I love how the author tries to tell that the game would’ve been true to the core of Mega Man X gameplay. Pretty much everything said, from obtaining enemy weapons to wall-jumping, has been introduced in FPS’ in some way already, and nobody calls those games as Mega Man X clones. Then there’s the point of the design being horrible. I don’t have strong opinions on Iron Man’s armours in the films outside them being bland, but the images we see here are abysmal, generic, and screaming HARDCORE with dick on their hands. You also see the clear Iron Man influence in there, which only tells that the concept designer Adi Granov can’t do anything else than that one thing that he is most for. It’s most just an influence, there’s clear design elements directly lifted from the Iron Man armour that were just slapped in there with changed colours. No, it’s not a good thing. We’ve talked about how changes in style can doom a brand, and this change would not have gone well. There would have been hype and hardcore hipsters and jockies would’ve liked it, and everybody else would shrug it off as yet another space marine FPS the industry is flooded with.

There’s also this thing that the authors of the article keep thinking that Mega Man X was a gritty sequel to Mega Man. It really wasn’t, it just took itself a bit more seriously. It’s apparent that the story would’ve been in a larger focus, and while I’ve ranted how CAPCOM never managed to tap the potential X had, the games never really needed it. Because of this plot centric shit, the game would’ve been a trilogy that would’ve ended by Mega Man X going evil and Zero killing him.

I will not cover my despise towards anyone who thinks this is a good idea, that because Mega Man X is as human as we are, he will become evil. Do these monkeys really think that a character who  holds dear everything that’s good in the world and the only reason he is willing to fight is to protect others despite his own conflicts and aims to save even the villains would go evil? If you answered yes, then start protecting your gonads. So, what about the manga? Did you read it? I did, I have it on my shelf, and I read the re-prints with the new ending. In the comics, X starts as the only robot able to cry. That itself is some heavy shit right there. Every enemy he has to kill grinds him, and as the story progresses Sigma puts X through worse and worse shit, slowly manipulating him and psychologically abusing him, and yet every time X manages to beat him. X4 story ends with X donning his Ultimate Armour, holding a ripped Repliforce flag in his hands and laughing manically. While Sigma’s plan was successful to an extent, he nevertheless was defeated, and in the additional ending in the reprints X reflects on his choices and further aims for a more peaceful world.

In short; X does have his darker moments, but he never succumbs to them to abandon his real self. Tetsuwan Atom/ Astroboy handled all the same concepts, but with Mega Man X there’s a chance

And the motherfucking Zero fanwank. It needs to stop. Zero fans always go how he is stronger and cooler than X, even if Zero himself admits that X is more powerful than he, and for the love of whatever you worship, by X’s defined name he has unlimited potential. Explore that! That’s something we haven’t seen in video games yet. We have half-assed attempts of exploring humanity through artificial life, but never at this scale; not at this possible extent. If you want to write a story for Mega Man X games, write a story about a machine that needs to struggle with his humanity, the responsibility that has been set on his shoulders as the source of a new robotic race, the power he holds within, the unlimited possibilities he has, and how they are denied because one other decides that the ideals he lives by are wrong, and that he either needs to join the other side, or be destroyed. How this changed the world and peace loving pacifist is thrown into war, where his kin and mankind are killed left and right, into determined mind to protect those who can’t protect themselves. How X finds out that the power inside him is not only for the evolution of soul, but also for unlimited destruction and death if he so chooses; how a mind that has always regarded peace and harmony as his forte now has to face that the arm he has holds a key to Apocalypse. How an arch enemy continuously steps forward, laughing at X’s believes and questioning all he stands for. Sigma is the opposite of X in all this, a soul that believes in absolute control of the higher race as him in the control.

X’s potential, both in-game and outside the game, is limitless and it was never tapped. Goddamn, I should write 50 Shades of Gray styled fanfiction of Mega Man X, except it would be worth reading.

And these idiots want a story where X goes evil and Zero, the literal Pandora’s Box (with him being the one who carried the Virus that was the reason for Mavericks,) has to kill him to save the world. That’s not poetic or anything; that’s overused piece of tired trash.

There’s so much wrong in the whole concept of this that it hurts. Hell, the Mega Man8-bit Death Match managed to hit the right spot because it was basically a joke; Mega Man on top of Doom with new weapons. And it works because it has everything that Mega Man already was. This… this would work as a separate game, something that has nothing to do with Mega Man X. If it had been released as The Android Hunter Saga or something, it might’ve been something special. As it was before canned, it was complete and utter bullshit. Rather than trying to reinvent already established game series, they could’ve been making Mega Man X9.

Speaking of reinventing game series, DMC sure went well with CAPCOM. The authors try to say that original Mega Man X was something like this, but that’s just wrong; Mega Man X was a sequel and a separate entity of Mega Man that still was produced. DMC was a reboot, a sad replacement for a good series. This would have been the exact same.

I’m glad to see that Svensson agrees that at this time it would’ve been a bad idea to release something like this. Mega Man’s dead and publishing Mega Man X FPS would’ve ensured further death of the brand. How can a dead be dead? Well, necromancy. In Mega Man case, it would’ve been necromancy and necrophilia, and there would have been no consent from Mega Man’s side. [Editor;consensual sex is hot.]

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

Seems like somebody at CAPCOM listened to me a little bit, as they’re bundling Mega Man 1-5, 9 and 10 into one… not so massive bundle. Granted, they’re the slightly more upgraded PSOne versions of the games, which also explains why MM6 is missing as it has not been released on PSN yet. They could’ve shoved it into the bundle anyway.

2500 yen doesn’t sound bad, but then we all realize that this is Japan only deal once again, and the targeted audience already owns these games. They’re slicing 50% off from the price, but it’s still pricey. A Western fan most likely has Mega Man Anniversary Collection already, so purchasing these is not a good option. Actually, you can still get new copies of said collection, if you know where to look from. The price’s about the same as well.

As such, CAPCOM clearly has the source codes and translations ready for these PSOne games. Why not use them, if they want to push out more of this 8-bit fanservice? Well, the answer is as follows; the games were never released in the West, patching the new language in would need some time and effort, and somebody who knows what the hell his doing. Now CAPCOM can’t stand effort or spending money, as evident from Mega Man x Street Fighter.

Then again, CAPCOM seems to think 8-bit Mega Man sells the most, but doesn’t act on this line of thought, which is a contradiction. Of course, the real answer is that CAPCOM doesn’t know what to do with Mega Man, and ultimately doesn’t even care.

Returning to an older direction

Project X Zone is a crossover RPG game with similar starting points as Namco X CAPCOM. The X here is pronounced cross. That’s not what’s important here. What’s important that Mega Man X got in, and they’re using his older art direction. Whoever in MonolithSoft decided this knows Mega Man better than CAPCOM.

Specifically, that’s Mega Man X4 era design, thou the PlayStation art direction in general doesn’t change between the games. Well, more accurately they’re basing everything X and Zero does on their X4 incarnations. Notice the Frost Tower, Twin Slasher and Zero’s Raijingeki.

For that simple reason, let’s listen to a song that originally made me learn moonlanguage.