Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mega Man is Dead

Hey y'all.  Grim title, eh?  Well, it's true.  Not that Mega Man doesn't have a ton of fans, each playing the games, listening to the music, and writing fanfiction.  These all exist, and yet the series is over.  Gone.  More or less finished forever.

The thing about Mega Man is that it's not a continuous storyline.  It has to end sooner than other series.  Take Super Mario Bros for example.  It has almost no plot, and there is almost no relevant connection from one game to the next.  Mega Man and other similar series (Metal Gear Solid, Halo, Assassin's Creed, etc) will all die in the end, because eventually people will run out of plot.  If plot continues from one game to the next, then it one day must end, or people will call the newer games hacks and tell the game developers that they might as well let the series die.

Mega Man is already dead, and not because fans asked for it.  In fact, the fans have protested time and time again for it to come back.  But it can't, for the simple reason that the plot is over.

I'll start with the Classic series.  It was wonderful when it came out, and unlike what many people thought, the series was not intentionally cheesy until 7, and it was only the 8 bit graphics that made it so.  Think of the ending sequence for games 2 and 4.  And what's so cheesy about Mega Man's long lost brother kidnapping their creator?  Only when Mega Man came on the SNES did the developers decide to add in forty bajillion eye-popping colors and flying confetti.

The darkness in the early games, particularly 2 and 4, reveals what Keiji Inafune had in mind all along: a grim, futuristic story of a society that creates robots, and thus their own doom.  However, once the Super Nintendo came along, there was no need for Classic to be serious.  In fact, it was probably made intentionally goofy to contrast with Mega Man X, who first debuted on the SNES.

The X series was more or less like the Classic series, only with more complex gameplay and plots.  There was a lot to like and dislike about it, but what it did do was take a more or less happy series and plunge it into gloom.  Instead of a blue robot merrily destroying goofy baddies, we get a blue emo and his blonde friend pondering all the crappy parts of life.  The story goes down such a bad direction, that thinkers among the gamers will realize a disturbing truth: in no Mega Man X game does the future turn out better in the end.  In fact, many times the world is only marginally better off than it would have been if X and Zero hadn't fought at all.

To make it worse, their main enemy Sigma simply cannot die.  Unlike Dr. Wily, who thought of various silly ways to escape and return for revenge, Sigma is literally killed seven times and comes back afterwards without fail.  Clementj642 likes to say that Sigma died in MMX8 for good, but we really have no way of knowing that, as the game doesn't say directly and it would be easy as ever to retcon Sigma alive.  You almost want to tell X and Zero to just give up before Sigma comes up with an even more nefarious plan and infects more robots.

Starting from the Mega Man Zero series onward, the series just continually drops more of its basic elements and becomes something else entirely -- usually something depressing.  While Zero did have a refreshing gameplay style (a new villain for every game?  Whaaaaa...?), it got even more depressing than the X series, particularly because X is now a floaty orb thing and Zero is far in the future trying to save a band of desperadoes from annihilation.  The world is scorched and devastated, all except for one city.  Which eventually gets destroyed.  X eventually dies, Zero eventually dies, and just like the X series, every single game in the Zero series ends with the world in a worse position than before, as Zero was not able to bring any real peace, no matter how hard he fought.  The last game literally ends with a girl crying on a hill.  Heck, if it hadn't been for saner heads in Capcom, Keiji Inafune would have made Mega Man X the main villain of the Zero series, the only way it could have been any more depressing.

Then there's the Z/X series, which I have not played or seen on youtube.  I saw a bit of the beginning, but couldn't really get into it.  I find it silly, to be honest.  It abandoned even more elements of its predecessors, becoming instead a future where people and robots have merged, and pure robots (reploids) are illegal.  Thus, the reploid virus that emerged during the X series can now infect humans.

Honestly, whoever decided humans and reploids should merge was pretty dumb.  Not only do humans now get the virus, but if you were a robot wanting to negotiate peace with humans, would you agree to merge with them into the same bodies?  No, because that would basically guarantee the extinction of all robots.

This game is just not one fans of the older series can get into that much.  I'm sure new gamers think its fine, but that's only because they don't realize it's a bizarre knock-off of the older games.  There's a reason only two of them came out.  Gamers would much rather play as X or Zero rather than people who have merged with the "souls" of the robots.  Yeah.  Souls.  In metal objects.  That's real cute.  /Sarcasm.

Mega Man Legends is even more wonky than the others.  The worst part of it?  All the humans are dead.  No really.  Those characters you play are not humans, but rather aliens that have come to earth because the humans were gone and they figured they might as well settle here.  There's apparently some gimmicky DNA storyline or something explains that humans can come back, but for the duration of the two Legends games they're dead.  D-E-D redneck dead.

In contrast with that disturbing bit of news, the games are actually pretty happy and colorful.  People seem to like them.  Unlike with the Z/X series, I'm fine with that.  Why not enjoy a fun game?  At least they didn't want to depress you to death.  However, the game is not really very Mega Man, bearing only mild resemblance to the series by a couple of names and some blue armor.  Someone said they'd like the game better if it was an original game rather than tacked on to the Mega Man series.

But, you protest, how does that make Mega Man dead?  People are all the time hankering for a new X, Legends, or Classic game.  Heck, Classic even got two new games on the Wii pretty recently.

Well, let me explain.  Mega Mans 9 and 10 were created for the nostalgia factor of people around my age.  They were not created for new players, and add nothing of significance to the Mega Man plot.  Well, not that Mega Man classic plots were ever that continuous anyway.  They just touch on our childhoods briefly, without any potential for the MM series.  If Capcom made a similarly styled MM11, they would be called hacks for not being original anymore.

Besides, who really wants to play a new Mega Man game when you know in the end that it will only turn into the Mega Man X series?  The happy-go-lucky world of Rockman will turn into a really grim world where the good guys never can seem to kill the guy causing all the world's crap.  Thus, there's nothing that can be added to the Mega Man Classic series that extends the plot, unless they want to make a transitional from Classic to X.  Frankly, they'd be better off just leaving that to the readers' imaginations.  Classic is doomed.

Mega Man X does have some potential for a sequel, but it too is cut short by the fact that Sigma's plans have already succeeded; the backstory for Mega Man Zero is already set out, so X can't do anything that goes against what was already written.   X would end up almost as repetitive as a Classic sequel would, except for gameplay.

As for the Zero series?  What are you going to do?  Zero's dead.  I don't know much about Z/X, but again, people would rather play as robots than people possessed by the souls of robots.  It's just less creepy that way.

At the end of the day, Legends has the most potential for a sequel.  However, it's not really Mega Man.  Only the vaguest references reach back, and you can't really call a Legends game a true sequel unless one of them has a time machine that goes back to kill Dr. Wily or something.

So, as I said, Mega Man is dead and gone.  There's nothing that can ever bring it back, because the whole series is locked into a storyline that forces depression and death on all the characters that we loved so much. It's really difficult to enjoy a series when you know that they'll all fail and die in the end.

So that it's.  RIP Mega Man, 1987-2012.   Wow, only twenty-five years old.  And that's assuming you count this as the official death year.  Maybe I shouldn't complain, though.  It happens to games.  They run out of plot, and the circle of life continues.  It just sucks that the game series that made me so happy as a kid is dead now.

Or is it?

There's actually one idea that never really got off the ground.  I'm not sure why, as to me it's the most obvious thing imaginable.  There was always one guy that they never really used to his full potential, who got the short stick in a lot of ways.  He was introduced, and then promptly forced into becoming a side character who just gets to antagonize a little.  Basing a game on him would create not only a new series with new plot, but also allow new gameplay developments to arise and shake up the Mega Man series.  And what am I talking about?

Mega Man: Bass

No really, I mean it.  I didn't play the later classic games as a kid, but when I would watch the playthroughs on youtube, I wondered why they didn't give him more to do.  It would be a good way to shake up gameplay.  Mega Man's gameplay didn't change much until you get to the Zero series, and by then the doom and gloom plot pretty much assured that all the characters you cared about would be dead.

That's why Bass is so important.  Removing Mega Man as the main protagonist and replacing him with Bass would automatically guarantee different gameplay just due to Bass' shooting abilities and how he flies with Treble.  Bass is most of the time more flexible in gameplay than Mega Man, as cute as the blue bomber is.  Levels would be designed after Bass' style of fighting and end up being way different.

On a plot level, it would be interesting to do this.  Though it would necessitate getting rid of Mega Man somehow, permanently or just for a game or two.

1. Bass actually does kill Mega Man, but afterwards realizes his victory is hollow because "Wily is stealing all my glory" and goes to kill Wily.
2. Bass kills Mega, but is badly injured.  Dr. Light repairs him out of kindness, and Bass feels guilty so he goes after Wily.
3. Mega Man retires and rejoins Dr. Light in his laboratory.
4. Bass has to rescue Mega Man. (Lol!)
5. Mega Man is down for upgrading and can't stop Wily.  Bass goes to prove that he can do it alone.
6. A new villain shows up and destroys both Dr. Wily's and Dr. Light's labs.  Bass goes in revenge.
7. A new villain shows up, but Mega Man is busy dealing with Wily so Bass decides to see if the new baddie has anything worth stealing.  Bass ends up being hailed as a hero, and starts getting addicted to the praise of the public.

These are all possible storylines, and I'm sure you can think of some you'd like as well.  The only trouble is that the robot apocalypse, a concept created by fans to explain all the depressing whatnot of the X series, hasn't been dealt with.  The future is still going to be dark, gloomy X stuff.  And, unfortunately, one of the options available is to have Bass responsible for the apocalypse, because he took over Mega Man's job.  That's just too sad.  Bass has been struggling with significance since he was built, and to have him responsible for the ultimate destruction of the world is too much.

But there's still a solution.  A time change!  Yay!  When I was doing my Mega Man fanfiction, I did such a change.  For a possible game, however, this change would have to be directed by Bass, as he would be the main character.  After a few games with Bass as the hero, there would come a game with two endings.  One would lead to the X series, and the other to freedom, and a new future for Mega Man!  One that isn't depressing as all get out, and is a new blank slate for the series!  That means more games, more fun characters, and a future that can last into a new generation of gaming.

Why not give my Mega Man fanfiction a look while you're here?  It's fun stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting read but you forget one major loop hole the fanchise did create for itself... Megaman 8 for PS and megaman 5 for gameboy. In megaman 5 we have a scenario where Wily stumbles upon an ancient machine being found somewhere on earth, from it he creates 8 super robots, which in reality were really mmx like reploids then simple robot masters, and wily trys to conqure earth. megaman defeats wily and the ancient reploid.... but only just barely. We then skip ahead to megaman 8, which in chronology goes MM5 for nes, MM5 for GB, MM6 for nes, MM7 for SNES, MM8 for PS. In MM8 we have two alien machine beings crash landing on earth.... the mere fact that there is clear positive proof of advanced life and societies elsewhere in the galaxy in the megaman cannon should have been the avengers moment of the megaman saga, opening the flood gates of near limitless opportunities for expansion and growth into new waters for the series. That was the water shed moment for the series...and capcom BLEW IT! Couple this with the disappointment that was MM6 with a robot tournament....that proved there were at least 8 other robot engineers on earth capable of making megaman like robots. You could have had a litany of new heros, villains, complex story arcs, even expanding the saga into space, expanding on duo the alien hero's story. it could have been HUGE for the megaman story. and for those who say MMx was already made by that point so they were locked in... i say they could have pulled a zelda and split time based on a choice. They even give the opportunity at the final moment of MM8. In one timeline duo destroys all the evil energy and bridges humanity with the rest of galactic society. In the other timeline Duo fails in his mission, the evil energy endures, duo seals earth off from galactic society untill the evil energy dies out on its own, leading the series to the dark war torn world destroyed by the evil energy manifesting as the maverick virus and ultimately the dark elves, the conclusion we got with the x series and MMZ. Ending with the legend series after the humans and reploids are extinct and the aliens of duo's race returning to rebuild the earths biosphere. THAT is how the megaman series could have been far more awesome and immortal. but capcom screwed the pooch and so they have one and only one game left to make... the final show down between wily and megaman with the zero prototype, that kills megaman, protoman, bass, destroys dr.lights lab, and finally answers whether wily dies or transfers his conciousness to a machine, ending with the zero prototype being destroyed and the final zero model locked away, awaiting for someone to waken him.