OPINION: Without Mighty No. 9, Mega Man 11 Wouldn’t Exist

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

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It’s not easy being a Mega Man fan. I almost wrote “being a Capcom fan”, but I haven’t had a lot of faith in that company for several years now. Being a fan of the Blue Bomber is one of those things that you either grew up with or didn’t. Us fans clearly remember when Capcom managed to turn a silly robot in blue spandex into a gaming icon, watched as the series tried to cater to fans with more balanced gameplay, and even jumped for joy (initially) when it branched out into many spin offs (some good, some bad). It was easy to take for granted that Mega Man would always be here, with a new game coming out every year or every other year. Times were good up until around 1998. Suddenly, it was as if Capcom had forgotten about their heroic robot. From that year onward, the classic Mega Man seemingly was dead, and though we got several X titles in the interim until about 2005, only the first few of those were worthwhile, and after X4 that series saw a pretty precipitous decline. It looked like things were back on track in 2008, with the release of retro styled Mega Man 9, and a year later Mega Man 10, but then once more we were faced with a whole lot of nothing, other than Capcom reselling us older Mega Man titles in various compilations. But even those weren’t much consolation for a fanbase rabidly waiting for a new title, especially after our hopes were briefly kindled by 9 and 10. It didn’t help that two highly anticipated¬†Mega Man projects were also cancelled in development, Mega Man Universe and Legends 3.

Mega Man 11 | 2018

Since 2010, we haven’t had any new Mega Man game, and I honestly thought Capcom had put the final nail in the series’ coffin. After all, if you can milk the fans with remakes instead of making something new, why bother expending unnecessary effort? And then the other day we all got a huge surprise when Capcom unveiled Mega Man 11 during a livestream. Not only is this new title coming in 2018, it’s visually closer to Mega Man 8 rather than going for the classic retro style of the most recent games. It coincides with Mega Man’s 30th anniversary, and part of me is thrilled. After all, I’ve been bitching about no new Mega Man for at least several years, and I was so convinced it wasn’t going to happen that I initially didn’t understand the headline that 11 is coming in 2018. I had a sort of double take “huh?” moment, so strong was my disbelief. The question that comes to my mind then is, why now? Sure, you can say it’s cause of the 30th anniversary, but I’m skeptical of that logic. After all, you can always say you were planning something all along when fans have been waiting for what feels like forever (cough Metroid cough). Instead, I have a theory that the only reason we’re getting Mega Man 11 is because Keiji Inafune went rogue and made a little game called Mighty No. 9.

Mighty No. 9 | Logo

I clearly remember the excitement when I heard that Keiji Inafune was going to be at PAX Prime back in 2013. It was actually my second PAX, as I had gone with a friend the previous year. This was before my trips to PAX became a regular thing courtesy of the fine folks at oprainfall. This meant I had more freedom to wander the halls and even catch a panel or two, as opposed to racing around like a headless chicken. So when I saw the godfather of Mega Man was going to be at a panel, I had to go. You could feel the collective excitement in a room packed to the brim with fans of the series. Not to be cliche, but it was electric, this jubilant sense of optimism and joy. Imagine how that feeling only grew when we heard that Inafune was making his own crowdfunded Mega Man-inspired game, called Mighty No. 9.

Despite how you feel about the project now, whether you enjoyed it or felt it was a disgrace, back then it was something to marvel over. Here Inafune was, fired from Capcom, and rubbing it in their faces by giving fans what they had been yearning for. I clearly remember reading interviews back when he was fired, and hearing BS arguments for his dismissal, many pooling into the sentiment “Mega Man isn’t popular anymore”. With the wildly successful funding of Mighty No. 9 in 2013, he proved that not only was the fanbase hungry for a new Mega Man game, we were starving for it. The project easily eclipsed the funding goals and made sure the game was as high profile as possible. And then we all had a long wait for about 3 years until Mighty No. 9 was actually released.

Mighty No. 9 | Controversy

Beck can’t hear you, he’s busy staring peacefully into the distance…

Many complain about Mighty No. 9, and I won’t delve deeply into my feelings again here, other than to say the following. Regardless of how great of a game it was or wasn’t, I believe its mere existence spurred Capcom to action. I can’t offer concrete proof, other than my observations. In the years following that 2013 PAX Prime, we saw not one but two different Legacy Collections released, one just before Mighty No. 9 and one just after. We even got delightful projects brought to life such as Azure Striker Gunvolt, which may have been inspired by Mega Man, but was thankfully its own creature. So we went from almost no mainstream releases to Capcom suddenly remembering that the Blue Bomber existed, and responding in kind.

Mega Man 11 | Blocks

Some of you are likely shaking your heads right now, and I can understand where you’re coming from. It’s often hard in the game industry to suss out what starts a trend. There are many sources which feed the fanbase, and with the advent of the internet it’s not easy to keep track. All we can do is pay attention. The thing that instantly caught my attention when I saw the trailer for Mega Man 11 was the stylistic change. We went from the NES stylings of Mega Man 9 and 10 back to a style more reminiscent of Mega Man 8, when the series made the transition to Sony. But there’s another game that Mega Man 11 reminds me of stylistically, and you can probably guess what it is. Yes, Mega Man 11 reminds me of Mighty No. 9. Just take a gander at the following images below, one from Mighty No. 9 and the other from newly announced Mega Man title.

Mighty No 9 comparison

Mega Man 11 | enemy

Kind of similar, huh? Sure, you could make the assertion that it looks more like Mega Man 8, though I notice it’s decidedly less cartoony than that particular title. And not to put too fine a point on it, but the proportions for Mega Man’s body and Beck’s body look awful close. But even supposing you don’t buy that, there’s a reason I think this is true.

The game industry in Japan is known for many things, but something I’ve repeatedly seen is they don’t take well to being embarrassed. Whether it’s a small group guilt tripping a giant into localizing three titles or another company getting flak for how it censors a title, embarrassment is always met with a response. So I can just imagine how frustrating it must have been for Capcom to act like Mega Man was dead, only to see the wild success of a title that was essentially Mega Man in everything but name. That must have stung. Capcom could have reacted in various ways, but the one constant from that company is that they like money. So instead of lashing out, I think they bided their time, waited to see how Mighty No. 9 fared, and then found a way to capitalize on that excitement themselves. The only questions now are, how long do we have to wait for Mega Man 11 and will it be a commercial success?

Mega Man 11 | Tractor

Us Mega Man fans have always had it tough, but I’m optimistic things are on the upswing. I think our collective seething anger over the lack of response from Capcom has materialized in a positive way, opening the door for more Mega Man games and spin offs. Whether you agree with my reasoning or not, I think we can agree that it’s finally exciting to be fan of the Blue Bomber again. Here’s hoping 2018 is a new trend, and not just an anomaly.

About Josh Speer

Josh Speer is addicted to two things in equal measure : Books and Videogames. He has a degree from the University of Washington in English with an emphasis on writing. He joined Operation Rainfall last year while following it on Facebook. His two giant life goals are to write his own series of fantasy / science fiction novels and to get into the creative side of the video game industry. He is beyond pleased to now have his proverbial foot in the door thanks to the opportunity provided by Oprainfall!




  • Panpopo

    I agree – regardless of your feelings on MN9, at the time of the kickstarter people were very excited. Kickstarters have a reputation now, but back then it was new and fresh. There was clearly demand. People were upset that capcom seemed to abandon mega man, and were excited for that successor.

    These games can be made cheaper than their other titles, and as one of their most popular franchises they must have noticed the economic possibilities of making these games after noticing MN9. I am glad the series has been brought back.

  • Mr0303

    Inafune made the impossible – he became more disliked than Capcom, which gave them the opportunity to unveil MM11. Kind of ironic since a large part of his funding was thanks to the negativity towards his former company.

    MN9 proved that there was interest in Mega Man (because let’s be honest it was a complete rip-off) and its utter failure gave Capcom the green light to monetise the lost hype. If it was successful people would’ve wanted MN9-2 rather than MM11, but this is obviously not the case.

    That being said MM11 is not out yet and Capcom can still mess it up, so we’ll see how it goes.

  • ProfessorFluffy

    “So I can just imagine how frustrating it must have been for Capcom to act like Mega Man was dead, only to see the wild success of a title that was essentially Mega Man in everything but name.”

    Was Mighty No.9 actually a success? Since it came out I haven’t heard anything about its overall sales numbers.

    • paireon

      Not really a success, in fact it was pretty much panned on release IIRC. By “success” I think he means “crowdfunding success”, as the Kickstarter raised almost 4M$. THAT was what Capcom must have been going “Whaaaaa?…” about when it happened. The debacle afterwards (it started pretty early on, for many reasons – some legitimate, some ridiculous) is probably when Capcom decided to try and see if they could profit from this. Still, it was a major kick in the pants. At least they didn’t react like Konami.

      (And though the latter handily dethroned Capcom as the shittiest Japanese major game company, I’m still not giving them [Capcom] a vote of confidence. This is a step in the right direction but they have about a country mile to go before I start actually liking them again)

    • ProfessorFluffy

      I’m a bit hesitant on being hyped for this game as well. I kind of expect Capcom to try and copy Mighty No.9, including all its bad aspects.

    • Panpopo

      Yes, really glad they did not go the Konami route. While capcom can be criticized, at least they are no Konami.