Confused by the title of the article? You shouldn’t be. There is rhyme and reason to be found here, and I’m going to explain myself. Obviously the title hints towards a connection between Mega Man and Castlevania, but why? It’s simple, I feel that I’ve thought of how Capcom could make Mega Man marketable and hugely successful once again.
First, before I get into the specifics of my idea, why has Mega Man become boring and/or stale to the public? Why are his games not selling as well as they used to? There are a few reasons for this.
Capcom made a huge mistake between 2000 and 2006. They simply made too many Mega Man games! Here are all of the Mega Man games released between 2000 and 2006, at least as far as I am aware.
Mega Man Anniversary Collection
Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge
Mega Man Battle Network
Mega Man Battle Network 2
Mega Man Battle Network 3
Mega Man Battle Network 4
Mega Man Battle Network 5
Mega Man Battle Network 6
Mega Man Legends 2
Mega Man Maverick Hunter X
Mega Man Network Transmission
Mega Man Powered Up
Mega Man Star Force
Mega Man X5
Mega Man X6
Mega Man X7
Mega Man X8
Mega Man X Collection
Mega Man X Command Mission
Mega Man Xtreme
Mega Man Xtreme 2
Mega Man Zero
Mega Man Zero 2
Mega Man Zero 3
Mega Man Zero 4
Wow, right? That’s twenty five Mega Man games. That’s almost five Mega Man gamer per year. It’s honestly no surprise that the general public grew a little tired of Mega Man, especially considering how Capcom tried to balance three different Mega Man series at once (Battle Network, X, and Zero) while also tossing around a bunch of minor remakes and spin-offs. A quick look at the above list makes it easy to understand how Capcom seemed to have lost sense of what Mega Man was, and how the Blue Bomber seemed to have no identity anymore. Gamers didn’t know what the heck to do with all of these Mega Man games and, thanks to the relentless onslaught of Battle Network and Zero games over a few years, pretty much everyone reached a point where they would say, whenever a new Mega Man game was released, “Oh boy, another Mega Man game?”
Too many games in too little time, Capcom. It’s no wonder the Blue Bomber has been struggling to garner attention and sales throughout the past five years. It’s simply because the market became oversaturated with Mega Man games and pretty much all of us lost interest, or…
2. Fan Abandonment
… Capcom betrayed their loyal fans. I know, that sounds a little crazy but hear me out. I’m not a disgruntled fan who is calling Capcom out or anything, it just doesn’t take much thought to realize that Capcom lost focus of Mega Man’s identity and who/what he was. The rehashing of different formulas was evidence of this. How many fans of classic Mega Man or the X series felt alienated by the non-stop Battle Network games? They didn’t feel right at all, at least not to me. They just weren’t Mega Man. The Zero series seemed alright, but I had trouble getting into them. There seemed to be clashing art styles and the overall presentation didn’t satisfy me very much. I guess portable Mega Man titles just couldn’t meet my expectations. Capcom perhaps demonstrated fan abandonment the most when they decided to make a Mega Man X RPG called Command Mission. This was a VERY peculiar game to say the least. Command Mission came out during a period when the RPG genre was incredibly profitable, and Capcom wanted a piece of the pie. I don’t think Command Mission sold well, and reviews were pretty mixed all across the board. IGN was one of the very few professional gaming websites that scored the game highly. As an RPG nut, I actually really enjoyed Command Mission although it did indeed have a lot of boring or dull moments. It was an interesting experiment to thrust Axl, X, and Zero into a Final Fantasy style RPG. It may not have been the best thing for the Mega Man franchise since most fans of the franchise are primarily fans of platformers rather than RPGs. It was an extremely bold and risky move and, despite being enjoyed by some, Command Mission wasn’t much of a success. It was simply far too different. Capcom didn’t know how to market Mega Man effectively anymore and it was definitely showing.
3. Been There, Done That
Eight stages, eight bosses, eight powerups. How many times have we done this? For over twenty years, this was Capcom’s design plan for Mega Man games. Heck, it still is to this day. While it is hard to say anything bad about the older Mega Man games that use this generic design, I have trouble forgiving the newer games that still use the 8-8-8 formula. In 2011, Capcom should be able to do a lot more than this. Eight linear levels and then three or four following levels that lead up to the final boss were a lot of fun until around Mega Man X2 or X3. After that point, the 8-8-8 just grew really stagnant. It was still fun to experience the different locales of each level since there were always the mandatory fire, ice, and water levels along with a few unexpected level themes such as the futuristic junkyard stage in X6. Still, level themes weren’t enough to carry the games anymore, nor were the stage boss designs. Mega Man game design was simply becoming archaic and stagnant.
And that all brings us to my idea.
What Mega Man needs is a bold new reinvention, similar to the jump from Classic Mega Man to Mega Man X. The Blue Bomber needs a new look, a new armor. It needs to be “cool” in the year 2011 or 2012. It needs to grab gamers’ attention and appeal to them. There has not been a terribly interesting look for the Blue Bomber since his first two versions, Classic and X. Both are designs from the late 1980s and early 1990s. So, Mega Man has not had a bold new look in nearly twenty years. Wow.
What is the game plan? I say take the original Mega Man look and simply give him “edgier” looking armor. Don’t cute him up like the Battle Network or Star Force designs. A new Mega Man needs to look “hip” to have mass appeal across the entire age spectrum. Classic and X are beloved designs by young and old, but I don’t know a single person over the age of twenty who thinks that the Star Force design looks cool. Capcom’s habit of making Mega Man games look cute has to go NOW for the series to have any kind of significant future again. The safe method of doing this would be to stick with the Classic or X look (no other iterations have mass appeal) or go with an entirely new Mega Man design.
So we’ve got appearance out of the way. Mega Man needs a cool look for mass appeal. Where do we go from there? It’s pretty simple – design. As I said, the fundamental flaw that ruins Mega Man these days is the fact that Capcom has been using the 8-8-8 formula since 1987. This needs to change entirely, and this is where the title of the article really comes into play. Mega Man needs a huge change, and I think it is such a huge change that I’m going to put it on its very own line.
Mega Man needs to become Castlevania.
After reading that line, it doesn’t sound too crazy, does it? Think about it for a moment. Imagine a huge, sprawling 2D world with tons of different landscapes and environments. Take Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and simply replace the gigantic castle with tons of connected outdoor areas, as well as a few indoor locations as well. Would this not be a good idea or what? A free roaming 2D Mega Man platformer that takes a page out of Castlevania’s book would be an exciting idea while not seeming too “scary” for the long time and devoted fans of the franchise. It would also get rid of the 8-8-8 formula. No longer would players have to select from the same ol’ eight stages on a select screen. They would now have an open world to explore, and they would have to discover the location of bosses rather than follow a linear path to them. There would be tons of seemingly dead ends or unreachable areas, at least until players would find necessary armor upgrades to reach new locations. Mega Man could be upgraded to have long jumps, double jumps, increased run speed, temporary flight/hovering, magnetism (sticking to ceilings in areas), as well as buster upgrades to break through various walls and such throughout the game world.
Essentially what is brewing in my head is Mega Man Legends, only 2D and playing like classic Mega Man or Mega Man X with a huge helping of Castlevania influence on the side. This would also allow Capcom to throw in a lot more than just eight robot masters. Since the game would probably be considered an RPG, Mega Man could easily amass between ten and twenty powers from various maverick/robot master bosses. Would that not be awesome?
Due to the game likely being considered an RPG, this would also mean Mega Man would be able to level up. Rather than gaining life bar extensions from beating bosses, the Blue Bomber could accomplish this by leveling up instead. He could also gain power bar extensions as well, allowing him more frequent use of his powers as he levels up. The higher levels could also grant him cool passive abilities, like being able to restore lost energy over time. This could result in some really fun cat and mouse encounters with bosses where, after depleting your energy for a weapon, you could hop around for a bit and let the bar regenerate enough to dish out more attacks while avoiding the opponent’s onslaught.
Non-linear games have become the norm over the past years, and Capcom has embraced it with many of their other series… so where’s non-linear Mega Man at? It seems like the only logical step to take with the Blue Bomber. With all of the gameplay elements that would come with making Mega Man into something resembling modern Castlevania games, there would be enough familiarity mixed with new ideas to please old fans and probably attract new gamers to the franchise.
And what would make the game even more interesting? Make it into something that bridges the gap between Mega Man and Mega Man X. Perhaps it could showcase the rise of mavericks and reploids while still retaining Dr. Light, Dr. Wily, Mega Man, Roll, and Rush. Heck, it could even lead to the downfall of the original Mega Man after suffering a temporary defeat at the hands of an early Zero prototype, which prompts Dr. Light to start working on Mega Man X in secrecy.
Come on Capcom, there’s a gold mine here. I just threw two great ideas out there! A Castlevania style Mega Man title that bridges the storyline gap between Classic and X (which a lot of fans have been curious about) would be really interesting. It sounds like a bold and exciting move while not being at all risky. Going freeroaming and RPG-esque has helped out a lot of series thus far, so why can’t Mega Man join the fun?