March 15th, 2019, marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Mega Man 6 in North America — a release which very nearly didn’t happen.
If one were to go by the game’s coverage in Nintendo Power magazine, one would rightfully suspect that the game was slated to hit North American shelves as early as December of 1993, which would be about a month following the release of its Japanese counterpart, Rockman 6 for the Famicom.
But at some point, Capcom USA apparently decided they were done doing business on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), no doubt wanting to turn their full attention to the next generation of video games and Mega Man in Mega Man X. Likewise, any chance of a European release similarly got the axe.
To that end, it would wind up falling to Nintendo of America to publish the Blue Bomber’s final title on the 8-bit console — one of the last titles to be released for the platform which helped the company to reinvigorate and dominate the video game market in the region for nearly a decade.
Ah, but why would they do that, and only in North America? This is just my own theory, but I think they almost felt obligated to.
You see, at the start of that year, the magazine decided to bring a little excitement of the sort that had been the norm in Japan for years westward by holding their own Robot Master Design Contest. And as you may very well know by now, of the many designs submitted, two were chosen for inclusion into Mega Man 6: Knight Man and Wind Man.
Now, can you imagine how it would have looked if Nintendo of America held a contest to contribute content to a video game, having two of the entrants chosen, and then not releasing the game in the region where the contest was held? Not very good, most assuredly.
Given the lengths Nintendo Power had gone to in order to make good on their other contests (some of which were reportedly nightmares to actually see through), it doesn’t seem too far out of the question that they would take it into their own hands. Besides, if they’re publishing it, that gives them all the more incentive to throw a little marketing muscle behind it, right?
Well, it’s more than most of the NES Mega Man games got, anyway. At least it coincided well with the release of the top-loader NES.
Despite all this, however, there has been evidence in more recent years that Capcom actually did in fact publish Mega Man 6 in North America — at least, to some degree, however limited.
Due to the time of its release, a lot of fans had already moved on to the greener pastures of 16-bit, and didn’t give Mega Man 6 much of a thought. My wife was one such person, who was tasked with reviewing the game for its anniversary today at USgamer. While she didn’t think much of the game at first — due in large part to the absurdity of the story, re: how is Wily fooling anyone in that gettup? — she’s come around to its other latter-day design charms and refinements that could only have come after doing this five times before on the same hardware.
I, on the other hand, went nuts looking for the game at Blockbuster between December 1993 and March 1994. Sure, Mega Man X had arrived by then, but what if this was the lead-in? What if this answered some mystery that tied the Classic and X series together? What if?!?
I had to know.
Interestingly, Capcom ended the game on an interesting note: “To Be Continued…”
What did it mean? Would there be a Mega Man 7? Or was Mega Man X the continuation, so to speak?
As I related in the first volume of TMMN’s Mega Mailbag, it wasn’t until January of 1995 that I knew for sure. But until that time, sending Dr. Wily straight to jail was effectively the end of the Classic series for me, and for what it’s worth, I thought at the time that it was a fine note to go out on.
These days, of course, anyone who wants to can play Mega Man 6 on pretty much any modern hardware, thanks to the Mega Man Legacy Collection.
But what about you? What thoughts do you have on Mega Man 6, its odd release (or non-release, if you were in PAL regions), or anything else about it? Sound off in the comments below!