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Retronauts Explores Little Samson, Mega Man's Hipster Cousin

Before he vanished from the public eye, Mega Man's original creator left the world with this final gift.

Column by Jeremy Parish, .

With last week's episode of Retronauts, we asked, "What is a man?" In this week Micro episode, I pose a new question: "What is a hipster?"

If we go by the definition that a hipster is someone who affects an air of cool by doing the same thing as everyone else a little differently, then by that definition Little Samson is the hipster version of Mega Man. "Hipster" has acquired a bit of a pejorative connotation these days, though, so maybe that's not fair. After all, Little Samson comes by its nature honestly: It was created by the guy who invented Mega Man in the first place, but unlike Capcom's endless Mega Man sequels, it didn't work according to a templated formula. Instead, it took the essence of the early Mega Man games and spun them in new directions.

Little Samson came into the world courtesy of a developer called Takeru, which had been established by Akira Kitamura after leaving Capcom. If you watched through my full playthrough stream of the original Mega Man from last week, you noticed the staff roll includes multiple mentions of an "A.K" — that's Akira Kitamura. The guy who made some really cool NES games, then all but disappeared. It's a shame Kitamura's apparent departure from making games has denied us 20 years of potentially amazing ideas, but as final statements go, you could do a lot worse than Little Samson.

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Episode Description

A look back at, to our knowledge, the final legacy of Mega Man creator Akira Kitamura: The overlooked and overpriced NES platformer Little Samson.

Unfortunately, Little Samson isn't easy to come by these days. Well, that's not true... there are always a few copies up for sale on eBay. It's just that, well, those copies cost a lot of money, and I'd peg the game's chances of showing up on Virtual Console or whatever at somewhere just south of absolute zero. If you ever have the chance to take a run through Little Samson, though, I highly recommend it. It's a fascinating alternate-history vision of what Mega Man could have been had Capcom been more willing to break from the series' rigid structure.

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  • Avatar for shurn #1 shurn 2 years ago
    If it was a hipster it would have to be made by an indi game deveoper. Shovel knight would be a hipster game, is a hipster game.
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  • Avatar for kobun20 #2 kobun20 2 years ago
    I thought Little Samson looked really interesting in Nintendo Power, but my parents and I could never find it in our local stores. We wound up getting Capcom's Darkwing Duck instead.

    While Tokuro Fujiwara's design principles with Ghosts'n'Goblins informed the style of Mega Man 1, in the interview he did with Continue magazine (translated at GlitterBerri dotcom) he states that he had no direct involvement with Mega Man 1 and only became head of Capcom's home console division sometime before Mega Man 2 began. This is supported by John Szczepaniak's interview with Kouichi Yotsui in The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers vol 1, where Yotsui also suggests that Fujiwara was the higher-up who denied A.K and his crew's request create a sequel to Mega Man -- until Head of Development Akio Sakai helped change his mind.

    Edit: (And also also suggests that A.K left Capcom because he wasn't getting along with Fujiwara.)Edited 2 times. Last edited May 2016 by kobun20
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #3 jeremy.parish 2 years ago
    @shurn Thanks for the info.
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  • Avatar for choog #4 choog 2 years ago
    @jeremy.parish , thanks. I now know what folks are so interested in it.

    Also, it's interesting that you mentioned "gray markets". I'm fine with that, but curious how you decide to mention it.
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