Search This Blog

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Capcom Situation

It's no secret that Capcom is no longer the company they used to be. I wouldn't say Capcom is the worst developer/publisher in the industry. That's going way too far, but they've certainly been at higher points. There are three things about Capcom that has been bugging for me a while now and with this editorial, I aim to get it all out in the open.

Frequently Updated Fighters

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was one of the greatest things to happen to the fighting genre and gaming. That game was so influential that other fighting games are still borrowing heavily from it, including Capcom's own fighters. And yet, as great as it was, there was still more to be done with the winning formula. Enter Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers and so on. Apparently Capcom saw a lot of room for improvement because in the early 1990s alone, there were no less than five versions of Street Fighter II.

Now I love Street Fighter II and have really gotten a lot out of the tweaked sequels that followed. But even in my early teens I started to think it was overkill to have so many updates to a single game. I'm guessing a lot of fans thought the same thing because for all of Super Street Fighter II: The New Challenger's new features like four new characters, character tweaks and such, it wasn't as financially successful  as much as the first three Street Fighter II entries were. This didn't stop Capcom from releasing one more update, which was Super Street Fighter II: Turbo, a game many call the best Street Fighter II title.

There have been a total of
seven different versions of Street Fighter II.

I do enjoy fighting games but even if fighting enthusiasts label me as a pretender, I'm just not into it as much as those in the competitive scene are. For competitive players, those that attend Evo and such, these updates are essential to staying on top of things, though it really does seem like milking, a practice that Capcom, arguably more than any other company is the most guilty of. In the late 1990s we saw a few versions of Street Fighter III, with 3rd Strike being the final entry in that series (until 2011's 3rd Strike Online Edition). It seemed as if Capcom had gotten all the updated sequels out of it's system but then Street Fighter IV came around. All of a sudden, gamers everywhere had caught Street Fighter fever all over again as if it were 1991. But history and my instincts told me that there would be an updated version of Street Fighter IV and sure enough, there was. Super Street Fighter IV hit the scene and added more characters, character tweaks and addressed balancing issues from the original game. Later still, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition followed, which added even more characters, more tweaks and a bevvy of alternate costumes and costume colors.

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was announced
just months after the release of the
vanilla version. To say fans were "not happy"
would be an understatement.

The updated sequel practice was unfortunately carried over to Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The game was released in all regions in early February of 2011. It was great to see Capcom have the Marvel license once again and have more cross over matches. Then in late July, Capcom announced Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which released in November of 2011. Players that picked up Marvel vs. Capcom 3 only to find out it would be obsolete by the Ultimate version were furious. Even fans from the fighting community were peeved.

Now if it weren't for such an irritating practice, we would never have gotten Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, the most balanced Street Fighter title and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, the best in the Street Fighter III series, so the good points that can come from it aren't entirely lost to the gamers. However, this isn't the 90's anymore. Capcom's habit of releasing updated sequels so close to each other was annoying back then and it's annoying now. If Capcom releases a new fighting game, you may as well wait for the good version to come along to save yourself some money. The only version of Street Fighter IV I own is Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition and this was largely due to the fact that I bought it at Best Buy brand new for $9.99. It contains all of the gameplay modes from Super Street Fighter IV, all 35 figthers through the Street Fighter IV series and each and every alternate costume and costume color.


That's short for downloadable content for all three of you that weren't aware. DLC has become a big thing in the HD gaming era as it's a good way for publishers to bring in some extra cash on games that the consumer has already purchased. Of course the definition of "good" varies depending on what the contents of specific DLC involves and how the publisher goes about distributing it.

To my knowledge Mega Man 9 was the first game in the Mega Man series to use DLC. Among the DLC available was Proto Man, Endless Attack, Special Stage, Hero Mode and Super Hero Mode. Proto Man felt like a tacked on extra since he had no involvement in the game's story and he couldn't use the shop. He also took double damage and suffered from even more knock back when hit than Mega Man, making the game even harder. Endless Attack was a great new addition to the series, testing the player to see how many screens they can advance on a single life. Special Stage was was a new level for Time Attack with Fake Man waiting for the player at the end. The DLC that I purchased from Mega Man 9 was Endless Attack and at 300 Wii points ($3) it was sort of a tough pillow to swallow but Endless Attack was a fine addition to the Classic Mega Man series. Hero Mode and Super Hero Mode were essentially harder difficulty settings and paying to make the game even tougher was something I had no intention of going through with. Overall, I found MM9's DLC to be something of a mixed bag.

Mega Man 10 offers good, cheap DLC.

When the DLC for Mega Man 10 was announced, my eyes lit up like a Christmas Tree. For $2, players could play through the whole game as Bass (Proto Man was in the game from the start) and he was included in the game's story and had shop access. Bass makes the game easy, but he's so much fun to play as that I didn't mind forking over $2 to use him. The three Special Stages included all three Mega Man Killers from the Game Boy Mega Man titles with levels resembling levels from the games they came from. Not only that, after defeating them, you got to keep their weapons forever, even after starting a new game! All of Mega Man 10's DLC was only $5 compared to 9's $8 asking price and all of it was totally worth it.

Want the entire cast of Street Fighter X Tekken
on the console? That'll be $20.

Capcom's biggest example of greed on DLC came from 2012's Street Fighter X Tekken. 12 characters were already on the game disc but were locked out via DLC code. Capcom's excuse for this? To further extend replayability of the game and to avoid releasing an Ultimate version of the game like they did with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I can commend Capcom for trying to avoid the frequently updated fighter practice, but the way they went about doing it was terrible. All 12 DLC characters cost $20 total, making them some of the most costly DLC to come from Capcom. This DLC tactic infuriated fans so much that many refused to purchase the game out of spite, which greatly impacted the game's sales. Sure it may not have done too shabby, but Capcom wasn't pleased with the sales they did see. They blamed it on the fighting game market being flooded, when in reality, they shot themselves in the foot with their money grubbing DLC. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was another fighting game to be released in 2012. Six additional fighters were DLC. Not as much as Street Fighter X Tekken's 12, but the price for these characters was a lot cheaper. And how much did Namco Bandai ask gamers to pay? Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. That's right, for the price of nothing, you could add six more fighters to the already large character roster of Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Free DLC? Yes, it does exist in some games.

Handling Mega Man

Oh, boy, here we go. I'm not on the "Capcom hates Mega Man" train that a lot of Mega Man fans are on, but I still thought it was worth mentioning the Blue Bomber in this editorial for a number of reasons.

With the retro releases of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, Mega Man fever was back in full swing, but it didn't end there. The online Mega Man Universe was set to bring together Mega Man fans all over the globe, and It seemed like Mega Man Volnutt was finally going to get off that Moon that he had been stuck on since Mega Man Legends 2 concluded so many years ago when Mega Man Legends 3 was announced on the 3DS. Then, tragedy happened. Both Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe were canned within the same year. The axing of these two Mega Man titles is why the Mega Man fanbase has been in such an uproar and what has led many of them to (foolishly) believe that Capcom hates Mega Man. I was just as annoyed as the rest of my fellow Blue Bomber fans when these games were cancelled but I got over it. Cancelled games are sadly, an unfortunate nature of this business. But as time passed and no new Mega Man titles were announced, the disdain fans had toward's Capcom's handling of Mega Man only grew worse. Just hit any Mega Man related forum and it won't take long to find threads with fans express their loathing of Capcom and their treatment of Mega Man.

But all is not lost. On the start of Mega Man's 25th anniversary celebration, Capcom released the fan made Street Fighter X Mega Man as a free PC download. And wouldn't you know, you could still hear some whining fans. For some, since the game didn't come from Capcom's own hands, it didn't count. Since when are fan games bad? Sure, Street Fighter X Mega Man isn't perfect, but it's a fun, free game that still feels like a Classic Mega Man title. And if you want to get technical about it, I guess Mega Man 9 and 10 shouldn't count either since Capcom only published those games, not developed them. 9 and 10 were made by Inti Creates (the developers of the Mega Man Zero series) with Keiji Inafune working closely with the developer. Those games weren't any less worthy of being deemed Mega Man adventures just because Capcom didn't create them.

It may have come from a fan, but Street
Fighter X Mega Man was still a fun
cross over.

One thing that really puzzles me is that Capcom seems to think that there isn't a strong enough desire for Mega Man games. Why on Earth would the company think this? Mega Man has earned Capcom a huge sum of change, so I honestly can't fathom why they would think the demand for Mega Man games isn't large. When Street Fighter X Mega Man became available as a download on Capcom Unity, so many downloads were taking place at once that it crashed the server, slowing downloads of a 33 MB file to a crawl. That right there is very telling of fan's desire for Mega Man games.

There's another misconception that exists regarding Mega Man, but this one exists in the ranks of the fans. Without Keiji Inafune, a good deal of fans believe that there can't be any Mega Man games. I honestly think Mega Man can do just fine without Infaune. Why? Mega Man X8 restored the X series to glory after the abysmal X6 and X7 and Inafune had nothing to do with that game, only receiving special thanks in the end credits. Inafune didn't even create Mega Man like a lot of people think he did. Mega Man was actually created by his mentor Akira Kitamura, with Classic Mega Man's design already being finished by the time Infaune joined the Mega Man team. While Inafune has had a great deal of involvement in many Mega Man games, he gets a lot of credit that isn't really all of his to take. It reminds of the Shigeru Myamoto's status at Nintendo. For year's the man has been in a supervisor role but many fans still credit him behind so many Mario titles. He oversees a lot of projects with Mario in them, but he certainly isn't the man behind every Mario platformer or every Zelda game for that matter. Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai hasn't been involved with a Kirby game since 2003's Kirby Air Ride. We've had tons of worth while Kirby games since he left HAL and formed Sora and he even gave HAL his blessing, stating his desire for the company to continue on with Kirby games. Even before Sakurai left there were a number of Kirby games he had nothing to do with that turned out fine. So I don't buy the whole "Mega Man can't survive without Inafune" argument.

One thing is clear about Capcom concerning Mega Man and it's that the current brass in charge doesn't have a clue on how to go about making a Mega Man game. If they did, we'd probably see more than just Street Fighter X Mega Man by now. I'd say their best bet is to get Inti Creates to make another Mega Man game. It can be a Classic or X game, I don't care which. Or they could get a sequel to Street Fighter X Mega Man going. I'd love to go at it with a different set of World Warriors.


You know, I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the offices of Capcom. It'd be great to know how they plan to go about DLC in the future, their plans for Mega Man games and if they intend to keep updating their fighting games with a newer version. But I'm only human so like the rest of you, I have to be on the outside looking in to see how things play out. I don't hate Capcom but I'd really love to see them go back to being the outstanding company that I know they can be.

1 comment:

Tom Badguy said...

As far as updates go, they don't bother me. Any attempts to make things balanced is always good. Plus, if you play competitively, you have to play the updated versions of games.

As for DLC, it is BS that the DLC recently have been on the disc already, you just have to unlock it with money. Kind of stupid. Should just be separate DLC you get online.