What’s the future of Mega Man?

For any Mega Man superfans like myself, the news of Mega Man Universe’s cancellation stings.  It’s never a satisfying moment when a promising game gets canned, especially when it brings forward some interesting ideas for the franchise.  The series has been on Capcom’s back burner recently and the only notable console releases of late have been retro-revivals made available via download platforms.  Mega Man 9 and 10 are great games.  9 is especially excellent and is pure 8-bit fanservice to long time fans. Still, not many things of note have happened since then, and fans like myself have become a bit uneasy.

Remember this is MEGA MAN we’re talking about it.  He’s every bit a part of Capcom as Resident Evil or Street Fighter, and he’s been around for a long time!

Universe was a game bustling with great ideas, mostly taken from the PSP exclusive Powered Up. Right off the bat, the developers seemed to focus on a game that focused on the charm of Mega Man 2 for the NES.  It had that unintentionally silly air of the 1980s, rife with self-parody.  The game actually featured “Bad Box Art Mega Man” as a playable character–yes, the notorious Mega Man 1 cover art actually would be canon.  In addition to different incarnations of Mega Man, the game would have featured other Capcom characters as well, like Street Fighter’s Ryu.  Also, the ability to fully customize levels and characters would have been welcome.  All of this in a comprehensive and fun XBLA/PSN game?  Why not do it?

So why was the game cancelled?  Capcom cited “various reasons” but kept the exact rationale quite vague.  Given the current circumstances in Japan, it’s fair to assume developers will scale back their development processes.  Even so, there also remains the possibility that Capcom just didn’t want to deal with having to use the resources on Universe.  There are many other games coming and by cancelling it, they free up attention in other areas and can reassess their development focus.  Luckily Mega Man Legends 3 didn’t get the axe.  If anything, Capcom may be able to re-evaluate their stance on the franchise and decide what to do moving forward.  Maybe that means focusing more on Legends 3.  Or maybe that means delivering Mega Man 11 or the anticipated X9.  Let’s not forget the co-developed online game either, which is shaping up to be one of the most interesting titles in the series.  Keiji Inafune’s departure from Capcom may be another reason–he was clearly the passionate force behind the franchise.  What will happen now?

 

Mega Man fans are typically accustomed to hearing news about upcoming games in relatively quick fashion.  But for the past decade, console games have been few and far between.  Most have been sent to handhelds.  With the series on the verge of its 25th anniversary, something has to be done, and certainly (hopefully) Capcom recognizes this.  There is some internal dispute for sure, and it seems as though Capcom of Japan has the notion that the series is no longer popular in the US.  Do I believe that to be true?  With the success of the Battle Network/EXE series and Mega Man 9/10, no, I don’t believe so.  Capcom representatives in the US don’t appear to believe it either.

Do I think the series is done far?  Heck no.  Capcom would never forget about the Blue Bomber, and I doubt they could even if they tried.  The fanbase will always be there.  My prediction is that Capcom is in the process of deciding where to take the series moving forward and the direction they take it may be different than the fans’ expectations.  The common criticism for the franchise has been oversaturation–in other words, too many similar games.  While many of the releases are actually good (Mega Man has not had the same issues Sonic has), the main complaint is the number of “safe” games released.  However, with each successive anniversary for the franchise, Capcom has tried to reinvent it in some way.  X came around the 5th anniversary, Legends came by near the 10th, Zero arrived close to the 15th, and Star Force close to the 20th.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Capcom would try and deliver something new, or at least continue something the fans have been demanding for a long time.  The development cycle of Legends 3 has been extremely transparent thanks to the Capcom Unity dev-room, and even though the game hasn’t been officially green lit, fan demand is extremely high.  Fans have also been frothing at the mouth for a revival of the X series, which I expect will return in some form soon.  Mega Man X was the most wanted character on fan-polls for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 DLC characters.  I’d expect focus to shift on that game and then something unexpected to come.

 

What about you guys?  Where do you see the franchise going?  Sound off in the comments!

 

4 thoughts on “What’s the future of Mega Man?”

  1. i really want a good mega man legend game , i would buy 2 copies 1 4 me and the other 1 for my pleasure
    ^__^

    1. LOL. Indeed, RT. I would do just the same.

      I was really, really, REALLY pissed when I heard of Universe’s cancellation. What the hell, Capcom? Inafune leaves, then you go and crap on his legacy? It doesn’t make sense that they cancelled it as it’s far along in development. Makes me wonder of the bleak future of Mega Man Legends 3 without Inafune’s guidance.

      Capcom has NO reason to cancel Universe. I read Seth Killican’s comments on this, and he actually says that Capcom Japan thinks that Mega Man is not popular outside Japan. Are they blind? Who’s their international adviser because I will rip his head out if I ever know!

      I also hate the fact that fans pissed on MMU because of its supposed clunky controls and weird look. Give the game a chance for crying out loud. I wouldn’t be surprised if the negative fan reaction to the live videos and demos made Capcom scared to actually release it.

      1. I totally agree man. I was looking forward to Universe because of all of its creative ideas. It just had this cool, fun atmosphere. Bringing together Japanese Rockman, American Megaman, and Bad Box Art Mega Man as playable characters? Customizable characters and stages? Sign me up! I’m certain the developers would’ve fine-tuned the controls given time, and initial previews seemed harsh on that note. I’m a little annoyed some fans haven’t given it a chance.

        I don’t tend to read into conspiracies too much, so I don’t think Capcom has some kind of elaborate plan to sabotage Mega Man like some fans seem to imply. I do think that Capcom of Japan underestimates the fanbase though. They continually do. There are some excellent Mega Man games they could build on that they just have left alone, like the ZX series. Advent was AWESOME! Not to mention the PSP remakes, X8 on PS2, the surprisingly competent Command Mission, the GBA Zero series and so on. Capcom has proved that they can make good Mega Man games outside of the norm.

        I am really hoping that Legends 3 continues ahead. I know there are fears because the game hasn’t been green lit, but I don’t expect Capcom will cancel it. Legends 3 has a legacy behind it that Universe simply didn’t. Legends 3 also has far more transparency on the Internet–the developers and fans have been interacting on an unprecedented level. I would pray that Capcom would recognize the kind of backlash there would be by pulling the plug. On a positive note though, when the Legends 3 team was up for review, Capcom extended their trial period–giving them more time to develop. Why bother spending the resources if you’re going to cancel anyway? They also asked the Legends 3 team to prepare a demo, which should be a good indication (granted the event was cancelled because of the events in Japan).

        I’m expecting we will hear a lot more at Captivate 2011 soon. Maybe cutting down on resources from Universe will hopefully mean more attention to Legends 3–because as much as I was looking forward to Universe, Legends 3 really deserves it more.

        1. I’m just really worried about Legends 3 without Inafune. He’s been the one who kept this project and Mega Man Universe alive. Look at what happened to Universe immediately after he left. I really want to look at the glass half full with Legends 3, but all signs are pointing against it. As you suggested though, the only thing that will keep it alive is the innovative fan interaction during development online.

          In my opinion, Capcom of Japan should assign a veteran to be the creative director of the Mega Man franchise, just like Ono with Street Fighter and Kojima with Metal Gear. That way, we’ll definitely see more excitement. The biggest problem with Mega Man is that it can’t run away from its 2D roots. Every time it does, either it doesn’t sell or doesn’t play well. They need to find a way to expand Mega Man intro other genres while keeping it just as popular. Franchises like Legends and X Command Mission are truly underrated gems.

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