As someone who was born in the 80’s, my video game education, like many I’m sure, started with the NES. Everyone has their favorite series from that era: whether it’s Nintendo first-party heavy hitters like Mario and Zelda, but for me, it was Mega Man. There wasn’t much I didn’t like about Capcom’s beloved franchise: from the brightly colored blue protagonist; the excellent music; the over-the-top bosses and the choose-your-own order layout, Mega Man was a series I became obsessed with very early in my formative years playing video games. Captain N: The Game Master was appointment viewing for me every Saturday because Mega Man was on the show, and when a new game in the series was coming out, I would try to remember all the names of the new robot masters in video game magazines so that I could tell my friends about it the next day at school. In high school people referred to me as “The Mega Man guy” because I knew so much about the series and could finish all the games in the classic and X series (this was probably helped by the fact that I finished at least one Mega Man game a day in my at the time small collection during my Grade 10 year).
This has all been a very long-winded way of saying I was very, very excited when this happened yesterday:
Mega Man 11 is exciting not just because it looks great, both as a game and aesthetically speaking, but because we’ve been allowed to miss the series. People have been complaining that Capcom didn’t care about Mega Man or were not doing new games in the franchise out of spite because the person at Capcom who most associate with the series, Keiji Infaune, had a very public exit from the company only a few years ago. Personally speaking, I’m glad that Capcom didn’t just keep churning out Mega Man games and only choose to do a new one when they’ve had a new take on the now thirty year old series. Looking at another blue colored mascot from the early 90’s, Sonic the Hedgehog, producing games for the sake of isn’t the best way to keep a franchise alive and with this year’s Sonic Mania, it has been proven that things can get back on track if you take your time and step back a little. It’s not like Capcom hasn’t been resting on the series either: Though there hasn’t been any new games in the series, the Mega Man Legacy Collection games have been terrific ways to play the older games in the series without the need of old hardware and the Mega Man Legends series were pretty recently made available for download on the PS3 and PS Vita (GO BUY THEM, PLEASE!!!).
As seen as most recently in Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite released not but a few months ago, even when there wasn’t a full-fledged Mega Man game in production, Capcom found a way to keep Mega Man in the public eye. Nintendo made Mega Man a part of Super Smash Bros. for the first time in the most recent entries on the Wii U and 3DS; Even going as far as making his own amiibo. Part of Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite’s big bad was made up of the Mega Man X series long time protagonist, Sigma, who recently became a downloadable fighter in the game. X’s partner, Zero, returned from Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 as a playable character in the base game’s roster and for the first time ever, Mega Man X was added to the series, even going as far as to being the subject of merchandise for the game.
The Marvel Vs. Capcom series means different things to different people: Some play as fiercely as they would in any other fighting game while others enjoy it on a more casual series that is also allowed by the series more over-the-top nature what with its screen-filling super attacks and super jumps. For me, Marvel Vs. Capcom became another way for me to enjoy playing as one of my favorite video game characters while also pairing them up with my favorite comic book character: Spider-Man. I was late to the party getting a PlayStation with one not entering our household until 1999 when my brother got one for Christmas that year and I didn’t end up getting my own until after the PS2 came out in the year 2000. Having only owned an Nintendo 64 for that console generation up until that point, it pained me to know that there was Mega Man games I was missing out on and they became the ones I had to catch up as soon as I got my own PlayStation. Luckily, that was around the time that the first Marvel Vs. Capcom came out on consoles, albeit in a less feature rich form on the PSOne.
I had played X-Men Vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes Vs. Street Fighter but neither got me was excited as the first MvC that allowed me to play as the likes of Mega Man, his sister Roll, Spider-Man and Venom. One of the many reasons why I wanted a Sega Dreamcast in 2000 was that Mega Man had supporting roles in two games on the system: Cannon Spike, a game I remember seeing in EGM that I still haven’t played to this day (and probably won’t given how expensive it is) and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Not only did MvC2 have all the characters that the previous game had, but also Tron Bonne and Servbot, two new characters introduced in the criminally underrated Mega Man Legends series that I was first introduced to in 2000.
I knew these characters weren’t ones meant for high level tournament play, and it didn’t matter to me because I was just happy to have another outlet to play as characters from the Mega Man universe. One of my favorite things about Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite this year, other than its bonkers story mode, is taking a team of X and Zero through the arcade mode and confronting what amounts to a giant Sigma robot final boss which is something that hasn’t really happened since the late 2004 release of Mega Man X8. Similar things could be said about Mega Man being in Super Smash Bros., but ever since the N64 original, it’s never a series I’ve been able to get into or enjoy. Besides, I’d take Spider-Man as a partner or opponent over any single Nintendo character any day.
Capcom has had a pretty great year in my opinion having, pun completely intended, brought Resident Evil back from the dead, surprised us with the unexpected Disney Afternoon Collection and rounded things out with Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite in September. The company looks to be continuing this momentum into 2018 with what is now already one of my most anticipated games up there with Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, Mega Man 11. It’s great to be excited about the prospect of a new Mega Man game again, but it must not go unnoticed what Capcom has done over the years to keep the franchise alive: from terrific collections that have made the classics easier to play than ever and allowing fans of the character to experience them in a whole new different way in one of the most popular fighting game series of all time, licensed, cross-over or otherwise; Something I’ve been grateful for almost two decades now.