Of Axioms and Idioms: The New Sub-Standard

While I’ve been having fun revitalizing older series that I abandoned awhile back, it would be hypocritical of me to orphan my latest series. This time, it’s not so much a lack of topics that has caused me to forgo writing Of Axioms and Idioms, it’s more a lack of time. I’ve got so many ideas for new articles that I’ve managed to leave a good number of worthwhile topics on the back-burner for quite some time. It doesn’t help that I seem to be coming up with more new ideas quicker than I can write the existing ones. Worst of all is the fact that I tend to find my newest ideas the most intriguing, which pushes things back even further in many cases. Still, it’s been roughly half a year since the last time I wrote an article in this series, so it seems like it’s the right time to bring it back.

This one’s been rolling around in the back of my mind for quite some time, yet ironically, it’s also the latest topic I’ve managed to come up with for this series. Basically, there’s something of a stigma when it comes to long-running series. Specifically, when it comes to their latest iterations. The issue isn’t specifically liking the current games in an old series, that seems to be alright by most accounts. Rather, considering the most recent entry in well-established franchises to be the best that said franchise has to offer seems to be frowned upon among die-hard fans. Likewise, when a more or less “objective” best game is chosen, it’s generally a relatively early title in the series’ history.

To show you just how long this idea has been sitting around, the original example that inspired this topic is no longer relevant. Tekken Tag Tournament 2, while still currently my favorite game in the Tekken franchise – ironically, I’ve yet to pick up Tekken 7 – is no longer the latest game in the franchise. Still, I felt a little ashamed to acknowledge that the latest entry in the series had become my favorite, simply because I was a long-time fan and therefore, was familiar with the earlier games in the series. Meanwhile, ask the average Tekken fan and chances are they’ll name a much earlier game as their favorite: specifically, Tekken 3. If you’ve read my Tekken retrospective from earlier this year, you’d know that I was never really quite as enamored with the game as the majority of the Tekken fanbase, even if I did recognize its quality.

Another slightly more relevant example would relate to MegaMan, specifically the Classic series. Personally, I think the tenth game in the franchise – which has been the most recent game for a whopping 7 years at this point – is the best that the series has to offer. Most of the Classic faithful, on the other hand, are still hung up on MegaMan 2. Honestly, I don’t even think MM2 is the best of the NES games, let alone the best in its entire series. MegaMan 2 made the most significant improvements over its predecessor, but the franchise still had room to grow. What I find especially ironic is that MegaMan 9 – a game that was essentially built to perfectly emulate an MM2 ROM hack – received much greater acclaim, despite having weaker level designs. Worst of all, it seems like if you don’t accept 2 as the “one true Classic MegaMan game”, you’re bound to be accused of being a contrarian, or worse still, a hipster. Don’t get me wrong: MM2 is a great game, I just think that some of the later games in the series made vast improvements to the formula, but they’re generally cast aside as inferior copies. As a side note, I think it’s a crying shame that the Game Boy games (namely IV and especially V) don’t receive as much attention as they deserve: I think both of those games blew MM2 out of the water, in spite of their hardware limitations.

A slightly less relevant example would be the near-deification of Super Mario 64 among the 3D Mario platformers. Sure, people recognize the quality of both Galaxy games – to at least some extent – but for whatever reason, 64 is still somehow the golden standard to which all future Mario games of that type are held against. I’ll never understand it: honestly, I never thought SM64 was that good in the first place and I think every other game of that type in the Mario series surpassed it in some way, even the abomination/cult classic Super Mario Sunshine. To make matters worse, I actually consider 3D World to be my favorite in that particular batch of games, though I’ve seen more than a few people dismiss it as an inferior knockoff of 3D Land which was, ironically, my previous favorite. I’d argue that the 3D Marios keep improving with each game and that makes 64 the worst by default. Yet it is still the clear favorite for some reason.

Of course, perhaps the most famous example of this phenomenon is the fan reaction to the Legend of Zelda games. While both A Link Between Worlds and especially Breath of the Wild have seemingly put it to rest, the so-called “Zelda cycle” is, by and large, the most prevalent and observable example of this mentality I’ve seen on the internet. The Zelda cycle, as I understand it, can be broken down thusly: after enough time has passed since the release of the latest Zelda game, the fanbase begins its backlash against the game itself, deeming it terrible. This, in turn, allows the previous game in the franchise – the one that was previously dubbed the worst the franchise had to offer – to be viewed as an acceptable game for the series. The game that came before that will then usually take its place at the series favorite, the stated “gold standard” for what the next Zelda game should attempt to be. The former “gold standard” is then considered to be overrated (but still good) and everything before that seems to just fade into the ether, effectively just becoming acceptable in general but not a major focal point for the franchise. A safe choice, considered “good for their time” and generally otherwise ignored.

As for a counterpoint to this particular attitude, the best I’ve really been able to observe would have to be within the Ys fanbase. Put simply, “every Ys is best Ys”. Given the fact that the series has gone through at least two major gameplay shifts in its 30-year existence, it only makes sense that most of the fanbase would generally be pretty chill about liking the newest games in the franchise, as Falcom always seems to strive to improve upon mistakes made in the previous games and avoids change strictly for its own sake, rather only fundamentally shifting the gameplay style once they’ve reached the limits of their current format. Of course, this isn’t a perfect example by any means: there’s a distinct faction that considers The Oath in Felghana (and to a far lesser extent, Origin) as the one true Ys game(s), disavowing anything that came after and, bafflingly enough, before. I guess there are problem children in every fanbase.

Then there’s the Sonic fanbase, which I supposed also acts both as an example and a counter-balance to this perspective. There are essentially three major camps contained within the Sonic fanbase: those who enjoy the original Genesis-era games and feel that this is the best direction for the franchise moving forward, those who cut their teeth on the series during the Adventure games and want the games to go back to that style (in spite of the fact that Sega already tried to recreate said formula twice and ended up with the games generally considered the worst in the entire franchise in the process) and finally, fans of the modern games who consider any references to older titles to be meaningless pandering to a bygone era. If it’s not obvious, the former two camps clearly act in support of my theory, while the third and final camp appears to be its Bizarro doppelganger rather than a nuanced reaction. Of course, these three factions don’t encompass the entire Sonic fandom – there is room for nuance elsewhere – but they definitely make things difficult for Sega moving forward.

Of course, there is a certain level of forgiveness allowed when it comes to committing the grave sin of liking the latest game in a long-running series in general. This is generally reserved for those new to the series. After all, you always remember your first and as they’re new to the series, they have time to learn the “right way” to consider the series. Older fans, on the other hand, generally aren’t afforded the same level of leeway. They’re already familiar with the franchise and its history, so the entire concept of long-time fans disagreeing with the status quo is inconceivable to the hiveminds generally associated with these fanbases. It’s almost like to prefer a game that was intended as an improvement to earlier games in the series is to completely discount the series’ entire history in one fell swoop.

So what exactly is the cause for this animosity towards the most recent games in a franchise? An obvious culprit would be the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Unfortunately, that logic doesn’t necessarily follow: if nostalgia were to blame, then every fan would generally consider the first game they played to be the best in the franchise, which would be a particularly difficult move for those who had been playing games in the series since its inception. Not to mention the fact that if the first game in a franchise is its best, then there’s really no point in continuing to produce them, diminishing returns and all that. Likewise, given the fact that many video game franchises tend to have one or two games that are considered the best at large, that would also imply that most of the fanbase started playing the series upon the release of that specific game, which seems a bit farfetched if you ask me. So clearly there’s more at work here than simple nostalgia.

A much more likely explanation is equally simple: credibility as a fan. With well-established series – regardless of medium – knowledge of the series’ origins has a tendency to give the impression of legitimacy with regards to any particular fan’s adoration for the works in the general. The same could be said for general consensus: as with most group dynamics, a lack of dissention among the ranks has a tendency of creating a much stronger sense of community, an element that fandoms require to thrive at any stage in their life cycles, from their humble beginnings on. Whether or not this means that most fans legitimately believe that the designated best game in the franchise is their actual favorite, they’re simply giving the game lip service to fit in or that they’ve been essentially railroaded into considering said game to be the best in order to align themselves properly within the group tends to vary – all are clear and distinct possibilities, though I’d consider the former two to be the most likely.

This leads to a much more pertinent question: why is there such resistance to the idea that modern entries of an existing series could potentially surpass their forebearers? I mean, it just seems logical to me that games should constantly strive to improve over what came before them, so maybe I’m missing something. Does acknowledging the strength of newer games make the older ones retroactively worse? Is one’s credibility at stake if they acknowledge improvements made to an existing formula if they just happen to be implemented to close to current year? I’m at a bit of a loss here.

Maybe newer games are just being held to a higher standard in general. After all, they do have years of experience to fall back on, so I can’t argue that they should be held to a higher standard than the games of old. However, there is also the potential to take things way too far in this regard: while nostalgia isn’t completely to blame, they can generally build classic games up to be better in fans’ memories than the reality – take a look at how well various re-releases for more obscure games have been received. Put both the overinflated quality of older games with an expectation for every game to exceed the previous entries in their series to an obscene degree, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

I mostly wrote this article to essentially dispel any shame, perceived or otherwise, I’ve felt when liking the latest games in series I’ve been following for quite some time. The sheer sense of elitism when it comes to long-time fans vis-à-vis newer entries has always just struck me as weird. I suppose that this was more of an exercise in trying to justify my own preferences to myself. Of course, this is a fitting use of the “Of Axioms and Idioms” banner, as they’re generally meant to explore my various opinions, unorthodox or otherwise. But what do you think? Do you think I’m completely off-base or am I on to something? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.

Retronaissance’s Most Anticipated Games of 2017

SNES Master KI

Well, 2016 is almost over, and while there were some great games released, I mainly just want this year to end and to focus on the future (or gaming’s future, anyway).  Thankfully, 2017 in gaming fills me with a sense of true optimism (as opposed to forced hope) that I haven’t had in a long time, lots of series that haven’t had an entry (or a satisfying entry) in years are returning and while Nintendo has a lot less representation on this list than my ones from previous years, things should Switch on that front very early in the year.  So, let’s hurry up and get our focus to the new year.  I’ve decided to handle games from previous lists that got hit by delays with a rule that games can only appear on my lists twice, so Zelda won’t be showing up this time.  Let’s get this started!

Continue reading

But Is It Art? – Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind

I’ll be honest with you: the concept for this article came to me awhile back, when I challenged KI to beat Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the NES. The game is notoriously bad, largely due to the fact that the only reason most people know about it due to the Angry Video Game Nerd’s videos on it. Still, while watching him play it, eventually the game began to almost make sense to me. This led me to speculate: if this game had been released in a different time, at a different price point, would it have been considered as bad as it is? The game’s mechanics, attempting to reach the end of each level as Dr. Jekyll and trying to regain your sanity when the stress (damage) of being Jekyll turns you into the more aggressive Mr. Hyde. For its time, the game was certainly bad, but the concept struck me as sound, much more interesting than many art games we see today.

So what is the point of this article? Simply put, I’m going to be reexamining games that are generally considered to be horrible under an artistic lens. Are these games actually terrible or was the thin veneer of bad gameplay simply hiding a much broader message? After all, most art is considered inexplicable to the mainstream and a majority of games today that are classified as art are simply pretentious, all subverting the traditional form of video games in similar ways. Even more interesting, there are those out there that consider video games to be an art form all its own. From that stance, would even those games generally considered bad be art?

Today’s topic is Bubsy, specifically the first game in the series – Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind. Bubsy is somewhat infamous on the internet, generally considered the worst of the Sonic imitators that flooded the market during the early-to-mid 1990s. There were worse knockoffs: Awesome Possum springs to mind. Bubsy’s claim to infamy, however, was the fact that he had more games than any other terrible knockoff of its time. Worst of all, Bubsy’s last game – Bubsy 3D in: “Furbitten Planet” – is generally considered one of the worst video games of all-time.

The early Bubsy games are generally considered poorly-made knockoffs of Sonic the Hedgehog. When I look at them, however, I think they’re a little too poorly-made in some respects. Perhaps this is just madness brought on by playing Bubsy via the Steam re-release Bubsy Two-Fur, but some of the design choices in the original game just seemed too purposefully misguided to attribute to sheer incompetence. This has led me to consider the possibility that Bubsy wasn’t simply intended to be just another competitor in the imitation “anthropomorphic animal mascot platformer” race to the bottom. Could Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind instead be a shallow stealth parody of Sonic the Hedgehog?

Let’s take a look at Exhibit A: both Sonic and Bubsy run at incredibly fast speeds. In Sonic’s case, it’s pretty obvious. At this point, there is a not at all insignificant faction of the Sonic fandom that consider anything but mindless high-speed exercises in holding right to win to be a bastardization of the series’ concept (It actually makes me wonder if they played the original games in the first place). Nevertheless, high speed action played a significant role in Sonic’s development and in differentiating him from Mario. For Bubsy, however, the fast speed was more of a detriment to the overall concept. Bubsy’s controls were slippery, the camera moved at a much slower rate and the level design was actually more evocative of the Mario games. In the end, running at fast speeds in Bubsy would pretty much kill anyone without a purrfect memory of the stage layout and clawsome reflexes.

That brings me to my next point, Exhibit B. Anyone who’s ever actually played Bubsy will tell you that he typifies the one-hit wonder mechanic in video games. Bubsy is extremely furagile, considering he can be killed by cheese wheels, eggs and falling from great heights (in a platformer, no less!). To make matters worse, the yarn balls (Bubsy’s take on collectables) are entirely useless, to the extent where they don’t even give you extra lives when you collect enough of them (despite what the game’s manual tells you). Think about it though, if you took away Sonic’s rings, he’d also be a one-hit wonder. I can recall a particularly traumatic segment in the first Sonic game I ever owned – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Game Gear – where I was flung into a boss battle with no rings and a child’s mind, believing that the only way to beat a boss would be to hit it and not, you know, just wait for the boss fight to finish itself while dodging bombs.

Of course, there’s more to this parody theory than mere gameplay mechanics. Even Bubsy’s attitude seems fairly familiar to anyone even remotely familiar with Sonic’s peripheral media, especially the cartoons from the 1990s: every other sentence out of Sonic’s earliest animated incarnations (all provided by Jaleel White, better known as Steve Urkel) was some watered-down kid-friendly take on the “attitude” that was prevalent in the mid ‘90s. Bubsy mainly kept his wisecracks to assorted puns and generally invoked a more Looney Tunes-inspired attitude. Meanwhile, the actual Sonic the Hedgehog, the one in the video games, also embodied the same rude ‘tude that was so prevalent at this point in time. The difference is in the way Sonic presents his attitude – through snarky pantomimes and gestures, non-verbally depicting his displeasure with being forced to stand still. In other words, if Bubsy was meant to emulate Looney Tunes characters, then Sonic was paying homage to cartoons of the silent era, Felix the Cat specifically springs to mind.

My last bit of evidence is tenuous at best, but it’s still interesting in retrospect. Both the original Bubsy and Sonic have similar stage breakdowns. Each themed area (classified as a “zone” in Sonic jargon) has 3 levels (“acts”) with a boss fight at the end of the third level/act. Another interesting similarity is that the final level in both games is generally considered its own area – though Final Zone borrows a lot of its aesthetic from the preceding Scrap Brain Zone and consists of a short corridor and the game’s final showdown with Dr. Robotnik.

Of course, most people would probably say that I’m just looking too deep into connections that really aren’t there. That I’m attempting to salvage a game that is generally considered abominable when in reality, it’s just mediocre at best. Obviously, even if Bubsy were poorly constructed on purpose, that’s really no excuse for such a thing. Another think that must be taken into account is that the post-revival video game market was still fairly young by the time Bubsy first hit video screens. Is it really reasonable to conceive that someone could come up with something as avant-garde as a parody of a recent mega-hit in a day and age where every video game had to sell at a minimum of $50?

Regardless, I feel like Bubsy’s status as a terrible game is generally overstated. Aside from Bubsy 3D (which is definitely an abomination), Bubsy’s games were more mediocre than anything. Spotty controls, bizarre level design and most prominently, an annoying purrotagonist may be strikes against the game, but it’s not necessarily unique to gaming’s most despised bobcat. All the same, looking at maligned games from a different perspective was fun – perhaps there will be a sequel to this article down the line.

What do you think? Is Bubsy actually the smartest video game parody of the 16-bit era or am I off my rocker? Feel free to sound off in the comments.

 

10 Games I’d Like to See Re-Released #1: SEGA

Truth be told, I’ve been tempted to do another PC ports request article, but lately, there just haven’t been enough games released that fit the bill. After all, it’s not fair to request games to hit PC when they haven’t even hit the systems they originate on. So I decided to look at that series from a different perspective. Inspired in no small part by the recent announcement of Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir, the remaster of the Vanillaware’s PS2 cult classic, I’ve decided to start up a new spinoff. Instead of looking at more recent games and seeing what I would want to get ported to PC, I feel like delving into some forgotten older games that haven’t seen a release on 7th or 8th generation consoles and modern PCs for a change. Might as well spread the love, right?

The rules will be somewhat different from the PC port series. First of all, I’m going to be looking at games from the 6th generation (that is, PlayStation 2, Gamecube and the original Xbox) and earlier. Instead of limiting companies to one entry per article, I’ve decided to focus on one company for each article. I’ll also be discussing any potential improvements that could be made to these games, in cases where the games themselves would receive an HD re-release. To make things more fair, I’ll also be avoiding games that saw re-releases on 7th generation and later consoles, via PlayStation Classics, Virtual Console or anything like that. Sure, more substantial re-releases would be better, but it’s better than nothing.

So as I said, in each of these articles, I’m only going to be focusing on a single company. This time around, we’ll be looking at Sega. Now Sega may not be at their best at this point in time, but it’s hard to deny that they’ve got a rich history in their archives. That’s not to say that Sega hasn’t done a good job with re-releases in general, but lately they’ve slowed down on that front. It would be arrogant to assume that this article would have any real effect on Sega’s policies, but every little bit helps, right?

Sonic Heroes (PS2/Xbox/GCN)

I never really thought Sonic Heroes got a fair shake. It seems like a majority of people played it on the PlayStation 2, and that version…had a lot of issues. Personally, I played it on GameCube and had absolutely no issues with it. Besides, we’ve seen re-releases of the other two games in the so-called “Dreamcast era”, why not Heroes?  For those of you out of the know, Heroes is perhaps the game where the running gag of Sonic having a million friends hit critical mass and the ensuing backlash would keep most of them off-screen for the foreseeable future. Players would take control of a team of three characters: one speed-oriented, one flight-oriented and one power-oriented, each providing their own advantages in specific situations. With four different teams (Hero, Dark, Rose and Chaotix), that’s a whopping 12 playable characters. Each team, however, would offer their own specific twists on the game’s stages. Team Hero was normal difficulty, Team Rose was easy mode, Team Dark offered a harder difficulty and Team Chaotix tended to offer alternate objectives, aside from just completing the stage.

Potential Improvements: Aside from upping the resolution for current-gen consoles and PCs, as long as they base the re-release on the Gamecube or Xbox versions, it should be fine.

Shenmue I & II (Dreamcast/Xbox)

Well, this one’s pretty obvious. I’ll be honest, I’m not really all that well-versed in the Shenmue games, but considering the gigantic megaton that was the announcement of Shenmue III, now is the best possible time to capitalize on the demand. After all, the success of Shenmue III’s Kickstarter proves that there’s definitely a high demand for this kind of thing. In fact, Blitworks, the companies behind the HD port of Jet Set Radio, said they had interest in bringing it to modern platforms.

Potential Improvements: Aside from increasing the game’s resolutions, perhaps including an option to decrease the difficulty of the game’s infamous quick-time events would be nice. Maybe just give an option for an easy mode, that would give players more time to react or multiple chances to get the QTE right. Clearly, this would work better as an optional chance, leaving the original QTE system intact for those who want a more authentic or difficult experience.

Jet Set Radio Future (Xbox)

Another game Blitworks mentioned they wanted to bring to modern platforms was Jet Set Radio Future. I’m a really big fan of the original JSR (or Jet Grind Radio, as I tend to call it) and I did actually own Jet Set Radio Future at one point. Unfortunately, I’ve long since lost my copy (it was from the bundle with Sega GT 2002) but have been itching to complete it at some point. Considering how much copies of JSRF go for online, I’d much rather see a re-release, especially because then I won’t have to plug in my Xbox again.

Potential Improvements: The obligatory high-definition resolutions would be nice, especially given JSRF’s interesting cel-shaded art style. Another nice bonus would be trying to put the soundtrack from the original into Future as well, just because that would be a pretty awesome addition.

Burning Rangers (Saturn)

Another game I never really got the chance to play, but considering what I’ve heard about it, it sounds amazing: rescue civilians and put out fires in a futuristic setting. Too bad it commands obscene amounts online, especially when it comes to the English version. Oddly enough, unlike other popular Saturn games like NiGHTS into Dreams and even the original Panzer Dragoon, Burning Rangers didn’t even get a re-release in the Japan-exclusive Sega Ages 2500 series on PS2. Despite being out of print for almost two decades, Burning Rangers still makes the occasional cameo in Sega games. It had a table in the Game Boy Advance Sega Pinball Party and recently had its own track in Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed.

Potential Improvements: I’d like to see Burning Rangers get the same treatment as the recent NiGHTS into Dreams HD re-release: a version rebuilt from the ground up with high-definition graphics and widescreen support, with an emulation of the original Saturn version included as a bonus. Throw in a nice gallery and the soundtrack, and you’ve got it made.

Dynamite Cop (Dreamcast)

I will be honest, Die Hard Arcade is one of my favorite arcade games of all time. Unfortunately, it’s in this weird limbo, where it’s technically a licensed game (due to being inspired by the movie Die Hard, and named after it outside of Japan) while also not being a licensed game (the game is referred to as “Dynamite Deka” [Dynamite Detective] in Japan and stars an original character, Bruno Delinger, who would eventually make an appearance in the 3DS game Project X Zone).

So let’s do the next best thing: re-release the sequel! Dynamite Deka 2, released as Dynamite Cop outside of Japan, is a refined version of the original’s cross between 3D beat-‘em-up action and quick-time events, this time taking place on a cruise ship, instead of a skyscraper.

Potential Improvements: HD upscaling is once again on the agenda, but what would be really awesome would be if they included Dynamite Cop’s arcade-exclusive revision: Dynamite Deka EX: Asian Dynamite. Basically a rearranged version of Dynamite Cop, this time taking place in Hong Kong. The game itself is incredibly similar to Dynamite Cop, with extremely similar level layouts, but it would still be a pretty cool novelty to have a bonafide home port of this game, especially if the original can’t be included due to legal issues.

Fighters Megamix (Saturn)

Recently, Sega re-released some of their old Saturn-era 3D fighting games. Virtua Fighter 2, Fighting Vipers and Sonic the Fighters all made it to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network (but sadly, not Steam). They did, however, leave out one game, arguably the best of the bunch: Fighters’ Megamix. Fighters’ Megamix was Sega’s own attempt at a self-contained fighting game crossover, mostly starring characters from Virtua Fighter 2 and Fighting Vipers, but with characters from other Sega games like Sonic the Fighters, Rent-A-Hero, Virtua Cop and even Daytona USA! That’s right, you actually get to fight as a friggin’ car!

Potential Improvements: Just make it on par with the other Model 2 Collection games, including the online multiplayer. That’s an absolute must for fighting games.

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg (Gamecube)

Like Sonic Heroes, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is one of Sega’s early third-party titles that I feel just doesn’t get nearly enough love. It was a pretty interesting 3D puzzle-platformer with its reliance on the egg rolling mechanics, as well as having different eggs with different abilities. As with Burning Rangers, the game is gone but not forgotten, making appearances in both of the Sonic and All-Stars Racing games. Billy was even playable in the first one.

Potential Improvements: All I can really think of is HD upscaling.

Panzer Dragoon series (Saturn/Xbox)

This one’s pretty obvious and it’s been requested so much, it’s surprising that Sega hasn’t really addressed it. The original Panzer Dragoon actually has been re-released a couple of times before: once in the aforementioned Sega Ages 2500 series and as an unlockable bonus in Panzer Dragoon Orta for the original Xbox. Aside from those instances, we haven’t really seen much of these games otherwise. I mean, I can understand why Zwei and Saga weren’t re-released, but Orta should be achievable to some extent, or at bare minimum, even the first game. Ideally though, we’d see the whole set.

Potential Improvements: As with Burning Rangers, I’d say to give it the NiGHTS HD treatment. A full collection of all 4 games would be ideal, but I think that it’d be more workable if they made Orta a separate release, while bundling the 3 Saturn games into a collection.

Space Channel 5 (Dreamcast/PS2)

This one, I feel like I shouldn’t even need to discuss, but here we are. For whatever reason, only Space Channel 5 Part 2 has seen a re-release on 7th generation consoles and PC, while we’re still missing out on the original. It’s especially weird because both games had ports to the PS2, which I assume is what Sega used as the base for the most recent port. Still, having the sequel up without the original just seems…well, blasphemous.

Potential Improvements: Just make it on par with the games in the “Dreamcast Collection” or Jet Set Radio HD and it should be fine.

Zombie Revenge (Dreamcast)

The last game on the list is actually a spinoff from Sega’s popular House of the Dead series. Eschewing the traditional light-gun rail shooter style of the mainline series, Zombie Revenge goes for beat-‘em-up gameplay with shooter mechanics, not unlike Die Hard Arcade/Dynamite Cop. It’s an interesting little game that just seems like it should be preserved in some way, if only because I want more Sega-developed 3D beat-‘em-ups at my disposal in the here and now.

Potential Improvements: Aside from enhancing the visuals, very little comes to mind. Maybe they could throw in the original House of the Dead as a bonus game, at least for platforms where there’s a way to properly implement controls for a light-gun shooter.

Honorable mentions go to Blue Stinger and Skies of Arcadia. If I’m going to be honest, I thought this article went pretty well. Like I said, since the PC ports series is currently on hiatus, this will probably act as its replacement, at least for the time being. I do have some ideas when it comes to other companies I want to write articles for, but you’ll just have to wait until next time to see what they are. Of course, if you’ve been following the site, you’ve probably got a pretty good idea for what’s coming next.

Plays Great, More Filler

Watching video games evolve as a medium has been one truly fascinating thing to watch throughout the years. We’ve seen games grow from the simple games of the Atari era, gradually increasing in size and complexity, until the current generation, where we’ve seen games that legitimately last more than 20 hours, without any cheap tricks to extend play. Unfortunately, as games have evolved, their budgets have skyrocketed as well. Massive games are the exception, not the rules. In fact, many modern games have single-player campaigns shorter than the average from the sixth generation. It’s disgusting. While not every game needs to be long, there have been many times where I’ve felt that games should have been longer, but the reality is that those games just can’t justify a large enough budget to extend the game to my desired length. If only there were some cheap way to add content to video games without greatly expanding development costs…

Of course, the easiest way to fix this problem would be to recycle and remix existing content in new forms, which can add both replay value and extend the length of the game. I’ve never really understood the bad rap recycling existing assets in video games has gotten from gamers. Of course, I can understand their reasoning: recycling in any form of media is generally considered cheap and “soulless”, but above all lazy. It’s also probable that many gamers have been burned in the past when games decide to take a cheaper or easier route to extend gameplay. Hell, I complain about stuff like that on a regular basis. I guess recycling just feels like a better route to me because it’s at least giving you more of the content you’re already enjoying in the game itself. Isn’t that why we want longer games in the first place?

Recycling and remixing content is beneficial for several reasons. As I mentioned before, game development has gotten significantly more expensive in the past two generations, especially after the proliferation of high-definition TVs. Recycling content, through things like level packs or repurposing non-playable characters into playable ones, allows developers to extend the length of the game itself and add replay value at minimal additional cost. These aren’t the only potential benefits remixing existing content could have. Increasing the use of any assets that would have otherwise have been used sporadically could also lead to their further refinement, leading to a more polished game overall. If we take that potential benefit even further, we could even see additional single-player campaigns with new play-styles that could increase the game’s replay value significantly, among other benefits. I’m sure UbiSoft knows what I’m talking about there.

Speaking of Ubisoft, they’ve actually already experimented with one form of remixing content that appears to be fairly well received among games: spinoff games. Ubisoft recycled the engines from the third installments of FarCry and Assassin’s Creed respectively to give us two self-contained spinoffs: the downloadable FarCry 3: Blood Dragon and the initially Vita-exclusive (before getting ported to HD consoles and PC) Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. The reception to both of these games were fairly good, but what else could you call them but recycling? Were they really different than the countless onslaught of MegaMan games during the 8-bit era, in anything besides sheer number? Regardless, my point has been made: recycling, under the right circumstances can be considered a net positive to game development, if done correctly.

Of course, that’s not the only form remixing existing content can take in video games. Here are some other examples of recycling in video games, both good and bad, to illustrate a few do’s and don’ts when remixing existing content. First off, the extra mission levels in Sonic Generations. Sure, to some degree, they were more or less the game’s spin on grinding (you had to complete at least one from each zone to continue on), but frankly, it was filler done right. Taking the existing art assets of the game and revamping them to create entirely new scenarios not seen in-game. You could interact with characters otherwise relegated to overworld props, perform time trials against ghost Sonics and even navigate stages with giant enemies. Sure, it might have been cooler to see some of this stuff in the main campaign’s stages, but that would’ve cluttered the stage design quite a bit.

Similarly, there’s the concept of “Endless Mode”. The one that springs to mind immediately for me would be the version found in the retro revivals MegaMan 9 and 10. Basically, taking stage fragments from existing stages from the main game and stringing them together in an endless tapestry of gameplay, challenging players to see how far they can make it before finally dying, throwing in a boss fight every 30 rooms. All-in-all, a pretty fun mode. My only real criticism of it would be the fact that it was paid DLC in both games. Kind of a scummy move on Capcom’s part, but that’s not exactly out of character these days. If it were free, it would’ve been a perfect illustration of what I’m talking about.

Speaking of Capcom, this brings me to a negative example of remixing assets, specifically in their fighting games. Especially during the 2D era, recycling character graphics was always considered a lazy way to pad out a fighting game’s roster. Hell, even Ken Master was just a palette-swapped version of his sparring buddy Ryu in his first few appearances. Evil Ryu, the hundreds of Mortal Kombat ninjas, Yun and Yang in the third Street Fighter, it all made sense back then, with memory limitations. The biggest controversy of all involving clone characters in fighting games, however, is also one of the most recent examples of it, Ultra Street Fighter IV’s sole original character, Decapre.

What made Decapre so controversial? Well, it’s actually pretty simple when you look at it. When Ultra Street Fighter IV was first announced, Capcom mentioned that there would be 5 new characters added to the game. 4 were reused assets from the failed spinoff Street Fighter x Tekken, but the fifth was a mystery, to be announced. As the months went on, Capcom started leaking hints: the character was going to be a character that had never before made a playable appearance in a fighting game. Basically, Capcom slathered on the hype and waiting more than half a year to reveal the identity of the new character. So it’s kind of surprising that the negative response to Decapre, a budget character that used Cammy as her obvious base, took Capcom entirely by surprise. Well, actually, that’s not fair: Yoshihiro Ono predicted that fans would be disappointed by the initial reveal, but hoped that she would eventually grow on fans. Honestly, I thought Decapre was an interesting character once I was able to use her in-game, but I was definitely wary when she was first announced.

By contrast, a similar character was met with a much more decidedly positive reaction. I am, of course, referring to Fukua, a surprise bonus DLC character in the moderately-popular indie fighting game Skullgirls. Fukua, like Decapre, used an existing character as a base and retained of that character’s moves and assets. So why was Fukua better received than her fellow clone? Honestly, there are several reasons. First and foremost, there were entirely different circumstances involving their announcements: while fans waited the better part of a year for Decapre, Fukua was announced and released on the same day, April Fools’ Day 2014. Her announcement trailer even poked fun at Decapre’s own reveal. Another important difference between the two is their respective dev time: Fukua’s initial build was plotted out in a mere 3 days and was further refined into her final form over the next month. One last major difference: Fukua was added to the base game, entirely free of charge for both new and existing owners of Skullgirls. Decapre is offered as either part of a paid upgrade to the earlier versions of SF4 or by buying the latest revision of the disc.

There are two other reasons that I find even more important to Fukua’s comparatively positive reaction. First, Lab Zero is a much smaller company than Capcom and by extension, Skullgirls itself has a far smaller roster. Therefore, LZ’s situation better resembles those of companies like Capcom and Midway (or Netherrealm Studios) when they had to resort to palette swaps. There’s also the fact that Fukua was said to be a test for another upcoming “palette-swap” character, Robo-Fortune, who was a fifth “bonus” character financed by their crowdfunding campaign. However, it appears that Robo-Fortune’s redesign has evolved from mere palette swap to a redesign on par with Decapre’s, which is far more impressive given Skullgirls’ hand-drawn 2D graphics, which will result in all of the reused frames being redrawn to some degree, in addition to new ones. Fukua was originally meant to be a temporary experiment, but fan response to her was so overwhelmingly positive, Lab Zero kept her in the game as a full character.

So, I guess the last major question is what genres would be best suited to recycling and remixing existing content to extend gameplay? Platformers are an obvious choice, as I mentioned before. In the same vein, one could argue that action games would benefit from recycling content. The best way to approach remixing content, however, would likely be in a way that has no effect on the game’s storyline. So arcade-style games, regardless of their genre, would likely be the best choices for remixed content due to their both their commonly short length and lack of emphasis on canon. Taking that into account, genres like first-person shooters would also benefit recycling content, in the form of creating entirely new maps from existing art assets. Fighting games commonly use this tactic as well, even modern games, but it should only be used sparingly, due to old controversies. Games that rely more heavily on story, like RPGs, should definitely avoid recycling content to extend gameplay, unless you rely on the old “alternate universe” trope. Regardless, the last thing to remember is that if you’re going to recycle content, unless it’s been significantly changed or expanded upon with new material, it should probably be implemented as free DLC rather than paid. Forcing people to pay for content they already bought is one of the lowest things I’ve seen companies do in the past, and frankly, I want it to stop.

10 More Games I Want Ported to PC

Hey, I said this was going to be a recurring series last time, didn’t I? If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you’ll know that I’ve been getting more and more into PC gaming in the last few years. One of the big reasons for that is the emphasis on backwards compatibility: even when the game’s original developers fail to deliver, it usually takes a resourceful fan a short amount of time to make it work again on newer systems. Consoles just don’t deliver on that as well as they did during the previous two generations. On the plus side, with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 running on PC architecture, PC ports could be beneficial to console gamers as well, allowing for easier and enhanced re-releases of these older games.

Before I recap the rules I established in the previous article, I’d like to give a shout-out to Deep Silver for taking down one of the games I had planned for a future list, before I even got the chance to set it up: Suda 51’s latest game Killer is Dead is coming to PCs this May. So I’ll have to replace that in a future list. Anyway, the rules are the same as they were in the last article: only one game per company per list; sticking mostly to third-party companies (with the exception of Microsoft, who is known to release games on PC as well), especially those that have released games on PC recently and games will specifically be taken from the seventh (Wii/360/PS3) and eighth (WiiU/XBO/PS4) generations, especially those that were on multiple consoles at the time of their release. Finally, games that are both from the same series that were released on the same platform CAN be packaged together. So, once again, let’s get on with the list.

Darkstalkers Resurrection – Capcom (360/PS3)

Anyone who has known me for a good amount of time knows that I love me some Capcom fighting games. At the top of that list stands not Street Fighter, not the Vs. Series, but Darkstalkers, a cult classic fighter revolving around some of cinema’s classic monsters duking it out in a fight to the death. I love me some Darkstalkers and when the second and third games in the series (Night Warriors and Vampire Savior, respectively) recently got re-released on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade, I just had to jump on it. I got both releases of the game the first day they were available and I had a lot of fun with them. Unfortunately, the game sold poorly on these platforms. So why ask for a PC release? Well, while it is possible to emulate both games online with the same netcode Resurrection used, that’s not exactly legal. I’d jump at the chance to have a legal avenue to play some Darkstalkers on my PC. More importantly, PC gamers are clamoring for some legitimate fighting game releases, to the point where Arc System Works recently allowed other publishers re-release the mediocre PC ports of both Guilty Gear Isuka and the Blazblue: Calamity Trigger on Steam (which lacks netcode, due to GfWL shutting down and no one bothering to convert it to Steamworks) and people are just eating it up, in an effort to show ASW that yes, people want their games on PC. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 may be the number one Capcom fighting game people are demanding a PC port for, but I’m well aware that Capcom’s deals with Marvel has lapsed.

Blazblue Chronophantasma/Continuum Shift EX – Arc System Works (AC/PS3/Vita/360*)

Speaking of Blazblue, I definitely want the other games in the series to see releases on PC. I guess at this point, getting Continuum Shift EX is useless for the most part, since its sequel Chronophantasma is already out in Japan and is due out in North America later this month. Anyone who’s familiar with the series, however, knows that there’s more to Blazblue than just having the current version ready for tournaments. The series has an extensive story mode, and considering the fact that we’ve got the first game’s story mode, it seems like it would be good to have the complete story up to this point, so doing a two-pack (perhaps gut CSEX’s online component like CT’s if that would make a port more cost-effective) would be great, especially for PC-only gamers who really want to get into the series. Xrd is still probably my top priority for a PC port, just because it’s both newer and runs on Unreal Engine 3 (which was literally made for PCs). Still, I’d probably be happier if the other Blazblue games made it to PC instead, as Calamity Trigger was the first Arc fighter I honestly enjoyed: my poor luck with the Guilty Gear series is legendary. Just my opinion, though.

Splatterhouse – Namco Bandai (360/PS3)

I’ve never really been that big on the survival horror genre, but I do tend to love games that borrow thematic elements from horror movies. Each game in the original Splatterhouse trilogy was a side-scrolling beat-‘em-up where you take on the role of Rick, who dons the cursed Terror Mask to save his girlfriend from a mansion filled with Lovecraftian horrors. In 2010, Namco Bandai rebooted the classic series as an action hack-and-slash, and while it wasn’t critically-acclaimed by any means, I loved the game. The atmosphere, the gameplay and especially the voice acting: if you can’t appreciate Jim Cummings cursing out Josh Keaton, I pity you. The only real flaw that bothered me was the abysmal load times which a properly-optimized PC port could easily fix. As an added bonus, Splatterhouse 2010 actually contained ports of the original trilogy as well, so even long-time fans who hated the reimagining have some incentive to pick it up. Besides, Namco Bandai recently ported Enslaved to PC, so why not Splatterhouse?

NeoGeo Battle Coliseum – SNK Playmore (360)

Considering we’ve recently seen Metal Slug 3 released on Steam, it seems like SNK Playmore has jumped on the Steam hype train. Frankly, I’d like to see something a little more recent come out. NeoGeo Battle Coliseum was one of Playmore’s first fighting games after regaining the SNK license and it’s an awesome little game. A 2-on-2 tag-team fighter that uses characters from various SNK games: King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, Last Blade, Garou: Mark of the Wolves, King of the Monsters and even Marco Rossi from Metal Slug. I’ve had a hankering for more classic SNK fighters and NGBC is not only one of my favorites, but an underrated gem. Considering it was re-released on XBLA, just port that version, throw in the improved netcode from King of Fighters XIII or MS3, and you’ve got a solid release on your hands.

Sega Model 2 Collection – Sega (360/PS3)

The worst part is, this shouldn’t even be on here. Many sources online claimed that Sega’s Model 2 Collection was coming to PCs back when it was initially announced. Unfortunately, that never came to be, which is a shame, because I really want to get my hands on Fighting Vipers, one of my favorite 3D fighters of all-time, and the enhanced port of Sonic the Fighters, which finally made long-time dummied-out character Honey the Cat fully playable for the first time in any legitimate release. Virtua Fighter 2 would always be welcome as well. To make matters even better, Sega could also pony up the two games that we never got in the North American or European console releases: the original Virtual-On and Virtua Striker. Granted, in that case, Virtual On would be a higher priority for me than even VF2, but let’s keep it simple: porting the 3 games that were released outside of Japan to PC would be fine.

Vigilante 8 Arcade – Activision (360)

I’ve been a fan of car combat games ever since I played the original Twisted Metal at my aunt’s house when I was a kid. Unfortunately, Twisted Metal’s a Sony franchise, so asking for a PC port these days would be a fool’s errand. Besides, the latest game in the series (Twisted Metal for PS3) was apparently garbage. Fortunately, there’s one series in the genre I liked even more than TM and it’s ripe for the taking: Vigilante 8. Vigilante 8 Arcade was the third game in the series, released on the Xbox Live Arcade early in the 360’s life cycle, but it’s a pretty stellar semi-remake of the original game. Sure, it’s a little barebones and it’s an early title, but frankly, I’d love to see it get ported to PC at some point, even if just for the sake of preservation.

Red Dead Redemption – Rockstar (360/PS3)

This is a big one that people have been demanding for a long time, so I’m really just stating the obvious here. I’m one of the few gamers out there who actually remembers Red Dead Revolver, so I was ecstatic to hear it was getting a sequel on seventh-gen consoles. Unfortunately, they ditched PC for that release. Many other Rockstar games from that era got late PC ports: Grand Theft Auto IV, L.A. Noire and it’s been speculated that even GTAV is getting a PC port at some point. Unfortunately, I don’t really care much for GTA, I want RDR on my PC. Make it happen, Rockstar.

Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition – WayForward Interactive (Wii U)

I haven’t really made it a secret: I’m a really big fan of WayForward Interactive’s work. They’ve made some of the best licensed games in recent times and their original IPs are generally fantastic. Considering we’re already getting the second and upcoming fourth Shantae games on PC, it seems fair to branch out and ask for a different series. Mighty Switch Force! HD Edition is a perfect choice, as it’s already an upscaled version of the 3DS eShop hit. Since the Gamepad support in the game was minimal, it seems like porting this to the PC would be simple, if not for the fact that WayFoward has a hectic schedule as it is. Still, this is a wishlist and I want more WayForward games on PC.

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Rebirth) – Vanillaware/Marvelous AQL (Wii/Vita)

Muramasa: The Demon Blade was probably one of my favorite games on the Wii, so I was happy to hear it was getting an expanded port. Then I found out that port was for the Vita. What a waste of resources. Marvelous AQL has some experience porting games to PC and they handled the North American release of Muramasa Rebirth. Maybe they could even upscale the graphics to at least 720p, so we’d finally be able to appreciate Vanillaware’s hand-drawn 2D artwork in its full splendor. Bundle it with the additional DLC content exclusive to the Vita version, and it would be perfect.

Shadow Complex – Microsoft Studios (360)

I love a good Metroid-like. Most people call them “Metroidvanias”. I used to be one of those people until a friend of mine told me it bugged him and why it bugged him: because while Castlevania games in that style may have borrowed from Super Metroid, the same could not be said for the Metroid series itself. Why have I gone off on this random tangent? Simply because the only thing I really know about this game is that it’s one of the best Metroid-style exploration platformers to have come out in a long time. That’s good enough for me.

And that’s another list done. So far, two of the games on any incarnation of the six lists I’ve planned already have PC ports confirmed. While Killer is Dead: Nightmare Edition isn’t due out until this May, Double Dragon Neon was released last month. Abstraction Games did an excellent job on that port, even quickly patching many minor glitches in the PC version. Hopefully, by the time my third list is ready, a third game’s PC port will have been announced. Sure, that’s just wishful thinking at this point, but here’s hoping.

Sum of Its Parts: 2D Sonic Sequel

Ever since I was a child, I’ve dabbled in the idea of imagining perfect sequels to some of my favorite games. Back before the real one even existed (and damaged the series’ reputation), a childhood friend and I came up with our own version of Mortal Kombat 4 (with the addition of several new palette-swap ninjas!). We scribbled on wooden blocks, pretending they were a game system, two controllers, the cartridge and even the screen as we had many imaginary battles with one another. A fun little childhood memory, but even to this day, I still look at old games I loved growing up and try to figure out just how to give them new life in the modern video game industry. Hell, you could probably tell that if you’ve read “Turn It Up To Eleven”, one of my Megaman Anniversary Rants from last year.

I know it’s pretty arrogant to believe that an outsider like myself could ever hope to run circles around the employees when it comes to handling games that I have nostalgic feelings for, even to this day. After all, that’s part of the reason I’m not employed in game development in any capacity. Then something like the ill-fated 2010 reboot of Rocket Knight happens and my arrogance just starts swelling up: what an insult to the memory of an obscure game that still holds up even to this day! Fortunately, the point of this article isn’t telling the world how much better games would be if I were left in charge. Instead of just dictating what proper sequels would entail, this series is meant to simply build hypothetical sequels in existing series by using elements and aspects of earlier games in the series. Only on rare occasions will I make an entirely original suggestion for new directions. Of course, leaving my own personal biases for new ideas out of the equation will be part of the fun of writing these.

Which brings us to today’s topic: a brand-new 2D Sonic sequel. Listen, I understand why Sega’s been focusing more on 3D Sonic games lately: they finally achieved something great with Sonic Colors and have continued to refine their efforts with Generations and even Lost World (yes, I liked Lost World. Deal with it.). However, I recently replayed Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II and I had forgotten just how fun the game was, especially compared to its mediocre predecessor. Sure, the more recent 3D Sonics have incorporated several 2D platforming segments into their gameplay, but at the same time, Sonic 4 Episode 2 (or Sonic 4-2, for short) reminded me that we haven’t really had a good 2D Sonic in a very long time. Even taking Episode Metal into account, Sonic 4-2 (Episode 1 was really flawed, don’t let the reviews fool you) just wasn’t long enough to satisfy my then-unknown urge for a new, entirely 2D Sonic adventure. Sure, there are plenty of fan games that attempt to recapture that magic, but there’s just something unique to Sega’s releases that even the most polished fan project just can’t match. To make things interesting, I’m not going to even bother mentioning the revered Genesis trilogy (I count Sonic 3 & Knuckles as a single game, deal with it) or their counterpart, Sonic CD. Because, let’s be honest, as good as they were, there were other games in the series that had their good qualities and relying strictly on nostalgia is so passé.

Starting off, let’s discuss the backbone of the entire game: the engine itself. Frankly, while there has been a shaky start, Sega has finally gotten Sonic’s physics working on modern platforms for the most part. So if they take the engine from either the 2D “Classic Sonic” segments from Generations or Sonic 4 Episode 2 (and I specify Episode 2 for good reason), Sega will be off to a good start on that front.

A more important aspect would be Sonic’s set of abilities. First of all, keep Boost out of these games, it’s pointless. Sega’s dropped the boost in more recent Sonic games like Sonic 4-2 and Sonic Lost World, and I think that’s a good thing. I’ve honestly always felt that boost was a tacked-on ability, even in 3D Sonic games where it actually works to some degree. It places more emphasis on mindless speed segments than level design, which was one of the cornerstones of the deified Genesis-era Sonic games. Use the spin dash instead, it’s far more versatile. Homing attacks, on the other hand, I think should stay, mainly because there was really nothing inherently wrong with them being in 2D Sonic in the first place. Hell, it’s literally a necessity in the 3D games, just due to the fact that in Sonic games, you literally attack enemies by somersaulting into them. Recent 2D Sonic segments have done a far better job of balancing the homing attack by adding hit invulnerability to boss fights and actually turning it into a platforming tool through clever enemy placement. Hell, Lost World even revamped the homing attack itself, giving it a new charge property that allows Sonic to do more damage based on how long you lock onto your target while in the air. Plus there’s that new homing kick attack, which allows you to kill multiple enemies in one strike. Speaking of Lost World, bring back the double-jump and bounce jump from that as well. Just toss out the run/parkour button.

Next, let’s look at the relatively risky question of playable characters. After a few years of solo adventures, I think we’re about ready for Sonic to team up once again. Of course, we should probably start things slow: why not just start with someone who never went away entirely? That’s right, I think that Miles “Tails” Prower should make his playable solo return in a new 2D Sonic game. Ideally, there would be three potential options: Sonic alone, Tails alone and Sonic w/ Tails (with the potential for co-op), just like in the good ol’ days…of Sonic 4-2. Give Tails’ his traditional set of abilities: flight, the corresponding ability to swim through water and maybe that kick-ass tail slash he had in the Advance games. Maybe give him some new attacks as well, to keep up with Sonic’s homing attack. This would also of course mean improving the level design to the point of providing unique paths for both characters, but I think Sega’s at the point where they can handle an undertaking of that caliber. Also, with Sonic/Tails mode, retain the team-up moves from Sonic 4-2, but reduce the start-up time on them, that was the only thing that made them awkward in my opinion. Of course, bringing in any of Sonic’s other friends without first testing the waters would be suicidal, but seeing Knuckles and possibly Amy come back in future games would be most appreciated. Just start by easing players back into the idea of playing as someone besides Sonic or some clone of him.

I’ve always felt that one of the most important aspects of any Sonic game would be the quality of the boss fights. That was one of the areas that Sonic 4-2 really shined in, especially when compared to the hit (Metal Sonic, Silver, Egg Dragoon) or miss (Shadow, Time Eater) bosses found in Generations. Lost World also had some pretty good 2D boss fights, like the second bosses in Silent Forest and Sky Road or the game’s penultimate boss fight. Seems like some of the best boss fights I’ve encountered have a few common attributes: there are usually patterns at certain points that somewhat resemble a puzzle, they tend to deviate from the traditional “8 hits and you’re dead” formula commonly seen in Sonic bosses and they tend to put measure in place to prevent spamming attacks to kill the boss in seconds. Keep these design elements in mind when designing 2D Sonic bosses in general, Sega.

Of course, the most important part of any platformer would be the levels themselves. Don’t worry, I’m not really going to go into great detail here, as long as there’s a plethora of stage themes (as opposed to mostly just city themes, looking at you again Generations) and Sega keeps up their emphasis on real platforming over mindless boost “hold right to win” segments, I’m sure they’ll be fine. I’m more worried about the breakdown of each Zone (or Level/World/etc., I call ‘em Zones). One of the things I didn’t really like about Colors was the breakdown of levels: sure, they had 7 Acts per zone, but some of them were pathetically short. Stick to the distribution of either the Sonic 4 games (3 Level Acts, followed by 1 Boss “Act”) or preferably, the Wii U version of Sonic Lost World (4 Level Acts, two of which have boss fights at the end).  Of course, extra levels wouldn’t hurt: just bring back either Colors’ Game Land stages, Generations’ mission mode or Lost World’s unlockable bonus acts.

Finally, here’s a few miscellaneous suggestions for the gameplay itself. First of all, I’d like to divulge a theory that my fellow writer SNES Master KI has regarding the Red Star Rings in the recent Sonic games. They first appeared in Sonic Colors, which we both consider a great game, and we’ve both loved every game they’ve appeared in since: Generations, Sonic 4 Episode 2 and Lost World; I loved them all. So I would suggest bringing them back, even if just due to superstition. Sonic 4-2’s method of hiding one in each level would probably work the best. Speaking of the red star rings, I think that as with Colors and Lost World, collecting them all should unlock Super Sonic, as opposed to the traditional “collect 7 Chaos Emeralds in special stages” method. Also, I don’t care how many people whined about it: bring back the rail-grinding stages from Lost World. They were like superior versions of the mine cart levels from Donkey Kong Country and I loved those. Also, bring back the competitive multiplayer race mode from Colors and Lost World and do some free DLC stages like Lost World is currently doing.

So with gameplay out of the way, let’s move onto some less important but still necessary aspects this new 2D Sonic should also include. First up, the game’s storyline: I’d like something a little more substantial than the pantomime “Genesisesque” story we got in the Sonic 4 games. I’ll be honest, there was a time where I would’ve been okay with this. From the time the original Sonic Adventure came out, I had nothing but disdain for the voice acting in Sonic games (“I’d better get going!” comes quickly to mind) until Sonic Colors came along and fixed most of my major problems with it. I’d like a more substantial story that stays somewhat comedic and episodic, not unlike the stories from Colors, Generations and Lost World. Trying to turn Sonic the Hedgehog’s story into a serious, grimdark epic rarely works out well, even when done in jest. Aim for a Saturday Morning cartoon atmosphere, put cutscenes between stages and make them skippable.

The graphics, I honestly don’t care that much about. Keeping it 2.5D should be fine, but what would really be amazing would be if you tried for some 2D high-definition graphics, not unlike those in Rayman Origins or Legends. Sure, this is pretty much just shooting the moon, but seeing more classic series attempt this type of graphical style would be nice. At the very least, it would help to set it apart from most modern 2D games, which tend to prefer 3D models used on a two-dimensional plane. It would also allow for the designers to have a little more fun with various characters’ designs, which have, with a few notable changes, remained fairly stagnant since the Dreamcast days.

And what’s a Sonic game without a good soundtrack? Even the worst of Sonic’s outings have shined in the music department. While Jun Senoue handled the soundtracks for both episodes of Sonic 4, I have some other people in mind for this one, both of whom I think deserve a shot acting as main composer for one of the Blue Blur’s adventures: Richard Jacques and Fumie Kumatani. Richard Jacques composed the amazing Sega Saturn soundtrack for the otherwise mediocre Sonic 3D Blast and recently worked on Sonic Generations and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, while Kumatani has been providing some of my favorite Sonic songs since the original Sonic Adventure, going for more of a jazzy style compared to her contemporaries. As far as I can tell, both still work for Sega. Whether either of them work on it or they both do, I’d love to hear their takes on a full Sonic soundtrack. Also, please don’t use the synths from the Sonic 4 games in any capacity ever again. They were so awful that they managed to completely obscure the quality of the compositions from those games and I’ve heard some rearrangements that can prove it.  Either use something close to the Genesis’s actual sound chip (if not the original thing itself) or the instrumentation you’ve used in the 3D games. A combination of the two would work pretty well too.

In the end, I can kind of see why Sega has sort of forsaken development of 2D Sonic games in favor of focusing solely on 3D. The Sonic 4 series, despite undergoing significant improvement in its second episode, proved to be a dead end due to its unpopularity, leading to future episodes missing out on being greenlit. Meanwhile, Sega has finally found success with 3D iterations of the franchise, ironically enough by incorporating well-designed 2D segments that resemble the best parts of the games of old with sections in 3D that attempt to recreate the same feeling. In spite of the 3D games’ newfound popularity and success, I feel that 2D Sonic games still have a place in the industry. If Mario can occupy both styles, there’s no reason Mr. Needlemouse can’t do the same.

A Tough Act to Follow

Over the years, there were tons of video games that are universally liked by critics and gamers alike, and there were sequels that had much more praise than their predecessors. However, even among the most critically acclaimed game series there are games that other entries can’t come close to. What I’ve decided to do was to make a list and narrow down specific games that meet this criteria. There were ten different choices I have made for this list, and with that, I present to you the ten games that are a Tough Act to Follow.

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior – Arcade (1991)

The original Street Fighter hit the arcades in 1987 with lukewarm responses, but when Street Fighter II was released in 1991, the game became an instant hit. It was so popular that Capcom made an updated version of it a year later, followed by three more subsequent updates ending with Super Street Fighter II Turbo. People were getting tired of the updates, as they were waiting for Street Fighter III. A new game was announced in 1995, but it wasn’t Street Fighter III; it was Street Fighter Alpha. While the game was popular, as were Street Fighter Alpha 2 and 3, they never reached the same success as Street Fighter II. When Street Fighter III was released, it did not catch on due to the lack of classic characters save for Ryu, Ken, Akuma, and Chun-Li (granted, Chun-Li only appeared in Third Strike, while Akuma did not appear in New Generation). While Street Fighter IV (and its subsequent updates) was successful, the original game was criticized for balance issues (mainly with Sagat being overpowered, which was proven to be unfair). Still, its popularity couldn’t match the same type of popularity that Street Fighter II had.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles – Genesis (1994)

After two successful games in the series, Sonic the Hedgehog became a pop culture phenomenon in the early 1990’s. To capitalize on the success, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog 3 on what was dubbed as “Hedgehog Day”, which happened on Groundhog Day of 1994. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 introduced a save feature, a new character, new ways to get into special stages, bonus stages through checkpoint lamp posts, and new power ups. There are greater distinction of levels per zone (including the music), as well as differentiation of characters in regards to their skill (such as Tails being able to fly or swim). While Sonic 1 and 2 had in game cutscenes, it was fleshed out more in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles to show what’s going to happen next. The game’s reception was a lot more critically acclaimed in comparison to its predecessors in spite of the fact that Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles were released separately within a span of eight months.

Super Metroid – SNES (1994)

The original Metroid introduced exploration in a side-scrolling adventure game in a non-linear world. Metroid II introduced save points, which eliminated the need for passwords. Both of those games were popular in their own rights, and were both well received; granted, Metroid II wasn’t as well received as the first one, but was still popular enough. When Super Metroid was released, it introduced many new elements to the series, such as a map, more expansive areas, eight-way directional shooting, and new weapon and item upgrades. It is exponentially better than the original Metroid, and has done a lot more than what the original Metroid has offered. There have been many other Metroid games that came afterwards, but none of them have reached the same critical acclaim that Super Metroid had, although Metroid Prime came close to it. Since Super Metroid is held to a high standard, every Metroid game that came after it would always be judged in comparison.

Super Mario 64 – N64 (1996)/Super Mario Galaxy 2 – Wii (2010)

After many years of 2D Mario platformers, with the last ones being Super Mario World and Yoshi’s Island on Super Nintendo, and Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins for Game Boy, the next step was to bring Mario into a new world: The Third Dimension. The goal was to bring Mario into a 3D World where he can explore new areas like never before, and Super Mario 64 accomplished that. While the Nintendo 64 was not as successful as the Sony Playstation, Super Mario 64 was very popular, and to this day, is still highly regarded as one of, if not, the best platformers of all time. Super Mario Sunshine tried to capitalize on it with more expansive worlds, and a new mechanic, the F.L.U.D.D., specifically made for this game. Unfortunately, it didn’t reach the same critical and commercial success that Super Mario 64 had.

Super Mario Galaxy changed things up, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 takes it into another level. The gameplay is similar to the original Super Mario Galaxy, where it has a new physics engine, which allows each and every celestial object to have its own gravitational force, which lets players circumnavigate rounded or irregular planetoids, walking upside down, or sideways, for a matter of giving the game a feel of going through galaxies. There are new unique stages with excellent level design, as well as a new Hub World, the Starship Mario. You collect 120 Power Stars, 120 Green Stars, and 2 special Power Stars, bringing it up to a total of 242 Stars. The game received critical praise that matches Super Mario Galaxy, with many of the critics citing that this game is better than the original. There have been debates on the Galaxy games (specifically Galaxy 2) and 64 as to which is the best in the 3D Mario series, and with Super Mario 3D World out now, only time will tell if it will match or surpass the praise of these games.

Final Fantasy VII – PS1 (1997)

While past Final Fantasy games were popular amongst dedicated gamers, Final Fantasy VII was the first Japanese RPG to have a mainstream presence in the western market. The gameplay hasn’t changed much from the previous Final Fantasy games, but it was the first game in the series in 3D. The pre-rendered backgrounds and the breathtaking FMV cutscenes wowed people to the point that an entire market opened up to JRPG’s. Final Fantasy VII for many gamers was an introduction to Japanese RPG’s, and the story was a lot more complex than what gamers had seen, and was a one of the first console based games to have more openly adult themes in western markets.

Final Fantasy VII was well received, and sold really well, and it cemented Sony’s dominance in the fifth generation console wars. While some later Final Fantasy games, such as IX, and in between X and XII, had dedicated fanbases, none of them matched the mainstream impact that VII had. To this day, people still demand a remake of Final Fantasy VII, but all Final Fantasy VII fans received were spinoff games and a movie.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night – PS1 (1997)

Castlevania has always been a popular series ever since it made its debut on the NES back in 1987. While it had a lot of hits with games such as Dracula’s Curse, Super Castlevania IV, and even the Japanese TurboGrafx-CD game Rondo of Blood, it wasn’t until the series made the jump on the Playstation with Symphony of the Night. This game was a complete departure from other Castlevania games, and adopted a Metroid-esque style with RPG elements, allowing you to explore Dracula’s Castle in its entirety. The popularity of this game led to more games in the series, as well as other games to adopt this style, dubbed as “Metroidvania” due to their similarities with Super Metroid with the map and structure with the game. There have been other Castlevania sequels to come out after this game, and while some of them couldn’t match the popuarity, others just fell flat. No matter what Castlevania game comes out, people will always make the claim that Symphony of the Night is the best game in the series.

Resident Evil 2 – PS1 (1998)/Resident Evil 4 – GCN (2005)

While Resident Evil 1 and 3 have their respective fanbases, Resident Evil 2 was the most popular game of the original trilogy. The controls were refined, the ammo wasn’t as limited, and when you draw your gun, you face towards the nearest enemy. It made better use of having two playable characters, giving the game continuity between the character’s stories, and having rewards for beating the game with the second character. This game was well received, with fans wanting a remake of this game.

By the time Resident Evil 4 had been released, the initial Resident Evil Formula was considered stale due to the awkward fixed camera and controls, as well as it being a newer generation at the time, so it felt much like an early 3D game. Therefore, Capcom capped Shinji Mikami to reimagine the Survival Horror genre. While many prototypes became other Capcom games, the final product was significantly different from the Resident Evil of old. The game now resembles a Third-Person Shooter, but still stayed true to the series’ Survival Horror roots. You don’t have to find a specific item to save anymore, which removes the limitation of saving. It got really good critical reception, it received good reviews on release and has won Game of the Year on multiple publications. This game is also a fan favorite, with fans claiming that it was arguably the best game in the series. After Resident Evil 4, fans argued that the games in the mainline series focused more on action gameplay, as a detriment to the series. Other games in the series that had the Survival Horror gameplay either didn’t succeed financially, or did not give the Survival Horror experience that longtime fans had hoped for.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – N64 (1998)

Like Super Mario 64, Nintendo wanted to bring The Legend of Zelda to a new world. They did so by changing the top-down overworld seen in past Zelda games into a more dynamic 3D environment. It is the first Zelda game in the series to introduce free-roaming, context-sensitive actions, and Z-targeting. There is a method where you can change the setting to seven years in the future, where Link becomes an adult, and must rescue the rest of the seven sages. While the Ocarina has appeared in past Zelda games, Ocarina of Time lets you learn twelve different melodies for solving puzzles and teleporting to locations you already visited within the game.

When Ocarina of Time was released, the critical acclaim was exceptional, and even to this day, it’s always at least in a close struggle for the highest game in Gamerankings and Metacritic. It is not only claimed by fans and critics to be the best Zelda game of all time, it is also claimed to be the best game of all time. There have been other games in the series that rivaled the popularity, but Ocarina of Time is the last Legend of Zelda you can praise without the fanbase attacking you. It was even remade in 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS, which many people enjoyed just as much as the original, if not, more.

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door – GCN (2004)

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is much like its predecessor, only better in every way. Timed moves and the Partner system were improved: with the partners now having their own Heart Points, as well as having more abilities. The battles are staged and audience participation can have an impact on the battle, and as you level up, it increases the audience size. Save for Game Informer’s infamous 6.75 score, the game was well received, and it sold well for a Gamecube game. The reason that many Paper Mario fans don’t like Super Paper Mario or Sticker Star is because it deviates too much from the formula that The Thousand Year Door perfected. Beta footage of Sticker Star implied that it was going to be a direct sequel, but as development time went on, it changed to a completely different game.

Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening – PS2 (2005)

While Devil May Cry was a genre trendsetter, Devil May Cry 3 felt more like a modern action game. It fixed the problem Devil May Cry 2 had, which was that the game was a lot easier. It added different styles for Dante to use that dramatically changed the gameplay. After gamers grew attached to Dante’s cocky and aggressive attitude in Devil May Cry, his emotionless performance in Devil May Cry 2 disappointed many. Devil May Cry 3 completely reverses this with Dante being even cockier, and the game had more over the top cheese than ever. After the negative reception of Devil May Cry 2, Devil May Cry 3 redeemed the series for many gamers and reviewers. Devil May Cry 4’s reception was lukewarm from fans and reviewers, and DmC had a massive fan backlash.

Honorable Mentions:

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest – SNES (1995)
It gave the series its own identity after the original borrowed elements heavily from Super Mario World. The level design really hit its stride with its cleverly hidden secrets. The game is held at a high regard where arguably not even the other games in the series would match its popularity.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 – Arcade (1995)
While Mortal Kombat 2 may arguably be better, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was ultimately considered to be the last great Mortal Kombat game in the series until Mortal Kombat 9.

Mega Man 2 – NES (1989)
Mega Man 2 was initially well received and even considered to be the best in the series. Even Keiji Inafune considers this game to be his favorite Mega Man game that he has worked on.

And there you have it, ten different games that set the standards of the video game industry, with sequels unable to match the sales success or popularity. These games will always be looked upon as some of the best games of all time, and it shows when you look at retrospectives and top 10 lists. Many fans argue about what happened with these respective series after the specific game gets high praise, and many argue about which game is really better in their series. Regardless, there will always be games that are a Tough Act to Follow.

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 XD 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.