I feel like we've gotten to know each other well enough to share something quite personal about myself.
I love Mega Man.
I do, I do, I do-oooooo!
Alright, so maybe that isn't as dark a secret as I originally let on, given my game collection, various shirts and other merchandise sporting the Blue Bomber, and the fact that my handle on many web pages pays homage to Rock himself... There's just so much to love. Some of my fondest Nintendo-oriented memories revolve around the weekends where my family took a trip to the local video store to rent a movie or a game, and I got to come home with a title from the Mega Man universe. I had a great appreciation for ol' Blue and his games from a young age and it has never once wavered.
My personal favorite, Mega Man 3. Source.
Lately, times have been incredibly troubling for the fans of Mega Man. The creator of Mega Man, Keiji Inafune, had left Capcom for a few reasons, but mostly because he found it a stressful environment to work in. Afterwards, the company decided to scrap multiple projects that he left in their hands. Most well-known among the cancelled titles was Mega Man Legends 3. We are left with shadows of games that could have been, games that had already seen some level of development and that had gathered significant fan excitement. What added most to the shock was that Capcom allegedly
blamed the fans
for these cancellations, saying that there was a lack of support from the community. This sparked quite a bit of outrage. Many people were truly hurt by these words and a few revolutions started to show Capcom that people DO love the series, one of the most notable being 100,000 Strong for Bringing Back Mega Man Legends 3.
Them's fightin' words. Source.
Since these cancellations there has been scant available to the loyal followers, save for a few bastardizations of the character by Capcom's hand. Street Fighter x Tekken boasted an awesome roster of playable characters and Mega Man was to make a special guest appearance in the game. Rather than the traditional character people expected, "Bad Box Art Mega Man" made his debut. While humorous, it seemed like a passive aggressive slam and left many with a sour taste in their mouths. Blue was also completely absent from Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
I've got nothing clever to say that hasn't already been summed up in this photo. Source.
For Mega Man's 25th anniversary, people were expecting Capcom to unveil something special. Every other franchise had always gotten phenomenal treatment for their "birthdays", and the series was due for some positive news. Instead, we were "given" a free download of Street Fighter X Mega Man, which was a
game. The creation was in the style of the NES titles, but instead of master robots, Mega Man was up against the characters from the Street Fighter universe. Incredible dedication on the part of the creators who did this on their own, but an incredibly lazy way out for Capcom, who gave nothing else other than some promotional merchandise. It should come as no surprise that, after all that Rock had been through, many fans were very hurt and expected little with regards to the future of the character.
I feels ya, brah. Source.
Capcom was acting like an insanely jealous ex-lover, which only ended up hurting themselves in the process.
ENTER KEIJI INAFUNE.
I was very lucky to attend a panel at PAX Prime this year where Keiji Inafune spoke with the audience about his career at Capcom. The panel consisted of interviewer Jeremy Parish (of usgamer.net fame), Ben Judd (voice of Phoenix Wright) who served as translator, and the man himself, Keiji Inafune. The whole thing read just like a biography: we learned about Inafune's beginnings with the company, how rapidly he rose to greater projects, and ultimately him leaving Capcom to start his own company, Comcept (disclaimer: website is not in English!). It was truly exciting for me, as a fan, to listen to the creator talk about the development of my favorite video game character.
Tom and I were quite excited to be this close to him.
Straight away, Keiji told everyone in the room that there would be no announcement "of a certain title" at this event, which everyone was probably in the depth of their hearts hoping for. Ultimately, we knew that Inafune no longer has any control over the series. At the end of the panel, he did have a surprise for us. He played a video where he discussed how let down he was about the cancellation of his projects by Capcom, and how he had plans to prevent something similar from ever happening again. It was with that line that he announced his Kickstarter campaign for his new series Mighty No. 9. The crowd went
Though there is no gameplay footage just yet, it is pretty safe to assume that Mighty No. 9 will play just like any Mega Man title, with a few exceptions. Keiji was very happy to express his appreciation for modern technology and what sort of potential that brings to the table. Don't worry, it won't just be a re-skinned clone, there is plenty different about the game to keep people guessing. For instance, the protagonist has the ability to transform to maneuver through obstacles. Bosses, while following the classic "rock/paper/scissors" motif, are not always humanoid in design, which is a far cry from the old days of every master robot being "_____ Man." Not that I'm complaining!
Mighty No. 5 was just supposed to look like "a gatling that looks like it’s actually sprouted limbs." Source.
Keiji made it very clear that he wanted as much fan interaction as he could get when creating this project, which is what drove him to Kickstarter in the first place. Currently standing just below $2,000,000, the initial funding goal of $900,000 was met before two days had passed. Mighty No. 9 has also already surpassed multiple stretch goals, and is well on the way to being released for current and next-gen consoles. In the meantime, the collective Beckers (as Keiji calls us) are perfectly happy with a PC/Mac/Linux release. Keiji Inafune has rallied the fans together like never before with an incredible outpouring of fan art, music remixes, and all around support in what is probably the best, unintentional "F U" to Capcom that could ever be given.
No hard feelings, of course. Source.
At the end of the panel, Keiji had another surprise for the audience: serialized t-shirts. Each of us got our very own unique shirt with our own mighty number. Tom obtained Mighty No. 54, and I was dubbed Mighty No. 195. The man himself got 9, of course. It was pretty cool to see everyone else out and about in the convention wearing their shirts. It was like we were a part of a grand brotherhood. The shirts also came with a postcard with a code that will assign our number to us on the website when Mighty No. 9 goes live. An absolutely fantastic send off. Shortly after, Tom and I met Keiji for a signing/meet and greet. I didn't know what to say that could sum up all the feelings I have about the series, how nostalgic I am for it, all the great memories... I settled for "Thank you. For everything."
While Mega Man's future may be uncertain, his spirit lives on completely through Beck, the star of the new franchise.
How about you? Excited!? AMAZED!? I can't even --
Be sure to check out the Kickstarter here!
Header images courtesy of The Megaman Network.