What Smash means for Mega Man
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises this E3, at least for me, was the inclusion of Mega Man in the latest Smash Bros. on Wii U and 3DS. (Okay, Wii Fit Trainer was pretty out there, too.) True, he was one of the more requested characters, but Namco’s involvement seemed to suggest that if any third party character would get in, it’d be Pac-Man. The Blue Bomber has fallen on hard times as of late, but as a big fan, I can’t help hoping that this might signal a climb back to the top for Capcom’s leading robot. Capcom could learn a thing or two from Nintendo about maintaining a mascot.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Smash Bros. has led to a character’s revival. The series has acted as a conduit for the less successful gems in Nintendo’s menagerie like Earthbound and Ice Climber to shine. Fire Emblem might never have reached Western shores without Marth and Roy making it into Melee. Most recently, Pit from Kid Icarus came out of 21 years of retirement in Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS with no small thanks to his playable status in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii. With the buildup surrounding Mega Man’s 25th anniversary last year and all of the controversy swirling around the cancellations of the last two major titles he was scheduled to appear in (Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe), the character is poised to make a comeback with a little help from Smash.
There was a time when Mega Man was the butt of ‘sequelitis’ jokes. He rivaled Mario and Sonic as an overused lovable mascot with too many games to count. Many of those games were fantastic, though far too many were derivative. There are plenty of odd and flat-out terrible Mario games (Hotel Mario…), but the main line of Mario titles receive a level of patient polish and gestating that makes every release an event. If Capcom had shown the same steady hand to their mascot, passionate fans might not be so desperate for anything starring their favorite blue bot and have to make impressive Facebook pages to rally support. As Rockman Corner’s Protodude reported in an article on the mutual efforts by Capcom and Nintendo to get Mega Man into Smash, it may be that Capcom is already hoping some of that Mario magic will rub off.
I don’t think it’s all a matter of too many games or too many spinoffs. True, Mega Man’s story tends to be a little more involved and slightly more confusing with every new main character. Mario is always Mario, but he’s also embarked on role-playing adventures, puzzling professions and every sport under the sun. If Paper Mario isn’t your thing, you might miss out on some of the canon, but you’re not any less ready to jump back into the plumber’s shoes for another platforming romp. Zelda is another good case of timeline confusion, yet every game can be enjoyed individually. Hard as some of his games may be, Mega Man has a lot of that same pick-up-and-play charm and potential for growth. If Mega Man 9, a retro sequel with silly marketing, can achieve sales dominance (source: Nintendo Life) on WiiWare (small as its library is), Capcom might strike gold again with a little help from Nintendo.
As a personal note to the fans, I’d like to address all of the negativity I’ve seen towards Capcom. I’ve felt plenty of it myself, but it doesn’t really help to spew venom at an entire company full of plenty of Mega Man lovers. Keep it civil and be happy we finally get to chuck Metal Blades at Mario’s mug!