I think it's fair to say that Mega Man Legends was pretty ambitious for its time. It was an all new series that departed greatly from what many people recognized as Mega Man then. It was also Mega Man's first step into a 3D adventure, a game design that still had a lot of unexplored territory. Of course before things could jump to 3D, they had to be plotted out in 2D by artists and planners. Above is Mega Man Legends' Apple Market. On the left is a concept design, and on the right is what we got in the game. Quite a disparity, but understandable given the technological limitations of the day. Furthermore, the concept art isn't simply to picture something for a game, but also something to draw ideas from and help flesh out a world. Plenty of material like this is made, creating the world we see in Mega Man Legends, as well as the world we don't see!
Since it's a holiday, let's sit back and have fun taking a look at these concepts after the break. Just a warning, however, it's pretty image intensive!
Here's Apple Market again, for you to view in larger size. Next to it is a scene from Apple Market's back alley, seemingly between the market and Downtown. I don't believe this is an area that made it into the game. Playing Mega Man Legends I always got the sense the town on Kattelox was like a 1950s, TV sitcom middle American town. But these concepts give the air of something more warm and less modernized. There's a very European feel to the layout and detail.
A concept design on a main street in Downtown. Again, a very European style environment with the clocktower and double decker bus and such. I really like the small details, like the umbrella tables out on the sidewalk.
More of Downtown; here we have a rough concept of a residential district. This looks a bit closer to what we got in the game, with its flat-sided buildings and equal areas segmented by streets. Again, keep in mind this art doesn't represent what they tried to make the game look like, just what they imagined it could be like.
Speaking of residential, although Downtown is full of houses you don't get to go into any of them. But that doesn't mean the planners didn't conjure up what they would look like on the inside. Of course, this style of open floor design made its way into Battle Network and Star Force as well. This looks like it could be out of one of those titles.
More of Downtown. It's got such a quaint and organic feel to it. Though I guess it would be a little odd for people to create such a town with the limited resources on a small island like Kattelox. But who knows?
Moving to Uptown, we have the hospital and art museum. The text on the hospital notes that the rounded structure on top could be made larger, and resemble a syringe. They really went full blown with that concept in the final design in the game. Meanwhile, it seems the art museum originally started out as a general museum, and was a bit larger. It even would have had a planetarium at the top. It makes me wonder what thoughts they'd have on space, considering things like rockets and space travel are very fanciful concepts here; the stuff of myths.
Of course, surface-dwelling society is just one side of the Legends world. There's also an entirely different world beneath the ground.
Here are some of the earlier concepts for underground ruins. They were definitely running with more of a mechanical theme, and come off more like the insides of a factory or a battleship, with all the pipes, ladders, grates and such. I suppose they have a bit of spookiness, but they don't command the kind of awe you'd expect when uncovering an ancient and advanced civilization.
Here the design is starting to get closer to what was found in the game, at least in consideration of the sub areas that connect the major ruins. The notes indicate a yellow colored water or some other type of strange liquid flowing beneath. Hrm.
Now the concepts are much closer to what we see in the game, with greater emphasis on an advanced and polished look with repetition of geometric shapes. And of course the trademark red Reaverbot eye. The top image is pretty interesting; it was conceived as a life support system room for a boss, centered around a shielded monolith which presumably has its own defense system. The second image is of a reactor room, which would eventually translate into the room where the treasured Refractor rests. The last room is a control room. I can see these becoming the control center found in the Clozer Woods Sub-gate. But you really have to marvel at what this thing is with its floating clockwork and eye. Is it a building or a Reaverbot?
The last images we'll look at leave Kattelox entirely. These images are intended to conceive what kind of world all these events take place in. This is the most fanciful stuff, which is of course why I saved it for last!
First we have what appears to be concepts for a home for the Caskett family. On the left is a castle-style home. There is a place for the Flutter to moor in the space between the home and the windmill (which is partially cut off). On the right is a factory-style home. Here Roll appears to be gazing out the window while bathing. I guess maybe she's not actually that shy. Since the Flutter itself is a flying house, I never before imagined MegaMan, Roll and Barrel having an actual home somewhere in the world. But it's certainly possible they would have a piece of land staked out for themselves; it would be tiresome to always be flying around.
Here is a concept for a typical city. It appears that as the city grew, they just kept making buildings over buildings. That's perhaps why it's such an interesting combination of houses and factories. I think there's even a cannon in there!
A city suspended in the air, constructed on an enormous brace. Possibly something left behind by the people who came before. Notes indicate it looks like it once may have been a veritable paradise, but has now fallen into disrepair.
An underwater city; assuredly not in present use. Considering Mega Man Legends takes place in a time where the world has been largely flooded, these types of submerged cities ought to be all over the place.
This is not so much a city but one of the first takes on designing ancient ruins. Surrounding it are mountains of wreckage presumably that remain from whatever form of society may have once been present. A little depressing to look at.
And again, saving the very best for last. This impressive image is really what inspired me to put this article together. A depiction of the general world, these cities built atop enormous cogs suspended in the air seems almost too fanciful for what we're used to from the games. Then again, if a place like this truly exists in the world, it's understandable how air travel would have become so prevalent. This image simply adds so much more mystery and awe to what we already have seen from Mega Man Legends. I love it.
Taking all this in, it really feels like the games have only shown us a shred of the bewildering world the Legends series takes place in. It also makes me wonder what kind of fascinating stuff we'll witness in Mega Man Legends 3. I do know one thing, though. Recall that I began the article commenting how the technology didn't allow the game match the detailed and expressive landscapes the designers envisioned. Looking at what we've seen from Legends 3 so far, I don't think that's going to be an issue any longer!
All of the artwork from in this article is featured in the Rockman DASH Capcom Official Concept Document Great Adventure Guide (ロックマンDASHカプコン公式設定資料集大冒険ガイド). Many thanks to AWD! for scanning it for me to show off.