It looks like my bizarre ability to un-will games into existence has manifested again. Capcom announced Mega Man Legends 3 last night, less than two weeks after I decided I no longer care about or want a Legends sequel. I swear to god, this stupid industry lives to spite me.
But why would I abandon my interest in seeing the series abandoned after all this time, you ask? Well, a lot of it has to do with a little thing called Mega Man Universe, which is kind of… not so great. To put it mildly. Here is the timeline of my thoughts on the prospect of MML3:
Wednesday, Sept. 15, at Capcom pre-TGS event: “Oh please oh please let your surprise final announcement be MML3!”
Thursday, Sept. 16, after playing MM Universe: “Hmmm… maybe this is for the best.”
MM Universe is, essentially, Mega Man Powered Up 2. Yet it’s so much sloppier and less refined than the first Powered Up! And this is a remake/reinvention of arguably the single best game in the Mega Man franchise, one of Capcom’s finest creations ever, and a personal favorite of Kaiji Inafune. If they can’t get that right, what chance is there for them to do right by a completely new game with a decade of fan expectation behind it?
Make no mistake, I love the Legends games. The original Legends was one of the reasons I bought a PlayStation, back when it was a couple of fuzzy screenshots being promoted as “Mega Man Neo” and “Mega Man Nova.” It was the first thing I ever bought on eBay, waaaay back in early 1998, back before the U.S. version launched. This was in the days when eBay was lawless and unregulated, and the version I bought was listed as a “Hong Kong silver.” Imagine my surprise when the surprisingly cheap import version of the game arrived and turned out to be a CD-ROM burned by some dude pirating Japanese imports as a business!
Despite this sketchy beginning, I loved the game much more than I really expected. It was so good-natured and earnest, and ahead of its time in a lot of ways. It featured lock-on 3D targeting a year before Ocarina of Time. It had fully lip-synched facial animation for characters long before Metal Gear Solid gave us its shadow-faced head-bob cinemas. It had good voice acting before anyone bothered putting such things in games. And I’m pretty sure my write-up for The Gaming Intelligence Agency was the first piece of semi-pro games writing I ever published. Then, I imported and finished The Misadventures of Tron Bonne because I couldn’t wait a year for it to be localized.
As for Mega Man Legend 2, it launched the same day the PlayStation 2 debuted in America. I took time off from work that day so I could line up at 6 a.m. to pick up my prepaid console… and then drove back across town to the mall eight hours later when MML2 arrived. The guys at Babbage’s seemed happy to see me, since I was the only person they’d seen all day who wasn’t bugging them for a non-existent leftover PS2s. I headed home, booted the game on my PS2 with sexy texture smoothing turned on to make it look even more cartoon-like than it normally would, and blitzed through the entire adventure in a day to review it for The GIA. Which may have been my first-ever semi-pro review, now that I think of it.
So yes. I really like the Legends games. I like the way they play, even if their pre-dual-analog controls are a little clumsy now. I like their world design, not just the distinctive visuals but also the way the corridors beneath Kattelox ended up linking into one massive subworld running the island’s entire length. I like the characters, the lack of cynicism and pretense, the mystery. Basically, Mega Man Legends is the kind of game no one makes anymore, and I’m not optimistic about Capcom’s ability to recapture the ineffable Legends spirit I love so much.
But then again, CyberConnect2 seems to have nailed it with Solatorobo. So maybe there’s hope. But I’d be even more optimistic if Capcom had tapped into their newfound CC2 partnership to have the Solatorobo team work on it… ah well. I guess that would be too perfect.