The first Megaman game I ever played was the second one and goddamn was it brutal. I mean, I'd played a few Capcom platformers up to that point, mostly Disney stuff, but very little could've prepared me for the toughness of the oldschool Megaman title. I mean, Contra was a shooter and it was hard, too, but it was hard from the angle of it being an arcade port.
Megaman was tough because it FELT like there was choice, options, and to a small degree, fairness. I mean, you didn't get KILLED by something unless it was spiky or cliffy. On top of that, you'd find various powerups to help you with the small shit throughout the stages, so at first glance, it doesn't seem too hard...of course, that's until you realize the checkpoints are bullshit, often you don't have any lives left when you reach the boss, and it's a toss up which boss' power would annihilate which other boss correctly.
Sure, some things are obvious like use Metal Man's saw weapon against Wood Man, but not everything was so black and white. But you know, despite the difficulty, sometimes obscure weaknesses, and painful level design, the original Megaman series was pretty goddamn awesome and I would argue the "weaknesses" that most modern gamers would argue only added to its charm.
So seriously...what the fuck has happened? Look, I liked Megaman 9 and 10. They weren't bad. Were they the best games ever? No, but they succeeded in bringing back the original formula and showing us Capcom's still got what it takes. So where are the GOOD modern Megaman games? Short explanation: there aren't any. Long explanation: Megaman started to suck after Megaman X 3.
Now, no, not EVERYTHING sucked in the Megaman universe. For example, Megaman Legends was a damn good idea (though not very Megaman-like when compared to the original series) and Battle Network was okay for a while (ditto here as well). Even still, I think we can all agree that THESE titles should never have made the cut:
- Megaman 7
- Megaman 8
- Megaman Soccer
- Rockman & Bass
- Megaman X 4 - 8 (or wherever the fuck we're at now)
- Megaman X Command Mission Just say no to Megaman 8.
Now there are a few I haven't addressed, but mostly because I haven't tried them. There's a good chance they suck, though, so don't worry. But the main question is...what the hell happened? Well, I have a few theories... It Just Didn't Transition To 3D Well
Now I can see those Pheonix Wright fingers getting ready to point, but hold on a second. So what was the first 3D Megaman title? Megaman Legends, right? And it was a good game, right? Ultimately, the controls could've been a little better, but the enemy AI and levels were tweaked to make it work so it didn't really matter. So I guess this argument could be swept under the rug...
...were it not for the PS2 titles. One could argue that Megaman X was born only to appeal to a "hardcore" audience and that it was only a matter of time before it began sucking. It could also be stated that the MMX titles for the PS1 didn't SUCK, per se, just that they weren't GREAT or NEW like the first three MMX titles. See, that's the thing about hardcore titles...they only work if they're absolutely over the top every single time, constantly raising the stakes from the last one, and if they're still NEW.
But games like Mario? You've STILL got motherfuckers going back and playing the original Mario...and for that matter Pacman, Kid Icarus, Zelda, Metroid...hell, even the ODB of hardcore titles: Contra. But you see, MMX was already losing its cred and Capcom realizing this new they had to raise the stakes. So what did they do? They did...THIS...
Yup...they turned Megaman X, what was once thought of us the absolute successor to the old Megaman series, into 2.5D GARBAGE. And it's not as if Capcom hasn't done 2.5D before and well with various titles like Strider 2, so what gives? This was their time to shine, to revive the MMX series! But no, they gave us a bunch of new features that either don't look right, don't make sense, or just don't "fit" in any Megaman universe.
I mean, for fucks sake, the graphics don't look good or right, then they REALLY fuck up by putting the entire boss battle in 3D which I can't imagine feels good on the controls (thankfully I never played this one, but I did play 8 and it was pretty terrible too). But you know, I don't think the Megaman X series is entirely to blame. I mean, after all, they didn't exactly abandon the original series, so something else must have happened too... It's Mega MAN, Not Mega BOY
Just watch the following scene. I really don't need to say much else.
Right at the 1:37 mark, we can see where this game is instantly a steaming pile of shit. Actually, I'd like to comment that the actual GAME is pretty fun, but the fact that they went for the weird, cartoony visual style AND the fact that they made Megaman sound like a little girl who's yet to receive her first period is just plain WRONG. Maybe it's just me, but I always assumed Megaman was, well...A GODDAMN CYBORG ROBOT MAN.
I'm not saying he needed some raspy Clint Eastwood voice or whatever, but goddammit don't make him sound like THAT! And again, maybe I'm cracking on the game for the wrong reasons, but it sets the tone of the entire game. Instead of Megaman storming through stages of peril and danger, you have him going through...carnivals...and happy forests...and stuff.
It doesn't look right, it doesn't sound right, it doesn't FEEL right. And again, it was probably just my imagination playing around because of the NES' limitations, but I always envisioned Megaman as being kind of a badass and of course, the MMX series then further solidified that on the SNES. So seeing and playing something like this naturally has catastrophic effects for my vision of the series as a whole.
But that's okay. Capcom's a company that can always seem to make it work somehow by consistently releasing good games (Dead Rising 1 and 2) even when there are bad ones they release as well (Lost Planet 1 and 2). So naturally, they'll find some new, hip way to work that into Megaman, right? Also, "hip" is still the correct word to use, right? Let's Kick It Oldschool. Also, The Word Is "Boners," Not "Hip."
At first, I liked this idea. Megaman 7 and 8 as well as Rockman and Bass were okay, but they adversely affected how many oldschool gamers saw the series. They turned what was cool and h...I mean, BONERS...into what amounted to a crappy Saturday Morning Cartoon (circa late 90s, not mid 80s...yeah, THAT crappy). So what did Capcom decide to do? Get back to their roots.
ZOMG THE MUSIC. ZOMG THE GRAPHICS. ZOMG THE LEVELS. Yeah, it certainly looks like a classic NES Megaman title...except harder. Much, MUCH harder. So why am I complaining? Here's why. At the end of the day, why couldn't Capcom pull it off? No, I don't mean Megaman 9 and 10 were terrible both in what they were and what they sold, I mean why couldn't Capcom make a GOOD modern Megaman title?
Why couldn't Megaman 9 have been the awesome, over the top action/adventure/platformer it could've been with modern graphics? This is because 1) everything we've already talked about and 2) I don't think Capcom had the guts to try another modern one because of all of it. Those sound like the same answer, but let me explain. So we can agree that the titles I listed earlier just plain didn't need to exist at all.
But they did. And since they did, Capcom lost their edge. But what's really funny here is it's not as if they haven't moved on...it's just that Megaman's been left behind because they're too chicken shit to try something new again. Also, I'm ecstatic about Megaman Legends 3. FINALLY a step in the right direction. They're taking something that SHOULD have had more sequels and they're finally DOING it.
I'd like to say they've woken up, but I don't think that's the case. Look, Megaman Universe is getting ready to come out and already I'm not liking the style of it. I don't know...maybe it'll be something awesome and I should just shut the hell up, but...well, just look at this crazy shit... 2.5D Upgrade. UR Doin It Rite.
Made by Capcom? Check. Classic formula with major overhauling that's done RIGHT? Check. Still as hard, if not harder than the previous GnG titles? Double check. And yet it's done in 2.5D and looks and feels RIGHT? Big motherfucking check! What, how?! I thought Capcom didn't know what the fuck they were doing! But wait, it gets better...
HOLY SHIT MOTHERFUCKING STRIDER!!!1 And yes, with all of the above applying except for one more key detail: this game was on the arcade, THEN on the PS1! So then, Capcom knew exactly what they were doing for these titles...but not for Megaman? Or was it that they forgot what made them popular in the first place and turned their backs on him?
It's hard to say what happened, really, but what we can say for certain is it's going to take a LOT for Megaman to be cool again. We'll always have the classics, but come on, Capcom...I want a NEW classic!
LOOK WHO CAME: