As noted previously, I had the opportunity to speak with the producer of Mega Man Legacy Collection, Capcom's Rey Jimenez. With your help, I had quite the list of questions prepared for Mr. Jimenez -- so many, in fact, that I had to pare it down a bit in order to get it back in time for the compilation's release. Not an easy task, I assure you.
Don't worry, though; some of those were put aside for a reason, namely those involving the Nintendo 3DS and retail versions so that we could revisit them as their release dates approach. For now, here are 11 questions with 11 answers.
1. One thing that I've heard come up with regards to the work on this collection is that you're taking a "Criterion Collection" approach to preserving these games. For those who aren't extreme movie buffs, could you elaborate on what the goals of such an approach are, and what this entails?
Criterion Collection movies aim to preserve classic movies in what’s ultimately the best looking version possible of the movie. The idea is that whether it’s digital, Blu-ray, or whatever comes next, the movies they remaster will be as good as they are ever going to look and these are the definitive versions of the original movies. At the same time, they contextualize the movie by providing as much art and other information that they can get their hands on in the package.
With this in mind, Digital Eclipse has set out on an initiative to create future-proof versions of classic games that aim to preserve our gaming heritage. Capcom is proud to work with them on Mega Man Legacy Collection as the first title to come out of this initiative.
2. Could you go into more detail about the "future proofing/preservation" aspect of the project? For instance, the same games are already on Nintendo 3DS, Wii, and Wii U in their original forms; added bonus content aside, what does this bring to the table that isn't present there?
Future proofing and preservation are two of our main goals of the project. Right now there are a number of different ways to play Mega Man games (Virtual Console, Mega Man Anniversary Collection, etc.) but none of them are future proof nor do they preserve the original version of the game.
When I say preserve, I’m talking about the game playing exactly in the way that we remember it on the original systems. Most people won’t notice this, but I’m sure a lot of readers of The Mega Man Network know that the emulation and ports used in these games are not perfect. They don’t play exactly like the original. Aside from being annoying, it means that there’s no version of the game out there that doesn’t play like the original without being on a[ Nintendo Entertainment System]. As part of preserving our games, we want to make sure that we have a version created off of the original NES data out there that plays authentically, and that we always have it. As you might imagine, the medium and practice of preserving games 25+ years ago wasn’t as good as it is now.
When this title was being pitched internally, some people asked why don’t we just port Anniversary Collection? There are two problems with this. If we did that, we’d be porting or emulating a game from two consoles generations ago that was an emulation of a series of games from the generation before, which were ports of some games from two generations before that. We’d be so far removed from the original games that we would be far from authentic. Also, the game wouldn’t be future proof.
We are future proofing Mega Man in two ways with Legacy Collection.
Visually: by the process we are using for MMLC, while the game is still purely 8-bit, it’s being output in 1080. Theoretically we can scale it to 4K with no loss. We’ve pretty much hit the limit on how clean 8-bit graphics can look, so go forward, no matter how sharp TVs get, we’ll have a version that will look good natively on them.
Developmentally: If we ported Anniversary Collection for the current gen, we would have to start from scratch and re-port or emulate when we want to put it on another system. With the Eclipse Engine, we develop the individual games once and never have to do it again. When the PlayStation 13 is out, the Eclipse Engine will be ported to that system, and every 8-bit game that was developed for the engine will run on PlayStation 13 with very little effort. The game is developed in a very different method to emulation.
3. There was talk during one stream of possibly including remixed music from the Complete Works/Anniversary Collection releases, as it's already used in the Legacy Collection's menus. Has there been any movement on that front?
Someone’s been watching our steams. Thanks for tuning in! That being said, unfortunately no, we were not able to get the remix tracks into the game. It’s something we really wanted to do though.
4. After the controller issues present with the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, some want to know if there be control customization? And if not, how will they be set up? For instance, the NES games use B to shoot and A to jump, but games with a more Super NES-styled layout (such as all the devices this title is being released on) have often used the buttons with the SNES Y placement to shoot and B to jump.
So minus the D-pad and both analog sticks, all of the other buttons are fully remappable. I can’t really think of a reason you’d want to remap the D-pad or analog sticks, so we should have any other controller style covered.
5. It's been said that while some slowdown and flicker is due to NES limitations, other instances are hard-coded into the game and are therefore preserved. Can you elaborate on instances of this each?
Hmmmm… I can’t think of any specific hardware-caused slowdown that’s no longer there but it’s true that slowdowns caused by the original hardware is no longer there for obvious reasons. I’m sure your readers will notice which ones are gone before I even do. You’ll see though that the majority of the slowdown and flicker from the old games were programmatically inserted because most of it still remains. Off the top of my head, the game will still slow down a lot when you get about five or six Adhering Suzy enemies on the screen at once in Cut Man’s stage.
6. Will any of the original manuals or box art (besides Japan’s) be in the game? And will the art from Chamba (featured on Capcom Unity) be included as well?
They won’t be in the game, but stay tuned to Unity in the future. We may have something to share on this topic in the future.
7. How much bonus material is presented here that isn't in the Mega Man Official Complete Works books from UDON?
A lot of the art in the game can also be seen in the art books from UDON, but high res versions that you can zoom in and out of and see in fine detail. And, like I said, stay tuned to Unity on the topic of Mega Man art.
8. With all of the support that Nintendo has shown Mega Man in recent (Super Smash Bros., amiibo), why is the Wii U being left out of the release list?
While we don’t have plans for a Wii U version, we do hope that Nintendo fans will keep on the lookout for additional news on the upcoming Nintendo 3DS version in the coming months.
9. Was it difficult to get approval from Capcom Japan for this US-based project?
Yes and no. Yes, because, in general, it’s always challenging to get a game greenlit. It is a very thorough process at most game companies that can sometimes take a lot of time. Being a US-developed project had no bearing on making it any more or less difficult. Capcom USA has worked with Mega Man in the past; in fact, I worked on the original Mega Man Anniversary Collection all those years ago.
10. There has been a lot of buzz as of late due to talk from Capcom Unity and others about a new person now being in charge of the Mega Man/Rockman brand at Capcom now. Could you share with the community any details, such as who this person is?
I read that, too, a while ago. I don’t know the origin of that story or even if there’s any truth to it. There are producers at Capcom Japan that are in charge of particular brands and Mega Man has always had one and he’s been at Capcom for a long time.
11. If this is successful, what comes next? More NES games given the same treatment, or more Mega Man games, i.e. 7 and up?
The technology that Digital Eclipse has come up with currently specializes in 8-bit games, so, NES. Using the tech that’s available, the next logical step would be more 8-bit games. We’ll let you know if we do another one. More accurately, Mega Man Legacy Collection is a “Collection of the 8-bit legacy of Capcom, this one being the Mega Man games”. I wanted that to be the title, but Marketing said it was too long…
And that's all for now! A huge thanks to Mr. Rey Jimenez for taking the time to answer these questions, and to Stephanie Palermo of Capcom for arranging it!
If you're interested in more about the "philosophy and tech" behind Mega Man Legacy Collection, including regional differences and the absence of the only Famicom/NES game not in the collection, there is another interview by USgamer with Mr. Jimenez and Digital Eclipse's Frank Cifaldi that you can find here (thanks, Stryker!).
Mega Man Legacy Collection is available today in North America and Europe for $14.99/€14.99/£11.99 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.