Mega Man's New Dimension

In Mega Man Neo, the blue hero leaves the 2-D realm and jumps to the third dimension. Screens included.

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Ten years ago, Mega Man got a modest start on the 8-bit Famicom (aka Nintendo Entertainment System). Since then, Mega Man has provided a cornucopia of robotic mayhem, with plenty of action added to each of his jumps to more sophisticated systems.

The long evolution of the Mega Man series continues.

Mega Man is finally leaving what some might call the constraints of two-dimensional gameplay. Capcom is currently hard at work on Mega Man Neo, easily the most ambitious of any game in the series to date.

Combining elements from the action and RPG (yes, RPG) genres, Neo takes a surprising turn. At its heart, Neo is first and foremost an action title. Gameplay differs from previous Mega Man games in that there's a lot more exploring to do. The environments are big enough that some wandering around is needed for the player to become familiar with the surroundings.

There's an even amount of jumping and shooting action, and the controls in this 3-D game are easy to get used to. Smooth animation and cinemas are all done in real-time - no full-motion video here - and while they may look blocky at first, they become second nature while playing the game.

The most surprising element is that Mega Man actually visits towns and must complete different tasks in order to progress (such as saving a townsperson from robotic snakes). Add in a dancing monkey that saves your game and this is one very different game.

Currently Mega Man Neo is scheduled for a February release (and there's still quite a bit left to go).

The pictures that you see here were taken from an amazingly long demo and give an indication of what Capcom is doing with the title.

This reporter, for one, can't wait to see the final game.

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