The Mega Man franchise has officially existed for 30 years, and I’ve been a fan for nearly that long. I vividly remember the first time I laid eyes on a Mega Man game – I was 5 years old, at a friend’s house, and I watched that friend fail at Bubble Man’s stage shortly before I failed too. My video game exposure had been relatively limited until that point, so I was in absolute awe as I watched the moving waterfall, the menacing frogs, the fast-paced action, and I could write endlessly about the outstanding music. I received Mega Man 3 for Christmas in 1990, and my love of Mega Man was cemented.
While I generally preferred RPGs in the 90s, I still played Mega Man games obsessively – and there were plenty of to chose from. A new Mega Man title was released almost annually, and that’s not counting the Game Boy games. Though the cartoon certainly hasn’t aged well, and neither has Mega Man’s characterization in Captain N: The Game Master, the blue-bomber was massively popular throughout the 90s. Nonetheless, my interest in video games dwindled upon the release of the N64 (16 bits were enough, Nintendo – you got greedy).
Disillusioned with the polygonal style of the then-current generation of gaming consoles, I stopped buying new systems and new games. As a result, I paid little attention to video game releases at the time, but I have since gone back and played through the remaining Mega Man games in the “classic series.” I’m aware that there are other titles in the franchise, but I have never played, nor had any interest in, any of the Battle Network or Star Force games, and I’ve only briefly played one ZX game. I was in love with early Mega Man games, so that’s where my attention remained. However, more than a decade passed between Mega Man 8 and 9. I understand that Battle Network and Star Force had their own fan-bases, but were those series ever as popular as the classic series? Why did Capcom seemingly forget about the original Mega Man for so long? (did he not rock their world anymore?) Furthermore, in between Mega Man 10 and the cancellation of the fantastic comic book series published by Archie Comics, Capcom made decisions that did not bode well for the blue-bomber’s future.
Mega Man Universe and Mega Man Legends 3 were announced, notoriously cancelled, and Mega Man co-creator, Keiji Inafune, left Capcom and decided to create a “spiritual successor” to Mega Man. This was a scary time, but I, and clearly many other fans, had faith in Inafune. It was evident that Capcom was no longer interested in investing time and resources in a series beloved by so many people, but Inafune would come to the rescue, right? Though my anger toward Capcom grew, my hope remained high even amid all of the delays for Mighty No. 9. Sadly, that game was a massive failure (an even bigger failure than an Anime fan on prom night).
So still, I was left without a Mega Man. Even though the Blue Bomber was included in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, there was still no announcement about any future, solo Mega Man games. The delayed cartoon, which was announced more than two years ago, has not quelled any fears about the state of the Mega Man franchise. In fact, the creative team responsible for the show are taking many liberties regarding source material – the premise and the footage don’t seem very promising at this point. Recently, however, Capcom hit fans with a huge surprise. (that when they make Street Fighter 6, they’ll finish it before releasing it?)
Suddenly, Capcom teased a special announcement regarding Mega Man’s 30th anniversary on December 4th. I hoped that they would announce a new game, but perhaps Capcom would announce more details about an alleged movie that is in production. I tried to temper my expectations, because it had been a very long time since Capcom seemed actively invested in Mega Man, but the excitement was palpable, and speculations were all over the internet. Then it happened – the Mega Man 11 trailer.
The first thing that struck me was the rich, upbeat, dance music, which sounds absolutely fantastic. However, it is unclear whether it’s music from a stage, or simply the title screen. Honestly, it doesn’t have a hook that grabs me like most Mega Man stage music does, but it’s a great, energetic song nonetheless. Then we have the visuals, my opinion on varies. Mega Man himself looks pretty unspectacular, but then again, he did in the NES games as well. But…this isn’t an NES game. Mega Man’s appearances and movements in Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 looked pretty good (except for the swimming), but the character’s visuals in this trailer don’t strike me as the next logical step. Also, I’m not thrilled to hear Mega Man shouting whenever he shoots a fully-charged mega buster shot (or a power shot, if you weren’t tired of hearing that over and over and over…). Did Capcom receive praise for including that in Mega Man 8? The stage backgrounds and the enemies, however, look gorgeous, and I think Capcom purposely showcased the enemy construction vehicle’s ability to spin 360 degrees in order to truly show off the use of a 2.5-dimensional plane. I’m certain that this will be featured elsewhere in the game, and it could bring an interesting new element to gameplay.
At this point, most fans have seen one of the new robot masters, who is apparently not called “Brick Man,” but definitely looks like a Brick Man – he’s got a very cute design. The new brick-themed weapon looks interesting and potentially very useful, which makes me hopeful about the weapons in this game. The weapons in Mega Man 9 were some of the most useful in any game, but since they were very subpar in Mega Man 10, I’m hoping for better ones this time (and I hope that whoever came up with “Thunder Wool” suffers eternal torture). Also, Capcom is apparently adding a new feature – weapons will have multiple functions, such as one that can cause “a mid-air dash.” While I don’t know if all weapons will have additional functions, this is an interesting piece of news, and can potentially add much more fun to gameplay and replay-ability. More than anything, however, I look forward to more information regarding all of the robot masters. There’s a menu-screen shot floating around the internet that shows silhouettes of all of the robot masters, and it teases some real potential, especially one huge robot master.
I certainly have a handful of gripes about the trailer and concerns about the game in general, but I have to remember that Mega Man 11 is a year away from release, and still in development. Regardless, there’s a new Mega Man game on the way, and it looks like Capcom is trying to recapture the formula that made Mega Man games great to begin with. Although the cartoon doesn’t look too promising at the moment, that doesn’t mean that it will be bad, or critically panned. Perhaps children will love it, and it will prompt Capcom to invest more resources into Mega Man games. A new videogame, a cartoon, a movie, both Mega Man Legacy Collections coming to Nintendo Switch, and all Mega Man X games coming to all platforms – this is an exciting time to be a fan of Mega Man, and will hopefully draw enough attention and potential new fans to be a successful rebirth of the franchise.
This influx of Mega Man news harkens back to the 90s, and reminds me of the great experiences I had with these games as a child. To me, Mega Man isn’t just another action-platformer, and its appeal isn’t just rooted in nostalgia; these games clearly have a simple but fantastic formula that has bred a huge, passionate fan base. I can’t wait to get my hands on a new Mega Man game, because Mega Man is an amazing series, and moving forward, truly has the capacity to be great once again.