Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Not so Mega - What's Capcom Getting At?

 The recent reappearance of a classic character has a lot of people raising eyebrows.

God I'm talking about Capcom a lot lately. This one isn't about Resident Evil though I promise. It is about another upcoming Capcom game though, or rather one particular character in it. Street Fighter X Tekken (often abbreviated to SFXT) is an upcoming crossover fighting game that's seeing release on a few systems in March of this year. For the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita releases there are also additional characters being added, all of which you can see in this trailer here:

Now perhaps it wouldn't strike you as strange, but a lot of people have been utterly shocked as to the appearance of Mega Man in this game. Needless to say a pudgy, somewhat insane looking man in a goofy suit with a handgun is just about the farthest from the iconic image of Mega Man that most people picture. The thing is that it's -- in my mind at least -- sort of hilarious, but also underhanded, but more on that later. I instantly recognized this design (and subsequently felt old), which is actually from the original North American box art to Mega Man for the NES. But the question is: why did Capcom do this. and are the people that don't think it's fair to Mega Man's image right to be angry with this call back?

Earlier when I said that it was underhanded it's because of the history behind Mega Man, or rather Capcom's history with one of his creators: Keiji Inafune. Inafune left Capcom in 2010, and although he made it seem like a mutually agreed upon departure it's clear that both sides were a little bitter about it. There hasn't been a Mega Man game released since his departure, and when it killed Mega Man Legends 3 a lot of fans had believed the blue bomber to be permanently shelved. This guest appearance could mean a number of things: that Mega Man isn't fully done as a Capcom franchise, or that Capcom wants to perhaps rub salt in a wound and troll his fans at the same time.

Like I said, I think that it's kind of funny, personally. I can see why people would be pissed off about it though. The thing is that there's not really a whole lot they can do about it. Capcom owns Mega Man, and is pretty much free to use him or depict him however they like and of course they're just as free not to use him at all, which has been the case for the better part of the last year or so. Whether or not there will be more traditional Mega Man offerings after this is hard to say, but at this point it seems that the portly rendition of him is the best we're going to get, regardless of how anyone feels about it.

This gets to a larger part of what I'm getting at here though: design aesthetic. Aesthetic is the driving force behind a lot of gaming decisions these days, for better or worse. It's what gives you the sweeping landscapes of Uncharted, the set pieces of Half Life 2, the colourful worlds of Mario; at the same time it also gives rise to things like spectacularly sexist character designs, the prevalence of "read world" colouring like so much grey-on-grey, and other things that are seen as less than stellar. I can't hope to cover everything in the next few days, but I can certainly cover some of what I believe is important.

1 comment:

  1. I personally always loved the goofy MM1 boxart design, and the MM9/10 retro boxarts too.


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