Joystiq Interviews Mega Man Universe Producer

Yesterday, we learned that the fine folks at Game Informer had the opportunity to interview the producer of Mega Man Universe, Akiko Ito. And today, we've learned that the good gents at Joystiq were apparently offered the same opportunity.

As we did yesterday, we are providing the highlights and a few excerpts of anything new this piece has to offer.

One interesting bit of information reveals why it seems to have taken so long after the game's announcement for us to see anything of it-- "we actually just started production," Ito says, noting that they began production around March or April, and are "actually still at the beginning stages."

A lot of people who worked on the original versions of Mega Man and Mega Man 2 have returned for this venture. Among them are the producer for those two games, Tomoya Tomita, and of course, Keiji Inafune.

As Mega Man 10 was developed by a different team, production of Mega Man Universe was able to begin before that game was completed. More interesting is that Ito notes that "honestly, we've got a couple different Mega Man titles on the front burner right now; so there are different teams working on each of those."

Ladies and gentlemen, you may begin your speculation.

Customization has been highly-touted as one of the main draws for Universe, and this includes both stages and characters. However, Ito reveals that only stages can be exchanged online; the characters "are your customized characters," and cannot be traded.

As for stage customization, all parts will not be available from the outset-- "it's kind of boring that way," Ito says, adding that "there's no incentive to replay the game or try harder or do different things." However, they are "trying very carefully" not to make it too difficult to acquire parts, and they will be obtainable in different ways, some of which hark back to classic Mega Man tropes.

For example, Robot Master parts will naturally be obtained by defeating them in battle. Other ways include gathering screws to use in the game's shop, or completing certain missions and receiving them as bonuses.

Regarding the inclusion of Mega Man 2 elements revealed yesterday, Ito expands upon this by noting that if one chooses to play the game "in a normal way," they can do so with the base story and game being taken from that title, thus allowing fans of that game to experience it through Universe.

However, unlike the original, you can tweak parts of the stages to your liking... or revamp the entire thing. "[P]retty much you can do whatever you'd like with the stages," Ito says.

And, of course, you can just build your own stages from scratch. "But the stages will always be there for you to play," Ito adds, "if you want to play through the old Mega Man 2, just in a new style."

Naturally, this draws a comparison to the PlayStation Portable title Mega Man Powered Up. Ito notes that game had aspects of its editor which were "a little bit complicated and sometimes a little hard to get around." They have instead tried to make those parts simpler and more intuitive.

Another thing is that -- Americans may not have a problem with this, but for some people, especially in Japan, it's very difficult to create a level; to just give them a blank canvas and say, "Go ahead and create." Some people may prefer to have premade stages or templates of some sort that they can then modify and use. So we're also being very careful and considering those types of people who maybe want to have some sort of base to start with, so we'll be preparing a bunch of those as well. Rest assured, we'll have a bunch of different things that we can customize and we'll have a bunch of different ways you can approach the editor.

For the time being, they are keeping the way other characters (Ryu, Arthur, etc.) will be accessed under wraps. Ito gives reassurance that they will be accessible, as part of the idea behind the game is to experience different ways to play it:

...we thought, "What if you could stick in different characters from different things -- other series?" For example, if you had Ryu, he could use a Shoryuken, which is completely different from what you can do with a Mega Man. So, how can you beat the stages that way? How can you beat the bosses that way? We want to provide players with different experiences and different ways to interact with the game.

A question many may welcome regards the addition of new stages from Capcom. Ito says they wish to know what kind of stages or characters people want to see in the game, be it Ryu, Arthur, or those from another franchise. "As we get more feedback, we might consider putting some of those in."

This game, we want it to be organic, we want it to be something that people playing it feel like they're a part of and they contributed. Mr. Inafune and I felt there's this big distance between us as a company and the players who are the fans. We didn't want it to be like, "Oh, here, this is our product, we're giving it to you, we made this." You're a part of our creative process. Come and give us feedback. Let us know what you want to see in this game.

To this end, they are working closely with Capcom Unity and the Japanese Rockman Unity to get feedback and create something the users can be a part of.

As for a release date, given how recently production has begun, Ito declined to comment on so much as whether it would be released this year-- or next.

For the full interview, including which Capcom character Ito would personally like to see appear in the game, head to Joystiq.