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Posts tagged “capcom

Unboxed! – Mega Man 25th Anniversary Statue

What’s that? Not one, but two unboxings in a single week? Oh, yes! The first was Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix, but this one is not a game. It is gaming-related, though, representing my favorite franchise of all-time. I will first show you a box:

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What could be in this cleverly-designed box, adorned with pictures of Mega Man and Mega Man X, some 8-bit font, and the 25th Anniversary logo? This:

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I present to you, the Mega Man 25th Anniversary statue. Yes, one of a few pieces of merchandise we have been given the opportunity to purchase instead of a new game. Alas, I don’t want to spoil this post with large amounts of animosity towards Capcom. Instead, I’m going to show you some pics from various angles that highlight the details of this rather impressive piece. I definitely wanted something to commemorate the anniversary in grandiose form, and this fit the bill more so than the previous Mega Man statue that could light-up and was in color. That one I really don’t like because of the small eyes and the plastic-like look of it that makes it seem cheap for the $100 it costs. I could also see the lights being a problem in the long-run if they stop lighting up and there’s no way to fix the issue without taking it apart and whatnot. This statue, however, has Mega Man X on it. That makes it better instantly. Plus, the two heroes are proportioned correctly and, while it would look better in color, the silver gives it a sort of expensive, trophy-like appearance a commemorative statue should have.

First, here are some shots of classic Mega Man:

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The expression looks good, with Mega Man sort of gritting his teeth while looking somewhat innocent at the same time. It’s perfect, seeing as he’s not overly intimidating looking in the games, either, but once he starts blasting, enemies see how strong he really is. Speaking of blasting, I do like the blast effect coming from his Mega Buster. It’s a nice little detail in an otherwise simple piece.

Now for X:

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Clearly, X looks angrier, which is fine, considering he is a darker character than his classic counterpart. The detail in his helmet is well done with nary any errors to be found. I also like his pose, which is rather accurate considering his personality. X was never one to shoot first and ask questions later. It looks more like he’s trying to reason with his enemy, telling them to get out of his way as he doesn’t want to fight them. Of course, if you know the Mega Man X franchise, he always ends up fighting them in the end, and he usually winds up kicking their asses, stealing their powers, and moving on to his next assignment. All in a day’s work for the world’s most-powerful Reploid.

I must have pre-ordered this rather early, as I received one with a pretty low number:

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A close-up of the 25th anniversary logo, too, in case you want to see that:

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Mine is #108 out of 1,000. Capcom’s site isn’t sold out of them yet, so if you’re interested, there are some still up for grabs. You can grab one here. I like the quality of the piece overall. It’s made out of solid resin, and even though there are very few minor indents and bubbles here and there, it’s still a very clean piece. It weighs about six pounds, is about 9.5″ tall, the base measures 5.75″ by 9″, in case you’re wondering if you have enough space, and costs $99.95 plus tax and shipping. I had to clear some space off of my bureau for this, but it was worth it. I finally have a piece to commemorate my favorite game franchise’s silver anniversary, and even though I do wish more was done to mark the occasion, at least I have a very cool statue to display in my collection for many years to come.


Mega Man’s Spiritual Successor Needs Our Help

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Everyone knows how much of a fan I am of the Mega Man franchise, and how I’m not a fan of how Capcom has been handling the brand since Keiji Inafune, the “father of Mega Man” as many refer to him as, decided to leave the company. When Inafune-san left, he also left behind a legacy of titles he poured his heart and soul into, including the fan-involved Mega Man Legends 3, which was a long-time dream of his to finally develop with the help of his dedicated fans. Now that he has his own studio, known as Comcept, he no longer has any affiliation with Capcom and, therefore, can no longer carry on the development of Mega Man titles due to Capcom’s death grip on the license. However, that’s not going to stop him from carrying on the legacy of Mega Man, as his newly-launched Kiskstarter campaign proves.

This is Mighty No. 9.

Clearly, the game looks to draw from a lot of the same concepts as the Mega Man franchise, but instead of a hero that copies boss weapons, Beck, as the protagonist is called, can copy the abilities of regular enemies, too. He doesn’t only apply them as weapons, either, but as tools that he can use to traverse environments, among other functions. This potentially opens a lot of doors to some creative level designs that can turn the platforming genre on its head. I could honestly see this being an evolution of Mega Man had Inafune remained with the company. It may not have been the Mega Man, but a spinoff that could portray a new version of the Blue Bomber. As it stands now, I see Beck as an evolution of Mega Man; a successor, if you will. It’s as if the torch is being passed and the legacy is being carried on into the future. With the involvement of Keiji Inafune as well as many veterans who worked on Mega Man titles in the past, we can rest assured that there is plenty of experience behind this project in order to make it the best it can possibly be.

Does this mean that it’s okay for Capcom to just kill off Mega Man? No. The franchise will never be the same without Inafune’s involvement, as the past few years since his departure can attest to, but I still think that with the right developer and the proper involvement of Capcom that Mega Man’s course can be corrected and we may finally see a new entry or perhaps a new series bud as a result. Of course, I’m not holding my breath, but you never know what can happen this day and age.

With Mighty No. 9, though, I feel my mind is at ease. The man who kept Mega Man alive all of these years clearly still cares about his fans and the franchise he left behind, as is made evident by the video above where he expresses his regret of not being able to follow his dream as well as the dreams of many Mega Man fans by seeing Mega Man Legends 3 to its completion. This is finally a chance for him to realize his dream, and what better way than to have his fans come along for the ride as we not only open our minds to a spiritual successor to the franchise we all know and love, but embrace the chance to help him by pledging and getting involved with the development directly in order to help make that dream come true.

I’ve already made my pledge. The amount I contributed was higher than most, but I feel passionate about this project and I wanted that to be reflected in the amount I chose to give. Plus, the extra perks and rewards involved are truly once-in-a-lifetime stuff. These are the sorts of things I’ll get special display cases for so that I can show them to people and tell them that I helped make this game happen. They’ll be symbols of pride for myself; objects that have more than just monetary value. They’ll represent a dream that came true, an ambition realized. When you think about it that way, there’s simply nothing better.

You, too, can contribute if this project interests you. The Kickstarter link is here, complete with all of the details, rewards, and such. Kickstarter’s payments are made through Amazon, so it’s secure. The project is already on track to completely obliterate its $900,000 goal. I’m hoping it will raise at least $2.5 million so that I can play this on my PlayStation 3, as I play far more games on consoles than on PCs. I’m going to try and get the widget working on the side bar to the right so that there’s always a link to the project, for those who want to keep track of it (including myself). I’ll keep it there until the game’s release, should it reach its goal, as I’m sure the page will be updated as progress is made.

Today, a long-time Mega Man fan can now rest easy knowing that there is a future for the Blue Bomber’s legacy. Even if it doesn’t include Mega Man himself, that’s okay. I know his heart and soul is in this project, that’s for sure.


Unboxed! – Project X Zone Limited Edition

It is with great pleasure that I present this to you today, folks. I have waited a long time whilst chomping at my nails for an announcement that Project X Zone, an ambitious crossover SRPG between SEGA, Capcom, and Namco-Bandai, would come stateside. That day has finally come, and it is oh-so worth the wait. I’ve already poured several hours into it and, while X and Zero have not showed up yet, I’m loving it as the game is still a fun and over-the-top love letter to fans of anything from these three publishers. Of course, a game of this scale would need a fitting limited edition, no? Well, it just so happens that first print run copies were all made into limited edition packages, and it’s the same price of $39.99, so all of the extra goodies are free.

Before I present to you the limited edition’s contents, allow me to set the mood with this friggin’ amazing intro video.

OK, now that your mind has been blown, feast your eyes on this goodness.

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The front and back of the outer box. I’m still not much for French being plastered on North American box art. I realize it’s for the Canadian crowd, but it clutters everything up.

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BOOM! All of the contents laid out for you to see. I’ll be going over each individually.

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First the Visual Book, which contains some promo art of the different playable pairs and what franchises they hail from.

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Kite and BlackRose are here to represent .hack. I really need to finish Infection…

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KOS-MOS and T-ELOS are here for the fun straight from Xenosaga. Episode III, specifically.

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From SEGA and tri-Ace’s oddball RPG, Resonance of Fate, comes Zephyr and Leanne. Don’t worry; Vashyron is in the game, too.

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These two gentlemen need no introduction.

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The abridged soundtrack. I call it that, because that definitely isn’t the entire soundtrack. There are way more tracks than that. I find it odd they call it “Mega Man Dash”. It’s either Rockman Dash, as it’s called in Japan, or Mega Man Legends, as it’s called in the west. Not both. The soundtrack in the game, so far, is to die for, though.

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A shot of the disc. I’ll have to rip this into my iTunes library soon.

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Remember that white sheet of paper from the pic of all of the contents above? It’s actually a mini foldout poster. I should get this framed. It’d make the creases less noticeable.

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The reason for buying it in the first place: the game, of course!

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In the case are the cartridge and the English “manual”. Below it, the Club Nintendo code sheet and the French “manual”. I say “manual” because they’re more like foldout sheets than anything. Don’t worry, though. The game has plenty of tutorials to get you up to speed.

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The most important part.

Considering you get all of this for free, it’s a fantastic deal. If you’re a fan of all three publishers and/or franchise crossovers, you owe it to yourself to pick this up. This can actually be purchased at Walmart, believe it or not. My local store has it, and limited edition copies, no less. I received mine from Amazon, but it’ll be the last time I order small, boxed collector’s games from them. The side did get mushed. You can’t notice it in the pictures, but there’s some minor damage. It’s not the first time it’s occurred, but it’ll be the last. I’ll either buy from Walmart or pre-order these types of things at GameStop from now on. Regardless, I hope your copy isn’t damaged and I hope you enjoy this gem of title. I am so far, that’s for sure!


What Capcom Could Learn from Archie’s Mega Man Comics

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NOTE: This post contains some spoilers from the Archie Comics Mega Man series. If you haven’t read the comics yet, 1) what’s wrong with you !?, and 2) steer away unless you don’t mind the spoilers.

I recently read every issue of the Archie Comics series based on the Mega Man franchise. I’m ashamed of myself for neglecting such a great series based on my all-time favorite franchise, but comics are a serious investment, and on top of that, storing them is another issue altogether. However, I’m happy to say that I’m in for the long haul now, even if I have to find some way to store all of these comics. I also just received Part One of the Worlds Collide series, featuring both Mega Man and SEGA’s speedy mascot and long-time Archie comic hero, Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s a solid start so far, but I’m sure it’ll really take off here soon.

While I read all of these comics, it dawned upon me how awesome this adaptation of the Mega Man franchise is and, better yet, how it would fare in video game form. Sure, it’s based off of the games, but it’s far deeper than them from a story and character development standpoint. For instance, Mega Man starts to see himself as a killer, no better than the Robot Masters he’s chosen to face in order to save the world. He also starts to lose his mind, letting the powers he’s copied from all of them turn him into a power hungry, rage-filled and boastful machine. The comics also tackle the issue of whether robot development has gone too far, to the point where they begin to blur the line between human and machine and the potential threat they could pose to humanity should they cross that line. Wouldn’t these developments and plot lines be fantastic in game form?

See, Capcom is struggling to come up with a direction for the Mega Man franchise. We even recently learned that a Metroid Prime-style Mega Man X first-person shooter was in the works three years ago before it was scrapped due to it being too risky. This is on top of all of the cancellations related to the franchise that we’ve heard about ad nauseum. It seems like Capcom is taking their good ‘ole time coming up with a solution, and seeing as the character’s 25th anniversary has come and gone, and the apparent “celebration” this year, outside of the comic crossover, is a snoozefest. They can stop looking for a solution right now, as the it’s lying right in front of their faces. I know we all want a Mega Man X9, to finally see how the classic series and the X series officially connect, and badly want the development of Mega Man Legends 3 to return. However, if all else fails, and Capcom can’t come up with any sequels, why not start from the beginning?

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Mega Man’s descent into madness. Thanks to the comics, we see the Blue Bomber in a new light as he’s consumed by power.

I’m not talking franchise reboot or anything, as we all know that hasn’t exactly paid off in spades for several publishers, including Capcom and their Devil May Cry franchise. The comics already follow the original series canon. However, they add more substance to the plot and characters, as well as introducing new and meaningful characters to the fold, like the polar-opposite detectives, Rosie and Gil, and a possible love interest for Mega Man in the form of Tempo. Boss fights highlight weapon weaknesses very well, but the fights aren’t simply Mega Man dashing through a shutter, blasting the Robot Master with his weakness, taking his weapon power, then warping out without a care in the world like in the games. He actually has brief discussions with them, injecting personality into each of these nefarious foes, and upon defeating them, has an overwhelming sense of guilt as he stands over their remains and struggles with his pacifist personality. Why can’t the games have this sense of depth?

If there’s one thing that needs to happen, it’s that Mega Man needs to be brought to a new generation. There are still plenty of hardcore fans, like me, out there, but what about the young’uns? Every issue of the comic has an art section in it, and the drawings submitted from readers are primarily those of folks much, much younger than I. Kids are aware of Mega Man’s existence, or at least, the comic-reading kids. Why not give these kids exactly how Mega Man is meant to be experienced? As great as the comics are, he’s a video game character, and kids should learn his roots. Starting over from the beginning is one way of doing that.

Here’s what I’m getting to: Mega Man 1 needs to be remade. In order to celebrate 25 years of gaming history, a remake of the very beginning seems like a great way to do it, at least to me. I know Mega Man Powered Up exists, but considering the PSP is a dead platform in the US and the fact that the game will never be available on the Vita due to issues converting it into a digital version to be sold on the PlayStation Store, its availability is limited. Not only that, its chibi (big head) art style was always off-putting, and while it did add a little substance to the plot, it was very simplistic in its execution.

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This is how Mega Man Powered Up looked. It’s neat, sure, but Archie’s style is the best interpretation I’ve seen yet.

In this remake, the first step is to throw out the 8-bit graphics and sound. I love it just as much as the next guy, but it’s time to move on. We’re in an era where truly beautiful 2D sprite art is possible (think Rayman Origins), and I think Mega Man would be an excellent candidate for such treatment. Or, it could always go the 2.5D route like the new Duck Tales Remastered coming out this Summer, which is coincidentally coming from Capcom and being developed by WayForward. As for gameplay, Mega Man is a platformer through and through. Don’t touch it. In order to appeal to the younger crowd, though, there could always be an Easy Mode put in to make it more accessible. Level designs can remain largely the same as the original game, but with far more detail in their looks. The comics treat each level like a certain location within a city, so giving it that sort of look will make every level feel more connected as a world. Floating platforms even exist in the comics too, as a nice homage, so it’s not like including them in the game will somehow ruin the believability of the environments.

For every Robot Master encounter, there should be dialog between Mega Man and his opponent. Mega Man does attempt to reason with them in the comics, but it never usually works, and the result is the destruction of the Robot Master, the taking of his weapon, and then Mega Man has a sort of inner monologue, albeit very brief, but it shows that he constantly struggles with his pacifist side and how destroying the Robot Masters goes against his “code of honor”, so to speak. Delving this deeply into Mega Man’s character would allow fans young and old to engage with and relate to him on a whole new level. No longer is he just a Super Fighting Robot that blows away enemies without so much as a second thought. He’s practically human.

Cutscenes could be implemented, as well. Mega Man Powered Up used them, but not to any serious extent. They more or less consisted of “Stop, Dr. Wily! I won’t let you get away with this!”, to which Wily usually responds with a cackle. That’s not exactly how it goes down, but you get the gist. There’s a portion of the comic’s plot where Mega Man has to be forced back to Dr. Light’s lab because he’s started going haywire with his hunger for more and more power. At this point, Dr. Light has to reason with Mega Man and let him know that he is different than the Robot Masters and not built for killing. It’s a heartfelt discussion that could really do quite a bit to boost Mega Man as a character, as well as Dr. Light, while also showing the player the bond these two share is far beyond that of creator and robot; it’s more father and son. Roll is also more fleshed-out as a character, too, as she’s horrified at what Mega Man was becoming, before regaining her composure as Mega Man came to grips with his true purpose. She cares for her brother and hates the fact that he’s forced to destroy as much as he does.

There is one other idea churning around in my head, and this may seem outlandish, but what if the original Mega Man were recreated as a third-person shooter? Whoa, whoa, whoa, put down the knives! I’m not talking Gears of War stuff here! I’m talking about the game playing like another familiar Mega Man franchise, known as Mega Man Legends. Sure, the essence of classic Mega Man is gone, as the side-scrolling gameplay disappears, but that doesn’t mean platforming doesn’t have to exist. On top of that, imagine Robot Master battles done in this style. All-new possibilities open for battle patterns and strategies. Another idea is that all of the locations could be connected via a hub world of sorts, where Mega Man can interact with NPCs and key characters, and even warp back to the lab to chat with Dr. Light and Roll.

Whichever way it were to go, 2D or 3D, I’d approve of either direction for a remake of the original Mega Man. People love the old school side-scrolling style the series is known for, but I think we’re all hungry for a new Legends, and a remake done in the same vein could work wonders in regards to satiating that hunger as well as taking the classic series in a different direction. The main point is that I think the franchise could benefit from fleshing out Mega Man as a character and his world like the Archie comics do, drawing in more players who are open to a good story and engaging characters. Regardless, the wait for some sort of news on a new Mega Man is eating away at all of us. I just hope Capcom figures something out, and soon. In mean time, I continue to ponder what could be.


Fixing Capcom

As a long-time Mega Man fan, it should come as no surprise that I was once a big fan of Capcom. Mega Man isn’t the only franchise that I have an appreciation for under their banner. Resident Evil has had some great games, with Resident Evil 4 being a personal favorite. With the exception of the second title, I enjoyed the Devil May Cry series. Dead Rising 2 was a lot of fun, as well, and far better than its dull predecessor. I love their fighting franchises, like Street Fighter and their Versus titles, as well. However, over the past of couple years, they’ve seemed to have taken a turn for the worse. Fans constantly cry out over the changes or absences of their beloved franchises and the poor business practices of the company in regards to how they manage downloadable content. As a result, it’s starting to show in their bottom line. Resident Evil 5’s expected sales have been reduced once again, this time to 5 million units, further cementing that they’ve taken the franchise in a bad direction, despite the fact that those numbers aren’t necessarily horrible. They’re just not up to par of what a Resident Evil title should be selling. The recently released Ninja Theory-developed Devil May Cry reboot has also had it’s forecast downgraded from 2 million to 1.2 million, no doubt the result of the changes made to the lead character, Dante, the overarching plot, and the atmosphere of the game. If we look back into last year, the only two titles they released that could really be seen as successes were Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (which many now regret buying, as do I, as it was abysmal), and Dragon’s Dogma, Capcom’s take on The Elder Scrolls formula. This really puts things into perspective. Clearly, Capcom is screwing up somewhere, and I know exactly what they need to do in order to get back on the right track:

Stop Westernizing Established Franchises!

It’s really that simple. Let’s flash back a couple years here before I get down to the nitty gritty, though. Before he left the company, former employee Keiji Inafune did go on the record as saying that Japanese developers were lagging behind their western counterparts, even labeling Capcom as one such company. One game he brought up, Lost Planet, is a perfect example of how Capcom did and should be appealing to gamers in Europe and North America. It was a new IP this generation and saw some rather great commercial success, starting as an Xbox 360-exclusive, then later releasing on both PC and PlayStation 3. As you can tell from the article, Inafune also sites how its sequel was a flop, failing to find the audience the first entry in the series did. Why? It’s because Capcom changed the franchise back to the sort of title that would appeal more to Japanese gamers, making it more akin to Monster Hunter, which isn’t as big in western territories as it is in Japan. At least, not yet. Regardless, they had it right from the beginning. If you want to appeal to the western market, create new IPs to do so, and keep the formula intact with each new entry while making subtle changes and additions to keep things fresh. Capcom had one such IP in Lost Planet, but they blew it, and with Lost Planet 3, they have gone back to the drawing board and created something that looks more akin to Dead Space than the original title of the series. Drawing off such a lucrative franchise is great, but only time will tell whether it pays off or not, and in my personal opinion, I preferred how the original title played. As stiff as it was, it had a uniqueness about it that simply no other third-person shooter has ever matched.

That isn’t the only title Capcom had right the first time, though. Their more famous franchises, such as the aforementioned Resident Evil and Devil May Cry series, are ones they have done right with few exceptions that they have since corrected or were just best left in the past. These are, or at least were, purely Japanese franchises. They were never catered to the western market, but yet, they still found success here. Resident Evil 5 sold gangbusters, despite the economic climate of the game industry starting to go south at the time. Devil May Cry 4 was the highest-selling in franchise history and every title went on to be best sellers. So, what went wrong with these franchises? The issue is, Capcom changed them far too much to try to make them appeal to the western market more, but as a result, they did nothing but isolate their core fan-bases, and thus, sales have dropped.

This is where the oft-used phrase “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” comes into play. These two franchises, both rooted as games that primarily were skewed towards the eastern market, were still finding success here, so there was absolutely no need for Capcom to make them appeal to western audiences more. What brought about the changes? For Resident Evil, it more or less came down to the fact that Call of Duty is so successful in North America, and as such, they wanted to draw in that demographic by making the franchise more action-oriented, uprooting it from its survival-horror origins. They had hoped that they could at least get a large piece of the astronomical numbers the Call of Duty franchise sells year after year. Resident Evil is NOT Call of Duty. It’s not meant to be a franchise where you shoot living, breathing targets that carry firearms themselves. It’s supposed to be zombies and grotesque abominations in tension-filled encounters with limited resources at your disposal. This is what the dedicated, long-time fans of the franchise want, and based on the sales numbers, it was working. By making Resident Evil more action-oriented, Capcom lost sight of what fans truly wanted, thus isolating their fanbase and causing a huge outcry of rage and frustration. The company has commented as to why they think Resident Evil 6 didn’t do very well:

“We are currently analyzing the causes, which involve our internal development operations and sales operations. We have not yet reached a clear conclusion. We believe that global sales of 5 million units are proof that this is a popular title. However, we believe that the new challenges we tackled at the development stage were unable to sufficiently appeal to users. In addition, we believe there was inadequate organizational collaboration across our entire company with regard to marketing, promotions, the creation of plans and other activities. We will have to examine these results from several perspectives. We will reexamine our internal operating frameworks in order to identify areas that need to be improved concerning development as well as sales and administrative operations.”

Source: IGN

They claim that they still haven’t figured it out, giving an answer that’s both ambiguous and loaded with big words. However, I just gave you the answer as to why it failed to meet its sales goals. They wanted more money, and who wouldn’t? However, tooling with an established franchise that’s rich in history and very high in popularity is not the way to do it, and this shows. Capcom has realized that something did certainly go wrong, and they have noted that, while still a ways off, the next entry in the Resident Evil franchise will return to its survival-horror roots. Also, they are porting the overlooked Resident Evil: Revelations, originally released on the 3DS, to consoles, which is a title that captured the atmosphere of the franchise while also giving the polished gameplay of Resident Evil 4, making for a title that a lot of fans can get excited for. I’m at least glad that they realize what they need to do with the franchise now, but it’s frustrating to see that they still don’t know what went wrong with RE6 when the answer is right in front of them.

As for Devil May Cry, Capcom decided that they simply wanted to give the franchise a western twist. This involved not only changing the story and plot, but changing the look and even the demeanor of the series’ protagonist, Dante. Here’s a look:

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On the left, Dante clearly has a Japanese look, with white hair and a flashy jacket. On the right is the new Dante, with what a lot of people call “emo hair” and a more generic overall look. While it may seem silly that people would flip out over such a change, Capcom went and greatly altered an iconic video game character, so the anger does seem warranted. I’ll admit: if Capcom just up and decided to change Mega Man X’s look by making him look more human than robot, I’d be steamed, too.

It didn’t just stop there, though. From what I’ve heard from many players, as well as with my experience with the demo, the game is much easier than its predecessors. The DMC franchise is well-known for being a set of  tough-as-nails titles (well, with the exception of the awful second title), and while making it easier does make it more accessible, it shuts out the core fanbase that looks forward to the challenge, thus disappointing them. My biggest problem with the game, and the reason why I have not purchased it yet, is because of the atrocious script that basically devolves Dante into an “F”-bomb spewing brat. Again, that is solely based on my experience with the demo, and the full game could very well be different, but it’s an issue for me nonetheless.

The Devil May Cry reboot has not been on store shelves long, but the result of westernizing this franchise is beginning to show, as well, with expected sales being dialed back. People wanted a new entry with the same wise-cracking, badass Dante and steep difficulty curve, but they wound up with something too far gone from what they were accustomed to seeing. Just like Resident Evil, the series was fine before the drastic changes. The future of the franchise is still too soon to determine, especially since Capcom has not yet made any comments. Who knows whether they will continue with the reboot or just let the series fall by the wayside for a while. My opinion? If they have a grand plan to eventually change this new Dante into the older version, then I say run with it. Fans will come around if they get his old look back. They need to up the difficulty again, though, and please, at least try to make a better script. The original Devil May Cry titles weren’t award winners in that regard, but they were at least bearable.

Perhaps this will teach Capcom not to tool too much with their storied franchises. Trying to change the audience completely only isolates the old audience, causing confusion, frustration, and, as a result, a loss in sales. Creating new properties to appeal to the west is exactly the way to go. Lost Planet 3, as I mentioned before, looks to be trying to get back on track. Dragon’s Dogma is getting a new expansion soon, allowing them to keep banking on the success it garnered last year. One of their latest titles, Remember Me, draws a lot from one such popular western franchise, Assassin’s Creed, while forging its own identity by involving the ability to tool with people’s memories. This is exactly what Capcom needs to do if they want to increase their western appeal, and I only hope for the best for them as these games start hitting shelves. They may not ever hit the same numbers as Call of Duty, but then, no one ever has except Call of Duty itself. They just need to learn to leave their classic franchises as they are, only giving more subtle changes and evolutions, and allow newer properties to expand their influence.


The Biggest Disappointments of 2012

After taking a look at the year’s best games, I decided to look back at the year 2012 to pick out the biggest letdowns in the gaming industry. These all range from game titles, to companies, to even events, all of which will make you facepalm so hard that you might take your face off from the impact. Not every game we play turns out how we hoped it would, unfortunately, nor do our favorite game companies make the wisest decisions. Without further ado, I present to you, in no particular order, gaming’s biggest blunders of 2012.

Capcom

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Where do I even start? How about I begin with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon Shi- I mean, City. To be honest, this game appeared to have a lot of potential early on. A four-player co-op shooter that featured you blasting zombies with friends and getting to interact with key characters in the Resident Evil franchise? What could go wrong? I could actually go all day about what went wrong, but let’s just settle for the fact that most enemies are humans with assault rifles, zombies are pathetically easy to kill with melee attacks, the plot is uninteresting, the characters are dull, and gameplay feels stiff, even by third=person shooter standards. In other words, the game sucks. How about Street Fighter X Tekken? Being one of the titles I looked forward to the most this year, SFXTK had the potential for greatness. Two great fighting game brands were finally facing off in a tag-team fighter for the ages. Or so I hoped. What we got instead was a fighter that was marred with disc-locked downloadable content, meaning all 12 downloadable characters released this past Fall were on the disc and complete when the game shipped, but you just couldn’t play as them without paying first. Combine that with a lot of downloadable content that made no sense at all (Free additional colors that are locked on the disc? Why even bother locking them?), poor online netcode, and some useless game mechanics like Pandora. The worst of all: the game just didn’t feel very good to play. Granted, it’s not bad by any stretch, but it failed to find an identity, trying to combine Street Fighter with Marvel VS Capcom and winding up with a stiff fighting system that has very short input windows and is more unforgiving than other, better fighters this generation. Then comes Resident Evil 6, which, after only playing the demo, I knew not to even bother. The fact that it will miss their goal of 7 million units sold tells you that people just want to play a survival horror Resident Evil of the old days, not a SOCOM/Call of Duty hybrid with terrible cover mechanics and not enough zombies. Then, to top it all off, go ahead and ask Mega Man fans, including myself, how well Capcom handled Mega Man’s 25th anniversary. Waiting until the anniversary date to release a fan-made game that was clearly rushed out the door as well as some insignificant news tidbits that include Xbox 360 avatar items and ports of Mega Man 1-6 to the 3DS is not my idea of an anniversary done right. Granted, they’ve taken steps in the right direction, but I’m not getting my hopes too high. The only thing they did do right this year was Asura’s Wrath, which actually turned out to be a really cool title, but as a long-time fan of the company, I can’t help but feel utterly disappointed. Thanks for the horrific year, Capcom.

Studio Closings Galore

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In 2012, we lost a lot of talented studios in the gaming industry, so there’s no denying that this was going to come up on this list. No one likes to see this happen. Studio Liverpool, Zipper Interactive, Eurocom, 38 Studios, which houses Kingdoms of Amalur developer, Big Huge Games – the list goes on and on. Even the once-mighty gaming publisher, THQ, recently files for bankruptcy, resulting in a selling off of their assets to a financial firm, which will then in turn sell off those assets to the highest bidders. If this doesn’t pretty much define the game industry as a whole in 2012, I don’t know what does. We can only hope a new generation of consoles can give the industry the shot in the arm it so desperately needs.

The Mass Effect 3 Ending Controversy

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Note how I worded that. I’m not saying the ending was disappointing, I’m saying that all of the whining, crying and tantrum-throwing in reaction to the ending is what I found utterly disappointing. Mass Effect is the work of Bioware. It’s been their property to shape and mold as they’ve seen fit since its inception and nothing, not even a web petition, should have changed it. The extended ending, while providing more insight, wasn’t necessary and I’m fully content with the fact that the journey getting to the ending was so utterly satisfying that I walked away thoroughly impressed with the trilogy. The very fact that so-called “gamers” sat on Twitter and Facebook lambasting and name-calling these people who have shed blood, sweat and tears to bring us an amazing experience disgusts me and makes me feel ashamed to even call myself a gamer. As a result, Bioware founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka left not only the company, but the industry as a whole, due to no longer having any drive to go on. Gee, I wonder what caused that? To everyone that protested the ending of Mass Effect 3, I hope it was worth it, because now the industry lost two very gifted people. It’s garbage like this that makes me hate being bubbled in with the trolling, childish masses that seem to populate gaming too heavily.

Assassin’s Creed III

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Note: I did not take this screenshot, but I had a very similar experience, so it’s quite fitting. Thank you, Assassin’s Creed Wiki.

This hurts. This really, really hurts to place this on this list. After two straight annual iterations that kept the franchise running in place, this was finally to be the next big step after the amazing Assassin’s Creed II that would revolutionize the franchise once again. How ironic that a game about the American Revolution failed to do just that. After a three-year development cycle, what we were given was a game that simply wasn’t finished nor well thought out. How no one looked at the plot and didn’t see the laborious pacing and utter tedium of the first half of the game is beyond me. Connor failed to be an intriguing lead, with wooden voice acting and very few moments for him to shine on top of his story ending abruptly and awkwardly. At least Desmond’s story ended well, for which I can give some praise. The biggest problem was the multitude of bugs. It’s difficult to be immersed in an experience when mission waypoints fail to show up on the map despite using every synchronization point, Connor is able to fall through the ground into oblivion for 20 seconds straight, gets caught under chunks of Earth while swimming, is killed during a cutscene, when NPCs fail to progress during a mission – the list keeps going. There is absolutely no reason this game should have turned out this way after three years of development. Is it a bad game? It can be an enjoyable experience once you get past Sequence 6, thanks to some neatly-designed missions, and the plot finally takes off then, as well. The problem is it simply isn’t worthy of it’s title, as we’ve all become accustomed to quality when thinking of Assassin’s Creed. Fans deserved better than this.

Armored Core V

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I love giant mechs, people. The sense of empowerment they give, the destruction they cause, and the total badassery they exude is unlike anything else I know of. When I heard Armored Core was coming back after taking a few years off, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to start building my own weapons of destruction to take online for some explosive co-op sessions. While the action is tight and it has a very satisfying customization suite, everything else fell flat. The main story missions are simply too difficult to do unless you take the time to level up and earn more parts by completing side missions. This would be acceptable if the side missions were fun, but they’re not. All of them are only a couple minutes long and amount to nothing but blowing up a few menial targets. Doing these online makes them even shorter and far too easy to be enjoyable in any way. What was meant to be an exciting and empowering experience devolved into tedium and boredom, and while many hated Armored Core 4’s and For Answer’s structures, I very much prefer those over this hum-drum experience. Talk about a letdown.

Soul Calibur V

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It had been a while since a new Soul Calibur title hit store shelves, so when news broke in 2011 that a new title was on the way, and that it was going to feature new characters as well as Ezio Auditore from Assassin’s Creed as the guest character, I was thrilled. When the release date popped up, though, I became concerned. January? That soon? It turns out, my fears were well-placed. This game was rushed, through and through. Soul Calibur V managed to strip content from it’s predecessor, but I didn’t expect this to strip it down even more. The story mode was short, uninteresting, and filled with poor writing. Arcade mode lacked endings, so Ezio’s existence in the game is never explained, among the rest of the cast, which are barely touched on in the story mode. Not to mention pretty much every new character replaced an old fan-favorite, but had strikingly similar movesets, making that move absolutely pointless and alienating long-time fans in the process. It wasn’t entirely bad, admittedly. This was still a game I took the time to Platinum, as it wasn’t terribly hard, Ezio is a badass fighter that’s fun to use, the character creation has its merits, and the fighting mechanics are among the best in the series, but this is simply not how you make a sequel to such a long-running game. I expected better, Namco-Bandai.

The Last Story

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Oh, how I wanted this game to be a Game of the Year-caliber title. I heard so many great things about it, considering Final Fantasy veteran Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Mistwalker developed it and Nobuo Uematsu was the composer on board. The fact that this was a title that Operation Rainfall campaigned for made it seem that way, as well. I was actually downright shocked when, after playing for 7-8 hours, which is roughly the first half of the game, I was bored to death. The plot wasn’t very interesting, and besides Syrenne and Lowell, both of whom are hilarious when paired together, the rest of the cast was uninteresting, even including lead character, Zael. I wasn’t finding much to like about the battle system, either, which pretty much dwindled down to running up to enemies, mashing the attack button, then running away before they could counter-attack, all the while hoping your allies would adhere to your orders. The game also uses an asinine life system, something that’s unheard of in JRPGs of this kind and, considering how utterly pointless it is here when they could have eliminated the system entirely, buffed every character’s defense while promoting better healing and defensive strategies to ensure survival, I wish would have remained out of the game entirely. Perhaps worst of all, bar a few memorable tracks, this is easily Uematsu’s worst musical offering ever. It was only by the time I reached the end of my short 17-hour journey (yes, that’s short for a JRPG) that I actually started to grow on some characters, which goes to show that the game’s length is indeed another problem, barring the player from strong character development. At least the game had a nice plot twist at the end, the visuals were strong for a Wii title and had admirable art direction, and the voice acting and writing was quite good, but that’s really all the praise I can give it. If you want to talk disappointments in 2012, this is absolutely one of the biggest for me, personally. Such a damn shame.

No year is ever perfect, as there’s always going to be that one game we look forward to, but have our hopes dashed upon investing a few hours in it, only to discover it’s an abomination, or some game publisher that does something to anger or alienate it’s fanbase, but such is how the industry goes. We can only move forward, hoping that what lies on the horizon is bigger and better than ever. Looking into the rest of this year, things look quite promising. Personally, I’m looking forward to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Bioshock Infinite, The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, the newly-confirmed Project X Zone, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Pokemon X & Y – the list goes on and on. With that kind of lineup,  I’d say 2013 has a lot of promise. I can only hope they all stack up and don’t wind up on this list next year.


Happy 25th Birthday, Mega Man!

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Today is a huge day, folks, and not only for me, but for the game industry as a whole. One of gaming’s biggest icons, Mega Man, turns 25 years old today! Of course, seeing as this is my #1 favorite franchise of all-time, I simply had to post about it. Mega Man hasn’t been seeing a lot of the spotlight in the past couple years, particularly since the “Father of Mega Man”, Keiji Inafune, left the company, with two Mega Man titles, Mega Man Universe and Mega Man Legends 3, consequently being cancelled last year. I could go on about what the Blue Bomber has been going through, but this day shouldn’t be about the unfortunate circumstances of the franchise. It’s a day of celebration, where we have to come to terms with the past and realize that what’s done is done. Hopefully, today will be a turning point, as Capcom has released the fan-made Street Fighter X Mega Man on their official site for free. That’s right; it costs nothing. All you need is a PC. I think it’s a great way to not only celebrate both the Mega Man and Street Fighter franchises, the latter of which also celebrated it’s 25th anniversary this year, but it’s also a step in the right direction for Capcom to start supporting the franchise that put them on the map in the first place back in the 80’s on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. In fact, Capcom will be announcing future plans today and in the coming year about how they plan on celebrating Mega Man’s 25th, so while he hasn’t really seen much support from them this year until now, we should have much to look forward to.

With this momentous occasion only coming around once, I wanted to take the time to look back and reflect on what the Mega Man franchise has been to me, how I initially got involved with it, and what I hope to see in the future. Believe it or not, my Mega Man origins did not begin with the classic 8-bit titles. See, Mega Man started for me with the original Mega Man X on the Super Nintendo, as well as one of it’s rare sequels, Mega Man X3, and Mega Man 7, which was not an 8-bit title, but was also on the SNES. They were each rented a few times when I was young, both from an old “ma and pa” rental store around where I was born and from Movie King, which was later relabeled Movie Gallery and is now closed, near where I currently reside. This would probably explain my affinity for the X series, as it was my starting point and, to this day, the original Mega Man X still stands as one of my favorite games ever. It’s the pinnacle of platforming excellence, superior game design, and sports one hell of a soundtrack.

However, Mega Man was an on and off thing then, as I only ever played the games as rentals. I would later rent Mega Man 64, a port of Mega Man Legends that came out on the Nintendo 64. In fact, Mega Man Legends was the very first Mega Man game I ever purchased, and it was from Costco at a ridiculously low price. It was a black label copy, no less, and I would later purchase its now-rare sequel, Mega Man Legends 2, for the same price at the same place. That game easily fetches $100+ on eBay, which is ludicrous thinking I found it so easily about a decade ago. The Legends series is absolutely one I wanted to see revived, and when Legends 3 was announced, I was on Cloud 9. Seeing it cancelled was a crippling blow for me, as well as many others, but we can only look forward from here and still hold out hope that maybe it will someday get picked up again.

Now, I owned Legends and played the hell out of it, but that wasn’t really the true kick-off point, for me. A copy of Mega Man X4 at Circuit City, however, was. I remembered seeing it on several visits with a $14.99 price tag donning the cover. At the time, I really didn’t make much in allowance and was also a very poor saver of money (a complete one-eighty of how I am now), but I did eventually save enough to buy the last copy they had. I remember that evening distinctly, as the cashier said himself that it was the last copy. Little did I know that picking this up based on my previous experience with the Super Nintendo titles I had played in the past would truly cement my love for the franchise. After playing through Mega Man X4 many, many times, the rest is history, and X4 also stands as another all-time favorite of mine, alongside its sequel, Mega Man X5, which my oldest brother would give to me on my next birthday.

From that point forward, I would feverishly collect every Mega Man game I could and play them all. I just loved the character, the design and simplicity of the games, and how every Mega Man series was unique. I remember pre-ordering Mega Man X7 and being very impatient about its release, which looking back, I now see as the worst game in the X series. New Mega Man titles were always a cause for celebration, and back in high school, new Mega Man game releases were commonplace, a sharp contrast to the way things are today.

You’re probably wondering when it is that I did finally play the original 8-bit Mega Man titles. The truth is, I didn’t get to play a single one until the Anniversary Collection came out for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube back in 2004. It sounds insane, given how much I love the franchise, but I never owned a single one for the NES, and at the time, the only two classic Mega Man titles I had played were Mega Man 7, as I mentioned earlier, and the PlayStation version of Mega Man 8, which was another Costco purchase. Imagine how amazing it was to finally play what started it all. They’re far more difficult titles than the X series, plus there’s no wall kicking, dashing, or even charge shots in the first three entries. This was also when I received my first Mega Man t-shirt, which I still wear to this day and wore many, many times in high school. You can take a gawk at that here.

So, what do I think of the rest of the series? I love the Zero series. It’s a brilliant evolution of the X formula starring X’s sidekick with a hardcore difficulty, a great plot, and impeccable level design. The Battle Network franchise was good, if not a bit hit or miss. Fun fact: I’ve never played Battle Network 1 and 2. I have copies, but the first game is still sealed as I bought it really cheap off of Amazon from a third party seller, which I’m not even sure it was legit as it was way less than it goes for eBay. The box and shrink wrap look legit, though. One day, I might just say “Screw it” and open it. As for Battle Network 2, I just haven’t gotten around to it. I know: for shame. Battle Network 5 stands as one of my favorite games on the Nintendo DS and my favorite in the series. The Liberation missions were a ton of fun and the soundtrack had some memorable tunes, including the final boss music, in particular. The StarForce franchise was a good spiritual successor to the Battle Network franchise, if a bit too familiar. I would’ve liked to have seen an end to the plot, though, but it was put to rest around the beginning of the decline of Mega Man as a whole. The ZX franchise is one I like to ignore. I’ve never even beaten the second one, ZX Advent. Don’t get me wrong; the Mega Man Zero-like gameplay is great, but an open-world that’s a chore to find your way around, awful voice acting, and two characters in each one that aren’t even Mega Man X nor Zero and only play dress-up to look like them just killed it for me. Not a fan, and I’m glad it was only limited to two entries.

So, where does Mega Man go from here? Well, the free title coming out today is a good start, but there needs to be new, proper entries. There’s no doubt a return for Mega Man Legends 3 would be an amazing way to revitalize it, but that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Perhaps if support for Mega Man keeps up, maybe, but that’s a big maybe. Capcom revisited the classic series this console generation with Mega Man 9 and 10, so they could do an 11. The Zero series is over, as it received a proper ending after four stellar entries on the Game Boy Advance, Battle Network ended nicely, and StarForce and ZX had their plugs pulled with little hope of them being revisited due to waning interest. What’s left? Mega Man X. There hasn’t been a new X title since 2004, in the form of the excellent Mega Man X8. What we need is Mega Man X9. X8 left plot holes galore, and the series is the old-school platforming we’ve all come to know and love. It could be in 16-bit style like the Super Nintendo and be a PlayStation Network/Xbox Live Arcade release. What would be better than a new entry after all of these years? If such an announcement were made, I think I’d run out on my deck and start yelling towards the heavens with joy, pumping my fists in the air. It’s my favorite Mega Man series and one that I’ve been patiently waiting to see get the ending it deserves. Otherwise, what else do you do with the Mega Man franchise? A new series. Again, they need to stick to the platforming elements, as that’s where Mega Man’s roots lie. Getting too ambitious and making a new series more along the lines of Battle Network or StarForce may alienate fans. All we want is more platforming Mega Man. Once the franchise is back in the swing of things, then you can start experimenting and thinking outside the box.

There’s a year full of excitement that awaits, potentially. I hope there’s a ton of merchandise being planned, but what I really want are new games, and only time will tell whether Capcom takes that step or not. In the meantime, I’m going to be immersed in Street Fighter X Mega Man and, upon completing that, I’m going to pull a Mega-Marathon to celebrate the franchise from now until Christmas next Tuesday. The goal is to play all 10 classic Mega Man titles and all 8 Mega Man X titles. Will I pull it off? I’m certainly going to try, but I know that, regardless of the outcome, I’m going to love playing them all over again. So, happy birthday once again to my favorite gaming franchise, Mega Man, and lets hope for another 25 years of greatness!