What's next for the Mega Man franchise?

Mega Man began in 1987 with the release of the original game for the NES, simply titled “Mega Man.” The series comprises over 50 releases and is Capcom’s most prolific franchise. In the past year however, the franchise has been dormant, with two cancelled games and no appearance of Mega Man in Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3. The main question fans of the series are asking now is “What does the future hold for Mega Man?”

To look at Mega Man’s future, we must first examine its past. Mega Man can be arranged into different types of series’ within the franchise. Will the new direction that the Mega Man eventually takes come from an existing series or will it be something new?

Classic Series
Titles - Mega Man 1-10 and Mega Man & Bass

The true beginning of the franchise is also the beginning of the Mega Man timeline. The series takes place in the years 200X to 20XX. The tenth game in the series was released in 2010, making this the longest lasting series within the Mega Man franchises (with 22 years in-between the first game and the latest).

The Classic series hasn’t really evolved much on its own, but has always provided players with a downright simple formula, well designed levels and some of the best video game music ever created.

Possible Direction:
This specific series has seen the most recent release, with Mega Man 10. 10 seems like a nice round number to end the series at, even though the story doesn’t come to a complete ending. Personally I don’t believe the next Mega Man game will come from this series, but because Mega Man 10 is the most recent entry, there is still a possibility that they will continue with this, releasing a Mega Man 11, in much the same way as they did with 10.

Also, I would like to mention, I think it would be great to see the Classic Mega Man series repackaged and rereleased for the 3DS and/or Playstation Vita. I think the Mega Man games work well as a portable experience and a collection of all 10 classic games would definitely warrant a regular retail price that would offer an experience that many full release games can’t beat. This would essentially bring Mega Man to those who haven’t experienced the charm (and exciting difficulty) of Mega Man.

MegaMan GB
Gameboy Series
Titles - Mega Man: Dr Wily’s Revenge, Mega Man II - V)

The Gameboy games took a lot of resources, such as level designs, characters and weapons from the classic Mega Man series and developed them into a pocket sized adventure for the successful handheld. For example, Mega Man: Dr Wily’s Revenge, the first Gameboy Mega Man, took aspects from the classic Mega Man 1 & 2, and Mega Man II (For the Gameboy) took aspects from Mega Man 2 & 3, and so forth. It was a nice way for people to enjoy the Mega Man games as a handheld adventure.

Possible Direction:
It’s impossible to see this series continue. There’s really not much to say about this series and for obvious reasons, this series will not continue.

X Series
Titles - Mega Man X - X8

X was a new beginning for Mega Man, introducing many new gameplay elements such as new types of power ups and the ability of ‘wall jumping.’ Mega Man X is a well loved series and has garnered a lot of praise. It’s also considered a ‘true’ sequel to the Classic Mega Man series.

“This video perfectly sums up the evolution of Mega Man to Mega Man X”

Possible Direction:
It’s very possible that we may eventually be treated with a Mega Man X9 game at some point in time. Just because this specific series has been dormant for a while, doesn’t mean anything really. Just look at Mega Man 9 and 10?

A release for the PS3 and Xbox (Possibly Wii U?) as a downloadable game, or even a full blown release, could prove rather successful as a game being sold to Mega Man fans and general gamers worldwide.

Legends Series
Titles - Mega Man Legends 1 & 2

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Mega Man Legends 3.

Mega Man Legends 3 was a title that was supposed to be released for the Nintendo 3DS but was cancelled sometime last year. The game was heavily influenced by its community and the fact that it was cancelled made many of those in the community angry and upset.

Mega Man Legends 1 & 2 were originally released for the original Playstation and offered a different spin on the series. It was an action game, that featured the view behind Mega Man. The game was received rather well and fans of that specific series were disappointed to hear of its cancellation last year.

Possible Direction:
The team behind Mega Man Legends 3 stated that the game was done and over. Many fans have started movements to try and get the company’s attention in order for them to continue with the game. Who knows whether or not the game will ever be picked back up and continued, but at this stage its looking rather slim for the Mega Man Legends series.

Battle Network Series
Titles - Mega Man Battle Network 1 - 6

Mega Man Battle Network is a Spin-Off series that is set in an alternate universe to that in Mega Man and Mega Man X. The gameplay of Mega Man Battle Network is very different from what Mega Man games were known for at the time. The games in this series are a hybrid genre, containing elements from Role-Playing Games, Action-RPG and Collectable Card Games.

Possible Direction:
Well, the Battle Network series has a conclusive ending that even shows players an epilogue set 20 years in the future after the final games ending. The series seems to be complete and another game would really be considered out of the question, considering the Gameboy Advance’s Cycle is over.

Zero Series
Titles - Mega Man Zero 1 - 4

After Mega Man Battle Network, the Franchise went back to it’s 2D Platforming roots with the release of Mega Man Zero. The game featured Zero, who first appeared in Mega Man X and who is also a favourite of the series. The game is set after the events of Mega Man X nd much like many of the other series’ it doesn’t reach a definite conclusion, yet the events of Mega Man Zero continue in the distant future with Mega Man ZX.

Possible Direction:
There is no definitive conclusion to the series as of yet, but just like the previous series, Battle Network, it is likely to never return. The Gameboy Advance era is long gone, and its important to mention that all four games were bundled together, making it seem like the series was done.

ZX Series
Titles - Mega ManZX and Mega Man ZX Advent

This series is set 200 years after Mega Man Zero and can be considered an extension of Mega Man Zero, but with some differences, such as a change from GBA to Nintendo DS. The game is similar in play style to Mega Man Zero and even though there are only two entries thus far, with the last entry leaving the story open to a third game, it seems the series is currently on hiatus.

Possible Direction:
The Nintendo DS is still alive and strong and a release of a third game in the series would be more than welcome by fans of it. This one is possible, but seeing as the two current games in the series were released in 2006 and 2007 respectively, its highly unlikely that Capcom will go back to this series, even though there is potential.

Star Force Series
Titles - Mega Man Star Force 1 - 3

This series is a follow-up to Mega Man Battle Network, and was inspired by that series. The games were an evolution of Mega Man Battle Network, with this series appearing on the DS, as opposed to the Gameboy Advance.

The release of Star Force commemorated Mega Man’s 20th Anniversary and just like Battle Network, it is set in an alternate universe (The same one that Battle Network is set in, taking place 200 years after).

Possible Direction:
The series currently has three releases. The first appeared in 2006, the second in 2007 and the most recent entry in 2009. The story seems to have a conclusive ending with the third release, but its unsure whether these games are simply on hiatus, due to decreasing sales figures, like Mega Man ZX.

So? Where will the series go now?

Continuation of a Previous Series.
This one is basically listed above in each section. The current series’ in the franchise could continue on, with a new release for the classic series, the X series, Legends series or even the ZX series or Star Force series. To be honest, the only ones I really see a possibility of continuing are the classic series or even more so, the X series. This is mainly because those are the well known series’ and not to mention, they are also multi-platform games.

“Mega Man 10 did this pretty well, will there be an 11 or an X9?”

New Series.
Mega Man is no stranger to new series entries, and one specifically designed for the 3DS could prove to be successful, especially now that the 3DS has proven to be a high selling console worldwide. The cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 could also pave the way for a series specifically designed for the 3DS. Every major handheld released by nintendo has had its own Mega Man series, with some having more than one series (Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS).

A new series could still stick to the tried and true method of ‘Jump and Shoot’ that Mega Man delivers, but present it in a new way, such as new designs, characters and abilities.

A Major Overhaul.
Most Mega Man games are similar in play style, apart from a few of course (Legends and Battle Network to name a few). A new gameplay style could be introduced to give the game a new perspective. First-Person Shooter? Role-Playing Game? All possibilities (even if hardcore fans of the series do not want this). Everything should be considered.

“Uh… Unlikely…”

A Reboot
Likely, and possibly just what the series needs at this stage. A redesign of Mega Man and co, a fresh spin on the classic gameplay, with inspiration from many of the series’, an overhaul of graphics, high-definition and a new marketing strategy. All the makings of a true Mega Man reboot. It could possibly introduce many new aspects, such as Co-Op, Online features and something totally different, like a stage builder or a weapon/character creator.

A Remake
What better way to introduce new players to Mega Man, then with a definitive remake of some of the best Mega Man games. A remastering (and possibly remixing) of some of the greatest music in video games history, with of course, the ability to listen to the original, untouched tracks also. Also, the ability to play each level in its classic design. All the makings of what i believe would be a very successful remake.

“A full remake of Mega Man X, with HD graphics, would be pretty fantastic.”

Closing Comments
What direction makes the most sense? Probably a new entry in the classic series/X series or possibly a new game for a totally new series. There are many directions that the series could take now, its just a matter of what Capcom now wants to do with the franchise.

It’s Mega Man’s 25th Anniversary this year and I want to hear something big. A new game, a rerelease, anything really. Mega Man has been dormant for quite awhile, and it could be that they want to have a real impact this year. Whatever the future holds for Mega Man, only time will tell. Let’s just hope we don’t see another cancelled game.

Mega Man should never be ignored as one of the most iconic video game franchises of all time and here’s hoping that Capcom never forgets that.

Written by ‘Michael Villalon’ for ‘The VG Island.’

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