We now continue the second half of the special feature on the Evolution of the Mega Man franchise, you can check out our previous article for the first half. [Evolution of the Mega Man Series – Part 1]
Dashing to A New Era
At the dawn of the 32-bit era, Capcom wanted to create an all-new Megaman game to match up with the other 3D games at that time. Enter Megaman Legends (Rockman Dash) for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 (called as Mega Man 64) that was released on 1998.
The game was set in a distant future where the world has been almost entirely flooded, similar that from the movie Waterworld. There are a group of people called Diggers riding on airships that are searching for old ruins to extract large crystals called Refractors. Mega Man Volnutt and his sister Roll are out to save Kattelox Island from air pirates of the Bonne Family.
The new incarnation of the Mega Man features a third person shooter gameplay with some RPG elements, some of the original features were not included, such as the ability to take the power of his defeated enemies. You will still be able to use different upgradable weapons, like a beam blade, a drill, power shield and even a homing missile launcher. Now featuring an open world, you will be able to explore the town and other ruins as you progress to the story.
Despite garnering low sales for Legends, some fans loved the new change on Mega Man, this lead to a sequel in 2000 and then went into a hiatus. On 2010, Capcom announced of a third game for the Mega Man Legends series for the Nintendo 3DS, unfortunately the plan got cancelled later in that year which made many Mega Man fans disappointed.
Network Jacking in!
This isn’t the second time Capcom tried to reinvent Mega Man, to cater more to the Role Playing Game fans, they’ve launched Mega Man Battle Network (Rockman EXE) for the Game Boy Advance on 2001 as a celebration of 15th years of Mega Man . it featured a brand new story and new characters.
Set in the future where everything is run by the internet, the series focuses on Lan Hikari and his Net Navi partner, MegaMan.EXE where they fend off any threats to the internet from computer viruses and evil organizations.
Battle Network has a combination of card collecting and RPG for a fast paced battle system, which makes it easy to play especially for beginners, the battle is set on a 3×6 block grid and you can move to any of the grids to avoid the attacks from your enemies. Once you filled up your meter, you will be able to choose different kinds of attacks with the use of Battle Chips. Outside the battle, you will be able to play both Lan and Megaman simultaneously and explore the real world and the internet.
The Battle Network series was really popular especially to the younger audience as it also spanned an anime series entitled Mega Man NT Warrior. It spanned eight titles where it concluded its story on Battle Network 6 on 2005.
Going Star Force
Set 200 years after Battle Network, Mega Man Star Force (Shooting Star Rockman) was released to the Nintendo DS to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the franchise. Rather than a direct sequel, the series was considered a spinoff for Battle Network.
The world’s network technology has evolved that people are now using electromagnetic waves to connect to the world, this series featured a young boy named Geo Stelar who lost his father from a space journey, before the disappearance, Geo received a Visualizer device from his father, where he can see electromagnetic waves, this is where he met Omega-Xis from Planet FM whom has the ability to merge with Geo into an EM-Human known as Mega Man.
The gameplay is similar with the Battle Network series although the perspective of the battle system is now on the over-the-shoulder view compared to the sidescroll view from its predecessor. Instead of jacking to the internet, the character will merge with each other to travel between the real world and the EM world, also following the same footsteps, Star Force released an anime series.
But unlike the other series, Star Force had a poor reception and decreasing sales figures, resulting on a somewhat hiatus on the series.
Future of the Franchise
Since the departure of Inafune from Capcom last 2010, there were still no announcements for a new Mega Man game, Capcom also cancelled the Megaman Legend 3 project at the same year, leaving the franchise on an uncertain fate.
Then during the announcement of the Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS at E3 2013, Megaman was revealed to be one of the playable character, leaving hordes of fans rejoicing, but yet they are still yearning for a new adventure with the Blue Bomber.
Then during a conference at the Penny Arcade Expo at 2013, Keiji Inafune announced Might No. 9, as the spiritual successor to Mega Man and is now under development with a Kickstart campaign launched on August 31, 2013, it earned more than four million dollars during the campaign and the game will have a 2015 release date for all current platforms, including the next gen consoles.
Up to this day, there is still no new announcement for a new Mega Man game, many wonder if the franchise had died after Inafune left and was reincarnated to a whole new franchise with Mighty No. 9.