Capcom, you have done Mega Man wrong. Now on the 30th anniversary you think you can parade him around, like a dancing monkey with hat in hand, to collect a few quick bucks for you. Mega Man is not an over-the-hill athlete that now is simply a brand to hock merchandise. He still has life in him! Mega Man can be like Jay-Z, one of the greatest and still laying down hits. Mega Man is not ready to go the way of Old Yeller. His 30th anniversary should be a celebration, not lip service, not a cash grab, not a passing thought, but a Mega party.
I hear it now, “but TB, Capcom announced Mega Man 11! They are making a new game!” While true, there are four reasons I do not believe in this game anymore than I would a Might Number 9 sequel.
Capcom Screwed Up Mega Man’s Silver Anniversary
In December 1987, Mega Man burst onto the gaming scene. Few characters have had as successful a run as Mega Man did on the NES. The Blue Bomber reinvented himself for the 16-bit era in Mega Man X. After the continued success, Mega Man games flooded every platform imaginable. Only Mario could possibly compete with the 50+ games that Capcom released over the years with Mega Man in the title.
This level of gaming success and longevity deserve celebration. Capcom allowed a fan to publish a free online Mega Man game with Street Fighter characters as their big celebration. This level of neglect is like a husband stealing flowers from the neighbor’s yard when he realizes it is his wife’s birthday. Minimal effort was involved. This level of neglect does not inspire confidence.
Capcom has not made a Mega Man game in 10 years
Mega Man 10, released on March 2010, was the last true Mega Man game. The trick here though is that Capcom was not the only developer of the game. Inti Creates co-developed the game with Capcom. The same was true for Mega Man 9 in 2008.
Inti Creates has actually made the majority of the core Mega Man games in recent years. They spearheaded the Mega Man Zero games that released on Game Boy Advance from 2002-2005. They then completed Mega Man ZX in 2006 and 2007. The last Capcom created Mega Man game was an RPG called Mega Man Starforce for the Nintendo DS. Powered Up was the last core Mega Man game made in 2006 for the PSP. While it received positive reviews, it did not sell well.
Capcom has not made a Mega Man game in roughly 12 years. They farmed out their creation to other developers. With the exception of the Battle Network games, the most recent Capcom Mega Man games have been horrible. Mega Man 7 was decent. Mega Man 8 was garbage. Mega Man X7 was trash. X8 redeemed the series somewhat, but maxed out as passable.
The truth is that other developers have created the best Mega Man games since 2000. Strike number two Capcom!
Fans know how to make Mega Man games better than Capcom
The truth goes deeper. In recent years, video game fans have put their talents to use and created their dream games. Mario has seen a plethora of rom hacks built off Super Mario Brothers, such as Super Dram World. Fans have also remade games with updated graphics like Black Mesa, a Half-Life remake. The skills of fans, coupled with the availability of the technology, has allowed for incredible fan games.
Mega Man has seen a few recent fan games. The first was the aforementioned Mega Man vs Street Fighter for the 25th anniversary. Mega Man 2 received a fan remake that bumped the graphics to 2.5D. The project took fans roughly eight years to complete! Recently, we got Mega Maker, which allows fans to create their own Mega Man levels.
Fans have created more Mega Man games in the last five years than Capcom has. Frankly, fans have made better core Mega Man games than Capcom has in decades. When fans do a better job with your intellectual property then it is time to hang it up, or hire them. It took Sega decades to come to this conclusion, but at least they finally figured it out with Sonic Mania.
Capcom has never succeeded with this art style
When I heard Mega Man 11 announced, I was excited and cautiously optimistic. The second I glimpsed the trailer I knew we were doomed.
Mega Man was incredible on the NES. Trying to adapt to the SNES created many problems. Mega Man 7 was a decent game, but Capcom made the sprite of Mega Man too large. Your character took up a majority of the screen. Enemies shooting off screen made dodging agonizing. Movement also felt clunky instead of the intuitive gameplay on the NES.
The move to Playstation for Mega Man 8 only accentuated these issues. Mega moved even slower as the Capcom tried to make Mega Man run with fluid animation. The sprite was once again too large and made you a sitting duck for enemy attacks.
The X series seemed to avoid these issues until they tried a new art style with X. The move to 3D in Mega Man X7 and X8 on Playstation 2 were painful. The whole experience was awkward and poorly executed. The camera made the game a chore to play. The action also slowed to a painful crawl.
When Capcom has tried to reinvent Mega Man, they have failed miserably. The cutsie art style of Mega Man 7 and 8 is being revisited for 11. It failed then, and will most likely fail now. Capcom fails to realize what makes Mega Man fun. They miss the speed, excellent level design, intricate patterns, unique abilities, and vast possibilities with boss order.
The one and only hope I have is that Capcom has learned from their and Keiji Inafune’s failure. Dissect what did not work. Correct it for the next go around. The sprite is smaller this time, which is a good sign, but the motion still looks clunky.
Capcom also needs to look at why Inti Creates games worked on virtual consoles. How did they recapture the magic and feel of the original games? What was the core of the Mega Man experience that they kept? What features, like data tracking to aid speed runs, enhanced the experience?
There is a path to success and joy here, I just have not seen any signs that this is the road Capcom will take.
Essentially Capcom, I do not believe you have it in you. I may not live in Missouri, the “show me” state, but show me I am wrong. Prove that you can give our champion extra life. Prove that you can reinvent and reinvigorate the Mega Man franchise. Prove that Mega Man is still a passion and a key part of Capcom. Mega Man and his fans deserve it.