Expectations couldn’t have been lower for Capcom USA’s Mega Man 30th anniversary stream. Mega Man fans have learned to expect the worst, considering the franchise has been dead since former producer Keiji Inafune left Capcom in 2011. While there were possible hints that a new Mega Man game could be in development thanks to Capcom assigning a new producer to the franchise, the mysterious piece of concept art included in the Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 gallery, and Roll getting a new design from the same artist for a Nendoroid figure, it was unlikely to be announced on an American stream.
At least, that’s what anyone would have thought before this. We received a big clue that something special would be announced on when the North American PlayStation and Nintendo of America Twitter accounts retweeted the announcement. This stream actually delivered.
The biggest surprise was the reveal of a new game: Mega Man 11. The Mega Man brand has joined Metroid in being a video game franchise that surprisingly has life remaining, despite seemingly being left for dead for years. Capcom put effort into throwing the character and his variants under the bus several times, but while it’s not surprising that some developers at Capcom still believe in the brand, it’s heartwarming that some executives were right there with them when they approved this project.
In terms of aesthetics, MM11 represents the next evolution for the franchise. Both Mega Man 9 and 10 were noteworthy because they were new games made to resemble NES titles, but this will be a side-scrolling title using 3D cel-shaded polygons. Not everyone thinks the look is perfect, particularly those who prefer sprites, but that’s taken a backseat compared to the amount of longtime fans happy the franchise is back. In fairness, it looks a hell of a lot better than the cancelled Mega Man Universe.
The trailer shows how this will present a traditional Mega Man experience, including familiar-looking levels, enemies, features, and animations, albeit with polygons. Mega Man himself can also slide like in Mega Man 3-8 and use charge shots like in 4-8. He can also do both in the oft-forgotten (including on the Legacy Collections) Mega Man & Bass.
It also, however, shows noticeable changes.
The game will have eight robot masters who used to be assistants for Dr. Light, similar to previous games, though no female robot will be among them this time. Mega Man can also still take their powers, but parts of his body will change alongside that to make each look distinct. One of these was seen in the aforementioned concept art from MMLC2’s gallery, where Mega Man can produce blocks that rain down. Mega Man will also collect gears throughout each level, which will be used for a special gameplay-related technique they’re keeping secret for now. A sneak peak at this can be seen at the end of the trailer.
It’s interesting that MM11 was announced on an American stream, but Capcom likely realizes now that Mega Man’s biggest fanbase is in English-speaking territories. They likely found this out through, well… the Kickstarter campaign for Mighty No. 9, a promised spiritual successor to Mega Man whose quality was less than favorable. Aesthetically, MM11 looks like how MN9 should have looked. Capcom also discovered where the brand is most popular through the reaction to Mega Man’s appearance in the newest Super Smash Bros. game, and his new design inherits the modifications from that one.
Here’s hoping the development team is up to the task. It’s being directed by Koji Oda, who previously worked as co-director on the 2014 Strider reboot, but most of the other staffers haven’t been revealed. It would also be great if Capcom still has good level designers, though the fact that they redesigned the levels from MM 5-10 in MM11’s engine to assist their creation and determine whether they worked with Mega Man’s movements is an encouraging sign. This will be the first Mega Man platformer developed internally at Capcom since Mega Man X8 in 2004, but they still have good talent at the company.
MM11 will release in late 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. Hopefully more will be shown soon, perhaps as part of Game Informer’s cover story.
Capcom also announced that all eight Mega Man X games will be ported to PS4, XB1, Switch, and PC next summer, good news for anyone who wants the whole series on one platform. This will also make it easy for players to obtain each title legally. The first MMX game is on three Virtual Console services (Wii, Wii U, and New 3DS) and on the SNES Classic Edition, while X2 is on the Wii and Wii U VCs, and X3 is only on the Wii U VC. X4 and X5 are also available on PSOne Classics. But X6 and X7 (arguably the worst installments) are unobtainable, while X8 is available as a PS2 game on PS4 only in Japan.
They haven’t confirmed who is doing the emulation or whether they’ll come in one or two collections, but they’ll clarify this soon. Maybe they’ll also include RPG spinoff Mega Man X: Command Mission if fans make some noise.
There was a big stir when Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 was released on PS4, XB1, and PC earlier this year, but not Switch. That was despite the first one releasing on 3DS, and the history of Mega Man on Nintendo platforms. Now, Capcom is making up for that by bringing both collections to Switch, due for release next spring. The first one will include the first six Mega Man games, while the second will have 7-10. As a bonus, they’ll both have Amiibo support, and the first collection will include a “Rewind” option to redo mistakes; the latter feature will be patched into versions on previous platforms. It certainly appears that Capcom won’t be ignoring Switch from here on.
It’s too early to say that Mega Man is definitively back, since that will depend on whether Mega Man 11 turns out well, but there’s a good chance it will. Even if it doesn’t, it’s nice that Capcom is giving the franchise another shot after seemingly wanting to leave it for dead. It’s better than nothing, right? Right. Let’s just hope the producer doesn’t leave, and it isn’t cancelled.