Keiji Inafune, the man who oversaw the development of Mega Man for many years, has popped up in the news once again. And while some may feel he is no longer relevant to Mega Man because he is no longer at Capcom, we disagree. Following his departure, he has talked openly about his time at the company, and while he may not note his dealings with the Blue Bomber specifically, he has talked about things such as Capcom's methodology, which gives us some insight into their overall development process. And for the sake of analysis, we think these insights are still important, as they can give us clues as to why some things might be as they are.
In a recent Kotaku article, Inafune discusses the prospects of his new companies, the Osaka-based Comcept (which works on games, anime, manga, and movies), and Intercept in Tokyo (which handles game development). Some fans of Inafune's work have clamored for him to "get the rights to Mega Man," so that he can continue the series in his vision. However, Inafune seems less interested in that prospect.
"Honestly, I'm not sad about that," said Inafune. "I can make something more interesting than Dead Rising, more interesting than Lost Planet and more interesting than Mega Man."
At Capcom, Inafune notes that those games became brands, which the company would force sequels upon. Giving an example, he notes "Just because it had zombies in it, I'd have to put a Dead Rising title on it."
With that said, there has long been a curiosity among fans as to how many of the different offshoots of the original Mega Man were originally intended to be Mega Man games. In Mega Man Zero Official Complete Works (page 168), Inti Creates President Takuya Aizu noted that they had expressed a desire to Inafune to do a Mega Man game of their own, but that the original proposal did not feature Zero. Following that proposal, Inafune asked them if they could create one in which Zero from the X series was the main character.
While few would doubt that Inafune's fondness for Zero played a part in this, one must now wonder if there was not some pressure from above for the game to feature a stronger tie to the existing story.
Elsewhere in the article, Inafune talks about an incident from his childhood which would go on to influence how he approached games for years to come. It explains how in Dead Rising, the actions of humans are worse than those of the zombies, while in Lost Planet, they are invading the homeworld of the bug-like Akrid and slaughtering them. "This theme of good and evil's relative nature appears in Inafune's games, one after one," the article notes. "It's a theme that has its roots in Inafune's childhood."
"As a kid, I was the one who tried to stop fights, not start them," Inafune said as he recalled the incident, wherein another kid in his school punched him, sparking a fight. "I wanted him to stop punching me," he added.
In front of other students in a classroom, Inafune looked to a friend for help, but "He just turned away and didn't do anything. I thought he was my friend."
That isn't to say that he did not receive assistance; it simply came from an unexpected place. Those who came to his aid were those who "studied all the time, who didn't play sports and who were weak."
"That was the first time in my life that I experienced people's true nature," Inafune said. He had believed that a friend was someone who would help you, but that person was clearly not it. Today, the lesson Inafune carries with him is not to blindly trust anyone or anything.
Inafune has never forgotten the realization that those who appear to be good may be bad, and vice-versa. "Whenever I start a new game," Inafune said, "I use this as the foundation."
With this in mind, it puts an interesting twist on the mindset which would go on to help lead series like Mega Man X and others to prominence. From the Mavericks of that series to the ambiguous nature of Neo Arcadia and the Four Guardians, to Bass in Mega Man 7... Where else can you spot this influence in Inafune's body of work?