An Open Letter to Capcom after Mega Man’s 25th Anniversary

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A JustUs Geeks Editorial and wake up call to Capcom on behalf of our beloved Blue Bomber.

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Dear Capcom,

I’m writing to you to share my love for a franchise that you’ve shown so much love and care for over the years.  One that has seen many releases, lots of quality games, and has wrapped up many hours of my childhood and adulthood.  I’ve bought, rebought, and re-rebought the games in this franchise and played them across every platform imaginable.  But, I believe there’s a huge problem with this franchise that makes me really sad.

Before we go any further, I have a confession to make: My name is Marty, and I am a Mega Man addict.

(pause)

Now, if you know me, that’s not fresh news.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that I love Mega Man.  From the first time that I saw him, there was something about this character that drew me in and wouldn’t let go.  My first exposure to The Blue Bomber came at a local video store in the late 1980’s.  I was there to rent a game and as I looked through the racks of available NES games, I saw it.  Mega Man.  The original.  From the moment I first saw that terrible box art, I knew there was something special.  I rented the game and immediately was hooked.  There was something about this little robot, a creation of Dr. Light (Wright in that first games English translation) to undo all the harm that had been done by the evil Dr. Wily, that inspired me.  Maybe it was the action packed gameplay, or maybe it was the ability to steal defeated robot master’s powers and use them agains the next boss, or maybe it was the catchy music, but whatever it was, I was a fan.  A fan for life.

As the years went on, I waited with bated breath for each new release in the series.  I can distinctly remember the afternoon my dad walked through the door and opened a paper sack and handed me Mega Man 2.  8 robot masters?!  My life was completely changed.  Password systems filled notepad after notepad around my NES as I conquered each robot master, making my way to the fateful confrontation with Dr. Wily.  The day I made it there and saw his “alien” form (a holographic projection), I called my dad at work and stayed on hold for 20 minutes just to tell him about it.  Soon enough, Mega Man 3, 4, 5, and 6 had come and gone, along with a supporting role in the Captain N and the Game Master cartoon (Mega Mega!), and the SNES was coming to shelves.  Mega Man X was soon in my hands and the rest is history.

Since then, Mega Man has starred in game after game, even played soccer, fighting friend and foe in an arcade beat ’em up, and will soon be busting skulls in Nintendo’s Smash Bros.  And while all that is well and good and I’m very happy with the legacy of my favorite little robot buddy, I can’t help but feel sad as 2014 opens, realizing that the 25th anniversary of Mega Man has passed with a whimper, and not a bang.  Due to what can only be called a lack of enthusiasm on your part, Mega Man’s silver anniversary went by without much fanfare, which is truly saddening for longtime fans that have, quite frankly, seen the series drift farther and farther away from it’s roots over the years until it’s become almost unrecognizable.  Let’s look at the 25th anniversary “celebration” in review.

On December 17th, 2012, Capcom posted Street Fighter X Mega Man as a free download on it’s site.  The game was developed by a fan from Singapore, both to celebrate Street Fighter and Mega Man’s 25th anniversaries.  Reception was electric, with the game being downloaded over 1 million times by March 2013.  Sadly, this would be the ONLY game that you would release to mark the annivesary of what is arguably your most popular mascot, unless you count re-releases of older games on Virtual Console services and the first appearance of those games on the 3DS.  (Annnnnd….the game still hasn’t gotten a Mac version, for those of us who’d like to play there as well)

Various items were released throughout the year to celebrate the anniversary as well, like CD soundtracks, statues, cases and other tchotchkes, but almost all of these items were only available in Japan and were not made widely available to the Western market.  That means the anniversary came and went without any action figures, videos, books, or much of anything being released in the West, unless you want to count the Mega Man Archie comics, who’s biggest accomplishment in the last year was a crossover with Sonic the Hedgehog.  Yeah.

Additionally, with new games in development on the horizon, Capcom also thought it was appropriate in 2013 to release details about Mega Man games that it had CANCELLED.  Of course, we already knew that fan darling Mega Man Legends 3 would NOT be coming to the 3DS as originally promised, but we also got the anniversary surprise of finding out that Rockman Online, a Mega Man MMORPG, was cancelled after years of being in limbo.  Then we got news that the game we never knew was in developement, Maverick Hunter, was being cancelled.  An FPS (first person shooter) reimagining of Mega Man X, the game was apparently far along in development before it was canned, far enough along to have a fleshed out, darker world and concept and plans for a three game trilogy.  Yet another let down.

So, to recap, Mega Man’s anniversary consisted of 1 fan made game, little to no product available outside of Japan, and announcements of cancelled games for fans worldwide.  Break out the champagne, boys, IT’S A PARTY!

The problem with all this is that the year is now up, and any momentum that you could’ve had to release a new game in the series (Which, by the way, has not seen a TRUE console release since 1996 with Mega Man 8), reboot the franchise, or offer us something new is now GONE.  You don’t get 25th anniversaries back.  That’s why they are special.  What’s even worse is that other companies have had to pick up your slack and run with it to make sure that a beloved character is honored in a semi-appopriate way.  Jasco Games just ended it’s Mega Man: The Board Game Kickstarter after raising $400,000+ to fund a board game that only needed $70,000 to get off the ground.  That’s a lot of money!  The game is even sanctioned and completely supported by YOU, which is a just a kick in the pants to everyone who wanted the company to do something to celebrate The Blue Bomber.  Mighty No. 9 also saw Kickstarter success this year, a game envisioned as a spiritual successor to Mega Man, created by Keiji Inafune to boot!  THAT Kickstarter went bananas as well, earning well over the needed amount and allowed the developers to hopefully start a new franchise that will last for years to come.

So, let’s just call it like it is: Capcom, you blew it.  You blew it big time. For those of us who stood by you for years, purchasing any and every Mega Man game that came out, even if it wasn’t great (the end of the Mega Man X series, anyone?  Battle.Net?  Starforce?), you let us down.  I hate to say this, but I have to: This would’ve never happened to Mario.  Or Link.  Or Sonic.  Or any other valued game mascot that helped to build a mediocre software company into the huge name it is today.  When you say the word Capcom today, most people have fond memories of playing well put together Mega Man games, or battling their buddies in the Street Fighter franchise, but you allowed the anniversary of the robot that built Capcom to pass while the public opinion of your company went down the toilet.  You might want to step back and ask yourself why.  Search for the answer.  And when you search, you might just find a forgotten little robot, clad in blue, who needs to be introduced to a whole new generation of fans waiting to save the world.

Sincerely,

Marty Estes

A huge Mega Man fan

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