The latest trailer for the upcoming Mega Man: Fully Charged cartoon aired at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend. It kicks off with a question oft-repeated in superhero media: "What makes a hero?"
It's a tough question, but Mega Man answers it adequately before the minute-long spot wraps up. Let's follow it up with something a little harder to answer: "Is it possible to design new media based on a decades-old property that will successfully snag young viewers without pissing off 20- and- 30-somethings?" I'm beginning to think it'd be easier to build an ever-lasting peace between humans and robots.
As someone who is old and dead-set against "growing up" precisely as societal norms dictate, I've followed many beloved decades-old media franchises since the U.S. government gave the A-OK for studios to make cartoons and movies with the express purpose of selling toys. I don't watch them religiously, but I generally keep abreast of what's new with the Transformers (outside of Michael Bay tying fireworks to his movies and detonating them in the in the upper atmosphere; that's impossible to ignore), I like to follow the Ninja Turtles, I check in with My Little Pony—you get the idea.
And, as a life-long Mega Man fan, I've followed every incarnation of his animated adventures. That includes taking in every episode of Captain N: The Game Master, wherein Mega Man is presented as a squat, chain-smoking toad. I'll say this much: While I didn't understand why Captain N's Mega Man was green, or why everyone from "Mega Land" looked so off-model compared to the games, Mega Man's conflicts and morals were still clear to my ten-year-old self. Mega Man was still a little robot boy who fought for peace against robots who turned evil thanks to tampering by the evil Dr Wily. Cool.
By contrast, I'm still trying to figure out what the heck is going on with Mega Man: Fully Charged (Disclaimer: The linked summary is written by my husband). Mega Man's citizen name isn't the traditional "Rock," but is instead "Aki." He goes to school like a regular kid but transforms into Mega Man when the evil Sargent Night (?) unleashes his Robot Masters upon Silicon City. He's aided by his "sister," Suna Light (??) and a little robot who lives in his head named Mega Mini (???). Mega Man also hopes to eventually free his brother, Namagem (spell it backwards), from the influence of Sergeant Night.
Well, Heavens to Betsy. Mega Man is a 30-year-old franchise, and almost nothing about Mega Man: Fully Charged is familiar. Some of the creative decisions by Man of Action Studios are downright baffling for long-time fans. Why give us a "Sargent Night" when we already have Dr Wily? Why give us Aki or Suna when we already have Rock and Roll? Why give us the morally-conflicted Namagem when we already have the morally-conflicted Protoman? Why give us Mega Mini at all?
I don't "get" Mega Man: Fully Charged, but having seen the trailer and a preview, I can't say it looks bad. It's colorful, it's cute, it's full of cool-looking robots, and it's packed with the kind of quip-heavy dialogue kids seem to love in their entertainment. No, Fully Charged clearly isn't for my old ass, but I'm just glad to know there's something here for kids—albeit very young kids—to enjoy. I think they'll like it.
Admittedly, part of me is still rolling its eyes and saying "Namagem? Really?" I don't understand what Man of Action has against names and motivations established three decades ago. Initially I supposed the studio is designing a by-the-numbers action series; a Ben-10 with the serial numbers filed off. The preview out of SDCC offers a lot of little nods to the series, however, including cute pixel-based story exposition and snippets of Robot Master music. Clearly the team behind the show understands what Mega Man's all about (not that the Blue Bomber's mission to save the world from evil robots is difficult to grok). For whatever reason, though, Mega Man: Fully Charged is doing its own thing—and I just have to deal with it.
People who skew my age are getting more and more possessive about the media we grew up with. Teen Titans Go is blasted as a low-budget imitator of the early '00s cartoon (never mind kids today adore it). Thundercats Roar is a travesty (it looks fun). And the recently-revealed She-Ra reboot looks like an insult (which is a funny way to say "looks amazing").
Since the beginning of time, older generations have been bears about bequeathing old and comfortable things to younger generations, who (we argue) just foul up music, TV, and everything else by making it "more hip." I guess we're similarly clingy about the franchises adults made in the '80s to put faces and voices to all that plastic gold on the shelves of Toys R Us.
Let it go. Let it go. It's OK for adults to enjoy movies and cartoons for kids. It's even OK to not like what you see. Just let the kids take their seats first.
This Week's Notable Releases
July's winding down, and we have another week full of releases. Luckily, it's one of the more eventful weeks of the month.
- No Man's Sky Next [July 24]: No Man's Sky is getting its second huge patch tomorrow with No Man's Sky Next. Next brings real-ass multiplayer, "unlimited" base building, freighters, third-person, and a lot more to No Man's Sky. It's also launching on Xbox One for the first time. No Man's Sky will be a free update, so dust off that physical copy you got at launch (or redownload it) and get to exploring that procedurally generated universe again.
- Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 [July 24]: At last, Mega Man X has gotten its own legacy collection. Similar to the Mega Man Legacy Collection, it's split into two releases. The first one comes with Mega Man X, Mega Man X2, Mega Man X3, and Mega Man X4, while the second comes with Mega Man X5, Mega Man X6, Mega Man X7, and Mega Man X8. If you're a Mega Man X fan, it's sure to be a must-own. It'll be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
- The Banner Saga 3 [July 26]: The long-anticipated Banner Saga 3 will be out later this week. The narrative-driven tactical RPG is the final installment of its trilogy, coming four years after its first game's release back in 2014. It's the latest in a long line of Kickstarted games, after its successful crowdfunding campaign back in 2017. It is releasing for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch.
This Week's News and Notes
- It's a pretty slow summer, but with No Man's Sky's new update on the horizon, I expect there to be some excitement again. Stay tuned to this whole week for impressions, and more!
- Some of us are using the slow season to go through our backlogs. As such, Kat finally finished up God of War and wrote about her conflicted thoughts on it too.
- Fallout 76's beta kicks off in October. That's only a month before its release. Hmmmmmm.
- Last week, our regular freelance contributor Zack Zwiezen wrote about GTA Online's inflation problem where costs are rising and not much else to keep up with it. In other GTA Online news, Gay Tony is making his grand return in the new After Hours update.
- World of Warcraft's pre-Battle for Azeroth patch last week was controversial, but WoW's director held a Q&A addressing players' problems with 8.0, and the plans to fix it.
- ICYMI: We revealed #22 of our Top 25 RPGs of All Time countdown: Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines! Read Kat's essay on why it's significant here.
- We bid adieu to Gravity Rush 2's servers last week, which were unceremoniously shuttered only a year and a half after the game launched. Caty wrote about why she'll miss sharing photos with other players in a sorta-obituary on the service.
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe got a surprise update late last week: You can now play as Breath of the Wild Link and ride his trusty motorcycle. Vroom vroom baby.
- Axe of the Blood God: On this week's Axe of the Blood God, we break down what's made World of Warcraft so amazing even a decade-plus later. Our own Mike Williams and Vidjagame Apocalypse co-host Matthew Allen join us as special guests this week. Subscribe here!