At first thought, the concept of video gaming and nostalgia seems to be a contradiction for some. After all, the very core of nostalgia is the ability to look back with fondness, whereas the gaming industry as a whole is a forward-moving entity. The common thread however, might be the familiar face that brings back memories. One of the faces of gaming is Capcom’s venerable Mega Man character.
The Mega Man franchise has spanned almost every genre available since its inception in 1987. Capcom’s website gives a testimony to the franchise’s success citing that it spans a whopping 125 different titles! There have been action games (i.e. Mega Man 1 — 9 and Mega Man X), RPG’s (the forgettable Mega Man X: Command Mission), Adventure-RPG’s (the relatively successful Mega Man Legends series), Racing games (Mega Man Battle & Chase) and even 2-d Fighters (of course you know Marvel vs. Capcom) across almost every system since the original Famicom in Japan. Even supporting characters have been the star of great games with the like of The Misadventures of Tron Bonne or the Mega Man Zero series!
However, it’s been a while since the gaming worlds most colorful and adaptive hero received any real upgrades. Sure, Capcom made a unique marketing effort to push downloads of the retro-style Mega Man 9 onto our hard drives. The endeavor was even supported by a limited release of a retro NES cartridge pack that included a supplemental DVD.
While this game certainly made waves on the PS3 and the Wii (big waves on the Wii actually — the game had a record breaking 60,000 downloads during its first day on the Nintendo server a little over a year ago now), the only recent news from the Dr. Light camp is that Capcom is still pushing forward with the Battle Network style Mega Man games with a new offering called Starforce. This is clearly a popular outlet for younger gamers, but how immersed can most modern gamers really be with the equivalent of a portable battle card game?
Mega Man has become a gaming archetype, and while he has not yet overstayed his visit, he is in sore need of an update before gamers give up on him altogether. The character was previously polished up for the PSOne era Mega Man 8, with fully animated sprites, live voice acting and overall great production value; and then again during the PS2 era’s Mega Man X games with great 3-D graphics applied to the traditional Mega Man platforming format. However, since then most mainstream titles have been repacks, collections, or the aforementioned retro offerings.
While I’m as nostalgic as the next guy, it would seem that the future of the Mega Man franchise would most logically fit into the 3-D, over-the-shoulder camera format of Mega Man Legends. The franchise needs an offering that will capture the feel of the original games. It should have quickly paced action, with weapons matching and customizing, but enough depth to appeal to the crowd looking for a fulfilling story with higher production value. This premise might be in contradiction to the perceived success of Mega Man 9, but how many more times can Capcom truly count on that format as their golden goose? What if that game’s success was a product of the nostalgia factor, and if so will it lend to continued success through subsequent releases? I’d like a fresh, yet familiar take on Capcom’s aging action hero. Nostalgia can only go so far… but then again if any company knows how to keep a friendly old franchise alive, it’s Capcom.
What do you want from the future of Mega Man?
Image Source: Top Game Wallpaper