Today marks the 35th anniversary of the first Mega Man, the game that kickstarted a remarkably iconic franchise in the video game industry, spawning ten direct sequels, multiple spin-off games, comics, tv shows, and more.
The latest entry to the series, Mega Man 11, launched back in 2018 and we thought it was excellent. In our 9/10 review, we praised the slick action gameplay, bold new visual design, and strong replayability. Five years out, however, what exactly would we like to see from a potential sequel? Do we want a continuation of what Capcom did with Mega Man 11, or would we rather it went back to basics with a game more akin to Mega Man 2 or 3?
Of course, a sequel may not even be a part of Capcom’s plans right now, but the recent discovery of website domains for Mega Man 12 through 15 indicates that maybe, just maybe, there is some hope of a potential follow-up to Mega Man 11 soon-ish.
Nevertheless, let’s dive right into six things we’re hoping for from a potential Mega Man 12, and be sure to make your own voice heard in the poll and comments below!
#1 – Reintroduce Pixel Art Visuals
We personally absolutely love how Mega Man 11 looked: it’s clean, it’s colourful, and it’s bold. But we’d be lying if we said we didn’t miss the “classic” aesthetic of older Mega Man games that Mega Man 9 and 10 went with. There’s just something instantly charming about it, right?
Games like Castlevania III, Super Mario World, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past hold up just fine to this day; arguably even better than their 3D counterparts, and the Mega Man franchise is no different, so we’d love to see a return to an 8- or 16-bit art style. In 2022, however, just how receptive are audiences going to be toward a new Mega Man that embraces pixel art? Especially after Capcom took the series in a significantly different direction with the eleventh iteration.
Our solution? Implement an ‘HD-2D’-style aesthetic. Maintain the core identity of the original NES titles, but augment it with real-time lighting, depth, and improved textures. We reckon that would look absolutely killer.
#2 – Bring Back Chiptune
This one sort of goes hand-in-hand with our first point and we’re not really sure you can have one without the other. Nevertheless, while we were fans of some of the tunes featured in Mega Man 11, they simply pale in comparison to the iconic scores found in the earlier NES titles; heck, even Mega Man 9 and 10 had music that completely trumps what was found in the latest title.
There’s nothing wrong with moving away from chiptune music and trying something a little more ambitious, but with Mega Man, there’s something truly magical about a simple, straightforward 8-bit theme that instantly gets stuck in your head.
#3 – Change Up the Gear System
Mega Man 11’s gear system was undoubtedly its biggest change compared to previous titles. It bestowed the ability to either slow down time or power up your weapon at the drop of a hat. While it was a fun little gimmick that worked well within the confines of the game, its inclusion throughout the entirety of the experience arguably made some areas slightly too easy, giving players a crutch to fall back on whenever things got a bit hairy.
Our solution? Pull back on its implementation slightly. There are a few ways Capcom could do this: our preferred option would be to keep them available at all times, but perhaps limit their use to two or three times per stage, forcing players to be a bit more selective when deciding to use them.
Other options include having them appear in the stages as pickups, or introducing them as an option if players happen to die a certain number of times, like in modern Mario titles.
There is, of course, also the option to ditch the gear system entirely, but we’re not sure we’re fans of that idea. While there’s no doubt that the stages in Mega Man 11 were fundamentally built around their use, ditching them completely would be the wrong approach here. We like the gear system; it just needs a bit of refinement.
#4 – Improve the Story
Mega Man 11 certainly tried to introduce some semblance of plot and technically succeeded in doing so. That said, we still wouldn’t go so far as to call it “good” and it certainly wasn’t a patch on anything you’d see in the spin-off series Mega Man X.
Now, we’re not saying the core Mega Man franchise needs to introduce threats of world domination or multiple protagonists with questionable morals, but when you’re this far into a franchise, you need to give fans more of a reason to stick around.
We’d be quite happy if Mega Man 12 simply introduced more environmental cues pointing to a wider storyline, or even implement some cutscenes to introduce the Robot Masters. Just something to give this universe a bit more life please, Capcom.
#5 – Speaking of Mega Man X…
At this moment in time, Capcom doesn’t seem particularly interested in reviving the Mega Man X brand, so why not implement some of its core gameplay features into the mainline series? Primarily, we’re thinking of the wall-jumping feature, which would add a further sense of verticality to stages.
Other features include the dash (though this is basically already available in the form of a slide) and — dare we say it — a sword. Yeah, we’re not expecting Zero to come leaping into action in Mega Man 12 or anything, but it would be cool if Mega Man got a timed ability to basically go superpowered and wield some sort of lightsaber for a few moments!
#6 – Bring Back Rush’s Adaptor Ability
Rush, Mega Man’s faithful robotic dog companion, is an absolute delight and has appeared in pretty much every game since his introduction back in Mega Man 3. His core abilities, Coil and Jet, are great little additions that mix up the gameplay, but we’d love it if the next instalment brought back Mega Man 6‘s ‘Adaptor’ ability.
This effectively fused Rush with Mega Man, giving Mega Man an awesome red aesthetic and turning him into either Power Mega Man or Jet Mega Man. Power Mega Man was able to charge up punch attacks and annihilate enemy shields, whereas Jet Mega Man basically allowed him to fly. What more could you want? [Power Jet Mega Man? – Ed]
We’d simply love to see these abilities make a return in Mega Man 12.
Like the sound of any of those ideas? Got some better ones of your own? Let us know in the poll below and feel free to celebrate 35 years of Mega Man in the comments. You can also celebrate that we made it through the entire article without once calling him the ‘Blue Bom—*editor bursts into the room, grabs the keyboard, and smashes it into a thousand pieces*