So Capcom-Unity released some information regarding the new Mega Man cartoon and of course, social media blew up with people getting bent out of shape over the latest incarnation of the blue bomber. “Mega Man looks terrible” or “This isn’t the Mega Man I grew up with!” or “Mega Man looks like clip art” permeated comments sections and my Twitter feed. I’m not going to lie, he doesn’t particularly look like the Mega Man I came to love over the years. A lot of people mention he looks like he’s straight out of the movie Tron.
In addition to the picture, Capcom-Unity let loose some details regarding the plot. Mega Man is not going to be referred to as “Rock” in the new animated outing, but “Aki Light”, a robot boy who goes to school in Silicon city. He finds out that embedded deep within his programming, is a function that turns him into the super fighting robot, Mega Man. As Mega Man, Aki is able to fight evil as a super hero. This obviously doesn’t follow the same story line as the original video games, nor does it take any cues from the (supposedly excellent) Archie Comic incarnation.
Well. NO Mega Man is better than THIS Mega Man. Amiright? No. No you aren’t. I’ve remained pretty tight lipped about stuff going on in the gaming and greater geek community for awhile. I’d like to take a lesson from the great retro gaming Twitter personality, The Nintendo Legend himself, Eric Bailey: I’m a hardcore casual gamer. Eric loves video games. He tweets so often about them that he actually recently got a gaming related hashtag trending. No one can seriously say this dude doesn’t love video games. While I don’t agree with everything he says in his article I linked above, I get the sentiment. He has enough going on in his life that getting bent out of shape about video games (and really any geeky media) is a waste of time and energy.
I’m in the same boat. Video games ARE important to me. I write articles about them for multiple websites. I struggle to make a bi-weekly video game series on YouTube where I over-analyze the games I played growing up. I fucking love video games. I get excited about them. I get disappointed about them. I don’t get passionately and irrationally angry about them when something doesn’t go the way I want it to. I have bills to pay. I have a gigantic backlog of other games that I need to play. Games that I may end up falling in love with. That doesn’t take anything away from the games I grew to love over the years. I’ll still get to reach into my game library and pull out Mega Man 2 and enjoy the hell out of it. This cartoon won’t change that.
Gamers are constantly talking about how video games are art, or should at least be in the discussion about what constitutes art. Well, that’s all fine and good, but we’re also talking about a corporate developed form of entertainment. Capcom, and the studio they license the popular character to, Dentsu Entertainment, are looking to make money. They aren’t looking to pander to an aging group of fans who grew up loving the character. They’re trying to pander to their kids. This is a cartoon focused on 9-year-olds, not 30-year-olds. The art design just screams modern kid’s show.
These companies are hoping that the familiarity of the character will help parents steer their kids to watching this show. How many people do you know that have kids, played games when they grew up, and don’t game a whole lot today or take a ton of stock on the nostalgia of retro games? I can think of a lot, more-so in fact, than I can think of hardcore gamers that I regularly interact with on a personal level. I know a ton of people who know who Mega Man is, enjoyed playing those games growing up, but probably couldn’t care less about what he looks like or what his story is all about, that would LOVE to sit down with their kids and watch a show that could help them connect to each other on some level. Hell, maybe they end up buying that kid a Mega Man Legacy Collection for his PS4 or his 3DS and they end up playing the game together. THIS is who the the show is aimed at. The potential audience size is MUCH greater than attempting to please only the hardcore Mega Man fans with an anime styled show that meticulously recreates the story from the video games.
Am I saying you shouldn’t be disappointed a little bit? Absolutely not. Make fun of this Mega Man’s dopey looking face and the fact that he looks like he’s about to jump on a light bike and race a terribly rerendered Jeff Bridges. Don’t watch the show because you don’t think it’s going to be something you’re interested in. Make a snide joke about how Capcom doesn’t want to make video games anymore. It’s all in good fun. What I’m trying to tell you here is DON’T get bent out of shape to the point of telling other people that they’re stupid for looking forward to the series. Don’t resort to name calling of other fans who think this still may be pretty cool. Don’t get so angry that you get red in the face and say that “NO MEGA MAN IS BETTER THAN THIS MEGA MAN.” Take a breath. Take stock in what’s important. Go play an old Mega Man game and appreciate the greatness that is pixel perfect 8 bit platforming. The thing is, this can really be said for any of the geek media that’s currently floating around, such as a certain spirit catching rehash that’s due out in a few weeks.
Now, I do want to try and play the optimist here. First and foremost, I don’t think Aki Light looks that bad. Sure, the sample we got looks a little rough around the edges, but it’s the first thing we’ve seen from this project. For all we know, it’s still a ways off from being the final product. Also, if you notice the awkward position his fingers in, you may recall that Keiji Inafune used that same “W” hand position on his characters. It may give us a hint into the animators’ and writers’ respect for the source material. The show could very well contain a bunch of little Easter eggs that only longtime fans will appreciate. TV shows and movies do that, and it could be a fun task to try and spot them all.
A lot of fans are saying that they’d rather have a new game. I don’t disagree. While I’ve long given up on the prospect of ever playing a new Mega Man or Mega Man X game, I certainly wouldn’t say no to a new Capcom backed title. But think: If this show does well, we’ll get more Mega Man games. Will they be based off this new show? Maybe. Probably. But that could also mean a revival of the blue bomber as we know and love him. This is likely the best chance we’ll get at another Mega Man game. And if a new game DOES come out and it blows…well, you still have the old standbys and the countless excellent fan games to go back to. It’s not going to “ruin your childhood” or anything.
Bottom line: Don’t be a dickhole to those people who are actually looking forward to this game. Don’t let this chance at reviving the Mega Man franchise by introducing the mechanical marvel to a new generation to go waste. Ignore it, embrace it, make some fun tounge-in-cheek jokes about it, but don’t go bursting blood vessels and asking like an asshole because it isn’t what you want.