Philip Tang ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
The year of 2012 was the legendary Mega Man franchise’s 25th anniversary. How did its creating company, Capcom, celebrate this achievement? By releasing the fan-made game: Street Fighter X Mega Man.
Yes, a fan-made game. Make no mistake, it was a fantastic game featuring classic 8-bit Mega Man gameplay and replacing the Robot Master bosses with iconic Street Fighter characters. But it wasn’t Capcom’s doing.
Capcom, on this monumental landmark, could not even spare the time to make a commemorative game of their own for one of their most recognizable series. The quarter-century celebration of a prized franchise fell flat.
In fact, by the time of the 25th anniversary, Capcom had seemingly abandoned making Mega Man games altogether. Recent years have seen projects such as Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe cancelled.
The last Mega Man game to have been released was Mega Man 10 in early 2010. Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10 were made to resemble the first few entries in the Mega Man series, sporting 8-bit graphics and music. Although the two games were received positively, their reliance on playing off the old games did little to progress the series into the modern era, and by extension, did little for 2D platformers in general.
In October of 2010, the creator of Mega Man, Keiji Inafune quit Capcom. He explained that he was intent on “starting [his] life over.” In addition to Mega Man, Inafune was also responsible for notable Capcom entries Lost Planet and Dead Rising. A few months later he launched a new company called Comcept.
Now, 3 years later, Inafune and his team launched a kickstarter on August 31st for a new game entitled Mighty No. 9, which aims for a PC release via Steam.
So, what is it?
As described on the kickstarter page, Mighty No. 9 is “an all-new Japanese side-scrolling action game that takes the best aspects of the 8- and 16-bit era classics you know and love, and transforms them with modern tech, fresh mechanics, and fan input into something fresh and amazing!”
The game is helmed by many industry veterans in addition to Inafune. In short, it is the spiritual successor to Mega Man that Capcom never made.
Not only is it the spiritual successor, but it also promises to innovate upon and transform the classic Mega Man formula. It’s a given that Mega Man absorbs the power of the boss enemies he defeats, but conquering Mighty No. 9’s bosses will also allow the protagonist to access entire bodily transformations, opening up a modicum of new gameplay possibilities.
Speaking of protagonists, the one in Mighty No. 9 is obviously not Mega Man, since Inafune no longer has the rights to his own character (it belongs to Capcom, collecting dust). Instead, Mighty No. 9 features Beck, the titular ninth entity among a series of mighty robots.
The legacy of puns for names continues with Beck. Mega Man (originally Rock Man prior to localization) and his partner Roll were derived from rock and roll. Similarly, Beck will have a companion named Call, and together they will be Beck and Call! So corny. So 90’s. It’s perfect.
But with just one look at Beck, it’s clear where the inspiration for his design came from. At the same time, he has a fresh new spin to him. As Inafune put it in his video pitch for the game, he may no longer own the rights to Mega Man, but he still owns the creative spirit that created him in the first place.
Inafune’s vision has clearly resonated with the hearts, minds and most importantly, wallets of the fans. The kickstarter began on the 31st and within 24 hours it had already surpassed its original $900,000 goal.
Easily, at that.
At the time of writing, it has about $1.5 million pledged thanks to over 27,000 backers. With most of the kickstarter’s duration of a month remaining, Comcept have added stretch goals to the list. Three have already been knocked out, confirming that the game will have 2 more stages than originally intended, making for a full 8 stage, 8 boss experience (the classic Mega Man format). Enough was donated to also meet the requirements for a Mac and Linux version release. Reaching the $1.5 million mark also ensures that there will be a new game plus feature and turbo mode.
If the kickstarter can reach $2.2 million then PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U versions of the game will also be released.
Pledging money toward the game gives backers rewards at certain intervals. The most important one is probably just the reasonable $20 mark, where backers will receive a code to download the game when it comes out. But any backers that pledge at least $5 will be granted access to exclusive forums and events reserved only for them. Comcept promise that they will be collecting feedback from backers in the form of surveys and other types of participation to allow the fans to have a hand in shaping the game.
More extreme donations, in the hundreds and even the thousands, will earn backers some lucrative rewards such as being able to help design an enemy in the game, or having their face somewhere in it.
The ultimate reward is at the $10,000 dollar mark, where the backer will be able to have dinner and drinks with Keiji Inafune himself in Tokyo, Japan. Travel and lodging expenses are not accounted for, though. Even so, it appears one diehard fan has already made the $10,000+ pledge to receive this reward.
Mighty No. 9’s kickstarter ends on Oct. 1st and the game is estimated to release in spring 2015. That’s quite far off any way you look at it. Even so, the existence of this kickstarter inspires hope in Mega Man fans the world over. Finally, Mega Man is coming back. Maybe not in the way most were expecting, but in the end, Mega Man games were about more than just the Blue Bomber himself. They were also about classic 2D platforming adventures, fast-paced run and jump gameplay and the ability to be played over and over while enjoying it immensely every time – Mighty No. 9 would seem to promise all of these, and more.
The spirit of Mega Man is not only returning; it’s evolving.