GameTrailers Revisits the Mystery of Mega Man 9

You might remember a few months ago when GameTrailers took on the mystery of Mega Man 9, only to find the results were inconclusive. Having received some help since originally releasing that edition of "Pop Fiction," they've taken another stab at it, this time even getting a rather... odd message from one of the game's producers, Hironobu Takeshita. You can view the updated info around the eight-minute mark.

All said, this isn't necessarily a bad thing; one could even consider it a good one. Video games have long had various myths and legends associated with them, from "Shen Long" in Street Fighter II to Luigi being in Super Mario 64-- heck, that's what the entire "Pop Fiction" series is about. And with Mega Man 9, the Mega Man series now apparently has its own legend worthy of hanging with such longstanding curiosities, one which may persist in the minds of gamers for years-- or even decades-- to come.

GameTrailers Takes on the Mystery of Mega Man 9

For nearly four years now, a single mystery has eluded Mega Man fans the world over in the ninth mainline adventure. But this week on GameTrailers' "Pop Fiction" series, they've gone after the White Whale of Blue Bomber fans.

Do they succeed? Well, to just state it here outright would make the whole thing just a little bit anticlimactic, so check out the episode and discuss their findings below.

Teaser Website Update for Mystery Collaboration Game; Trademark Update May Reveal Name

The mystery surrounding the Nintendo 3DS collaboration between Bandai Namco, Capcom, and SEGA continues, but at least now we know when more will be revealed. Previously, we covered the mysterious symbols that we suspect represent various mascots (including Mega Man X and Zero) from the three companies teaming up for the still-unnamed 3DS project. Now, the teaser site features a countdown to April 11th.  The number 032760 is entered into a code pad, and a yell and a siren is heard. The siren eventually fades into the background, leaving us with just the countdown, broken glass and a liquid:

The only other new information so far comes from a recent trademark update from Bandai Namco for a title called "Project X Zone," whose initials correspond with those in the official site's URL above. Even so, we still have no information about what kind of game this will be.

Across the internet, some fans are speculating as to what exactly this new teaser means, and if there is any pattern in the countdown screen. What do you think?

Some Element X Added to Banpresto's Science Experiment

We've been following Banpresto's teaser for a 3DS collaboration game between Capcom, Sega and Bandai Namco Games without any real certainty what to expect, and now the stakes have raised more for Mega Man fans. A new "pixelsome" has been added to the Petri that appears to represent Mega Man X; a followup to one that viewers have speculated is Zero.

Of course nothing is confirmed as to what the objects really represent, but fan speculation seems pretty sensible so far. One of the enigmatic notes even hints at viewers to look at the figures up-side-down, lending credibility to the character guesses. The questions remains, though: Just what kind of game is this?

As for the test subjects, perhaps this is what Reploid DNA is?

Thanks to Maverick-Jin8 for the tip!

Bond Man: The Phantom Robot Master

Been a while since we presented any Mega Man mysteries for you, but we have a neat new one today! I'll admit, however, that this is a more open-and-shut case than our previous features of the Capcom Hand and Wily's Mystery Pipe. But this story is still an interesting one, because it's about a Robot Master who's developed a big cult following among Rockman fans in Japan, and yet he doesn't really exist. Perhaps in Japanese fan art you've seen an odd little robot with a cap for a head and tubes of glue for arms. He is Bond Man, the phantom Robot Master!

While a fairly simple story, details about Bond Man are hard to come by because the sources are a bit obscure. The original source of the story comes from a comic by Hitoshi Ariga called "The Men Who Created Rockman: The Rockman Birth Legend." This two part comic, which covered the hardships over the development of Rockman and Rockman 2, was originally released in the January 1995 edition of Comic Bombom. While slightly fictionalized (the main changes were the names of the people involved - Keiji Inafune became Kenji Izumi), the events themselves were founded in truth, and it was the first anyone had ever heard of Bond Man. The other major source is an interview with Keiji Inafune on Nico Video, from July 2008.

The story begins as such. Bond Man was already a conceived as an idea in the initial project proposal when Inafune came onto the team as a "graphicer" - he would end up designing the character illustrations and their sprites, or dot graphics as they are known in Japan. The initial proposal called for eight bosses, and since they were meant to be industrial robots gone bad, they were to represent basic elements relating to work and human service, like construction, electricity, timber felling, and bonding (glue, in other words). It was Inafune's job to consider the ideas and come up with designs for them.

Early in the development stages, it was decided that the number of bosses would be cut from eight to six. At the time, however, Inafune had fleshed out seven designs. It was Bond Man who ended up getting cut. This was a little tough for Inafune, and while Bond Man was not exactly an original idea of his, he'd grown to like the character he ended up making and had even gone so far as to make sprite graphics for him. It's doubtful these graphics made it into the game data.

Time passed and Rockman became a popular game series. Nothing ever came of Bond Man until manga artist and fevered Rockman fan Hitoshi Ariga discussed with Inafune about the comic he was writing to cover the events of Rockman's development. Inafune told Ariga about Bond Man, and although he never showed Ariga any of the original development material, it's said Ariga drew Bond Man based on Inafune's description, which Inafune said was basically like the idea. In other words, this means that the Bond Man we know today is actually a design of Ariga's.

Since the printing of the comic in 1995, Bond Man developed something of a cult status among Rockman fans in Japan, but was virtually unknown to the rest of the world. As the internet became more and more prominent in recent years, people outside of Japan caught their first glimpses of Bond Man in Japanese fan art here and there, though they may not have understood what he represented. Additionally, the "Rockman Birth Legend" comic was reprinted in Hitoshi Ariga's latest re-releases of his Rockman Megamix comic series. (Unfortunately these are not the editions that UDON is currently printing, otherwise the story of Bond Man would have come to light sooner!).

There is another interesting aspect to this story. Bond Man did have an opportunity for return in the 2006 PSP game Rockman Rockman (Mega Man Powered Up). Inafune considered using Bond Man as one of the two new Robot Masters in the game. However, Inafune decided that this might damage the cult status Bond Man had developed. In the interview, Inafune states:

"I thought about reviving Bond Man, but it was a little tough. What we could present in Rockman Rockman was a little different than the time that I created Bond Man. So rather than throwing him in hastily, I decided to leave Bond Man as the 'legend' he is, and I created two new characters instead."

So from that decision, Bond Man still remains as the phantom Robot Master. However, I do wonder if Bond Man will still have his day. Perhaps even as soon as Mega Man Universe? This quote from Anime News Network's recent interview with Keiji Inafune struck my eye:

"Universe is a unique project. As the title suggests, it's big. It's a whole universe. 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."

Maybe Bond Man will make his debut someday, so be sure to keep your eyes glued! Ha ha ha.

Many thanks to CAP Kobun, who has kept extensive details about Bond Man online, and Fireman, for helping me research and translate the source materials. Also thanks to AWD! for the top image, and to Kevin X Nelms for the sprite.

The Mystery of Wily Castle's Pipe

We blew your mind with the "Capcom Hand," and now it's time to present another wild peculiarity of Mega Man. So what could be so baffling and incredibly mysterious that you need to drop everything you're doing and read this right now or else you'll die? It's... a pipe! Ok, maybe it's not that awe-inspiring. But it is a curious element that has found its way into many Mega Man games, and you may never have even noticed.

What is the pipe? I don't know, really. But it's been featured on nearly every one of Dr. Wily's fortresses. However, it actually got its start with Dr. Light's laboratory.

Here is the first time we witness "the pipe." And sure, it seems pretty underwhelming. What could it be? Maybe it's a chimney? Maybe it's an air duct? Maybe it's a vent for the commode? Truth be told, as a kid, I always thought it was half of the Magnet Beam stuck to the side of the house, for whatever mindless reason. So whatever it is, certainly there's nothing really special about it. But it would return.

Here's the first time we see it on Dr. Wily's castle, from Mega Man 2, but it will be far from the last. Whatever this pipe is for, it's not just necessary for small homes, but for huge fortresses of peril too!

Mega Man 3, another new fortress, and the pipe returns. Its shape and color tend to very, but it's virtually always at the same angle and located on the same side of the structure.

On Wily's snowfield fortress in Mega Man 4, the pipe is rather pronounced. Maybe this is just a smaller castle overall?

Wily's castle in Mega Man 5 does not feature the pipe, but it's also one of the stranger looking castles. Maybe it's just somewhere out of sight... This castle also has no background elements, which makes it kind of depressing looking.

The pipe returns in Mega Man 6, showing that even Japanese style buildings seem to require it. Now perhaps you're saying, so what? Wily's castles feature a number of repeating elements, such as skulls, cannons and satellite dishes. This is true, and I don't think there's anything super special about the pipe. But why does such an insignificant structure appear so frequently? Why the intention to include it as much as possible? We're far from done here.

The pipe jumps to 16-bit in Mega Man 7, looking almost out of place on this otherwise symmetrical fortress.

Mega Man 8's fortress does not feature the pipe, but again, this is a pretty weird one. It has a lot of tiny little details as well, so maybe it's still hidden in there, somewhere.

Dr. Wily's castle in Mega Man 9 also does not feature the pipe, and this really blew me away when I was investigating this. With all the little nuances of classic Mega Man that Mega Man 9 picked up, I figured surely the pipe would be here! But sadly, this castle does not possess it. I suppose they just forgot to make it.

Now we reach Mega Man 10, and the pipe returns! Over 20 years later and this element is still recognized! Clearly there's some kind of meaning behind it! However, there are yet more games. The pipe also makes its appearances in the Game Boy series.

This one is so small and blended in I almost overlooked it. It's really hidden in there.

Mega Man II for Game Boy is remiss of the pipe, but it's featured again in Mega Man III.

And in Mega Man IV, not only does it appear once...

but twice! Apparently, even spaceships need this mysterious architectural element.

The pipe really sticks out here, in this scene in Mega Man V that completely rips off Star Wars (and heck, the ship is called the Wily Star, even). This is the only case the pipe appears on the left side, but it probably had to be with how the scene is set up.

The pipe even shows up in a couple more obscure games.

Here we see it in Mega Man: The Wily Wars. It seems put in as almost an afterthought.

And finally, here it is in Mega Man's Soccer. I like that this design also incorporates a soccer ball.

Once again, I really have no idea what the pipe is supposed to be, but I doubt it's anything special. But for whatever reason, the developers at Capcom thought it was important to put such a simple thing on nearly every Dr. Wily castle. And I truly doubt we've seen the last of the pipe. The next Mega Man game that comes out, keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks to AWD! for the header art, and Sprites INC for nearly all the Wily Castle images.

Guess the robot's name, win awesome swag

You've seen the coverage of Mega Man 10's sports themed stage. Now try to guess the name of the robot master that commands it. At Capcom*Unity you can make guesses at this baddie's name in the comments, one guess per post, and the first lucky one to guess right wins a box of sweet, sweet Mega Man 10 swag. There are already over 350 guesses though, so you may want to break out the dictionary. Good luck to everyone who enters! Oh, and to respond now to the questions I imagine I may get here: no comments.