I recently interviewed the two Capcom developers overseeing the new “Mega Man 9” game, the throwback game coming to all three consoles’ downloadable gaming services this fall. This new “Mega Man” game is 8-bit and designed to look and play like the original ones on the Nintendo Entertainment System. So we talked about the look, the gameplay, which of the “Mega Man” games players should play before playing “MM9,” and other stuff.
And I asked Inafune if — maybe — there have been too many “Mega Man” games?
Hit the jump for all the answers and a good trashing of the priorities of modern game developers.
Hironobu Takeshita, producer, “Mega Man 9″: It’s been a long time since there’s been a “Mega Man” in the original series. So we thought if we brought out a game in the original series it had to be like what the game was originally like. We wanted the graphics, the sound, the feel — everything everyone knew from the old game. It’s a simplistic style but that doesn’t make it a simple game.
Multiplayer: Is this game actually an 8-bit game or is it simply in the style of an old game? Would it fit on an old Nintendo cartridge? Is it just a few kilobytes big?
Takeshita: From top to bottom this is an old-school, NES-style 8-bit-graphic game. It’s the same kind of game you probably remember playing. It could fit on an old Nintendo but this is for the next generation. It’s a downloadable game.
Multiplayer: When you guys decided to make “Mega Man 9″ in this style, I assume nobody at Capcom had made a game in this style in a long time. So I’m wondering what it was like to re-learn to make 8-bit games or if there were people in the studio doing this on the side? How were those skills rediscovered?
Keiji Inafune, creator, Mega Man: Making an 8-bit game like this, it’s been a long time since even I’ve done something like that. But there are a lot of staff at Capcom that remember how to make that sort of thing, We used a company called Inti Create to help us on this. It’s comprised of former Capcom staff members and people who worked on NES 8-bit games. They’re really into 8-bit games and wanted to make a game like this. So, we had all the expertise we could want to make a game like this.
Multiplayer: It seems to me that if you make a game in an 8-bit style, you lose a lot of things. You can’t do a lot of the things you do in modern game design. What do you gain working within 8-bit constraints?
When talking about modern games I think there’s a lot of stuff in there that people don’t need.
Inafune: When talking about modern games I think there’s a lot of stuff in there that people don’t need. The systems have much higher specs than the old-school systems. And now makers try to make games that meet the requirements of those systems. So they put in too much and they forget about what’s fun about playing games. If you go back to the 8-bit generation, those games were fun and you could play them for hours on end. People remember that. So we wanted to make something that people would have fun playing and wouldn’t mind playing for hours just like when they were younger. I don’t think players are losing something by playing an 8-bit game. We put a lot of stuff into this one and people will be surprised by what they see.
Multiplayer: I remember a lot of the 8-bit games I played on the NES were really, really hard. I was wondering how hard “Mega Man 9″ is.
Takeshita: Well, we made this game based on the old games. So, as you could imagine, it’s just as hard as those old games. And if you haven’t played those games in a while, it might be even harder. The whole point is: you play this, you die a few times, but you keep trying and you get past the difficult spots. That’s the pleasure gamers get from the challenge and overcoming those challenges. And we felt by creating a game that challenges players, it will give them greater reward when they beat those challenges.
Multiplayer: How many lives is the player going to get, given that the game is so hard?
Takeshita: [laughs] You start off with three lives.
Multiplayer: [laughs] I’m not going to get very far in this game. Since this is “Mega Man 9,” do I have to have played “Mega Man” 1-9 and all the “Mega Man” spin-off games in order to understand what’s going on in “Mega Man 9″?
We would definitely like people to play “Mega Man 1″ and “2” again just so they compare those to the game.
Inafune: We would definitely like people to play “Mega Man 1″ and “2” again just so they compare those to the game. And we are planning on releasing those first two games on the Virtual Console at some point. So when you can, please download them and play them and see what you think.
Multiplayer: And I heard someone suggest that “Mega Man 10″ should be a 16-bit game. What do you guys think of that?
Inafune: Well first we have to see how fans react to seeing “Mega Man” in the 8-bit version first. We think this is where “Mega Man” really belongs and we really wanted to go in this direction for any possible follow-ups to “Mega Man.” But once we gauge fans’ reactions and what they have to say, maybe we’ll see another version “Mega Man” in the 16-bit form. For now, we’d like to see how he does in his classic form.
Multiplayer: I’m just wondering — because there have been so many “Mega Man” games — do you think there have been too many “Mega Man” games? There need to be more “Mega Man” games or you’d like it to be streamlined? What’s your opinion on the franchise as a whole?
I’ve been involved with “Mega Man’ for over 20 years now, and there are games that even I forgot that I had made.
Inafune: Well, there are a lot of “Mega Man” games. But most of them are what fans have requested of us. And we try to make follow-ups to the games that fans request. I mean, I’ve been involved with “Mega Man’ for over 20 years now, and there are games that even I forgot that I had made. When you think of it in those terms, yes, there might be a lot of “Mega Man” games. But it’s a franchise that the fans love.
Multiplayer: When can people expect to play “Mega Man 9″ and on which platforms?
Takeshita: “Mega Man 9″ is scheduled for release this fall 2008. It will be on the Wii’s WiiWare, Xbox 360 Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.