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The Most In-Depth Mega Man Legacy Collection Interview You'll Read Today

We discuss the philosophy and tech behind the anthology with Capcom and Digital Eclipse.

Interview by Jeremy Parish, .

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USG: So that concept of focus and quality and specificity, I get it, but is that something that's difficult to communicate to a broader audience who is like, "I just wait to buy everything on a Steam sale when it's 99 cents?"

Rey: Absolutely. Gamers these days are used to having options for everything even if it's something they don't' want, they believe that the option should be there to be able to turn that option off. So being focused and being feature rich is a really hard balance to keep there. And as gamers, as people who love the content ourselves, we want to have as much as we can in there, but as me being the guy who has to say no to everything to make sure that we are where we want to be... Frank is a big fan too, he wants to have a lot of stuff in there.

One thing just leads to another. You have to draw the line somewhere, of when the title is complete, and do we have the package of what we want to do? We're definitely there, so we're working with making sure 1 through 6 are authentic and branching off from there and having peripheral features based on that premise like the Challenge Mode and the Database Boss Fight. Those are all built off of having an authentic base to work with.

Frank: Not just that, but there's a lot to be said for creativity within those constraints, right? You know, I feel like setting that hard limit for 1 through 6 allowed us to really do each of them right, whereas if we had expanded the scope, we might not have been as feature-rich per game as we are now. I personally feel like we did as much as we could with these 6 games. I'm pretty proud of where we are.

USG: So are you including all region versions on here? The original Rockman 2, which had a different difficulty arrangement than Mega Man 2?

Rey: Was Rockman 2 different? Well, for the U.S. release, we're keeping it territory-specific, so the U.S. version will have Mega Man. You can't flip a switch and play a Rockman, it's just Mega Man. But that said, in the challenge mode, we did make the creative decision that economically, the hard mode of the Rock Man.

Frank: Is that the Rock Man hard mode or the Mega Man hard mode?

USG: That's the only difficulty setting in the Japanese version.

Rey: Yeah, in the Japanese version, it's only Rockman 2. So when they localized it here, they added an easier difficulty, but in the challenge mode, to make sure it was region-friendly, hard mode is Mega Man 2.

USG: Were there any other interesting differences in regional versions in the games or was that the big one?

Rey: We were digging through them a lot and there's not too much. There's a different title screen for each one, the logos are obviously different, but there's no gameplay differences that I can recall. There's a couple minor things like in 5 there's a room where a power-up is slightly easier to get to or something, but not really, nothing substantial.

Frank: I guess they're pretty much interchangeable.

USG: So really, that would be like you get a different title screen and some Japanese text. It's not a big deal.

Rey: I think it's fair.

Frank: Yeah. There aren't huge differences between games. They're not totally missing it.

USG: I ask because that was one of the things that I thought was interesting about those PS2 Sega Ages, they just took every possible version of the game, Wonder Boy, hey, we found the SG-1000 version and here's the American version....

Frank: Well, the craziest thing was the Fantasy Zone too thing, did you see that? They did a Fantasy Zone Collection, you know those games, right? The Fantasy Zone shooters? And there was a sequel that was only on the master system, Fantasy Zone 2, which they then ported to the original arcade hardware, emulated and made a Fantasy Zone 2 arcade that never existed.

Rey: For Mega Man, there's really a minor difference. We're aware of the need, well, not the need, but the differences between the games and we're right now, we're just going to be Mega Man for the U.S., Rock Man for Japan.

USG: So that Fantasy Zone, if you had had the time and resources to do something like that with this collection, what would it have been like? What would your crazy dream, "This didn't exist for Mega Man, but it should have," what would it be?

Frank: Rey, you're the resources guy. [Laughing]

USG: Let's pretend resources don't matter.

Frank: We did such a complete job on 1 through 6, I don't know what else there would be, to be honest. I think this goes more into fanatic territory of what your wish list project would be with that. And we could go down that path, but a lot of the wish list stuff in my head just couldn't exist with the approach that we did with this project.

What we did here is recreate 1 through 6 as accurately as we could, right? And a lot of the crazier fantasy ideas would be more like reprogramming them from scratch, you know? Which was just not the approach we wanted to take because frankly, it would be a lot harder to get them right if we started over. There's always going to be something wrong with a port, whereas if you take the approach that we did, and sort of a more hardware-based simulation with source elements thing like we did, then you get them right.

Rey: Accuracy was kind of the goal. But we did this early on: Which way could we go with it? And the big pie-in-the-sky way was totally reprogramming it which would open the world to all of the possibilities you could do within this Mega Man game, but then again, you start to lose focus and things start to go wrong. That was our biggest question, what scope can we do this in? Using the technology that they did or just basically recreate it from scratch and that was just not going to happen.

USG: So you guys weren't like, "We should remake the Wily Wars for NES"?

Frank: I mean, those are things that went through my brain early on, but never in a serious way.

USG: That's what I'm curious about, just the sort of process of doing something like this. Because you do start out with this huge wish list and then you have to say, "Well, we have X number of months to put this together and we have this much money and it has to be out by then," kind of whittling down and saying what's really important – getting to the core of that.

Frank: The first couple of weeks were just everyone in the office just throwing everything at the wall and being excited. After that second week, it was like, well, let's be realistic here. And a lot of times, it wasn't even a cost-analysis decision, it was just that part of what Digital Eclipse is trying to do here is not muck with things.

Rey: We take the bad with the good....

Frank: We don't want to be the equivalent of Ted Turner colorizing movies. You know what I mean? We try to limit our approach to how we're "altering" the games, which is not at all. In Challenge Mode, we'll put those portals in there, but even that approach, we didn't get in there and muck with the games. That's a layer running on top. We wanted to avoid that approach. So all of that pie-in-the-sky stuff was, at least for this project, I didn't feel like it was our place.

Rey: The guys at Digital Eclipse are huge fans of the game and when you give them the chance to work on something that you really enjoy, that you've always really wanted to work on, and you get to work on it in an official capacity, all of these things come out. And as for the team cooperation comes together, basically it comes down to what we want to do for this game. There's definitely that kind of, "Ah," that you get. "I get to do this. I always wanted to do this when I was younger."

Frank: I did fulfill my biggest one, which was the database.

Rey: So the database for the game, all that text was pulled out of the Rockman Complete Works [a set of Mega Man 1-6 remakes for PlayStation, released only in Japan] and was never localized and translated officially in the game. Probably some fan sites have it…

Frank: There aren't.

Rey: I did come across one, on that wiki – that Mega Man Wiki.

Frank: I didn't find that. So all of that text comes from that particular game that was never released in the U.S. For a lot of the guys who had maybe imported that particular game and were never be able to read it, that's there. So it's kind of a cool feature.

Rey: That's my favorite thing in the game because it's like a lost feature that's sort of within that era. You know what I mean? It's really cool. The descriptions of these robots, I don't think you can find them anywhere else.

Frank: I actually do appreciate the background because it reminded me that in this particular game, all of these robots are basically going crazy and you're there to reel them in. It gives you a little background as to what they were doing before they were going crazy. This guy was a ticket-taker. This guy was a trash compactor robot. In a very Japanese way and in much more detail in four sentences than you would ever think is necessary or possible.

Rey: It's just a reminder of how much character was put into these games. Refreshed in my brain why I fell in love with them to begin with.

USG: The databases, when I imported the Complete Works, I didn't have enough Japanese knowledge to read all of them, but even what I could read, it was like opening this window into… Well, for one thing, I could finally learn the names of these characters. You know, Nintendo Power was just all over the place. Metools were just Mets or Hard Hat Macks. So seeing what these were actually called, that the "rock monster" is called the Yellow Devil. That was kind of a formative moment where everything came together.

Frank: And we did make that decision early on.

Rey: Yeah, because there were the U.S. names and then when you get to Japan, you had to relocalize it.

Frank: I even got the French manuals just in case we wanted to go that direction.

Rey: We're going to keep it to one source. The Japanese is the definitive text for the game.

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  • Avatar for mobichan #1 mobichan 3 years ago
    I have always been confused by Digital Eclipse/Backbone. Are they the same company? Did Backbone revert their name to Digital Eclipse? It seems like all they do now is emulation-esque port work. And when did Frank Cifaldi join them? Man, this industry shifts constantly.
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  • Avatar for UnknownJones #2 UnknownJones 3 years ago
    Excited to pick this up, but that excitement is diminished by the recent announcement that the PS4 version's trophy list is hobbled and plat-less. What's up with that?
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  • Avatar for shurn #3 shurn 3 years ago
    Wait jeremy if you dont mind me asking,
    What do they mean about the "3D elements"? Do they mean stereoscopic graphics like the sega 3d classics and nintendo 3D classics or do they mean the lame floating menus and database elements? I have to know because as someone who already owns all the virtual console versions, this collection has to have that full stereoscopic graphics like the other mentioned collections to be worth purchasing for my 3DS. Im aware that this isnt really a deal breaker for you but the small portion of people who do care about that would like to know so they stop holding off on completing their own collections. Any insight on this would be appreciated
    The developers have been dodging this question from the initial announcement.Edited August 2015 by shurn
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  • Avatar for Thad #4 Thad 3 years ago
    I sure do appreciate the amount of work that's gone into this. I've still got my NES and all 6 games, but I'm interested in seeing what they do with the 3DS version. Not sure what all these extra modes, challenge modes, etc. are about but they could be interesting.
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  • Avatar for BlindseerJB #5 BlindseerJB 3 years ago
    I am definitely stoked for this. I hope it sells well enough to convince Capcom to release a new one.
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  • Avatar for docexe #6 docexe 3 years ago
    This was a fantastic interview. From a technical point of view, I find what they are doing in order to remaster these classics particularly interesting, and I hope that if this collection is successful, they will have the chance to use their engine to bring back even more classic games.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #7 Neifirst 3 years ago
    Jeremy: is it correct to infer from Rey's quote that a Capcom Disney Collection was contemplated before going with Mega Man instead? That would be a helluva lot more interesting than MM1-6, which have been easily (legally) available to players since the PS2 era.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #8 jeremy.parish 3 years ago
    @Neifirst I think it's more like "man a Disney collection is sure a thing we'd like to do but we need to prove the value of this approach before Disney's going to even consider giving us a license." Or that's MY inference, anyway.
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  • Avatar for BaltimoreJones #9 BaltimoreJones 3 years ago
    @jeremy.parish My God, a Capcom Disney NES collection would be incredible.
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  • Avatar for bigbadboaz #10 bigbadboaz 3 years ago
    Here's the problem. Ever since downloadable classic titles became a thing and Digital Eclipse claimed to "specialize" in them, they have never, EVER taken the time or shown the understanding necessary to get these titles right. Eight-direction arcade games programmed to recognize the analog stick but not the D-pad; inaccurate, ugly video modes; Start button menus that pop up and prevent the game from recognizing the actual IN-GAME Start button command - name an obvious, amateur-hour mistake and it's probably in Digital Eclipse's back catalog somewhere. These guys do not by any stretch stand alongside a group like M2.

    This is why it's so disconcerting to see a push for "the Criterion Collection of games" come from this company in particular. Whatever Mr. Cifaldi's particular reputation, it's hard to believe one man can change a long-standing culture of ignorance and shortcuts. They can talk all they want but I will be very surprised if this collection reaches the high standards they claim to be striving for.

    Jeremy, I'd guess you will be the one reviewing this title. As much as we'd all like to see an effort of this caliber, I hope you will call them out hard if it turns out they've just been blowing smoke.
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  • Avatar for LK4O4 #11 LK4O4 3 years ago
    The lack of a Wii U version (and the lack of Mega Man 9 and 10) makes me sad, but if this collection is as good as I'm hoping it'll be, then I'll definitely be there to pick this up on PC and 3DS.

    I kind of wish Frank had talked maybe a little more inside baseball about the collection and the individual games themselves, but this is still quite a nice interview.
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #12 VotesForCows 3 years ago
    Very interesting insight into their engine - would love to know more about how that tech works!
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