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.