The Elements of Gameplay

In my previous article, I dissected the meaning behind several essentially identical terms used to judge games, terms that I hate.  I condensed them under the label of “soul,” and argued that if a game actually had a soul, it would be its gameplay.  I realized that just labeling the real important part of a game as gameplay could sound kind of like the copout I accused the term soul of being.  What exactly is gameplay, anyway?  Well, I’ve actually given that quite a bit of thought, and pinpointed five clearly defined (if often subjective in terms of quality) parts of a game that combine to form that seemingly sacred concept of gameplay.  I’ll be going over each one, so let’s start putting together this Megazord known as gameplay!

Control

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Let’s start with something simple, but vital to every game, arguably the primary thing that defines something as a video game.  Control is one of those things where it being good means you never think about it.  You’re not thinking about the controls when you’re steering an airborne Mario past obstacles or circle strafing demons as Doomguy, but if those games had bad controls you sure as hell would be.  Control is the link between the game and the player, good control adds more to immersion than all the graphical touches and flavor text in the world.  Bad control, on the other hand, will haunt a game no matter how much it excels at the other elements of gameplay.  Control sets the tone for a game: some of the other elements have to be designed entirely around the controls.  One game’s perfect control could ruin a different game, and that could easily go both ways.  Control is the vehicle that the other elements of gameplay ride in, and if it crashes, the entire game goes up in smoke.

Content

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You’re playing a modern retail game that does everything perfectly.  You’re completely absorbed by the gameplay, the first two hours made you fall in love and you can’t wait to see what’s next… CREDITS!?  I think we’ve all felt the painful sucker punch of an unexpected credits sequence.  No matter how a good a game is, er, was, if your $60 purchase ends after two hours it’s probably going to lower your opinion of the experience.  Content is probably the most objective element of gameplay: the amount of levels, missions, secrets, etc. in a game can’t be changed by someone’s opinion.  The objective nature of both what content is and how much an individual game has makes this a simple but important factor when it comes to gameplay.  While content doesn’t really affect the core gameplay experience directly, the truth is quantity does matter to some extent, and I think how long you get to enjoy a game is pretty important.  I mean, what are you going to do after you finish a game, just start it over again?  Wait, maybe you will…

Replay

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I debated on whether to combine this element with the above.  It was tricky because while content and replay serve a nearly identical function, the abundance of one often leads to the lack of the other.  These two elements are the only ones on the list that can almost totally replace each other.  Replay value is the other side of content’s coin.  Content is how much you get out of a game before the credits roll, replay value is whether you want to go back and play the game again after that happens.  The line can blur at times, what does going back to earlier levels for a better rank, with the option to do it before or after you beat the game, count as?  What about looking for secrets needed to unlock the real final level/ending after you saw the first ending?  How the hell do you define when a multiplayer game is being replayed?  Replay can also have a purer form, however.  A truly great game will be fun to play again and again even if you’ve seen everything in it.  If you feel compelled to go back to a completed game again and again over the years, it has truly achieved great replay value.  Replay value is what makes a game immortal, how can it not be part of a game’s soul?

Challenge

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If Content and Replay can make up for each other, Challenge completely inverts that and must fight with itself to reach the correct balance.  A game being too easy makes it boring and pointless.  A game being too hard makes it frustrating and stressful.  To have great gameplay, a game has to use the spice known as difficulty and the sweetener known as mercy in just the right amounts, creating just the right amount of Challenge.  Checkpoints should be placed thoughtfully, difficulty spikes and breathers have to show up at the right times, puzzles have to take effort to solve without throwing the player into a pit of despair that only looking up the solution can rescue them from.  The game must somehow appeal to players of different skill and experience levels in the same package.  A game’s difficulty level may not be the most subjective quality about it, but whether it’s the RIGHT difficulty level is going to cause fistfights.  This is where Challenge versus cheapness comes into play, and games should make sure they only rely on challenge, no matter how many people online define cheapness as “any challenge above my personal skill level.”  If you thread the needle just right, however, you’ll contribute something to gameplay that adds a dimension to the experience which other artistic mediums can’t compare with.

Design

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And now we arrive at what I personally consider to be the most important part of gameplay.  I was originally going to call this element Level Design, but in addition to preferring that every element was one word, there are a few genres where that name wouldn’t fit.  Level design is mostly a cosmetic feature in genres like fighting games or Tetris-style puzzle games, after all.  In the end, there are a lot of terms you could use for this element depending on the genre.  Level design, fighting engine, competitive balance, course layout, it goes on.  At its core, this element is a game’s unique and personal layout, the thing that makes an individual game that specific individual game.  You could mess with the other elements in a game and it would be a variant or fragment of the same game, but Design makes it a new game. All of the other elements are intimately connected with design in every aspect.  The most subjective element when it comes to quality by far, Design is truly the core of the soul, the thing that defines the individual.  Whether it’s designing the level, placing enemies, balancing combat, thinking up puzzles, or deciding how far to go with realism, Design is the most important part of gameplay and by extension the most important part of game.

By Your Powers Combined

So there we have it, the five parts of a game that I believe make up that ideal known as gameplay.  Whether you want to think in terms of Power Rangers/Captain Planet/Avatar/My Little Pony or whatever, they have been assembled and Gameplay, the soul of a game, has been formed.  So, if you ever want to argue with someone bashing your favorite game for lacking “soul,” you can use gameplay as a counterargument, and you can use these elements to define gameplay.  Maybe I’ll write something about the anti-elements at some point, but for now I’ve said all I want to.  See you next time, and remember that gameplay puts the soul in console, wait, gameplay is the only consoulation for… no, don’t be con-souled about the soul of… never mind, just go.

 

Respect the Unexpected

Sometimes when you look back on a game after the fact, you realize it wasn’t as good as you made yourself believe when you first got it, or you realize it was actually a lot better than you gave it credit for.  Those games aren’t the focus of this list.  This list is for games that instantly changed my strong preconceived notions as soon as I played them.  It can either be a game I went into with hype that was instantly deflated, or a game that I expected to hate or at least be indifferent towards that I ended up liking.  I have three examples for both types, and I’ll be alternating between negative and positive.  Since I always like ending on a positive, I’ll let the negative examples start the pattern.  Let’s get started!

Mega Man X6

What I Expected

I really, really love the Mega Man X series.  I would consider the first three games to be my favorite trilogy in all of gaming, and the original Mega Man X is one of my favorite games of all time.  The first four X games are my four favorite Mega Man games of any type, and Mega Man X5 is a step down but still a great game that I have played through dozens of times.  So, it should go without saying that I had very high expectations going into Mega Man X6, it looked like just a level pack for MMX5, but I was fine with that.  Two console MMX games in the same year seemed too good to be true, but really, what could go wrong?

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What Actually Happened

I’m still not sure what the hell happened with Mega Man X6.  MMX6 isn’t a lazy level pack, that would be so much better than what we got.  No, X6 is a train wreck that seems to go out of its way to make as many stupid, frustrating level design choices as possible.  Levels range from the same tedious and frustrating mid-boss fought four times in a row to nightmarish extended dashes to safety as a one hit kill ceiling tries to crush you.  Bosses are just as bad.  Even the story is terrible.  I beat X5, X8, and even the infamous X7 on the day I bought them.  I didn’t force myself to beat X6 until over six months later.  I could tell something was wrong right away, and to this day I don’t understand what happened.  This isn’t the result of greed and laziness, it’s a calculated attempt to twist one of the best gameplay systems there is into a horrible parody of itself.

Doom (1993)

What I Expected

I am a console gamer, I have been ever since I stopped being forced to subsist on Hi-Tech PC games, and I always will be.  So, Doom being a PC originating series that only got inferior console ports for most of its existence put up quite barrier to me getting into it.  I wasn’t all that into first person shooters to begin with, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much, a mid-90s western PC series didn’t sound like it was going to offer much.  I tried the famously arcade like and over the top Serious Sam games via their console compilation, and enjoyed them.  I decided that it was worth trying the Doom compilation, three games and several expansion packs for around $10 made the risk exceptionally low, so why not?  But I wasn’t expecting that much out of it, especially the original Doom and its very direct sequel.

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What Actually Happened

Damn you realism, damn you real guns and human enemies, and damn you every mid-90s magazine dismissing all FPSes as worthless “Doom clones.”  I love old style FPSes.  The varied weapons, the enemies with attacks you can directly dodge, the fast movement and lack of reloading, the creative level design, Doom is everything I wanted in the genre but didn’t know until I played it.  The modern console remasters of Doom and its sequel have everything the PC versions did, and I love them.  Doom and its level pack like sequel are probably my favorite western developed games of the 20th century, and easily my favorite PC originating games of all time.  By extremely good fortune, I got into the series just a bit over a year from the phenomenal DOOM 2016, which I have raved about at length in previous articles.  Doom expanded my horizons in a wonderful way.

Twisted Metal (2012)

What I Expected

I was fascinated by Twisted Metal 2 years before I owned a PlayStation, the characters and concept were very interesting to me and I read all I could about it in game magazines.  My instincts correctly blocked any interest in Twisted Metal 3 and 4, but I eventually got to play TM2 and I liked the gameplay just as much as the characters and concept.  Twisted Metal Black rekindled my interest, even though I once again didn’t have the system it was on when the game was released.  I eventually got it and loved it even more than Twisted Metal 2.  Then the series just disappeared, despite the acclaimed revival.  There was nothing but a decent PSP game for a decade, but then hope came, another reboot of the series.  Not having stories for each car was a big negative, but maybe the unified story mode could make up for it, and the important part was getting more of that signature gameplay, with online I could use!

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What Actually Happened

989 rose from the grave and cursed Twisted Metal 2012.  That’s my best guess, anyway.  For one thing, the “real story mode” was actually just three traditional driver stories (previous games had 4-5 times as many, for reference) glued together, ranging from decent to an idiotic pun ending.  But that’s not the worst part.  The controls were extremely slippery and mocked me by putting in the classic style that I wanted to use but making it unplayable with a small change (Human biology trivia: we only have two thumbs.  Do not demand we use both analog sticks and face buttons at the same time).  And the “story” mode put in absolutely atrocious and mandatory checkpoint race missions that the controls made into pure torture.  Assuming this doesn’t kill the series, the next reboot needs to be much, much, MUCH better.

Knack

What I Expected

Knack has been a running joke ever since it was announced alongside the PlayStation 4.  A generic PS1/2-era platformer with a character getting bigger gimmick, this was what Sony chose to showcase their new console!?  Sony giving digital copies away with PS4s and not bothering to tell the people who bought the systems just made the game more of a laughing stock.  While I didn’t think the game looked horrible, it seemed like it focused on mindless combat with minimal platforming.  I had little desire to play it unless I could find it for really cheap, and even then it would mainly be so I could make fun of it while streaming it.  Well, the game was $5 on a PSN Flash Sale, so I jumped on it.  While in my Skype group chat I started the stream, ready to laugh at the infamous Knack.

knack

What Actually Happened

My thoughts upon starting the game were that the controls were actually very good.  Combat was pretty solid, much better than I was expecting and actually a significant challenge on hard mode.  Good enemy variety.  Wow, the levels are really long, and there are a ton of worlds.  I thought, “Maybe people were too harsh on this game, or maybe it all goes to repetitive hell soon”.  It didn’t.  The levels and enemies stayed varied throughout the game, the platforming wasn’t too frequent but there was enough to add variety to the combat.  The combat was fast paced and reminded me of classic beat-em-ups, specifically Turtles in Time for some reason (my favorite game in the genre).  Knack… Knack is a hidden gem.  It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s a very solid game that definitely kicks the crap out of PS4’s other 2013 and 2014 exclusives.  I’m genuinely anticipating Knack 2, which looks like a significant improvement on what turned out to be a solid foundation.  Give this game a chance: the fact that it’s getting a sequel is a miracle.

Grand Theft Auto III

What I Expected

If you’ve been following my articles, you probably saw this coming a mile away.  But if you haven’t, this is probably a pretty big surprise.  The first two negative example games are hated by most people, but not Grand Theft Auto 3.  This is considered one of the most influential games of all time, it basically started a genre and just look at how much you can do!  Being under 17 and having just recently convinced my parents to let me play M rated games when GTA3 came out in 2001, I decided not to push my luck and ignored it while everyone raved about it.  Years later, I finally picked up the game, my first GTA.  Having heard everyone rave about this game for years and intrigued by the length and scale of the game, I had pretty high hopes when I started.  What could possibly go wrong?

gta3

What Actually Happened

Did you realize that I was referencing Bubsy there?  Now don’t worry, I’m not going to be a hyperbolic hater and say Grand Theft Auto 3 is comparable to Bubsy 3D in quality.

…But it is about as good as the original Bubsy.  Now before you tear into me and I retaliate with my story about how I missed out on a genre I really enjoy for years because everyone insisted GTA was the pinnacle of it (the first good GTA game is Saints Row 2), let me go over everything GTA3 does wrong.  Horrific aiming system, absurdly harsh penalty for dying that means you basically have to load your save every time that happens (and save points are NOT frequent), having to drive back to the start of missions every time you want to try again, needing to track down hidden packages that could be absolutely anywhere in the entire game if you want to mitigate that penalty for dying, this open world game from 2001 not having a freaking MAP.  Trying to actually play this game for any purpose besides mindless chaos is a nightmare, and the game still makes said chaos a pain in the ass to accomplish.  The consequences for dying or being arrested being so harsh goes completely against the “freedom” this game supposedly gave players.  And while future GTAs would fix some of the problems from this game, several gigantic ones stayed around until Grand Theft Auto V in 2013, the first game in the series I actually like.  And it would have been so easy to fix these problems (the HD remaster of San Andreas fixes enough to make it enjoyable), but no one seemed to care about them in any way until Grand Theft Auto IV’s fan backlash.  Sorry, but I think GTA3 is a genuinely bad game and probably the most overrated of all time.

Tetris Attack

What I Expected

Puzzle games seemed inherently boring to me when I was new to gaming.  Doing nothing in a game but rearranging blocks seemed completely pointless.  I was aware of Tetris because everyone on the planet is, but I had no desire to play it, similar games, or games that I would later discover only had its name slapped on them for a marketing gimmick (you know, we’d probably have this game on Virtual Console if it was called Yoshi’s Puzzle League).  I never would have chosen to play Tetris Attack, but Blockbuster had a promotion where renting it came with a free other game rental of your choice, so there was no reason not to rent it.  And since I had the cart, why not give it a quick chance?  But aside from the Yoshi’s Island setting, I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy anything in the game, it would probably be a more colorful Wordtris.

tetrisattack

What Actually Happened

Literally the second I started playing I loved it.  I could go on about why Tetris Attack is the best puzzle game of all time, going into how the mechanics fix a massive flaw inherent to almost every other competitive puzzle game, but that wasn’t what I was thinking when I played the game the first time.  The intuitive and addictive base gameplay is what drew me in when I thought I hated puzzle games.  The competitive mode gave things a fighting game feel that I loved.  There was just something so inherently satisfying about the game, I don’t remember exactly what I identified it as on that day over 20 years ago, but I know my love was instantaneous.  My horizons were expanded that day, and Tetris Attack has remained one of my favorite games on my favorite system without ever wavering.  That moment where a game connects with you instantly and against all your expectations is something that can’t be fully recreated at both my age where I have played so many games, and in the age we live in where you can easily watch videos and read all you want about every game before you play it.  There’s a magic in my first encounter with Tetris Attack that I will always remember.

So, there you have it, six games that flipped my perception of them upside down within the first play session.  Aside from my personal reminiscing, the takeaway from this article I want everyone to have is that you can’t really know what a game is like until you play it.  Even with games where my expectations weren’t so radically shattered, nothing except ruining the game by watching a full playthrough can really let you know what a game is like before you play it.  Always be prepared going into a game, it might be a tragic disappointment, but it could also be a magical moment or great surprise that you never saw coming.

 

Lots of Red, No White but Blue

Hello. This is Dari.  I am starting a new series called “Dari-Isms.”  This is going to try to explain the inner machinations of my mind, which apparently a lot of people don’t understand.  Most of these are going to be about gaming, but I may throw some other opinion pieces in, if people want to hear them. Today I’m gonna talk about some of my favorite and least favorite Capcom “mascots” of yesteryear. I am mainly going to talk about Ryu and Ken (of Street Fighter) and Zero and Megaman X (of Megaman X).

Let’s start with Ryu. Ryu is the mascot and the face of Street Fighter. He is most likely the first person anyone thinks of when they think of fighting games in general, not just Street Fighter. This is one of the reasons I hate him. He’s a very boring character. And his moveset, while copied and done better by most of the other characters that share his moveset, is also quite plain. Ryu himself usually moves like an old man with bad arthritis. He’s so stiff; I wonder how he even fights with any sort of speed! (i.e. crossover games like Marvel vs Capcom.) His Hadoken attack is usually very slow, but powerful. His Shoryuken is again, slow but powerful, and invincible on startup depending on the game, but again, it’s very stiff and can easily be stuffed or even just plain dodged, because it’s easily telegraphed. Ryu’s story is just plain sad. He’s a nomad from Japan who doesn’t have a family who just wanders around trying to get stronger, fight strong opponents and fight the ‘Satsui no Hado’ which can (and has depending on the game/timeline) overtake him and turn him evil, like another one of his counterparts, Akuma. But that’s another story for another time. Ryu is a terrible character. I understand he’s the “entry character” and he’s the base for everyone to learn off, but I feel like they’ve added so many more interesting characters that can take his place, that Ryu really would have, and should have faded into the background. He can still be the face of the series, but he can just be that. He doesn’t need half the popularity he has. He needs to sit down somewhere and stay there for a while. Now, again, he doesn’t need to sit out of a game where Street Fighter characters are prominent, but I mean he needs something to make him interesting.

In contrast, let’s talk about Ken Masters. Ken Masters originally started as the Player 2 alternative for Ryu. But he’s grown so much more since then. Ever since Street Fighter 2, he’s grown so much since being Ryu’s copy. He has fire in his shoryukens, which differentiates him from boring old, stiff Ryu. Also it seems like Ken has more mobility than Ryu ever will. It’s possibly because he’s younger than him.  Ken, I feel focuses more on his kicks than his counterpart. He also seems to have evolved more than his sparring partner. He has a shinryuken attack (in some games and media) that has him doing a strong shoryuken attack covered in a pillar of fire. Ryu cannot do this as far as what’s been shown. Ken also has a shin shoryuken which can hit for 2 or 3 times with his fire shoryuken. Ryu only does it once, but while there’s a lot of power behind it, it’s not as flexible or unique as Ken’s. Ken’s story is also fairly interesting. He has a family, a wife and a son. Some people would say that someone with a family shouldn’t be fighting, but he makes money this way and he also keeps up with his buddy Ryu, and keeps him relevant. So it’s fine. Ken is also an American. He met Ryu while at a tournament. They became friends and sparring partners under Gouken. Ken fights for his family and to be stronger in general. See how much better Ken is than Ryu? This is why I like Ken more than Ryu. They may have started as clones of each other but Ken Masters evolved more as a character than Ryu probably ever will.

Time to switch gears and move on to the two robots. I’ll start with Zero.  Zero is the bane of the Megaman X series in my eyes. He is supposedly the only creation of Megaman X that Keiji Inafune made. He wanted him in the beginning of the Megaman X series to be the star, but Capcom told him no. He decided to make him the star anyway. He had to save Megaman X in every game. If he wasn’t trying to save him, X himself was trying to rebuild him because he felt like he needed his friend back to save the world. I find this demoralizing to X and it made him seem like he was trying to steal the main character’s thunder. I find this extremely rude. Zero was so prominent in the grand scheme of things, that Megaman X was an unlockable character in his own game over him! Megaman X8 was the last game in the series. The Character who has been most prominent of the few times that Megaman X was represented was Zero. X appeared in the Project X Zone games, but those games weren’t as popular. Zero was in Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and a few other games. Megaman Zero even got his own very successful series of its own right, even using X as a boss. I find that demeaning but Capcom did what they wanted so I cannot fault them for what gave them a bunch of money in the end, even if they wouldn’t give X a chance.  I feel like Zero was made to steal the thunder of X and make him obsolete in comparison. They succeeded a bit too well. There are some fans who still care about X and remember who he is. These people are the only people who keep X’s spirit alive. And thanks to that X finally appears in a popular game again, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. The rumors say that X will be very prominent in the story and he was the first character shown, aside Ryu. My personal opinion is that Zero shouldn’t appear in this and let X have his own shine, as he’s never allowed him to do so in his own series besides then. All Zero did was take over someone else’s series, kill it and then get his own series to succeed, to leave the character he stepped on in the dust.

Finally, we’ll talk about X. Megaman X is the Megaman who took over for Megaman Classic in his own series. X is a really good character that’s underestimated. He’s very powerful, yet he also wants peace. Gamers don’t like this aspect of him, even if Megaman Classic had the same attitude, and he was praised for it. Megaman was sadly overshadowed for Zero. And Zero went out of his way to kill his character and his series. Megaman X was a good character, but most people didn’t like him over his counterpart. He had powerful armors and he was great when he did battle. I feel like X needs more recognition and respect. He was unlockable in one of his own games where his name was still prominent in the title! He is a Megaman and he seems to be either bad luck or a curse upon anything he’s been in recently. I still enjoy Megaman X over Zero because he’s the underdog and even though he’s the main character, some people don’t acknowledge him, or will give him its due respect.

In summation, I like Ken Masters because he’s a great evolution of what was literally a palette swap of Ryu, who is a boring nomad who’s trying to control his evil. I enjoy X because he’s disrespected even though he’s the main character. I hate Zero because he stole the show from Megaman X and killed the entire series to spite X. He also apparently took over the entire representation of the series for some odd reason.  Not to say I hate all second fiddles to Capcom games, Protoman was good because he knew his place. He was a second fiddle to Megaman Classic,  but he didn’t outshine his Megaman, and he was still popular in the long run. I wish Zero could have taken this precedent, but sadly he didn’t.

Of Axioms and Idioms: A Breath of Fresh Err

Well, I said I had a second topic in this series and I’m going to use it. Welcome to another entry in “Of Axioms and Idioms” – the series where I detail some of my more less-specific opinions when it comes to video games. Last time, I detailed how playing later games in a series retroactively ruined their predecessors if I’m not familiar with them in the first place. While this seems obvious in hindsight (sequels are supposed to improve upon previous iterations in the series), it is one of those issues that seems to plague me on a wider scale – not merely effecting how I see series of games, but rather entire sub-genres.

Today’s topic is a little more complex and probably more rigid than the previous entry. When it comes to “bad games” in a series – that is, the ones that are generally considered the worst of their series – I’m generally more forgiving of them the more they deviate from their franchise’s standard formula. Quite simply put, if a game is experimental and bad, I’m far more likely to accept its shortcomings and look upon the game more favorably compared to games that are just a shallow and/or flawed recreation of the series’ pinnacle.

The two games that inspired this article were the fourth and fifth games in the Ys series, both released on the Super Famicom. While Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys for the PC Engine is generally considered among the best games in the entire series, the Super Famicom’s Mask of the Sun was developed by Tonkin House – who previously handled the SNES port of Wanderers of Ys, which is generally considered the worst of the fourth-generation console ports. Both games had similar design philosophies: taking inspiration from the first two Ys games. However, the SFC version took more inspiration from the earlier PC releases of those games, which required significantly more precision when landing attacks. This didn’t translate that well given both the Super Famicom’s simpler control scheme and the comparatively more forgiving Ys: Books I & II, which predated Mask of the Sun by almost 4 years. This led the SFC version of Ys IV to be considered among the worst games in the series.

Its sequel, Ys V: Kefin, Lost City of Sand, didn’t fare much better in terms of reception. Discarding the traditional “run-and-bump” gameplay that the series popularized in favor of a more traditional “hack-and-slash” attack mechanic common to action RPGs, Ys V was a significant departure from its predecessors’ established formula – much like the aforementioned Ys III. However, unlike Ys III, this game would have a much more permanent effect on the series – with future games adopting the more standard attacks system, though handling it much better. Ys V’s controls were terrible – Adol’s slashes felt less responsive than those from the original Legend of Zelda in 1986. The jumping mechanics were awkward and worst of all, different sword upgrades would change the style of Adol’s attack: a horizontal slash or a “stab” (though, I thought it looked more like a “poke”) with more forward range. Throw in a magic system that’s essentially useless and you’ve got Kefin in a nutshell. Due to the lack of any other releases, Ys V is generally considered the worst game in the entire franchise – but due to the lack of any companion titles or remakes, it’s kind of an unfair comparison.

Honestly, at first glance, I would probably say that it’s hard to determine which of these two games is worse overall. They’re both essentially blights on their franchise – but neither game really did that much damage to the overall reputation of Ys. Looking back though, I’d probably say that I may have enjoyed Ys V slightly more and my reasoning is simple. Mask of the Sun attempted to recreate gameplay I had seen earlier, but was less competent in the process. It effectively tried and failed to achieve the same level of quality from a previous iteration in its franchise, which gave it no reason to exist. Ys V, for all its flaws, at least attempted something new for the franchise. It may have also have failed miserably, but it tweaked the series’ formula and tried something new. Ys IV had a blueprint for success: its counterpart on the PC Engine proves that. Ys V had no plan, no established formula to follow. While its experiments failed miserably, they led to further games and better titles down the line.

My next example may be a little controversial, as pretty much no one considers one of these games bad anymore. However, for quite some time, it was considered fashionable to bash the Western version of Super Mario Bros. 2 (known as Super Mario USA in Japan) for not being the “true” Mario 2. This title belonged instead to Japan’s Super Mario Bros. 2 (known as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels elsewhere). The latter is essentially a level pack, with insane stage designs that far exceeded what was possible with the original’s controls left intact. I’d go so far as to say that it’s essentially just a less-playable version of the first Super Mario Brothers. Meanwhile, Super Mario USA was an improved reskin of a Fuji TV collaboration game known as Doki Doki Panic. I know, everyone knows that old story. What’s more interesting, however, was the later reveal that Doki Doki Panic was based on a scrapped Mario prototype that focused more on vertical platforming. So, in the end, Super Mario USA could be considered more of a Mario 2 than the “official” Lost Levels.

Another example is a bit odd: the sixth and seventh games in the MegaMan X series. Let me make myself perfectly clear: I completely despise MegaMan X6. It’s probably the worst MegaMan game Capcom ever made in-house. While X7 seems to be considered a worse game overall, it at least had the excuse of attempting to recreate the classic action of the MegaMan platformers in 3D. It’s hard to argue that it failed in this regard. X6, on the other hand, had absolutely no excuse to be as terrible as it was. It was built using the engine of my favorite game in that entire sub-series (MegaMan X4). X5 may have been a downgrade from its predecessor, but X6 crashed and burned. Terrible level design, unbalanced boss fights, the addition of X’s awkward Z-saber attack, the ability to get completely trapped in an area if you lack the right power-up – the only redeeming factor was probably the soundtrack!

There are even cases where swapping genres can work out well for a series. Take, for example, Double Dragon. After the disappointing Sacred Stones, Super Double Dragon was an attempt to recreate the magic of the first two games. While the SNES had a legendary amount of quality beat-‘em-ups, Super Double Dragon not only failed to stand out among its contemporaries, but even faltered in comparison to its predecessors. Conversely, when Technos Japan attempted to make a Double Dragon fighting game for SNK’s NeoGeo platform, it turned out well: despite the sheer amount of competition in that genre on NeoGeo, “Double Dragon” would do so well that it eventually received a spiritual sequel, Rage of the Dragons. Of course, Tradewest – Double Dragon’s publisher in North America – attempted their own fighting game earlier – Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls. The less said about that one, the better.

This even applies to games that are generally considered dead-ends. While I liked both the NES Zeldas more than I expected upon playing them, I think I had a slight preference for Zelda II. Frankly, I’m almost certain that that’s because the original Zelda presented itself as a more primitive version of the other 2D games in the series, while Zelda II was strikingly different. Zelda II was effectively a side-scrolling action RPG, compared to the top-down adventure formula that most of the early games in the series encapsulated, and that difference made it stick out a bit more in my mind. The same could be said for Ys III: Wanderers from Ys – to the extent where I constantly compared Zelda II and Ys III while playing both. It doesn’t hurt that they were considered evolutionary dead-ends in their respective series – and by extension, inherently terrible – but to me, they were simply interesting deviations. Even more ironically, both games were followed by what was generally considered the early masterpieces of their respective series: A Link to the Past and The Dawn of Ys, respectively.

Unlike my “Bayonetta May Cry” axioms, there’s a method to my madness. If a successful formula has already been established for a series, ruining it with a mediocre follow-up that attempts to hit the same note should be impossible. Let me be clear: I’m not talking about games that simply don’t live up to their predecessors and are lambasted as retreads. I’m talking about games in existing series that attempt to recreate their established formula and fail miserably. The MegaMan games for DOS are a perfect example – they were intended to resemble the popular NES games, but failed on pretty much every level. When a series’ formula has been established, there’s a blueprint for success. If the game deviates from that formula in a meaningful way – by changing core mechanics or even switching genres, there’s at least an excuse for a piss-poor final product. There’s just no excuse if a company’s creating a copy-paste of a previous title and manages to create something objectively inferior to what came before.

There’s a corollary here as well. Bad games using established formulas can be toxic to long-running series: there’s always the chance that it won’t simply be considered a bad game, but rather the formula itself has gotten stale and repetitive. On the other hand, development mishaps in a title that deviates from the norm can yield better results down the line. The aforementioned Ys V is a perfect example of this – the following games in the series also utilized “hack and slash” and platforming elements and improved vastly over their SFC predecessor, essentially creating a new trilogy of games that are arguably better than even The Dawn of Ys.

Of course, judging whether something is a bad game or if the entire formula has gotten stale gets harder to judge when there’s a generational gap between games. It’s relatively easy to tell if a game is legitimately worse than its predecessor if they were released during the same generation, especially if they’re both on the same system. Comparing an NES game to its sequel on PS4 makes it hard to determine whether the game suffered from being recreated imperfectly or if the original game itself was simply considered good for nostalgic reasons. Obviously, there’s a chance that the formula itself could just become inherently stale and in need of alteration or outright rejection for the series to survive. Of course, this would have little effect on the quality of the original game itself – it’s a simple case of diminishing returns, nothing uncommon when it comes to video games in general.

In the end, I guess it’s a matter of taste. For some people, deviating from an established formula is essentially considered betrayal of what made that particular series great in the first place. I can respect that difference in opinion, but I believe that at the very least failing in an entirely new way is, at the very least, more interesting than watching someone incompetently recreate a game I liked. More importantly, what do you think? Do you agree that failing in a different way is at least more interesting than second-rate reruns? Are established formulas the key to success? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.

 

Abbott and Costello Meet 10 Games I Want Ported to PC

Hello again, readers. I know I kind of missed out on doing an article earlier this month, but I’m hoping to make up for it with this one. Yep, another article about PC ports. That’s not to say that it’s all been gloom and doom: Sega gave a surprise announcement that the original Valkyria Chronicles would be ported to PC earlier this month, with support for 1080p (and higher) resolutions, the capability to run at 60 frames-per-second, remappable controls (keyboard/mouse support too) and all of the previous DLC included in the base package for the low price of $20. Better still, sales of the game have all but exceeded Sega’s expectations, so there’s a distinct possibility that we’ll see even more delayed ports of Sega games hit PC in the coming months. Tekken 7 was recently announced to be running on two different types of arcade cabinets when it launches in Japan, one that makes use of the System 369 board (used for Tag2, matching the PS3’s specs) and their current System ES (a PC-based architecture), which is fueling existing rumors that Tekken 7 will be hitting PC in addition to PS4 and Xbox One. Finally, in response to Xbox One becoming compatible with Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 10, it’s being speculated that there’s a possibility that more XBO exclusives will be making the jump to PC at some point in the future, either as full ports or through some ability to stream the games on PC from the console itself.

Needless to say, it’s been a good couple of months for PC gaming in terms of news. Best of all, at least from my perspective, is that my streak of game requests getting PC ports announced appears to be unstoppable. Just a couple of days ago, it was revealed that H2 Interactive, the Korean publisher that has been handling the re-releases of Arc System Works’ fighters on Steam, is going to be porting Blazblue: Continuum Shift EXTEND to Steam next month.

Once again, it’s time to go over the rules. This is pretty much second nature to anyone who’s read any of my previous lists, and if you haven’t, you totally should. A lot of gems buried in those older lists and it may even answer the question of why certain games I’ve mooned over don’t show up this time around. My lists stick mostly to third-party companies (aside from Microsoft) with a general focus on companies that have recently released games on PC. Games will be taken from the seventh (360/Wii/PS3) and eighth (WiiU/PS4/XBO) generations of video games, as well as handhelds from those eras and mobile games. Games that weren’t system exclusives are preferred. Finally, games from the same series released on the same console can be packaged together on a single list entry. Well, that was relatively painless, now to hit you with some games.

Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse – WayForward (3DS/WiiU)

I’ve always been kind of interested in the Shantae series, ever since I first saw an ad for the first game in magazines back in Junior High. Unfortunately, due to a strange aversion to playing video games out of release order, I was only able to actually play through the entire series this past year. Since Risky’s Revenge is already on Steam and the fourth game’s already has a confirmed PC release (among many other platforms), it seems reasonable to ask that “Shantae 3” get the same treatment after the announced Wii U release. Use the Wii U version and Risky’s Revenge Director’s Cut as a base and it should turn out just fine. Considering Matt Bozon teased the possibility of Pirate’s Curse on other platforms, I’d say there’s a pretty good shot we’ll be seeing it hit Steam’s storefront in the future.

de Blob series – Nordic Games GmbH (Wii/360/PS3)

Recently, Nordic Games announced that they had purchased the rights to THQ’s colorful platformer duology, de Blob. Honestly, I view that as kind of a relief: we never really heard about the franchise’s fate during the sale of THQ’s assets after they went bankrupt. Other titles like Saint’s Row, Company of Heroes and Darksiders all got picked up pretty quickly. Better still, Nordic Games even teased that they were considering working on new entries in the franchise. What better way to gauge interest in the franchise than re-releasing the first two games on other platforms, like PC for example?

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown – Sega (360/PS3)

Well, for starters, this is the third and final game in that Sega PC Ports petition I keep spamming at you. More importantly, it’s a damn good fighting game of the 3D variety, and the PC could definitely use more of those. Considering the fact that Sega’s planning an update to the arcade version (which unfortunately will be removing the game’s online features), there’s proof that the game still has a little more life left in it. Might as well port it to PC and introduce it to an all-new audience.

MegaMan Powered Up/MegaMan: Maverick Hunter X – Capcom (PSP)

In the wake of Valkyria Chronicles’ recent re-release and success on Steam, it seems only fair that I bring up another two games that I feel deserves another shot and a PC port could be the best way to achieve that. Considering the fact that Capcom’s recent releases in the MegaMan series have been re-releases of old games anyway, this would be a much better way of achieving this sort of thing. MegaMan Powered Up is probably one of the best and most necessary video game remakes of all-time. Maverick Hunter X, not as much, but it was definitely an interesting package, especially with the OVA and Vile Mode. Neither game really found its audience, as they were released exclusively on PSP early in its lifespan before it found its audience in any region.

The Legend of Heroes: Gagharv Trilogy  – Nihon Falcom/Bandai Namco (PSP)

Technically, these are actually three games: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch (the second game released in North America), A Tear of Vermillion  (the second game in the trilogy, but the first released over here) and Song of the Ocean (third game in both respects). One of the few standard turn-based RPGs made by the folks over at Falcom, I found these games somewhat interesting. Unfortunately, due to my personal aversion to using the PSP, I was never able to finish them. Considering the fact that other games in the Legend of Heroes series have been making their way to Steam (the first game in the Trails of the Sky trilogy has already been released on there and the second part is expected to release soon), it seems reasonable to consider a Steam port. I’m not sure if Bandai Namco still owns the rights to these games, but if not, I’m sure XSEED would do an excellent job on porting them, like they did with the Ys games.

Sunset Overdrive – Microsoft Studios/Insomniac Games (XBO)

This one’s pretty obvious, honestly. It’s a bright and colorful third-person shooter with parkour elements and one of the few Xbox One exclusives that makes the system worth owning, at least in my opinion. Of course, having said that, it’s probably unlikely that we’ll see a port of this game to PC for quite some time, at least until the XBO’s library is healthier. Of course, considering the fact that Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome (both proclaimed “exclusives” at launch) eventually made their way to PC, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Sunset Overdrive share the same fate a year or two down the line.

Samurai Shodown II – SNK Playmore (360/iOS)

Considering the fact that they’ve been releasing a lot of other games on Steam lately, this one seems like another slam dunk. Regardless, I might as well discuss it. Aside from the King of Fighters games, the Samurai Shodown games are probably SNK’s most popular fighting game franchise, and SS2 is definitely the most popular game in the entire series. Throw in the bonuses and online functionality that we’ve seen in their recent PC Metal Slug releases, give it a similar pricepoint, and I’m sure it’ll sell like hotcakes.

Princess Crown – Atlus/Vanillaware (PSP)

Ever since I first played Muramasa: The Demon Blade on the original Wii, I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the game’s predecessors. After all, Muramasa’s codename during development was “Princess Crown 3”, while Odin Sphere was referred to as “Princess Crown 2”. Unfortunately, Princess Crown itself has never actually been released outside of Japan. Regardless, I’d still like to see it hit North America at some point in the future, specifically on PC, but seeing it hit other platforms would be great as well.

Bangai-O HD: Missile Fury – Treasure (360)

An interesting take on the bullet-hell genre, Bangai-O is a quirky game from Treasure that seems to keep changing every time they release it. The first game was originally made for the Nintendo 64 as a Japanese-exclusive title, but also eventually release in all three major regions on the Dreamcast with enhanced graphics, remixed music and less slowdown. It involved going through stages in an almost platformer-style fashion, while still utilizing typical shmup controls and movement options. The second game, Bangai-O Spirits, was released exclusively on the Nintendo DS, and was more of a puzzle game than anything else, clearing stages with custom weapon loadouts. Missile Fury resembles the original more than Spirits, and the jury’s out on whether it’s a remake of the original or a direct sequel. Regardless, Missile Fury outclasses its predecessors in one significant way: it finally achieves the twin-stick control scheme it’s been aiming for since it was first released on the N64. Either way, it looks hella fun and considering Treasure’s current proclivity to PC re-releases it would be a fine addition to any bullet-hell fan’s Steam library.

Omega Five – Natsume/Hudson Soft [Konami] (360)

Speaking of twin-stick shmups, Omega Five was an interesting experiment. Controlling your character with the left-stick and their aim with the right-stick, the game otherwise sort of resembles Capcom’s old Forgotten Worlds, one of my favorite early shmups. Unfortunately, since the game was originally published by Hudson Soft, I’m not aware if the rights to this game managed to be retained by Konami. Regardless, I’d love to see Omega Five get a second chance on a more welcoming platform.

I was prepared to accept the fact that my streak was technically dead at the end of this article, but I guess it’s stronger than I could have possibly imagined. Nothing new on my lists had been announced to be receiving any PC ports until the last possible day I could’ve gotten any news otherwise. Regardless, I was fine seeing the streak die, after all three games from my lists got announced back in September, so if I wanted to be technical about the whole “one game per list” gimmick. Considering all of the other good PC news I’ve seen lately, I’m sure things will pick up at some point. Until then, I’ll be waiting for SNK and H2 Interactive to release those new (well, new to PC) fighting games on Steam.

Sum of Its Parts: MegaMan X9

Originally, the next topic in the Sum of Its Parts series was going to be something completely different. However, both due to some recent developments with the franchise’s owner and because my last article in the series involved the same genre, I felt that this make for a less monotonous article this time around. As this series itself was inspired by one of my Megarants from last year, it seemed only fitting to revisit the series in a full-fledged article. After all, despite the fact that we’ve got Inti Creates’ Azure Striker Gunvolt coming out later this month in North America, as well as Comcept’s Mighty No. 9 set to release sometime next year, people still long to see a new entry in the MegaMan series.

I’ve already covered my wishlist for a potential MM11, but what else is there? The MegaMan Zero and Battle Network series both came to definite conclusions. People are still clamoring for Legends 3, but considering the controversy regarding the cancellation (sorry, failure to greenlight), it would probably be best to let things cool down before deciding to go anywhere with it. The Star Force games were fairly unpopular, even among fans of its predecessor. So I guess that leaves…MegaMan ZX3! Okay, okay, I know, I’m just dancing around the obvious. Despite my personal distaste for the series, if Capcom doesn’t decide to make another Classic MegaMan game, the obvious choice is MegaMan X9.

Why MegaMan X9 over anything else? Well, it’s obvious: the X series is quite popular among many fans of the series, arguably second only to the original Classic series at this point. A better question is why should I, someone who professes to hate MegaMan X (and I do), be considered the arbiter of what would make for an ideal new game in this series? Well, I did like the first 4 MMX games (the fifth was okay, but X6 was so incompetently designed, it killed any interest I had in continuing the series), I do have something of an inkling of where the series came from and where it should be going. There’s also the fact that I was actually a fan of the X games’ sequel series: Zero and ZX. Most important, at least in my opinion, is the fact that the first X game is not my favorite of the franchise.

What’s so important about that particular opinion of mine, you ask? Well, most people (with the exception of an ill-conceived article on Game Informer) I’ve seen write on their opinion of how to create an ideal ninth game in the X franchise tend to say that it should be as close to the original as possible. But why try to imitate the original, when we can try to exceed it? MegaMan 10 is my favorite game in the Classic MegaMan sub-line because it attempted to exceed MM2, where its predecessor only succeeded in aping it. Shouldn’t we try to apply the same principles to the X series?

As usual, gameplay will be the main topic we tackle in this article. First off, let’s discuss the game’s base style. For X9, I feel like as with MM9 and 10, there should be a return to the game’s base roots. Yep, make it a full-on 2D platformer, just like the SNES and PS1 games. Well, the first PS1 game, anyway. Dashing, charge shots, armor upgrades, all that good stuff. Make the engine as solid and responsive as the SNES games, X4 and 5. Actually, speaking of 5, maybe you should bring back the crouch mechanic from X5 (and by extension, X6). Hell, maybe even just make it exclusive to specific characters.

Speaking of which, definitely bring back the multiple playable character options first introduced in X4. I personally preferred being able to choose a single character for the duration of the single-player campaign and the differences seen in X4 (different bosses for specific characters) could be further expanded in X9. X and Zero are both must-haves at this point, but we could have more than just those two. Personally, I found Vile Mode to be the most interesting part of Maverick Hunter X, so bringing him into the fold would be interesting, especially if that led to some sort of alternate universe where the Mavericks in this game were Maverick Hunters instead and there was an entirely different fortress stage, where Vile storms Maverick Hunter headquarters and blasts everything to cinders. Of course, we’ve also got to deal with the elephant in the room, Axl. Since I’ve got very little experience with the games he appeared in, I’m not exactly sure how he plays. From what I can tell, he gets different types of ammo for his guns, somewhat like a cross between X and Vile, but his main ability in X8 appears to be Copy Shot/“A-Trans” which allows him to transform into various enemies. He’s also got an aimable rapid-fire gun, similar to Bass from MM&B in X8. So how do we rectify this? I say, let him keep the rapid-fire pistol, but instead of giving him random weapons from bosses, we implement his A-Trans ability similarly to the way ZX Advent handled it with Model A: allow Axl to transform into the Mavericks he defeats, giving him access to their weapons and some special abilities. Now that would be pretty cool, at least in my opinion.

That brings us to my next point, my ideal X9 would implement some elements from the X series’ direct sequels in order to improve on the original, especially the MegaMan Zero games. Frankly, I’d like to see an X game with the difficulty of the second or even the third Zero game. Hell, give Zero a choice of a secondary weapon he can use. Maybe not anything exclusive to the Zero games themselves, because they would be anachronistic, but hell, getting a MMZ-caliber Z-Buster would be pretty cool. Make it smaller and weaker than the X-Buster for balancing. Some original weaponry would be pretty interesting too, especially if it makes Zero a more versatile character. Throwing in a hub world (like those from the Zero and ZX games) would be an interesting addition as well. Having the option to explore Maverick Hunter HQ would be better than simply being forced to switch between stodgy menus, though I’d leave the menus in, as some people don’t care for that level of detail. Better yet, you could even throw in some optional interactions or even sub-missions with various NPCs, like the Navigators, Signas and various other Maverick Hunters to extend gameplay.

Of course, this leads to an important point I touched on in the MM11 article: the game’s length. Let’s face it, MegaMan X games are typically about as long as their Classic counterparts and in today’s marketplace, you just can’t charge that much for a game that short. So we have two options: charge less for the games or increase their length. This is another area where emulating the Zero games would come in handy for X9. In addition to the typical 8 stages and multi-staged fortress we see in most MM platformers, the Zero games also typically threw in some additional stages that took place outside of that typical format. Considering X3 attempted something like that with Vile’s mini-stage and both X5 and X6 attempted something similar with Dynamo, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Maybe utilize some Mechaniloid bosses as opposed to Reploids, in order to further distinguish them from the main 8 bosses. Though honestly, increasing the number of Mavericks X et al. fight in the ninth game would be pretty cool.

Now typically, I don’t get involved with any sort of a storyline for games I write up in the Sum of Its Parts series, but considering my musings on this topic in previous articles, it’s only fair that I discuss it yet again. For those of you out there who are familiar with this controversy, the eighth (and at the time of writing, latest) game in the MegaMan X series kind of ended on a cliffhanger. As such, part of the fanbase wants to see the conclusion to these plot points in the ninth game of the series. On the other hand, another faction within the MMX fanbase doesn’t really care much for where the storyline went in later games and are much more in favor of a sort of “soft reboot”, ignoring certain games’ effects on the canon. Obviously, there’s no way to please both sides of the audience. While I may not care for many of the story elements of the later games, I think it’ll be easier to win back the soft reboot group if Capcom puts enough effort into the gameplay itself. The people who want to see the plot threads wrapped up are likely more die-hard about how the game’s storyline turns out. It’s probably for the best to just let them have that one.

Next up, let’s discuss the graphics. Again, this will be a bit of a retread for some of you, but it’s still worth revisiting. The majority of the people I’ve seen pitch ideas for how their ideal MMX9 would turn out either want the game to utilize the same artstyle as the SNES games (arguing that they are the equivalent to using NES graphics for MM9 and 10) or they want to see them use the same artstyle from the PS1 games (for the same reasons, I guess?). I’ve also seen some people ask for a 2.5D artstyle, not unlike Maverick Hunter X, because I dunno, wave of the future. My personal choice? I’d love to see some high-definition sprites or some hand-drawn graphics, but as long as the sprite-to-screen ratio remains the same as the SNES/PS1 games, I think I’ll be fine.

There’s one last thing I’d like to discuss on this topic. Which company would be the best to make a brand new entry in the MegaMan X series? Inti Creates is, of course, at the top of my list, due to their work on the Classic, Zero and ZX series. Similarly, I brought up WayForward as a potential company for a Classic game, but they could probably work somewhat well on an X game. Of course, I wish Yacht Club Games’ debut release had been out when I was brainstorming the best company to take over MegaMan Classic, because Shovel Knight leads me to believe they’d be an even better choice for any MegaMan platformer than WayForward themselves. Of course, SNES Master KI once said that he’d love to see Nintendo’s Retro Studios make a MMX game exclusively for Nintendo platforms. I must admit, that would be interesting to behold. I’d personally like to see Treasure’s take on a MegaMan game, and the X series seems like the best fit for their style of run-and-gun games. Hell, Capcom would be better off using them for X9 than just making an expansion for that massive bomb Gaist Crusher. Capcom Vancouver might also be an interesting pick, they seem to be fans of the MegaMan franchise in general and it would be cool to see them work on something besides Dead Rising (as much as I love the series). Of course, considering Capcom’s currently hiring staff for game development, it could even be internally developed. Whoever Capcom ends up going with for this project, hopefully they pay tribute to the better games in the franchise and don’t leave us with just another rushed blunder like X6. Hopefully, if X9 does well, we can see some other MM spinoffs return. Maybe even get the conclusion to the ZX series?

Challenge From The Future

All things considered, it hasn’t really been the worst of years for the Blue Bomber. Sure, we got nothing in terms of announcements for new games and the only re-releases we managed to receive in North America were the same damn NES games that keep getting trotted out every time Nintendo relaunches their Virtual Console service on yet another console, starting from scratch each time for no discernible reason (but that’s a gripe for another day). Capcom USA announced earlier this year that we’d finally see the rest of the Game Boy and Game Boy Color MegaMan games hit the 3DS’s VC soon, but thus far, that’s only been happening in Japan, with all 5 Rockman World games already released and Rockman X: Cyber Mission (better known as MegaMan Xtreme in the West) on the way, while North America and Europe are left in the cold yet again.

That’s not to say it was all doom and gloom: there was that neat Capcom-funded fan game Street Fighter X MegaMan, Rock made it into Nintendo’s upcoming Smash Bros game with a sleek redesign, the Archie Comics series recently wrapped up its crossover with the long-running Sonic the Hedgehog comic and several 25th anniversary fan albums have been released throughout the year. But given the fact that the most exciting video game news we’ve heard regarding the MegaMan series came in the form of ex-Capcom employee (and Megaman’s biggest fan) Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter campaign raking up over $4 Million for a game that’s not even due out until 2015, clearly something isn’t right with this picture. Hopefully, Capcom isn’t just resting on their laurels and is coming up with something worthy of fan acclaim after effectively pissing away MM’s 25th Anniversary.

So you’re probably wondering what this next article is going to be about, considering I actually put some effort into the title for a change. It’s pretty simple honestly: this is a top 10 wishlist of things I would like to see Capcom do with the MegaMan franchise in the near future. They don’t have to do any of these by next year, and in some cases, some of my choices are pretty much impossible. But hey, that’s what a wishlist literally is, right? A list of wishes.

Before we get started, I have an Honorable Mention. Please Capcom, come clean about the circumstances behind the MML3 cancellation. I’m not saying release the prototype, I’m not asking you to make the game, I’m just asking you to explain why you ditched a functional prototype that was ready for release and probably would’ve ended up being the final nail in the Legends 3 coffin, given the fact that the audience certainly wasn’t big enough for your sales aspirations for the entire MML3 Project. Instead, you just threw it away and cancelled the game with little fanfare. Dick move, Capcom. Dick move. Given the contrast between the transparency promised when the project was first announced and the total secrecy regarding the circumstances of its cancellation, the fanbase is completely justified in assuming the worst. So, with that out of the way, onto the real list:

10. Old PC ports on GOG

And I’m not talking about those crappy original DOS games made by Hi-Tech Expressions and Rozner Labs. Believe it or not, quite a few console MegaMan games actually got PC ports in the past. The original MMX, MMX3-7, and even the main two games in the Legends series got PC ports. In fact, Gamestop was selling a digital download of the PC version of MegaMan Legends on their online store until fairly recently. Sure, some of these games clearly have rights issues, but how about the original MMX? Just put that sucker up on GOG, apparently it’s in (mild) demand on their community wishlist page.

9. More Re-releases

As I said before, Capcom Unity has assured us that eventually we’ll be seeing the rest of the Game Boy MegaMans hit the 3DS Virtual Console at some point in the future, in addition to the Xtreme series. Likewise, I’m sure that eventually, the Wii U’s assortment of NES games will be completed in the future, and I’m sure eventually North American will get their hands on MMX2. Still, I want more. I want to see games that haven’t seen re-releases in some time. I want to see MegaMan 7, Rockman & Forte and MegaMan X3 hit the Wii U’s Virtual Console. Hell, if the Wii U Virtual Console ever decides to expand on its system line-up, give us The Wily Wars too. Furthermore, Sony, you’ve got to finish up the Complete Works series on PSone Classics. I mean come on, it’s ridiculous that you just dropped the ball after Rockman 4. Release Rockman 5 and 6 already and complete those works!

8. MegaMan X9

Not exactly my first choice for a new MegaMan game, but even someone who hates this sub-series as much as I do has to admit that it’s got such a major following, Capcom could do far worse than throwing them a bone. As I mentioned in an earlier article, I’m not sure if the best way to do it would be continuing from X8’s story or just doing some kind of a reboot from an earlier game, but whatever they do, I’m sure it’ll be better received than that cancelled Maverick Hunter FPS that got leaked a while back.

7. MegaMan ZX3

Ah, much better. Now here’s something I can get behind. Considering ZX Advent did better than its predecessor (not exactly a Herculean feat by any means) and the game left us with a massive cliffhanger that seemed to be leading to a climactic conclusion, it pained me to see the duology left incomplete, when all we really needed was one more game to finish this up. I’m a really huge fan of all of Inti Creates’ work with the series, and while the original ZX was derivative of the Zero series, I don’t think Advent got a fair shake. At the very least, this would finish up another MegaMan spinoff and possibly provide even more backstory for the Legends games.

6. A New Cartoon

Yeah, not gonna lie, considering my complaints earlier about all of the big MegaMan events this year having nothing to do with games, it’s a bit hypocritical to be asking for even more ancillary media. On the other hand, shut up. Considering the fact that Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is already airing on Disney 😄 and there’s the upcoming “Sonic Boom” cartoon, now seems like the perfect time to bring MegaMan back to airwaves…with hopefully something that isn’t just a poorly-dubbed anime. I stand by my opinion that the Ruby-Spears MegaMan cartoon from the 90’s has the dubious honor of being the best cartoon based on a video game, but hopefully a new MM cartoon would manage to be even better.

5. A Game Starring Bad Box Art MegaMan

The worst part is, I’m not even trolling. Despite being considered a colossal insult by the majority of rabid MM fans when he was announced as a playable character in SFxT, I always loved BBAMM. Frankly, I thought it was pretty cool that he was going to be a playable character in the ill-fated MegaMan Universe, and seeing him becoming even sillier in a fighting game was great. I did mention in the past that I wanted to see a BBAMM game, possibly in the style of a Legendsesque third-person shooter/RPG hybrid, and I’m sticking by that statement. Say it with me, guys: “THIS IS…MY DESTINY!

4. Remakes of MM8 and MMX4

Yeah, this one’s going to require some context. A couple years back, Sega made a re-release of Sonic CD that was actually a complete recreation of the original game developed by Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, utilizing his “Retro Engine”. I’d like to see Capcom do something similar with both the eighth Classic MegaMan game and the fourth MMX game. MM8, because while I liked some of the concept of the original game, I thought the gameplay felt a bit off. X4, on the other hand, was my favorite X game by far, and frankly, I’d love to see it further improved. Use the original art assets, music, cutscenes and, if possible, voice acting – better yet, redub it anyway and include both versions. Just rebalance and improve the gameplay. Better yet, in the case of MM8, you could even include the extra bonuses from the Saturn version without having to figure out how to emulate a Saturn game. In the end, it beats just getting standard re-releases on PSone Classics or tracking down the Anniversary Collections for PS2 or Gamecube.

3. Port MM9 and MM10 to Steam, et al.

Gonna just come clean here, I’d be happy if Capcom just decided to do ports of the ninth and tenth MegaMan games to PC and put them on Steamworks. But given the fact that only one of the current-gen consoles can even play these games (and only because of a wondrous backwards compatibility loophole), clearly we’ve got to get it on more than just PC. Put it on 3DS, Xbox One, PS4, and yes even the Vita. Hell, do an iOS and an Android re-release. And don’t just put it on Windows PCs, make it work on Mac and Linux OSes too. Come on, Capcom, don’t let these awesome games become lost to the ages.

2.  A MegaMan game developed by WayForward

Yep, another callback to that crummy video that led to the birth of these MegaRants in the first place. They did a good job with Contra 4 and a radical job on Double Dragon Neon. Do it Capcom. Complete the trifecta. Even if their last game (Adventure Time: Explore the Dungeon Because I DON’T KNOW!) was mediocre at best, WayForward Technologies has built up more than enough good will to justify getting a chance to work on a MegaMan game. Especially considering their previous collaborations with Capcom: Capcom published the original Shantae and Wayforward developed Capcom’s Ducktales Remastered. Besides, WF’s own Mighty Switch Force games prove that they can recreate the precision platforming and jump-and-shoot action necessary to build an excellent MegaMan game perfectly.

1. MegaMan 11

Oh, don’t look so shocked, this was obviously going to be number one. When it comes right down to it, I want more games from the Classic series above the others. Whether it’s MM11, Rockman World 6, The Wily Wars 2, Powered Up 2 or something else entirely, as long as it stars the original MegaMan and it’s got quality gameplay, I’m gonna be happy with it.

In the end, I feel that I should reflect on the Megarants themselves. They were an interesting experiment. They helped me transition from stinking up Youtube with long-winded rant videos to stinking up WordPress with long-winded rant articles. More importantly, reflecting on the past of one of Capcom’s most popular franchises and bemoaning its current fate was, at the very least, a therapeutic experience. It’s also led me to consider doing more recurring article series in the future. In fact, if you look closely, one of the Megarants itself has inspired an article series I’m planning to start next year. Which one, you ask? Well, you’re just going to have to wait and see. But I’ve gotten off-topic. Hopefully, 2014 will treat MegaMan better, but for now, let’s just wait for the day he’s able to once again fight…for everlasting peace.

The Reboots are Revolting

This one’s been a long time coming. I’ve been alluding to this article since before this blog was even started. Back when Retronaissance was just starting up, I mentioned having ideas for a reboot treatment for the MegaMan series. I’ve made references to being receptive to a reboot in one of my earlier other MegaRants. Well, wait no longer, because it’s finally here: the reboot article. As if the title didn’t already give that away.

You’re probably asking, “Hey Icepick, why reboot MegaMan at all?” After all, we’ve already got several MegaMan series as it is, adding another one to the mix would be a redundant disaster. The answer’s simple: the fact that we have too many MegaMan franchises is why we NEED a reboot. The fanbase is inconceivably splintered, so starting from scratch may just be the best thing to do with the franchise. Furthermore, the big guns in the franchise are already far too overspent at this point: the Classic series is at a whopping 10 numbered games, while the beloved X series has a whopping 8. If you want a real disc-based title in the franchise, 11 and 9 are not the best numbers to start from. Besides, one could probably make the argument that Mario, Sonic and even Pac-Man have gone through reboots recently, the only underlying issue holding our beloved Blue Bomber back is the fact that he’s got an inkling of a storyline in all of his games.

The funny thing about that is that I’ve got a pretty good way around that: this new MegaMan incarnation would utilize mythology from the existing series in order to create something both familiar and new. Think of the Doctor Who reboot that started back in 2005. Better yet, think of some of the more recent Transformers cartoons: Animated and Prime. For my treatment, we’d be using the Classic universe as a base, picking and choosing various elements from other franchises in order to further expand on that world and then adding original elements to give it an entirely unique spin. Of course, for the purposes of this article, I won’t be adding any specific characters – after all, this article is more of a call to arms for Capcom to put some effort into reinvigorating the brand, not a ham-fisted excuse to post a whole bunch of “ORIGINAL CHARACTERS, DO NOT STEAL”. Still, I guess I could throw in some examples from other media to give examples of characters that would be welcome additions to this new universe.

So, of course, since we’re using Classic as a base, this new franchise would take place in the recognizable year of 20XX. After all, that’s still technically futuristic. Blend the optimistic Astro Boy-esque future aesthetic from the Classic games with the futuristic take on modern society from Battle Network’s 20XX to make something a bit more unique. Avoid the darker tones of MMX’s 21XX, the bleak setting of MMZ and the post-apocalyptic Waterworld shown in Legends. However, do feel free to utilize elements from MMZX’s futuristic utopia and Star Force’s 22XX, if you want to make things look even more futuristic. Ditching “Monsteropolis” would be a good idea regardless of the potential for nostalgia, but fake city names wouldn’t be a bad idea.

This brings us to the characters. Let’s start with the three major characters in the series. Regarding MegaMan (Rock) and Roll, I’d keep them fairly similar to their typical incarnations, except I would probably age them up a bit, from 8-10 years of age to about 13-15. I never really got the point of making them so young in later incarnations, but the Ruby-Spears series may have had something to do with that. Personality-wise, Rock should stay similar to both his Powered Up and Archie Comics incarnations, he should be fairly innocent and maintain his strong sense of justice. All-in-all, just a normal kid who just happens to be a super-fighting robot. As for Roll, I’ve always been a fan of the persona Western media has given her: snarky and upset over not being upgraded, but still loves her family. She’d be a little more “street smart” than her older brother and working as Dr. Light’s assistant. Dr. Light, of course, would also be present in his standard form: kindly old scientist with dreams of peace through technology. All in all, no major deviations from the norm for these characters.

But what’s a good story without villains? First up is an obvious choice, Dr. Albert W. Wily. As with Rock, Roll and Light, Wily wouldn’t be far off from his typical Classic appearance: a hammy cartoonish villain. Of course, one of the Classic series’ shortcomings was the lack of diversity when it comes to villains: even when Wily’s not behind it, well…Wily’s behind it. Meanwhile, the other games have some pretty good villains, so let’s just transplant a few, shall we? Take, Sigma, for example. He’s supposed to be the personification of a computer virus, so why not just make him a sort of sentient virus with aspirations for human genocide? Way better than just being some bald schmo dressed in rags saying “ZELOOOOOO”, right? The Bonne Siblings could be another good transplant, maybe not as major villains, but as comedic relief minor villains. Maybe make them thieves, despite being pirates, burglary was their main crime in the Legends series anyway. Vile might be another good contender, but considering his nature he’d require some modifications. Instead of a Reploid, make him a cyborg mercenary (explaining his absolute free will, while other robots would be bound by the laws of robotics), with a vendetta against robots. Perhaps he originally had an aversion to robots made worse when an accident involving one led him to become the cyborg he is presently. Just a thought.

One must also consider the secondary characters. An obvious choice would be Rock’s big bro, the enigmatic ProtoMan. Use the classic origin story, Dr. Light’s first creation gone missing, repaired by Wily with a brand-new energy supply, etc. The only real question would be what to do for his weaponry. His arm cannon is fairly unique and its fluctuating strength gives evidence of his unstable power core, but on the other hand, other incarnations of the character (MMBN, the cover art for MM10) have given him a sword to go with his shield, which could justify using Zero’s gameplay style without actually putting Zero in. Personally, I think either choice is acceptable. I’d bring back the Cossack family as well, and give them a much more expanded role. I always thought it was kind of lame that they just sort of disappeared after MM5, I thought they had some potential as characters, even if Classic MegaMan’s storyline has always been sparse. Something I’d like to see transplanted from other media would be the revival of the Robot Masters after being defeated. A few games and both the Archie comic and Hitoshi Ariga’s mangas have made use of that plot element. Either way, it’d definitely be cool to see Rock and Roll hang out with their younger siblings or see Wily’s earlier creations putter around Skull Castle. Also, definitely bring back the support units: Rush, Eddie, Beat and Tango.

I’d also want to see Auto brought back. While I never really cared for him that much in the games, his characterization in the aforementioned mangas and comic has changed my opinion of him. I’d definitely want to introduce him earlier in the series though, maybe as a precursor assistant to Dr. Light before Rock and Roll were finished. Bass would be another character to bring back, but I’d probably approach him differently. When he was first introduced in MM7, he fooled MegaMan by pretending to also be after Wily. Unfortunately, that plot point lasted for half a game, at the most. In this reboot, I’d introduce Bass earlier on and exploit that plot point to a much greater extent. Changing his origin could work as well, perhaps make him the creation of Dr. Cossack or another scientist who starts off on the side of good but eventually becomes obsessed with defeating MegaMan. Speaking of which, the Archie comic has led me to the conclusion that we need more scientists in the franchise. Transplanting scientists from other series might work, but this would probably be a good place to start implementing original characters. Robotics shouldn’t be a field limited to just Light, Wily and to a far lesser extent, Cossack. Some kind of a police force or a para-military group might be a good addition as well. Again, populate whichever you decide to use with OCs and transplants from other games.

The game’s tone would be light and episodic, not unlike a Saturday morning cartoon of old. Of course, there could also be some overarching plotlines between “episodes”, but keeping continuity minimal would be in the series’ best interest. As for content per game, at the very least, a full-on disc-based title would probably require the equivalent of at least 3 Classic games, not unlike the Wily Wars. So the first game would more or less retell the first three games in the series, while adding their own twists to the story. That way, iconic characters could be reintroduced more quickly than before and the games themselves could be larger without having to worry about balancing more than 8 weapons per scenario. Better yet, even if Capcom doesn’t decide to go for a full budget release, each scenario could just be released in an episodic format, perhaps including some bonus content if you buy all of the episodes in a given season.

Gameplay itself, on the other hand, is a more difficult issue. Ideally, Capcom would go the route of other 2D platformer revivals, like the New Super Mario Bros. games or the last two Rayman games, but let’s face it, that may not be enough to attract  a large enough audience to make this new MegaMan a success. MegaMan games traditionally underperform. But would reimagining the series in 3D work? After all, we remember the trainwreck that was X7. Still, many 3D reimaginings of 2D franchises from the fifth and sixth generations of video games were far different animals than they are today. Maybe Capcom could recreate the twitchy yet precise MegaMan gameplay of yore in 3D. Then again, I really doubt it. I’d err for sticking to the basics personally, but a new franchise would be the best opportunity to experiment. That’s how we got Legends and Battle Network/Star Force, after all.

A well-made reboot for the MegaMan series would clearly take the best aspects from the games of old, while incorporating entirely new elements and avoiding any missteps from earlier games. Considering Capcom’s track record with reboots, it may seem in their best interest to avoid one. However, catering to the old school crowds alone do our beloved Blue Bomber a disservice. If Capcom can put in as much effort as Nintendo did with the Super Mario Galaxy games or Sega with Sonic Colors and Generations, I’m sure the results would please old fans and spark an interest in a new generation of gamers, leading MegaMan to at least another 25 years of memories. Of course, this is just my take on what an ideal reboot for the series would look like. Stay tuned for SNESMasterKI’s opinion.

Best of the Rest

If you’ll remember, back in February I did a top and bottom 5 list, ranking my favorite and least favorite games of the Classic MegaMan series. I also mentioned that I intended to do a similar list, with regards to the other sub-series of the MegaMan franchise. However, considering that most of the other series have only a few games, I’ve decided that I’m just going to rattle off my favorites from each series, as there are only a couple of cases where there are games I legitimately hate in each respective series. So, without further ado, I present…the best of the rest.

MegaMan X4

Admittedly, this is going to be a somewhat controversial decision as many gamers (including my fellow Retronaissance writer, SNES Master KI) consider the original MegaMan X to be the best game in the series, as well as the entire franchise. I, on the other hand, prefer the series’ first 32-bit entry, MegaMan X4. Perhaps it’s because it was the first game where we were able to play through the entire thing as a non-MegaMan character, let alone the awesome Zero. Zero gave us access to an entirely new style of gameplay, utilizing his Z-Saber for close-range melee attacks and learning techniques by defeating enemies, rather than just stealing their weapons. Maybe it was because it had the most fleshed-out story of the X series, without becoming an incoherent piece of garbage. Or maybe it was because it managed to have a good amount of difficulty, while not being a poorly-programmed abomination. (Looking at you, X6.)

MegaMan Legends 2

It’s simple, really. Of the two main games of the Legends series, Legends 2 was the only one capable of using the PlayStation’s dual analog sticks, allowing for superior controls and gameplay. As good as it was, the original MML was completely held back by its reliance on the D-Pad and the shoulder triggers for movement. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne is an interesting spin-off, but not really a good representation of the series at large. So MML2 wins by default.

MegaMan Battle Network 3

This was a hard one, as I really love the second and third Battle Network games almost equally. The first game almost felt like an incomplete prototype, not unlike the original MegaMan from 1987. The fourth game had a significant drop in quality from the previous games and the series never recovered. However, I’ve got to give it to the third game, for having the best story and being the first game in the franchise to incorporate the truly awesome “Navi Customizer” system, allowing players to customize MegaMan.EXE with unique power-ups and added another layer of strategy to the game.

MegaMan Zero 3

Another hard choice, as I really loved MMZ2. Zero 3 had the perfect level of difficulty: not as difficult as the first two games, but still significantly harder than the fourth. It also had an awesome storyline involving Dr. Weil, a cyborg mad scientist returning from exile to take over Neo Arcadia, as well as the return of Copy-X and an earth-shattering revelation regarding the identity of Zero . Better still, it reimplemented Zero’s ability to learn special techniques by defeating bosses, albeit only if you complete levels with a high rank, allowing Zero to take on more characteristics from his X series incarnation. The only thing keeping MMZ3 from being the perfect Zero game was a decided lack of Chain Rod. But I guess I can forgive that.

MegaMan ZX Advent

This was probably the hardest decision I had to make, as there was really no clear answer here. There were only two games in the ZX series, both roughly equal in quality and feeling like a direct extension of their predecessor (the Zero series) in a way no other MegaMan series ever did. In the end, I decided to go with Advent, just because of the whole DNA copy system. While I did prefer the base gameplay of Model ZX over Model A, the ability to transform into a complete copy of the bosses you’ve defeated was incredibly cool. It’s just a shame we didn’t get that third and final entry of this series, leaving this particular timeline on a cliffhanger.

MegaMan Star Force

Another controversial pick, but one I stand by. It seems like it’s universally accepted that the third and final Star Force game was the best by far, but it was also the most derivative, resembling the Battle Network games far more than the previous two. A real shame, considering the franchise got off to a pretty strong start in the first game, incorporating unique variations on the various gameplay elements of the MMBN series. Modifying the battle system, dropping the stale Soul Unison system, all of these were signiicant improvements over the later Battle Network games. Doing a complete 180 and reincorporating many of the discarded elements from the Battle Network games just felt a betrayal of the earlier games’ attempts at carving their own identity. One more thing: while the second game did take a significant dive in quality, I just feel like it gets far more hate than it deserves.

So, there you have it: the best of the rest. While I stated earlier that there weren’t enough games in the other franchises to fairly represent the worst of each individual series in the MegaMan franchise, there are two games I’d like to mention: MegaMan X6 and X7. Two truly foul games, almost on par with some of the worse licensed Classic MegaMan games. Oh well, they can’t all be gems. When a series has as many games as MegaMan does, some of them are bound to be bad. Either way, there have still been many good games in this series and hopefully there will be more in the future, Capcom willing.

8-Bit is Enough

In the last of my MegaMan-oriented rants (or “MegaRants”, as I’ve oh-so-uncleverly dubbed them), you’ll remember that one of the points I made about a future MegaMan game would be the fact that the game needs to ditch the 8-bit, NES-inspired style of its forebearers seen in the two most recent games in the franchise (and the ascended fan-game Street Fighter x MegaMan). Let me go on the record to say that, while I honestly don’t care what graphical style future MegaMan games take, I am kind of shocked and appalled at the sheer hatred I’ve seen for any possible future entries in the Classic series taking on a more 8-bit appearance.

I mean, none of that hate was there 5 years ago, when MegaMan 9 was announced to the world. In fact, most people heralded it as a sign that MM9 would be an amazing game, it’s like MM2 all over again! (That statement irked me personally, but whatever.) Two years later, when MM10 was announced, reactions to the retro-inspired artstyle did a total 180. Things managed to get even more ridiculous when Street Fighter x MegaMan (which, again, started life as a fangame) was revealed with similar NES graphics. Let me reiterate: the MM fanbase lost their shit due to 8-bit graphics in a project that was developed by two guys (one of whom, really only worked on the music) and just got a little financial backing from Capcom. Talk about entitled, right?

Most of the arguments I’ve heard for abolishing the use of 8-bit sprites in MegaMan games forever have been pretty weak themselves. They’re overused? Considering the fact that a whopping grand total of 8 official MM games out of a series with games in the hundreds have NES-style graphics (and 6 of those were ON the NES), that seems like a really weak point to make. Other people have argued that this artistic choice is pandering to old-school gamers at the expense of alienating other audiences. Yeah, because modern-day MegaMan games don’t sell to a niche market, right? Yes, I know 2D platformers are finally starting to make a return outside of the Nintendo bubble. Doesn’t make my point irrelevant for the past 2.5 generations when they were dead as a doornail. I think the most ridiculous argument I heard anyone give was that the graphical style was “ugly”. Boy, did I tear that looney a new one.

Full disclosure: I actually always liked the 8-bit style. Honestly, I can’t even remotely comprehend the hatred old-school graphics evokes when it comes to MegaMan. It just seems like a bunch of sound and fury over something that, frankly, shouldn’t even matter. Frankly, I still think it’s ridiculous just how much, if you’ll excuse the term, “butthurt” the use of retro graphics in the next MegaMan game would create. It’s only one aspect of a game, one that isn’t even the most important in the genre it resides in and frankly, the in-game art design has never really been the foundation of the series’ long-lasting appeal. That honor belongs to solid gameplay and rocking soundtracks.

For me, seeing NES-style graphics is a mental shorthand for telling me that the game’s engine is likely pitch-perfect. Play any of the old-school NES MegaMans and then play their direct sequel, MegaMan 7 for the Super Nintendo. You’ll notice a key difference right from the get-go. The improved graphical fidelity (brought to us in part by larger sprites) has also brought with it some wonky mechanics: MegaMan’s jump height has gone from a healthy 5 times his height to an anemic 3. Anyone who claims they can’t feel the difference is a liar. Few Classic series games that have deviated from that retro flair have managed to retain the solid controls, physics and even visual cues necessary to make a truly fair and fun game, without having to pull back on the challenge, making the game as mediocre as its difficulty level.

Yes, other modern art-style choices can retain the fidelity of gameplay as well as 8-bit. But let’s face it, one of the artstyle’s biggest perceived weaknesses is also its greatest strength. See, the 8-bit artstyle may pander to the nostalgia crowd, that’s a pretty good market to tap into for the continued existence of “old-school platformers”. Similarly, the 8-bit style is iconic. Hell, take a look at the revamped design for the upcoming Smash Bros. Sure, the Blue Bomber resembles Keiji Inafune’s promotional art on the surface, but his mannerisms, his poses, his movements all resemble that of the old-school NES sprites. Sakurai even went on record saying that he wanted to make sure he captured the essence of the classic games and said that anything less wouldn’t have been worth putting into the game. Hell, the 8-bit artstyle even manages to infest various forms of fanart: who hasn’t seen characters from other video games, anime, movies, comic books or whatever media done up like the Blue Bomber, circa 1987?

But that’s not to say that I’d be against a revamp. Much like pretty much the entirety of the internet, I’d be perfectly happy if the next MegaMan game had a graphical style akin to that of the next SSB. 2.5D or HD 2D graphics (ala Rayman Origins or Shantae: Half-Genie Hero) would both be perfectly fine with me in this case. What bugs me, on the other hand, is that I’ve seen a disproportionate amount of people demanding that the Blue Bomber ditch one outdated artstyle for another. That’s right, I’ve literally seen people who want them to reuse the styles from MM7 or 8 in future MegaMan games., which just seems ass-backwards to me. I mean, if you do that, then not only would the graphics be outdated, but they’d also lack the sheer recognition of the 8-bit graphics.

This kinda goes for the X series as well. Don’t get me wrong, a 16-bit MMX9 would definitely make as much sense as the 8-bit throwbacks MM9 & 10: it’s the iconic graphical style of the franchise, despite only 3 of the 8 games in the series using it. After all, the original is still considered the most important game in that particular branch of the franchise. But, as with Classic, I’ve seen people advocate for a return to the 32-bit style (3 games used this as well, but only one was really all that good) and odder still, I’ve seen people demand a return to the 3D style from the PS2 era. Not just 2.5D graphics in general, I’m talking a literal return to the exact caliber and style used in the PS2 X games. Either way, I still think it’s weird, the sheer amount of hypocrisy of demanding a 16-bit MMX, while bemoaning another 8-bit Classic game is just bizarre. Seems like a case of “my nostalgia can beat up your nostalgia” to me, but whatever.

In the end, I guess I should reiterate a point I made earlier in the article. When it comes right down to it, graphics are probably one of the least important aspects of any good MegaMan game .We’ve seen the 8-bit games run circles around their later counterparts with improved graphics, all because of their superb gameplay, excellent controls, tight physics and melodious soundtracks. If the biggest concern any MegaMan fan can bring up about any future titles that get announced is whether or not they’ll be sufficiently pretty, then maybe we don’t even deserve any more games.