So edgy no 14 year old high school boy could resist!
Some time ago footage was leaked about yet another cancelled Mega Man game. This game titled Maverick Hunter was going to be a darker version of the X-series story with X himself starring in an FPS. Good idea? Bad idea? Downright ugly? Let’s find out.
In the last days of Inafune, before Capcom’s credibility became a very controversial topic, Megaman didn’t really have as many outings as far as his more mainlines series went. The classic mainline Megaman played up the faux retro style with DLC games. Starforce was basically the spiritual successor to Battle Network and it was wrapping up, and the X series was just sitting on its hands. So to jolt some life into the blue bomber, Inafune enlisted Armature Studios, the guys who did Metroid Prime, to develop the game and Adi Granov, the character designer for Iron Man in his movies to set out to reboot the X series.
The premise was that in this darker version of the Megaman universe, over the course of two games, X would become a stronger hunter, much to the point where by the third game he would have become mad with power, leaving it to Zero to take out his former comrade. Already, I would consider the X series to be a darker variant of Megaman. It constantly postulates the ideas of people fighting each other endlessly, and by Megaman X8 really stepped it up with the “Paradise Lost” theme. While a bit of a stretch, the themes and subject matters are close enough to be addressed in a gritty FPS.
In the gameplay department, not only does X have is arsenal of stealing abilities, he has acrobatic platforming skills to whisk around the stage. Included are a special dash attack, finisher moves, and bullet time actions. Instead of camping around, from the demo it seems X can very much do what his 2D self can do, giving the player that action-platformer experience. It looks like Armature spent a good deal of time trying to adapt X for the FPS genre.
Now, in some ways, I’m not surprised that the execs at Capcom tried scrapping this idea, and I’m not surprised that it was internally contested. Dark and gritty reboots are humongous risks for an unknown amount of payout. True, the benefit of Megaman is that his series is spin-off heavy, so if one arm dies, it can grow back. However, nobody wants to see a Shadow the Hedgehog or Bomberman: Act Zero. The problem there is that the game loses personality and its spirit. Shadow the Hedgehog punished players for going fast and substituted the word “damn” and a completely pointless storyline. Bomberman’s problem was that it was a Bomberman game that was just painted over with tons of gray and stripped of save functions and other critical features. Capcom had their own spill with trying to reboot in Bionic Commando 2009.
But Armature is smart, just look at what they did with Metroid. Morph Balls, Ice Beams, exploration, and puzzles are all there. The idea of a Metroid game is well-kept instead of some Halo-esque game that takes the life out of Samus. Consider for a moment how successful Metroid Prime was and how it played. Now contrast to other FPS games that were not reboots. Even thought they are both FPS games, they have different player objectives, different processes to achieve the objective, and different challenges to the player. Similarly, I see all the themes of the X series in Maverick Hunter. X has his powers, gets to do X-like things, and fight to someday end the struggle among Reploids. In the demo X has to find “the duke” (likely a Maverick robot master), use his enemies’ tools against them, and platform about to get out of the way of tricky traps and obstacles. There was a lot of potential here and it was not nearly as soulless as it seemed.
In the end though, while I was hopeful for this project, because Megaman anything could have helped (and I don’t mean cameos), it is also understandable the high risks involved with the project and with Inafune’s leave, Capcom may have been all-thumbs as to what to do. If the project is revisited though, this would be an FPS I could get behind for sure. In the meantime, join me next time when I compose a rock opera.