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Monday, February 9, 2015

Mega Man Will Never Truly Die

Ah, Mega Man, arguably the most famous robot in the medium that is video games. He shoots up robots, copies their powers and saves the world ten times over. While Mega Man isn't quite as famous as Mario and Pac-Man, he is a well-known figure and the impact he's left on gaming is not to be downplayed. The Blue Bomber has stared in some of the most memorable action platformers of all-time with equally memorable music. And then you've got the numerous spin-off series like Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero and Mega Man Battle Network. Yet, for all the money he's brought in, he's been getting the crappy end of the stick in the gaming department, at least as far as his parent company, Capcom is concerned.

We've seen re-releases of games digitally on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo eShop services. But Mega Man has not had a new console game release since Mega Man 10 in 2010. As great as having another digital version of Mega Man 2 is, fans clamor for a new Mega Man game and Capcom's failure to deliver one has given Rock's faithful fanbase the unshakable impression that Capcom does not care about the character one iota.

It has been nearly five years since the release
of Mega Man 10.

Mega Man still gets plenty of merchandise released in the form of music CDs and toys but video games, the characters home medium? It's practically been a robot grave yard. Most would not call all those iOS and iPhone game releases living. Still, I wouldn't say Mega Man is dead. Capcom may not be putting out any new games with my favorite blue robot and given the company's current state, I don't think a Mega Man game from them would be a very good idea. We've seen the shoddy way they go about DLC and with several different versions of Street Fighter IV, one would be a fool to cop Street Fighter V and not think they won't release a plethora of updated versions.

Every enduring franchise owes its continued existence to fans. Sonic is still around because of an un measrueable amount of devoted fans. They can very irrational and pigheaded at times to say the least, but if it were not for them, Sonic would have faded away into obscurity a long time ago.

Now if you want some video game characters that are truly dead, look no further than Bubsy. Bubsy was an obnoxious bobcat that came about during the "Mascots with attitude" craze that came about after the runaway success of Sonic the Hedgehog. Bubsy had a total of three console games and one Game Boy release, none of which were good but the cream of the crap was Bubsy 3D, a game so horrendous that it threw dirt on the coffin that the hated feline was already buried in.

Mega Man's monthly comic
adventures are not to be missed.

Even a popular mascot like Sonic has had plenty of missteps. 2006's Sonic the Hedgehog left such an enormous, unforgettable scar on the series and is arguably the sole reason gamers have this misguided belief that all Sonic games that aren't 2D are abominations. Sonic Unleashed wasn't the stinker so many make it out to be and Sonic Colors along with Sonic Generations are some of the best Sonic games. Of course then came Sonic Boom which just threw Sonic right back down the path of suck.

Mega Man hasn't been immune to bad games either. The Classic series has been generally good. Mega Man 7 and 8 certainly don't deserve the flak they get for not being 8-bit games. Mega Man II on the GB is proof that 8-bit doesn't guarantee a good Mega Man experience. Keiji Inafune himself even felt like he owed the players of Mega Man II an apology. Mega Man II is without question the worst of the GB lot. Heck, even "better" games like Mega Man & Bass suffers from a BS difficulty that makes it an unsatisfactory Mega Man experience. Mega Man X6 and X7, outside of the outstanding soundtracks, make me cringe whenever I think of them.

As bad thas X6 and X7 were, they didn't send the franchise to video game hell. Sure, Mega Man X8 did bring the X series back into a positive light and the Zero series had been consistently good through all four games. By the time Mega Man 9 had been announced, 10 years had already passed since the release of Mega Man & Bass. That's a pretty big dry spell, but not quite as bad as poor pit from Kid Icarus. Kid Icarus: Uprising was released in 2012. Prior to that 3DS game, the last Kid Icarus title was Kid Icarus: of Myths and Monsters, which came out in 1991. That's a twenty year difference in game releases, folks. Mega Man has't had it that rough, at least not yet.

Mega Man's reveal for Super Smash Bros. was
met with thunderous applause. 

While fans like to bemoan the lack of Mega Man game releases, he's had it much, much better than others. He still gets the occasional soundtrack releases like the recent Rockman Utopia and the upcoming Rockman Dystopia. He's even got his own ongoing monthly comic series printed by Archie Comics. He's even a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. And don't give me that "He's just a guest star" crap. Being in Smash is an honor like no other. Masahiro Sakurai himself has stated that he doesn't just put anyone in Smash, saying that Mega Man is special. Getting the chance to slug it out with some of the greatest characters in gaming in the best video game cross-over franchise of all-time is no small thing. Bubsy, Alex Kidd and Blinx wish they got the kind treatment Mega Man has.

I'd like new Mega Man games, but honestly, if we never get another one, I think I'm alright with that. Mega Man Zero ended at the fourth entry but life went on. It always does. Did Star Wars die with the original three movies? No. Did what many call the "sucktastic" prequels kill the franchise? Of course not. Star Wars is still going strong and I doubt the upcoming film will kill it off it it does happen to be awful.

In the world of gaming, Mega Man is not just a hero. He's a legend. As Babe Ruth's character said in The Sandlot, "Heroes get remembered, but legends never die." Mega Man's legacy has ensured that he, much like Sepiroth from Final Fantasy VII, will never be a memory.

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