Return to Eden

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.

25 thoughts on “Return to Eden

  1. I get your points, but I have been wanting this game way too long to be cynical about it now.

    I’d rather keep the faith, thanks :)

  2. Wishful thinking maybe, but perhaps it’s actually a good indicator for Legends that it was announced this close to Universe? Because I’m starting to wonder if Universe is the phoned in game while Inafune’s more focused on making Legends 3 great.

    Of course, ideally BOTH would be awesome games rather than just one of them.

  3. Universe never struck me as more than an anomalous offshoot, rather than the next big Mega Man game. Also, if you want evidence that Capcom can do right by Mega Man’s legacy, the stunning MM9 wasn’t all that long ago. In any case, Universe’s lameness doesn’t even seem relevant to my excitement for Legends 3.

  4. Wait, wait… Ocarina of Time didn’t invent Z-targeting? My videogame history is all wrong!

  5. How fickle man’s appetites are!

    Though, really, I feel sort of the same about not really caring about Yakuza 4 since Yakuza: Something Something The End is apparently canon, and crapping all over anything previous in the franchise.

    Nerds like us are hard to please!

  6. I can’t get past the thought that the reason MMU seems like Powered Up with its heart cut out is because Inafune wants it to appeal to the West. Why else give everyone a hideous American Kirby makeover and put in Bad-Boxart MM? All that’s missing (and sure to be coming) is the shoehorning-in of Frank West as an extra character. I’d give a kidney to get a real Powered Up sequel instead.

    As for Legends, I’m not even going to feign pessimism; my heart is theirs. All I need is for the English cast to return and I’m ordering five copies. And maybe there’s still hope for ZX3 (which I’ve come to want just as much in the intervening years) once Inti Creates frees themselves of that horrible Gal Gun product.

  7. All I have to say is that I am happy the JP isn’t optimistic about Mega Man Legends 3. Mr. Parish not only has the uncanny ability to un-will games into existence but he also has the magical power to make games awesome when he is doubtful about their quality before anyone has seen or played the game. A good example of this phenomena is how JP completely gave up hope on MGS Peace Walker but then loved it after he got to play it at TGS 2009 and even gave the game an A- in his review.

  8. Did your store get MML2 late or something? That game came out in October 2000, a month before the PS2 launch. I remember getting it before Halloween of that year, and PS2s didn’t hit until close to Thanksgiving.

  9. Hate to tell you, liquidcross, but YOUR store was the late one. The PS2 launched October, 2000. The 26th? Same day as MML2 and Majora’s Mask. It was an expensive day.

  10. Well, for what it’s worth, CyberConnect2 did do a pretty good job with the PS2 Naruto games, imo.

  11. I almost cried when I saw this entry. Right in the middle of my campus computer lab.

    When I get home, I’m dusting off the old PS2 and popping in Legends 1 and 2!

    Not at the same time, of course.

  12. I’m more worried about my own expectations. I’ve become a lot more picky and critical of games in the past 10 years. That’s just the price of growing up. So, I hope at least the first time I play through it, I can focus solely on the fact that “I am playing Mega Man Legends 3 right now.”

  13. Ocarina of Time probably did invent Z-targeting, it was just delayed so much that Legends beat it to the punch.

  14. As if I needed convincing to buy a 3DS…

    Wow. I haven’t been so excited for a new console and games in a long, long time.

  15. It’s kind of silly to argue about where a game mechanic was invented. The point I was making was simply that MML offered lock-on targeting before Ocarina made people stop and realize, “Oh, yeah, this is a really good idea.”

  16. Wow, suprised at the cynicism. Still, the announcement of MML3 is awesome and I can’t wait for it to come out.

  17. “Whether future installments will avoid becoming as formulaic as the original Megaman series remains to be seen.”

    Well, I guess waiting 10 years is better than never finding out!

    As a huge Legends fan, I’m excited. I will be purchasing this on day one and taking off work if I have to.

  18. Did you really buy a Playstation because of Megaman Legends? You truly are the most hardcore Megaman fan I have ever seen.

  19. and it will be “a” reason to buy a 3DS. It looks like it’s one of the only few new original games from the launch lineup. I am not looking forward to replaying the same old remakes. Sorry OoT, MGS3 and MarioKart. The thing that concerns me about the 3DS is that Nintendo software tends to utilize the technology to it’s fullest as opposed to 3rd party developers. Like Wii.

  20. Huh. And here I was under the impression that the Legends series was the bastard child of the Mega Man series.

    The game better be good, cuz I’m buying the first one now.

  21. Dude, as long as it’s not 2D, I’ll be okay. As long as the voice acting’s good, I’ll be okay. Thank God we don’t have a dual-analog setup on 3DS so that we can’t play “Mega Man as Halo,” right? That being said, I call Teisel in the deathmatch.

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