Today we learned Mega Man 11 is coming, which means today is a pretty good day to be a long-time Mega Man enthusiast.
Under most circumstances, news about a game sequel will elicit a pleased sound from fans. Maybe a little Twitter buzz, too. But Mega Man 11's reveal at his 30th anniversary livestream generated significant noise across the social medias. Non-fans took notice of the hullabaloo, too. I imagine for them, it might be like a non-believer observing the return of Christ. Even if you're not a Christian, witnessing the Son of God gallop across the skies behind an entourage of apocalyptic Horsemen is enough to make you stop and exclaim, "Say! Would you look at that?"
OK, so the reveal of Mega Man 11 isn't quite as thrilling as the Second Coming (that'll be the reveal of Mega Man X9, whenever it happens), but it's a very nice change of pace for Mega Man fans. We're more used to receiving disappointment, not game news.
It's a little bewildering to look back on, but from the mid-'90s through the early-Aughts, you could always count on hearing news about a new Mega Man game. We'd get follow-ups to the 2D series while Capcom simultaneously dabbled with the Blue Bomber in the 3D realm. We'd get tributes to the series' retro roots while Capcom re-invented Mega Man for handheld systems. There was always something to look forward to, even if the final product was very occasionally hideous.
(Which reminds me: Today, Capcom also announced the Mega Man X games are getting a re-release for modern platforms. This is your warning not to touch Mega Man X6 or Mega Man X7. You'll turn to stone, your reproductive organs will crumble, and then you'll die.)
But Mega Man's period of good health ended (not coincidentally) when his producer, Keiji Inafune, left Capcom in October of 2010. The Mega Man Legends 3 prototype being developed with the help of fans was put to death in July of the following year, and that, more than anything else, was a big metal-jointed middle finger to Inafune and Mega Man fans. We'd been waiting ten years for a follow-up to Mega Man Legends 2, a delightfully unique adventure game that ended on a huge cliffhanger. Its cancellation stung like lemon juice on a paper cut. Unsurprisingly, the Wiki page for Legends 3 turned into a toxic waste dump for a few days afterwards, and I admittedly still get a laugh out of "[Legends 3] was cancelled because Superboy Prime hated the game."
Is the "tree house" artist out there? You've got a job to do. pic.twitter.com/NO4LIHhwki— Brian (@Protodude) December 4, 2017
Capcom responded to the wailing and gnashing of teeth by assuring fans Mega Man is still important to the company. We were assured proof was coming. So, we waited.
Let me tell you, I'm glad Capcom waited this long to give us Mega Man 11. In the passing weeks, days, and years, my weary and broken-down body has truly learned how to become one with my couch and my controller. I thought I was ready for a new Mega Man experience in 2011, but I was young and naïve. Now, I am ready. I am a Viking.
In all seriousness, Capcom did remember to feed Mega Man a few times, and we benefitted. For one thing, we got Street Fighter X Mega Man in December of 2012. Capcom Unity deserves buckets of love for its efforts to keep Mega Man alive during his hibernation, but as charming as Mega Man X Street Fighter is, a worked-over fangame wasn't an ideal celebration for Mega Man's 25th year of life.
So, why'd fans stick around? I suppose we all subconsciously hoped and dreamed there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We all clustered together, muttered obscenities, downed whiskey, smoked a lot of cigarettes, and waited. Capcom had to give us something—or so we reasoned. It couldn't stay mad at Inafune forever. Right?
The arrival of the Mega Man Legacy Collections was welcomed as a sign Mega Man was slowly surfacing for air. We still had plenty of leftover bile to power our snark about the lack of a new game reveal at Tokyo Game Show's Rockman presentation, however.
Instead of a new game, they're gonna present Keiji Inafune's flayed skin pinned to a cross.— Nadia Oxford (@nadiaoxford) September 24, 2017
But despite fans' forever-furrowed brows and oh-so battered souls, we finally have proof positive Capcom hasn't forgotten Mega Man. He's getting a numbered sequel, not a spin-off based on the upcoming cartoon from DHX. He's getting a real console release, not a mobile game. And it looks … it looks pretty good! Not everyone's a fan of the visuals thus far, but seeing how the game's still a year out, there's plenty of time for spit and polish. There are goofy Robot Masters, there are googly-eyed mini-bosses, and you can rip off weapons from bad guys. That's what matters.
I choose to remain cautiously optimistic about Mega Man 11, but I'm a little more "optimistic" than "cautious," which is a nice feeling. Heck, just seeing excitement over a Mega Man title again is nice. I never felt right about pledging allegiance to the other guy.