The Mega Man franchise has been rather unfortunate the last three years. Several games have been announced and ultimately cancelled, much to the annoyance of loyal fans who supported Capcom during their development.
The first to be announced was Mega Man Online in May 2010. Planned for Asian markets only, the game was developed by South Korean games maker NeoWiz. The game was set to feature characters from both the Mega Man and Mega Man X in a 3D platformer. Production on the game was reportedly halted in the wake of the restructuring of NeoWiz and Mega Man Online was pronounced officially dead in March 2013.
The Second was Mega Man Universe, announced in July 2010. Planned for release on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, Mega Man Universe would have allowed players to construct their own levels with custom robots and share the finished levels online for the rest of the world to enjoy. It would have seen various Capcom worlds collide, bringing Ryu from Street Fighter and Arthur from Ghosts’n Goblins into the Mega Man world. Capcom ultimately canceled the game in March 2011, offering little explanation.
The third and possibly the most well known of the games cancellations was Mega Man Legends 3, a sequel to the much loved series on the original PlayStation. The game was announced in September 2010, just prior to the departure of Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune from Capcom. Mega Man Legends 3 was intended to be created using a ‘new style of game development’, with the Nintendo 3DS title co-developed with fans. A playable demo, dubbed Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype Version, was promised alongside the launch of the 3DS eShop, but neither the demo nor the full game were released. On July 2011 Capcom announced the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3, citing the games failure to meet the criteria for it to go into full production as the reason why.
The Last game is one that few people had heard of before now, as detail are only just emerging of this unannounced game. In 2010 used the talent behind Metroid Prime to show the world a new, modern Mega Man game. Codenamed Maverick Hunter, the first-person shooter had the blessing of Inafune and a talented team tasked with attracting a new generation of fans. The departure of Inafune from Capcom likely killed the most interesting take on the 25-year-old character to date, sending it heading towards the same fate as the other attempts to find a new audience for the series.
According to a number of Capcom sources, Maverick Hunter was prototyped and playable. It had a short lifespan, only about six months in the first half of 2010. It showed promise, sources said, but was deemed a significant gamble. The new Mega Man would have been redesigned by Adi Granov, the concept artist responsible for adapting the Iron Man armor for the successful Marvel film franchise. Thematically, the game would have built upon the mythology of Mega Man X, a series that was a darker, more mature spin-off of the cuter, classic Mega Man franchise.
The new take on the X fiction would ‘be like taking an 8-bit game that does not have a very deep story to it, and then building around it and keeping some of the key pieces intact’ according to a source familiar with the game. Those pieces included X and Zero, and Mega Man would have a new human sidekick, a Bruce Willis-like police officer. The man versus machine contrast between the two was meant to be an overarching theme of the game, with Mega Man’s personality sometimes making him seem more human than his sidekick.
If the game was successful, a trilogy of Maverick Hunter games had been planned that would culminate in a third game in which the player would assume control of Zero, forced to destroy a Mega Man who had grown incredibly powerful and infinitely intelligent over the course of two games. As crazy as switching protagonists mid-series sounds, the plot of Mega Man Zero, released on the Game Boy Advance in 2002, shows us how the story may have panned out.
After twenty five years it is a shame to see so many problems with a beloved video game character, and it is unlikely that any of these projects will ever be finished. One can only hope that Capcom finds a way to bring this franchise back to the forefront of gaming in the future.
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