MM Universe: Looking Back on Something Old with Something New

It's been a full year since the cancellation of Mega Man Universe. It happened to be on my birthday too, making it just a little more special! Anyway, as much as I've racked my brain, I don't have much insightful to say on the matter. Some say this marked the beginning of Mega Man's downfall, though honestly there are so many ways to analyze it that I can't really be sure of that. But it did definitely shake the fanbase, even as relatively unpopular as the game seemed to be prior. Since coming to Japan, however, I've been able to snag some promotional items for the game from TGS 2010; sticks and postcards. It's not much, but there are a few bits of art and such that never saw wide circulation during MMU's short lifetime. And anyway, there's little else positive I can extract from the whole mess!

Hey now, it's Mega Man doing something other than looking straight forward. A number of people criticized this game's art style... and I agree that it was out there. But I also kind of got used to it; it has a simplistic charm. What I really think was the problem is that nearly all the character art released was just of people standing still and looking straight forward. I get that there was a method to it, but it made them look a lot more dull.

And here we have a Met, just... bein' a Met. I don't have much else to say about it.

Here's a scan of Roll. Unfortunately, the friend who was cleaning these up for me ran into some computer trouble, so the finished Roll art will have to be added later. I remember really turning my nose up the first time I saw Roll in this game, but really she has kind of a cute style.

Here's the Rockman type postcard. These are nice because, so far as I recall, they're the only published close up models of the game sprites. I don't think they look too bad like this, even though they were intended to be rendered small scale.

And here's Old Man Mega, before he put on all that weight. I was always kind of miffed they referred to this as U.S. Mega Man, as if we in the US preferred this look or something. A joke is one thing, but come on. Sadly I do not have the new style Mega Man post card so far.

Here's what the back of both cards looks like. Hey look at that handsome guy on the right, it's Joveth. Remember him? Even more startling is a helmetless Ucchy-san standing next to him. That's the clearest you'll see his hair since he censors it now.

Anyway, that's all I have to show off. Sorry it's not anything more interesting. You know, I can understand a lot of the criticism this game endured, and based on what aspects we did come to know of it, I do doubt it would have done very well. There's probably never going to be a 100,000 Strong for Mega Man Universe. But darnit, I still would have liked to try it out.

Many thanks to Kevin for cleaning up the Mega Man and Met images.

Inafune Doesn't Know "If Anybody Will Have the Guts to Fight Against the Company Right Now"

Transformers: The Movie, this ain't. ...the old one, we mean. Pre-Michael Bay. 1986.

In that movie, when Autobot leader Optimus Prime died (spoilers), his last words were that "one day, an Autobot shall rise from our ranks and use the power of the Matrix to light our darkest hour."

On the other side of things, this is reality, and while former Capcom development leader Keiji Inafune has not passed on, he did leave the company, much to the disappointment of many fans. As noted again recently, he had hoped to be able to continue two of the games he had left unfinished with Capcom, Mega Man Universe and Mega Man Legends 3, under the banner of his new company, Comcept. Instead, he was told "that won’t be necessary," and months later, the projects were both scrapped, much to his disappointment.

More recently, Joystiq spoke to Inafune at the Tokyo Game Show, where instead of pointing fingers and casting blame, he instead reflected on how difficult it was to get Mega Man Legends 3 started in the first place.

"The two projects were really hard to even get started, because the title is kind of old," he said in reference to Mega Man Legends 3. "We were bringing it back. It wasn't easy for me to get the go ahead from the company, I was fighting against the company, and now it's been canceled."

To bring the Transformers: The Movie analogy full-circle, Inafune's hope is that someone will rise from the ranks at Capcom, pick up the torch, and fight on for the project in his stead. However, he is not especially confident that such a thing will happen. "I don't know if anybody will have the guts to fight against the company right now," he admitted.

If such a person were to exist, however, they currently remain unknown. And while there was no Matrix-passing involved or blue lights shining upon a chosen one, Inafune noted that he left behind "a really good team," any one of which could potentially emerge as a future leader within the company. "I didn't choose anyone," he points out, "but I'm kind of hoping that someone will come forth."

...and light our darkest hour, with Mega Man Legends 3... right?

Thanks to Mainfinger for passing this along.

Your Wear Has Been Megafied

It's been a little while, but you may recall the "Your Wear, Megafied" campaign started by Asadori. The whole scheme finally wrapped up, and you can now view the results. These are various peoples' fan artwork made in remembrance of Mega Man Universe. As promised, the artwork was used in the creation of miniature T-shirts, which you can see on the site with a dedication to MMU. As Asadori states, we'll never know what happened with MMU, but we can still remember it well and wonder what could have been. And even though the game was met with a fair amount of criticism as well, I think it's good for us fans to band together and show support for the series.

Inafune and Mega Man's Cancellations: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

Some of you may remember that about a month ago, a well-spoken gentleman by the name of Andrew Eisen addressed Nintendo of America and their seeming decision not to release any of the "Operation: Rainfall" games (Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower for the Wii) by way of a YouTube video which asked simply "Nintendo, Why Won't You Let Me Give You My Money?" Andrew's smooth delivery coupled with a common desire saw the video spread around rather quickly. And now, Andrew is back, and this time, he's talking Mega Man! Specifically, he is here today to talk about the "conspiracy" surrounding the departure of Keiji Inafune from Capcom, and how this may or may not have directly led to the cancellations of Mega Man Universe and Mega Man Legends 3. Be warned of some Not Safe For Work language:

Eisen goes into further detail about the whole thing by examining the timeline of events and the games which got the ax, and you can see it all for yourself over at his IGN blog.

Source: GoNintendo

Editorial: Mega Man Must Reach for a New Paradigm

Mega Man has had a pretty tough run this year, that much is obvious. What I believe may be less obvious, however, is that the recent cancellations are a symptom of a much more troubling problem that has been deep beneath the Mega Man games for a very long time now: The series is now in need for some major innovation. Wait, that's entirely wrong; the problem has nothing to do with innovation. What Mega Man needs is something it has seldom ever done in its near 25 year lifespan. Mega Man needs to reach for a new paradigm.

When it comes to an established game series, there are ultimately three paths it can take:

  1. Reach for a new paradigm (or innovate/experiment and hope it sticks).
  2. Figure out what's "good enough" and coast on that.
  3. Die, or go on hiatus (though it's hard to tell the difference sometimes).

The problem with Mega Man is that, for the majority of its existence, it has been set on #2. And I can't necessarily say this has been bad; after all, the series has come this far already. We've continued to get low risk, low expectation Mega Man games for the better part of 20 years, and it has established a decent fan base that will accept this. For Mega Man, this began with Mega Man 4. Let's take a look:

Mega Man: Six Robot Masters. Ten stages. Decent though fairly rigid platforming mechanics.

Mega Man 2: Eight Robot Masters. Fourteen stages. Refined mechanics and better balance. Password system. E-Tanks.

Mega Man 3: Eight Robot Masters, plus the eight from the last game. Nineteen stages (counting Break Man). Sliding. Rush.

Mega Man 4: Eight Robot Masters. Sixteen stages. Charged shot. Uhm... adapters?

Personally speaking, Mega Man 4 is one of my favorites. The game has some outrageously, deliciously good music. It also has a cast of good Robot Masters, even though some are a bit goofy. (Fun fact: I was almost Dust Man instead of Heat Man back when I was getting my "start" in the community.)

But when you compare content, Mega Man 4 is a big step back from Mega Man 3. This may be natural since Keiji Inafune has gone on record saying how frustrating Mega Man 3's development was. So with Mega Man 4, they played it safe. That founded the basic structure all platforming Mega Man games would take.

This is why Mega Man gained a reputation for being stale. Sure, they added new features in the following games, but these were ultimately just icing and gimmicks. There was nothing wrong with the gameplay, the theme was something most anyone could understand, and the games were not too reliant on story. It's simply that the games stopped trying to reach for more, stopped trying to get bigger. Because of this, the low risk, low expectation model of putting out games cannot subsist forever. These games are riding the waves of excitement and interest caused by the original games.

When I say Mega Man needs to reach for a new paradigm, I mean it needs to raise the bar on what it offers. As technology advanced, the games got new features: prettier graphics, higher fidelity sound, animated movie scenes, and voice acting. But there was still no more content than Mega Man 4 had. Though the capacity for more content existed, all the effort went towards adding more icing.

Reaching a new paradigm is different from innovating, which means trying something new. Unfortunately, it has also become a pesky buzz word, and there has been a lot of innovating for the sake of innovating. "Innovating" is what brought about Mega Man Battle & Chase and Super Adventure Rockman. "Innovating" is Mega Man X games with aggravating Ride Chaser stages. "Innovating" is Mega Man X7.

It's not a bad thing to innovate, but there must be a reason to first. The classic Mega Man formula was proven with Mega Man 2, Mega Man 3, and Mega Man X (all of which are worldwide million sellers). There is no need to fix or change what these games offer, just push them to the next level.

This was proven with Mega Man 9, which had a tremendous amount of excitement behind it. This is because there hadn't been a proper Mega Man game for so many years. Yes, there had been additional X games, the Zero series, and the ZX series in the meantime. But these... well, I don't think they quite filled the void; didn't satiate the hunger. I'm not going to speculate on why here, but needless to say Mega Man 9 generated a kind of excitement these others games really didn't.

The irony is that Mega Man 9 was still a "good enough" game. Eight Robot Masters. Thirteen stages (not counting DLC). Heck, even the graphics and sound went in reverse. But because people were so hungry for a new Mega Man game proper, Mega Man 9 got a pass in the content department. If Mega Man 9 came out right after Mega Man 8, it would have probably been yawned off by all but dedicated Mega Man fans.

Which seems to be what happened with Mega Man 10. Although it did try to offer more content in very small ways, and didn't have such cheaply built difficulty, it still followed the "good enough" formula, and the game didn't sell as well as 9 by Capcom's own admission. (In trying not to hurt the game's feelings, Capcom phrased it that they were content with how both games did, but were more content with 9.)

The first three Mega Mans are very fondly remembered. Just take a look in UDON's Mega Man Tribute. Or look at any fan-made crafts and merchandise. The vast majority is derived from the content of the first three Mega Man games. Until a new Mega Man game comes and causes a similar impact, all Mega Man games will simply be riding on the waves of those first three.

"But that's just because of nostalgia! Retro games are chic and trendy!"

Nostalgia is not a "thing". It's not like a spice you can put in a batter to make a tastier cake. Nostalgia, at least as it applies to commercial products, occurs because something in the past was just that damn good. Nostalgia doesn't make games good; rather, good games make nostalgia. And I don't mean to put down peoples' tastes, but 20 years from now there will be very little-- if any-- nostalgia for games like ZX and Star Force.

Another game that helps validate this is New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The 20 million-plus sales for this game show that people actively crave strong, well-made games that match the level of quality seen 20 years ago. And like Mega Man 9, New Super Mario Bros. Wii really did nothing to expand the content of Super Mario. It was many of the same types of worlds the past Super Mario games used, but because people had waited so long for a game of this style and caliber, they still ate it up. If Nintendo puts out another New Super Mario Bros. without expanding the content, its reception will probably mirror Mega Man 10's after following Mega Man 9.

"But Capcom tried making these games. Mega Man Powered Up and Mega Man: Maverick Hunter X totally bombed. And Mega Man Universe got scrapped in development!"

I'll admit Powered Up and Maverick Hunter X puzzle me a little. Not so much in that they didn't do well, but because they bombed so terribly. I cannot even find sales data for them, because they were not among the top 500 games for the year they came out. Many people cite the fact they were released exclusively on the PSP, and it's true that they came out around the time the DS began to aggressively overtake the PSP. But ultimately I believe it's more due to their being just remakes, which again did little to expand the content or raise the bar of their respective series. Additions like stage building and animated movies add little, if any value; no one was saying "I want to buy a Mega Man game, but first it needs a stage builder."

Mega Man Universe is harder to speculate on, since we really don't know what kind of game it'd have been. From the look we got, it appeared to be Mega Man 2 remade in a similar fashion as Powered Up, but with the implication of additional content added on from other Mega Man games, as well as other properties. However, one of the real problems seemed to exist in the game's character customization feature. I'm sure this idea looked good on paper, but those who were able to try the game at the few events it appeared at complained about the controls, including how different character parts would alter Mega Man's movement speed, jump height, and the like. For being a series founded in precision platforming, this was a bad design element.

"Okay well fine, what would you do?"

There really isn't one right answer to this. The means can be varied, so long as they lead to the result of having a Mega Man game that breaks old boundaries.

The most basic method would be to simply make a new Mega Man game with more content. More Robot Masters, more stages, more weapons. Game discs today can hold gigabytes of data; there is no rational reason the number of Robot Masters, Mavericks, or whatever other kind of boss robot still needs to be eight. I expressed such an idea in my write up for reviving Mega Man Mania, which essentially offers no new content, but doesn't need to be because it would have so much content, and at a value price. (Granted, the 3DS hasn't panned out so well since then, but the platform isn't so important.)

Another idea would be to expand upon the concept of the "endless mode", which is probably the one truly good new addition to come of Mega Man 9. It really is a shame that had to be DLC, since I doubt everyone who bought Mega Man 9 and/or 10 felt inclined to get the DLC. It would have been better if Capcom made endless mode an included feature of the main game, and instead charged $15 for the game itself. Yes, endless mode is that good.

But you can do a lot more with that concept than stapling together stage segments at random, as an "endless" Mega Man game would be an interesting concept. Some considerations would be having larger stages with numerous branching paths, and you would only need to go to certain parts of stages depending on the missions. The stages themselves could change, depending on what boss robot is holding up there, or on the weather (a concept Mega Man Zero 4 used to a very small extent). Perhaps there's a desert stage that becomes icy because Blizzard Man takes over. A brightly lit and flashy power plant level would be ideal for Bright Man, but when Cut Man takes over, he severs the power lines and makes a darker, more sinister stage.

Naturally, there would be a main storyline and an end game, but new missions would pop up all the time as you play. Stages could even change when you just go to explore them casually or revisit them, having different selections of enemies and different environmental effects, perhaps even surprise bosses. Such a concept might be better suited for a Mega Man X game. X basically has the role of a police officer, so it would make sense that new alerts and crises are being reported to the Hunter HQ.

Another way to build on this would be to include a concept of time, with enemy forces building up in an area you don't visit for an extended period. Or let's say you just stop playing the game for a few weeks; when you boot it up again, suddenly Dr. Wily has a massive super-fortress you have to tackle (or in the vein of X, numerous Maverick factions have aligned together and formed a terrifying army force).

This figures, since if the hero were to actually take time off saving the world, the enemy forces would build up. And it gives great incentive to return back to the game over and over.

And of course, another means is adding cooperative multiplayer. Being able to play through a stage with friends adds many new dynamics to enjoying a game without getting in the way of gameplay. Other platforming games have used this to great success (I again point to New Super Mario Bros. Wii), and in fact Capcom has its own precedent with Chip 'n Dale's Rescue Rangers. This concept is incredibly fun with arcade style games (Double Dragon, Contra, Kirby Super Star), and it's a complete mystery as to why Mega Man games have yet to incorporate it (outside of a few spin-off titles); even one fan game has seemingly found a way to implement it convincingly.

This is just a handful of various ideas, but they all have a shared theme: they make use of the mechanics and gameplay that have been successful in the past, while throwing in additional content and/or putting a spin on how that content is enjoyed, without falling back on gimmicks or experiments. The design is meant to give you as much gameplay as possible, giving you a unique and fun experience every time you come back to play again, without putting up with anything unnecessary. Furthermore, by making such a content-laden game, it would be unnecessary to put out yearly sequels. Additional content could be added via DLC or expansions, but there would be little need to put out another fully fledged title until a yet a new paradigm needed to be met.

Again, this is not the only answer, as there could be new types of successful Mega Man games waiting to be thought up. I can't begin to think of what they might be (if I could, I'd probably be working for Capcom instead of writing this), but what I can do is look back at the games that worked, try to analyze what made them work, and come up with concepts that push those strong elements to the next level, thus making a new paradigm.

As a Mega Man fan, I can be incredibly selfish. I really want Mega Man Legends 3 to be made, and I want them to get on Mega Man X9 and Mega Man 11, too. However, these games in a basic form would not make a new paradigm; they would continue to ride the waves caused by the first three Mega Man titles. It may be now, 20 years later, that those waves are starting to peter out. And it may very well be because of this that Mega Man faces such a tough lot now. With other series like Resident Evil, Street Fighter, and Monster Hunter currently going strong, it might become tough to even justify the "low cost, low expectation" Mega Man games.

Sooner or later, Mega Man will need to create a new impact. Mega Man can't keep riding on the waves of the past, it needs to make new waves. Until that happens, the future of Mega Man will continue to be uncertain.

(Note: In this article I may sound a bit unfair to certain Mega Man games and series. Please take no offense; I am not saying these are bad games nor am I saying people shouldn't enjoy them. The point is that they did not achieve the raising of the bar for Mega Man, nor did they create a great impact. Not every Mega Man game has to, but sooner or later, one will in order for us to keep getting these varied games. That's the gist of my article.)

Megafying Your Wear to Support Mega Man Universe (Updated)

It was quite a bummer earlier this year when Capcom eventually announced the cancellation of Mega Man Universe. I think by now most of us have gotten past it, but that doesn't mean everyone has. A Japanese fan who goes by the handle Asadori has set into motion a small scale campaign called Your Wear, Megafied! in the hopes of rallying interest in the ditched game. The project is certainly a unique one. People who wish to participate select a character from what Mega Man Universe materials did happen to come out. This includes the Mega Man 2 Robot Masters, all varieties of Mega Man, and the customized characters like Chop Man and Met Man. After being verified, participants then draw that character, and have until July 31st to send it in.

Next, Asadori will have the character artwork printed on shirts. For the sake of keeping costs down, these will be mini T-shirts printed by Geki T-shirts. These mini Ts are too small to wear, and instead intended for decorating figures and dolls. Asadori will then send out the shirts to the contributors, who in return send in their photos of the shirts. The results of all this work will be publicized by the end of August. There may also be more to it than I'm noticing, but again it is supposed to be a small scale campaign.

It may be doubtful such a project can cause a stir at Capcom, but it's always great to see support. And considering Mega Man Universe is a title that was seemingly geared towards a western audience, it's great to see our fellow Japanese fans keeping up an interest in it. Maybe we should be, too.

UPDATE: Having been pleased to see us spread the word, Asadori (whose English is quite capable) has made an English version of his Your Wear, Megafied! project. Check it out, and thank you Asadori!

News Credit: Wizaman

Christian Svensson Speaks on Various Things Mega Man

IGN posted a hefty article today with Capcom's VP of strategic planning and business development Christian "Sven" Svensson. Among topics, he discusses the cancellation of Mega Man Universe, sales of Mega Man 9 and 10, and the present status of Mega Man Legends 3. You'll find the majority of the Mega Man talk on the second page of the interview, but the rest is an enlightening read as well. A couple choice selections:

IGN: For Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, I don't recall Capcom ever talking about whether or not those were successful titles given the budget for those two games. Were you pleased with the results?

Svensson: Yes, we were pleased with the results. Let me also say don't let the 8-bit nature of those games make you think that they didn't cost much to make because they were not inexpensive. They were efforts, in many cases, larger than most of our other digital efforts in terms of budget. They are not small. We are modestly pleased with how 9 and 10 did. Mega Man 9 especially, I think, was particularly innovative for the time to look back and give classic fans some love. We haven't done anything like this. No one's done a classic throwback quite like that and it was one of the first this generation to do it.

Svensson: [On Mega Man Legends 3] Part of that was supposed to be a collaborative effort between the development room and the fans in a very public, transparent display of what goes on behind the scenes. Part of that transparency is, and making clear to fans, is that we're not in production. The pins and needles feeling that the team has every day of, "Is this game ever going to come out?" is in some ways shared by the fans who've put their blood, sweat, and tears into this thing, too. It's an ambitious experiment in many ways and that community outreach and transparency is something I've been pushing more and more for years. When the team came forward with the approach they wanted to take with this title, I was extremely supportive of providing that level of visibility and input. It's listening to the market in ways that a lot of Japanese developers don't do.

The challenge with this of course is that you're opening the kimono very early on and sharing details on a game we hope comes to market. All of our games start this way. It's rare when something enters production that it doesn't come out at that point.

via Capcom Unity

Inafune Responds to the Cancellation of Mega Man Universe, and the "Twisting" of His Concepts

By now, we all know that Mega Man Universe, a downloadable title initiated by former Capcom executive Keiji Inafune, was given the axe earlier this year. Whether for or against it, many of those who followed the game felt that the project's cancellation could perhaps be largely attributed to one factor more than any other: the departure of Inafune himself from the company developing it. With that in mind, some have felt a certain unease for the other pet project spearheaded by Inafune before leaving the company: Mega Man Legends 3, a title Inafune had fought long and hard to get approved.

Inafune has a firm belief in what the Japanese video game industry has to do to survive, which would seem to be one catalyst for his departure from Capcom. Now the head of his own video game development studio, Comcept, he spoke with 1UP on a variety of topics in a substantial five-page feature, in which he discusses business both old and new.

And on the note of old business, what with this being The Mega Man Network and all, we have posted here a few excerpts from the article in which he addresses the direction Capcom appears to be going with his former projects, including the ill-fated Mega Man Universe.

1UP: Speaking of downloadable titles, last year you were very involved in promoting Mega Man Universe for Capcom. There was even a trailer with you on camera saying "Your world, Megafied." A short while ago Capcom canceled that project. Were you disappointed to hear that? Were you surprised when it happened?

Keiji Inafune: Yeah, I was very disappointed at that outcome for several reasons. One, they kind of started to cancel the game as soon as I left, which made it sort of like I was the only one pushing for it. And it wasn't just a game that I personally wanted to make, it was a game that, again, represents what I think the steps that are required for a Japanese company to take in order to realize the value of download content. They need to use a brand name that has value in the West -- and Mega Man is definitely one of those brands I think -- and put it into digital content so that Western gamers can purchase that and get excited about it. And if it's successful then, as I said before, they'll start to market it properly and start to work on making downloadable content in Japan that will sell like the West does.

So I felt there was a lot of potential with that title and it could have represented a very important step for the company to take in realizing the value of digital content, and now they're right back where they started a few years ago in not understanding digital content and not [being] able to keep up with the West in that area. So yes, I was very disappointed.

1UP: Is it in some way flattering that it continued without you, that it'll keep going, or is it kind of sad that it's going to go on without you?

KI: Dead Rising, Mega Man, these are all Capcom's IPs, so whether they want to continue to make sequels or outright stop making those brands, those franchises, that's up to Capcom and I really don't have a big say in it, but I can say this: for a game that I developed or had a clear concept of, to watch that game, to watch that concept be twisted and changed to the point that it no longer feels what that original game was supposed to symbolize, that's kind of sad because that's not the vision, that's not what I had in mind for that series. To have it be changed so drastically or radically, if that ever does happen to one of the franchises I've created that would be very disappointing.

The rest of the interview can be seen here, and is a fascinating read-- particularly if you are interested in the inner-workings of the video game industry, including Japan's role in it.

Thanks to PStart for the tip! And to get the full story on the life and death of Mega Man Universe, be sure to check out our retrospective.

The Big Bang and Sudden Implosion of Capcom's Mega Man Universe

A certain wiki aside, the first time anyone had heard of anything called "Mega Man Universe" was when Capcom USA's trademark for the name as the title of a video game was discovered in April of 2010. And amusingly enough, it seems that as many visitors to The Mega Man Network were concerned of what this would mean for that wiki as there were curious of what the game would be about.

Some suspected the possibility of a massively multiplayer online (MMO) title, a theory which picked up a lot more momentum when it was discovered that in the far east, Capcom had revealed that they were working on such a title, there known as "Rockman Online." At that point, the question became one of whether or not the two were one in the same.

Soon after, we got our first glimpse of Rockman Online, which was clearly taking a strong influence from the Mega Man X series. More details and rumors continued to surface surrounding the MMO from developer NeoWiz, and all the while, there was no word of what relation-- if any-- it had to the Mega Man Universe name.

That the two entities were, in fact, separate started to become apparent in June. It was at that time that the Mega Man Universe trademark had been registered abroad, including in Japan, where the Rockman Online news had originated. If anything, it would seem that the game would at least be dubbed "Rockman Universe" there.

July would see news about Mega Man Universe begin to pick up, as we learned early on that Keiji Inafune would be attending the San Diego Comic-Con in two weeks, where those in attendance would "hear details on an exciting new game announcement."

But, before that time would come, Capcom would go ahead and officially announce Mega Man Universe to the world for the first time. In addition to a logo unlike any we had seen associated with the franchise, there was also an enigmatic video created by the artists at i am 8-bit, which featured a stop-motion Mega Man running around a young boy's bedroom, adopting the forms and abilities of other Capcom heroes (such as Ryu from Street Fighter and Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins) as he fought off enemies from the Classic series of games.

Mega Man transformed into his 8-bit pixelated self as the trailer ended, but before things faded out, a claymation rendition of the version of Mega Man seen gracing (or disgracing, depending on how you look at it) the cover of the original game appeared, looking around before clumsily falling to his demise.

Fans were left with perhaps more questions than answers after viewing the video, but Keiji Inafune had made it known on his blog that unlike other then-recent titles, "he is fully in charge of the concept and design of Mega Man Universe." He went on to describe it as a nostalgic experience which would be "everyone's Mega Man," where "imagination is the star of the game," expecting it to be enjoyed by fans the world over.

As the date of the San Diego Comic-Con panel drew nearer, Capcom revealed there would be some Mega Man Universe swag in the form of foam Mega Busters for those who attended the event. As for the panel itself, little new information (aside from our first tease of Mega Man Legends 3) was provided, though Inafune did discuss the thought process behind Mega Man Universe to some extent.

With the official announcement made, Capcom of Japan would go on to open their very own Mega Man Universe homepage.

The following month, an interview with Inafune was published. Though it was not strictly regarding Mega Man Universe, he did reveal that "some aspects from older Mega Man titles that I wanted to revisit might find their way in there, but it’s going to expand far, far beyond that and be all about what fans want to see."

It would not be long before Capcom revealed that the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) would be the destination for eager fans to find out more about the mysterious title, promising that "the curtain would be lifted a little more" on the project. This would soon be elaborated on, with the promise of not only a look at some Mega Man Universe trailers and levels at the event, but also more swag! In this case, Mega Man Universe-branded headbands.

On September 2nd, PAX arrived, and with it came the promised trailers. There were, in fact, several trailers, each depicting a different version of Mega Man traversing levels which seemed more than a little inspired by Mega Man 2, all preceded by a message from Keiji Inafune himself.

As for the versions of Mega Man, we were introduced to "Mega Man," who appeared to be an angry, "Americanized" version of the Blue Bomber, replete with lines seemingly inspired by the movie Tron; "Rockman," who was essentially the Inafune version known and loved the world over; and last (but not least), "Bad Box Art Mega Man," who had blue and gold armor, a handgun, and probably about 30 years on either of the other versions.

During that same period, the Mega Man Universe homepage would update with some new visuals. In addition to the three Mega Men and Ryu, a little Photoshop magic revealed many other robots around them. Specifically, Robot Masters from Mega Man 2.

In addition to that, a little detective work from Heat Man would reveal that an appearance at the Tokyo Game Show should not have been unexpected, despite Capcom not having announced it. Elsewhere, Destructoid's Jonathan Holmes would slip on his reporter's hat and question Capcom's Seth Killian about how something like Bad Box Art Mega Man wound up in the game.

As it turns out, Mega Man Universe was indeed going to the Tokyo Game Show. Not only would it be playable, but with more swag, at that. This time, the prize was a Mega Man Universe towel with a Met-inspired pattern.

Capcom Unity would go on to reveal new screens and info about the title. It was here that the ability to customize your own Mega Man with different body parts and dual-weapons was revealed, along with a stage editor which would eventually lead many fans to regard the game as either "Mega Man Powered Up 2" or "LittleBigPlanet with a Mega Man theme."

MMN staff Mainfinger and Gelgameth were also able to attend PAX, where they spoke to Capcom representatives and learned that the title was slated for a release in Spring 2011, and that the game's appearance at the Tokyo Game Show would "make more sense" of everything we had seen up to that point.

On September 15th, we got to see new videos from the Tokyo Game Show, which highlighted the game's customization features. More important than that, however, was the revelation that was Air Man's mouth, as well as some other unidentifiable characters.

With a playable version of the game now on display at the Tokyo Game Show, reports came in from sites such as 1UP and Destructoid. Unfortunately, the impressions taken away from the demo were not especially positive, at least in the case of 1UP's Jeremy Parish, who felt that though there was much to love about the game, something about it "felt a little bit off."

Another event at the Tokyo Game Show was a special stage event for the game, which revealed that a special downloadable character would be a "Megafied" version of children's television character Gachapin. The costumed character appeared on stage with a new costumed Mega Man (the angry American version, who actually looked sort of cool this way) to make the announcement, which also made clear that Capcom seemed to have hopes of some sort of mainstream tie-ins with the title.

That same month, interviews with Mega Man Universe Producer Akiko Ito appeared in Game Informer magazine and on Joystiq and Kotaku, giving us a little more insight into what the developers were trying to do with the game. Similarly, GameTrailers conducted a video interview with her about the game mechanics, which at the very least explained why they kept the "Mega Man" name in Japan.

As September continued to roll on, it seemed nothing could stop Mega Man Universe. Plans were revealed for the game to not only be at New York Comic-Con, but also at a special event at the Brooklyn Library. Oh, and just as with all the other big events prior, there was swag to be gained at NYCC: a Mega Man Universe-branded Ghosts 'n Goblins lance, four feet long and perfect for throwing at your siblings alongside "zombie" accusations.

And after that?

Things went quiet. For months, we heard nary a peep about Mega Man Universe, until early February, when Capcom USA's Senior Vice-President Christian Svensson would only say through the Ask Capcom forum on Capcom Unity that he had "no news to share on the project," save for that "it's not dead," and "it’s changed a lot."

Once more, silence reigned, until March 25th, 2011. On that day, Capcom of Japan removed the title from its front page. There did not seem to be any true cause for alarm yet, however, as the game remained listed on the company's complete lineup of titles.

That all changed six days later, when Capcom officially announced that Mega Man Universe was no more, due to "various" unspecified circumstances. Some might say we had something to do with it, but whether the full truth will ever come out remains unknown.

Looking back, it seems a little strange to see a game with all that marketing effort put into it suddenly canceled without warning, especially after it had reportedly seen a lot of changes, perhaps to address the grievances given to it by the press. Granted, games get canceled all the time, but as Mega Man games go, it seems a little more rare to see a title announced, but never come out (Mega Man Mania notwithstanding).

Though we have no official reasons, there is speculation, as always. Some believe that as the game seemed to be a pet project of Inafune's, his departure from Capcom in late October 2010 was reason enough for the company to ax the title. Others, meanwhile, believe that Svensson's words may be more significant than we at first realized, and that perhaps while "Mega Man Universe" is dead, the game which bore that name may still live on in some other form. If that latter point is indeed the case, then perhaps we will hear something about it from Capcom at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is only a few months away.

Nevertheless, here's to you Mega Man Universe. Wish we could have gotten to know you better.

Development of Mega Man Universe Officially Ceased

After months of not hearing anything of the title, and after Capcom of Japan removed it from their front page, the company has officially announced that development of Mega Man Universe has ceased, due to "various circumstances." There is no word if development may pick up again, and considering the amount of profuse apologizing to those looking forward to it, it does not seem as if it ever will. Although this does seem contradictory to other recent statements. I know quite a bit of controversy and concern surrounded this title, but it's still pretty unfortunate to see it go. Hopefully all this time has been used to put efforts towards potentially other Mega Man titles to be revealed.

News Credit: Tarbo-san

Capcom Japan Drops Universe from Front Page

Believe it or not, it's been over six months now since we last heard new info on Mega Man Universe. Half of a year. And through all that time, Capcom of Japan continued to showcase the title on their front page. But that's no longer the case, as Mega Man Universe has been dropped to make room for some new 3DS titles. Now this is no cause for alarm, the game is still listed in their complete lineup. I don't think there's any indication that the game is being dropped; according to recent reports it's quite the opposite. Still, one has to wonder, what the heck is going on with this game?

Mega Man Universe Undergoing Great Changes

Tokyo Game Show was the last we heard anything new of Mega Man Universe. If you don't recall, that was back in September of last year. There's been speculation abounds concerning the game's fate, but we finally have an official word on Universe's status. Over at Ask Capcom, Christian Svensson has this to say:

"Unfortunately, I have no new news to share on the project. It's not dead though... and it's changed a lot."

Back at PAX, we'd gotten word that the game was being aimed for a March release, but it seems like we're probably going to miss that now. Mega Man Universe has had a lot of criticism, both for its art style and play controls for those who have sampled it. Personally, my main issue has always been about a reliance on user-made stages and a perceived lack of content. But other than that, I can't say I thought too poorly of the game. Still, it will be interesting to see where these new developments take it. We'll keep you posted.

News Credit: Protodude's Rockman Corner

All Your Capcom NYCC Details

If you're planning on attending New York Comic Con this weekend for some Capcom goodness, then Capcom Unity has everything you ought to know. Of Mega Man note, Mega Man Universe will be playable, and you can get equipped with a four foot inflatable Arthur lance themed for MMU (sounds like we'll be getting some new Arthur deets, among other stuff). There's no mention of Mega Man Legends 3 right now, but as the Legends dev crew have been mentioning NYCC, definitely expect some kind of info. Additionally, Keiji Inafune will be on hand for questions and signings.

If you're headed to NYCC, we'd love to get your pictures and impressions! And if you see Joveth there, be sure to bug him for us!

Introducing The TMMN... Minicast?

A couple weeks back we unveiled our new podcast program on TMMN, the Megacast. However, though the show was only intended to run once a month, and for good cause, I felt that might still be too sparse to keep the show relevant to listeners. And thus was born the Minicast. This no frills, just talk program doesn't feature the fancy guests, musical breaks and prizes the progenitor does, but it does still feature the thing hopefully you guys enjoy the most: talk. For this first Minicast I'm joined by Jesse "Mainfinger" Gregory and Andrew "AWD!" Dickman as we discuss Mega Man Universe, Mega Man Legends 3, and... a whole bunch of other stuff. In fact, the show was intended to run 30-45 minutes, but we got so sidetracked that it's pretty much as long as September's Megacast. So, it doesn't live up to its name yet, but we're still honing our stuff. Enjoy!

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The Brooklyn Library Will Get Megafied

You'll have a chance to play Mega Man Universe next week if you can get to the Brooklyn Library, but just try not to get shushed. On October 7th, from 3 to 5 PM, Capcom will be having a presentation about game making and then a Q&A. Furthermore, they'll have the first playable build of Mega Man Universe, among some other titles, in the US preceding the New York Comic Con. Tickets will only be available to the first 180 people who come down, so head over to Capcom Unity and get all the details. Thanks, jgonzo!

Capcom is Hitting the Big Apple with Mega Man Universe

Comic-Con is coming to New York City from October 8th to 10th, and among numerous others, Capcom is going to be there! What's more, they will be hosting their own panel, which GoNintendo details as follows:

World of CAPCOM 2010 and BeyondDate: Sunday, October 10 Time: 12:15 pm - 1:15 pm Location: Room 1A21 Speaker: TBA Track: NYCC/NYAF Panels Description: Trailers and inside info on all the hot, upcoming games from Capcom – Marvel VS Capcom 3, Dead Rising 2, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, Ghost Trick, Okamiden, Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition Move, Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, Mega Man Universe, and more.

More, indeed.

In addition, Protodude reminds us that it was at the San Diego Comic-Con a short time ago that Keiji Inafune dropped word of an "oft-requested title" being in development; could New York bring similar info?

In addition, there isn't word on whether or not Mega Man Universe will be playable at the event, but following the availability of a demo at the Tokyo Game Show, it doesn't seem too unlikely.

Stay tuned to The Mega Man Network, as we'll be keeping a close eye on the show for the latest from the world of the Blue Bomber. We're sure you won't want to miss it.

GameTrailers' Mega Man Universe Mechanics Interview

At the 2010 Tokyo Game Show, GameTrailers took the opportunity to chat for a moment with Mega Man Universe Producer Akiko Ito about the mechanics for the upcoming title:

If you can't view the video, no need to worry; it's largely the things we've heard before, though Ito does address why it is called "Mega Man" Universe in Japan:

"This is the first time we actually called a Rockman game 'Mega Man' in Japan; we wanted to make it something where we bring all the fans around the world together, and so that's why we chose the word 'universe.'"

Introducing The TMMN Megacast!

Here's an interesting treat for you all! Starting this month, TMMN is reigniting a revamped podcast show! Since, you know, podcasts are a sign of how cool you are on the internet, and we're pretty cool let me be the first to tell you. Anyway, there's lots of fun to be had in this first of our (hopefully) monthly run. In this episode Mainfinger, Tabby and myself are joined by Capcom Unity's Joveth "jgonzo" Gonzalez, who drops in to discuss Mega Man Universe, and we even manage to talk a little about Mega Man Legends 3 (don't get your hopes up). We also got to ask Dr. Wily a few questions, and get a little insight about OtaRockman with Tabby.

But there's MORE. Our music break features an exclusive first listen to a track from the long delayed BN Remix (which should be updating later tonight). And, well, I don't want to give EVERYTHING away. I'll just say I've done everything to make sure this first episode is very rewarding.

We don't have any fancy page to organize podcasts just yet, nor even a proper teaser image, but you can grab the first episode below. And be sure to rate us on iTunes! I hear that's important one way or another. And send in your Dr. Wily questions! Truly hope you enjoy our silliness!

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Update: Congratulations to Nick Calhoun and AdventAxl for listening all the way through... and winning a Kotobukiya Rockman figure!

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.