Back in 1987, Keiji Inafune was a university graduate in Japan doing what all recent graduates do: looking for a decent-paying job. The young illustrator was hired by Capcom and wound up being tasked with creating a new character, Rockman. The diminutive blue hero debuted on the original Nintendo Entertainment System and became an iconic juggernaut for the publisher, one that has managed to evolve over two full decades. Inafune-san has also undergone a similar evolution. In his time with the company, he has gone from lowly graphic designer to Capcom’s global head of production. However, despite his new position, Inafune still finds time to tend to creative pursuits. We recently spoke with Inafune-san about an all new entry in the series, Mega Man Universe.
GameSpot: What are we seeing here? Is this a teaser trailer made to set the tone of the new game?
Keiji Inafune: That is correct. This is something that you have never seen before, and we have included some hints into this teaser trailer. If you take a look closely, you will be able to imagine a lot of different possibilities. So try and use your imagination, and you may figure out what makes this game special.
GS: What made you choose Mega Man as a basis for this new game?
KI: This time, I have included a lot of new gameplay concepts into this game. If we were to make a completely new game, people wouldn’t focus on these new concepts as they would be more focused on the new characters. By choosing Mega Man, a character that already has a strong following and is a character I’m personally attached to, this will allow people to focus on what is new about this game and what special gameplay opportunities can come from these new features.
GS: What kind of game is this?
KI: I can’t say what it is exactly at this point, but the people who I want to play are the fans who played Mega Man games growing up. You will see a lot of '80s influence in the sound and artwork used in the game, and in this teaser trailer, you can see a lot of the '80s theme we are going for.
GS: Will we be seeing standard platforming Mega Man action or will we be seeing things that mix that formula up?
KI: What do you think it’s going to be like? At Comic-Con, this new title Mega Man Universe will be born.
GS: Do you feel that Mega Man needs a reboot or makeover?
KI: I don’t think it is necessary to determine exactly where the character is heading. Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10, which were done in the 8-bit style, proved that Mega Man is still widely accepted by its fan base. But, that doesn’t mean that we need to stick only to that 8-bit style because all the fans would get bored of the series. It’s not about whether or not the style is new or old; it is about making new ideas. I am always looking for new ideas for Mega Man.
GS: Why do you think Mega Man is still such an endearing character after all these years?
KI: The character itself is very simple and accessible to a large audience. The games have high-quality gameplay mechanics and great background music. Those factors make Mega Man an unforgettable experience. I feel very honored that so many fans have shown their passion and dedication to the franchise over the years.
GS: How do the other Capcom properties like Ghost 'n Goblins and Street Fighter come into play?
KI: If I told you exactly how these characters would be implemented now, you wouldn’t have to use your imagination. We will let you know soon, but for now, how do you think worlds of Ghost 'n Goblins, Street Fighter, and Mega Man will collide?
GS: When will we see and hear more about the game?
KI: In the next couple of months, so you can expect to find out more information, so stay tuned.
GS: How much of an impact do all of the previous Mega Man games have on the creation of a new game like Mega Man Universe?
KI: All of the previous Mega Man games and all of the feedback we have received from the fans of the series has always been the biggest influence to our game design. I am particularly excited about how we will be able to implement the fans ideas in Mega Man Universe, but I can’t specify exactly how this will happen yet.
GS: Do you think that the series will be helped or hurt by taking the gameplay in more contemporary directions?
KI: Don’t worry; I strongly believe the franchise is headed in the correct direction.
GS: Thanks for your time.