TGS '07: Mega Man celebrates 20th anniversary

Series producer Keiji Inafune takes a look back at the series and talks about his favorite characters and games in the franchise.


TOKYO--With Mega Man's 20th anniversary coming up on December 17, series producer Keiji Inafune appeared at Capcom's stage at the Tokyo Game Show. While there wasn't anything extravagant, the blue bomber's father took a look back at the beloved series' history and talked about his favorites--and his failures.

Inafune and Mega Man.
Inafune and Mega Man.

"Normally, it's really hard to work on the same franchise for 20 years. You usually get taken out [of the series] somewhere along the line," said Inafune, whose works include a number of other titles including the original Street Fighter (designer), Onimusha (producer), and Dead Rising (producer).

Looking back at the series, Inafune was asked by the stage show host to pick a favorite title in the whole series. He didn't have to think too long before answering it wasn't Mega Man 1.

"I really have a lot of memories with all the Mega Man titles and it's difficult to just pick one of them as my favorite," said Inafune. "But if I were to do so, it would be the game that I'd consider to be like a clumsy son. It's Mega Man Legends, a title that really didn't sell well in the Mega Man franchise." (The action-role-playing game was released in the 1998 for the original PlayStation, followed by a PC port and Mega Man Legends 2 for the PS and PC in 2000. A PlayStation Portable version was released in Japan in 2005, but no US version is planned.)

"It didn't sell anywhere as well as I had anticipated," Inafune said. "I was really confident about the game during its development, considering how fun the game was. It was really something new, something that we thought would be unfortunate if gamers didn't play. And we released it, and oops!" The designer then let loose a hearty laugh.

"It was a bit too early for its days. Ever since then, people started saying that 'Inafune's ideas are seven or eight years too early.' It was a sandbox style of game, kind of like Grand Theft Auto. One has Yakuzas and the other has robots, but it's kind of like the same. If we made it at the present time in modern quality, I believe that it would have sold a lot better."

When asked by the stage show host if he has any plans to do a remake, Inafune said that it's something he'd want to do, although the reality isn't likely.

"I'd love to make a revival," he mused, sporting a mischievous expression. "But it's really difficult to have your company give you a budget for a game that flopped. I'm saving up so that I can make it on my own."

Inafune also revealed that he wasn't responsible for the creation of Mega Man himself. "I'm often called the father of Mega Man, but actually, his design was already created when I joined Capcom," he explained. "My mentor [at Capcom], who was the designer of the original Mega Man, had a basic concept of what Mega Man was supposed to look like. So I only did half of the job in creating him. I didn't get to completely design a Mega Man [protagonist] from scratch until Zero (Mega Man X, SNES). Back when the SNES was coming out, I was asked to give Mega Man a redesign, so I created this character. But I realized that this design wouldn't be accepted as Mega Man, so I had another designer create the new Mega Man, and I worked on Zero to release him as the 'other main character' that would steal all the good scenes!"

As expected for a developer who joined Capcom as an art designer, Inafune has a lot of favorite characters he's created aside from the protagonists. "When I joined Capcom, the first character I designed from scratch, aside from the normal enemies, was Elecman," he said. "When I created this character, I tried to make a character that looked [like] it was from an American comic. You'd see characters like him in Spider-Man or X-Men. It was pretty hard to design him, and I had to make sure that he didn't end up looking like an S&M queen."

"From Mega Man 2, we started accepting new boss ideas from the public. Kids would send in their boss designs, and it was my job to arrange them. I kind of got bottled up for not being able to create new designs from scratch, then I finally had the chance to do so on the Game Boy when we started to develop Mega Man in Dr. Wily's Revenge. It was a while since I could create a completely new character, and I created one called Punk."

"I also did his redesign in Mega Man Battle Network, though it took a couple of threats to have the designers hand over the job to me," Inafune said. "They still didn't seem to like what I came up with and they redesigned a bit over my redesign, but the results turned out great."

The Mega Man series may be Inafune's longest-running project series, but it also has some personal importance to him. "It may be the 20th anniversary for the Mega Man series, but it's also the 20th anniversary for myself as a game developer. It was the first title that I was involved in when I joined Capcom, and I've really been in the industry together with the series. It was the Mega Man series that taught me how to make video games, like what kind of points had to be detailed, and what kind of points had to be watched out for. I'm often called the creator of Mega Man or the father of Mega Man, but it's really the Mega Man series that created me."

"It's easy to forget the basics when you start getting into a higher position in the company and you're given more responsibility, but Mega Man reminds me of the fundamentals in game development, and its existence is really big to me."

While most of the media covering the stage presentation were Japanese press, Inafune pointed that the Mega Man series is also well known in other countries. "I get asked by the overseas press and fans as to when Mega Man Legends 3 will get released," he mused. "I've been trying to create Mega Man Legends 3 for a long time now, but I haven't been able to make it a reality yet. I'm making it my dream to create Mega Man Legends 3 before either I die or leave my company. ... With the continued support of fans, I hope that the Mega Man series continues to live on, and that we'll get to see its 30th and 40th anniversaries."

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Avatar image for darksongbird

I never liked Mega Man Legends. And they forgot to mention it was also on the Nintendo 64, right? Anyway, great series, 1, 2 and 4 were my favorites. I also loved the Mega Man X game with Morph Moth and Wheel Gator. Don't know which one that was..

Avatar image for DarkGothic

I love Legends 1 & 2!!!!! Very fun and memorable games!

Avatar image for paggigalo

Id have to say mega man 2 was the best, and no, not the RE:, the origional version, great over all id have to say....

Avatar image for Lord_ZhouYu

YE-es! I liked the Legends series a lot more than many other people seem to, it's interesting to think that it's his favorite and that he wants to use it. Especially with the waterhose of post-X stories coming out to help steer the series in Legends' direction.

Avatar image for UltimateXShadow

I hold so much respect for this guy.

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I can only hope that a MML3 comes out. i used to play the other two nonstop when I was younger.

Avatar image for colewaldrip

mega man needed to be in brawl!

Avatar image for tequilero

Im waiting now for the 30th anniversary of this great character.

Avatar image for SPARTT

I sure hope it doesn't only come out for the PS3. I'd probably get it anyway. Blarg.

Avatar image for sonic_nhl

I still want Mega Man 9 and Mega Man X9 =(

Avatar image for RockMX347

CAN'T WAIT!! Did you check these articles about him? The first one mentions about a Capcom Source that is reliable because Nintendo Project was told about Resident Evil 5 and Umbrella Chronicles before announcement. So sure as heck Megaman will be getting in, and also the second one says there will be a Megaman game for Wii. Therefore he WILL be able to get in and will announce him this month or next. The game might be delayed as a result as well, so what Megaman deserves it and I can't wait for him. GO MEGAMAN!! << LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> =rockman_in_ssbb_rockman_wii_heading_our_&more=1&c=1 &tb=1&pb=1

Avatar image for MrPuzzlez

Here's my rundown of my favorite action Hero Classic: 2, 3, and 5 were my favorites. X: Like only the first 3, Afterwards, It snowballed straight to hell. Legends: Didn't touch. Battle Network: Like X, the first 3 were pretty good, and like the X series, it got crappy, too. StarForce: It's almost a Pokemon wannabe, except with no updated looks (except for the 3d battles, woopty do!

Avatar image for PrivateJessard

There's way too many Mega Man games. I just see tons at the store all the time that I've never even heard of. I wonder how much there are. I'm pretty sure there's more than Mario.

Avatar image for kierantoocool

I remember I used to play Mage man legands 1 and 2 all the time, they were great

Avatar image for brycechua8

Haha really nostalgic stuff we got there..

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Avatar image for squirtle4

megaman's 20????he doesn't look it :D

Avatar image for BassTheMaverick

Mega Man rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I'm often called the creator of Mega Man or the father of Mega Man, but it's really the Mega Man series that created me." WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thats a great quote.

Avatar image for decoy1978

I love the techno remixes of Mega Man 2

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megaman battle network is the worst... ever... Megaman Legends was actually pretty good, but... it just wasn't that well executed, due to the hardware... if they were to come out with a Megaman Legends 3, i think it could definitely be a major contender for Game of the Year...

Avatar image for FstBrk342

Nice MM is koo and all cuz he;s the OG but Zero is my fav hands down ;)

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Megaman 2 music haunts my dreams. Those tunes are so damn beautiful. Mega Man 3 is the best out of the series... RUSH!!!!! and Shock Man(best megaman villian)

Avatar image for Shaoran_Lee

Cobalt_Strike said: I want to see Capcom revive the "classic" Megaman. Not this network battle BS I agree with you =P. Mega Man Battle Network is the worse MM series. I like the original series, the X series, the Zero series and the Legends series. I think is time to cut all the MM Battle Network series and return to the more interresting series (I like to see MM Legends 3, Mega Man X9 - but like the PSP remake -, and a final game of the original series)

Avatar image for The_Weekend

Megaman vs Metal Gear ... i wanna see those 20 year olds fighting it out!

Avatar image for Cobalt_Strike

I want to see Capcom revive the "classic" Megaman. Not this network battle BS

Avatar image for clifforddapogi

megaman was the best story for all side scrolling game for me... its like a kiddy type story... those old days.... anyway... i love megaman from gameboy until now to psp version.... anywa... Happy 20th Aniversary.... Go megaman X!!!!!

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megaman 1 was the first game i ever played in my life, i remember being about 4 years old and going round to my mates house because he got a NES for christmas, i remember staying there all day and nearly crying when i had to go home. Thats one of my first memories that i can remember really clearly, the power of megaman. We did cutman and fireman that day, and in a few weeks we managed to get onto that EVIL one eyed blob boss that splits up. I had to wait until the next year till i got my NES with megaman 2, one of the happiest days of my life. I've followed the series up to the N64 game and then started to go off them. After X3 things went to pot in my opinion. If it wasn't for the harsh, twitch based gaming that megaman thought me from when i was 4 (18 years ago.... sweet jesus!) i wouldn't have anywhere near the godlike gaming abilities i have now. Megaman, you are my sensei!

Avatar image for Reetesh

Mega Man, Sonic are some of the Few games that are IMO best kept Side Scrollers. I cant imagine them going full 3d, that would definitely change what the game is! Anyways, Happy anniversary for Mega Man :D many things getting 20/10 year old this year :P

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Megaman Legends 3 for the Wii would be the best

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Mega Man Legends 3: Coming in 20XX. You heard it here first on GameSpot!

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The Mega Man Legends games are criminally under-rated and under-played. I loved the fact that the games, on the surface, had a pretty light and childish tone and yet once you started getting into the plot it became obvious that things weren't what they seemed and something much larger and more sinister was at work. So many mysteries and loose ends. In my opinion, Legends was the last good new incarnation of Mega Man. The Battle Network games took him in a direction that I didn't particularly care for, downgrading him to a playable online extension of the protagonist kid instead of a real hero himself. The Zero games and whatever the latest version of Mega Man is returned him to side-scrolling basics, but strayed so far from the original character that it lessened my interest. A true, blue (pun intended) Mega Man revival is long over due. While the PSP remakes were interesting, I fear that the American audience for my favorite video game friend has grown up and new, young gamers don't really appreciate the simplicity and wonder that we felt when we opened up that crisp new instruction booklet to the newest Mega Man game and looked in awe at the eight awesome new characters we would surely spend many a late school night blasting into submission.

Avatar image for vaan_strife

Mega Man is where I started gaming. Way back in the late 80s not 5 years old I got Mega Man 3 for Christmas along with an NES and the rest is history. I am actually about to get a Mega Man tattoo soon but I still don't know if I want 8-bit, X, Zero, or Volnutt.

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I want to see a Mega Man Legends sequel =(

Avatar image for evil_tormentor

Respect to Inafune. Hope Megaman stays alive for decades to come!

Avatar image for Quasar14

Megaman x was the best

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They should make Megaman Powered up on the wii

Avatar image for mitu123

Yeah, Mega Man and Bass was the hardest game, but even Mega Man Network Transmission is just as hard, you have to rely on 5 random chips each time you enter a stage, so much for choosing every chip manually.

Avatar image for bosshoggpimp

Not really. There are the Megaman X series, the Megaman Zero series, and the Megaman battle network series. But if you are just talking about the original Megaman series, that isn't correct either. Megaman 9 was originally released in Japan only, but in the last couple of years was released on the Gameboy Advanced in the US and renamed Megaman and Bass. This game is not only thought to be the hardest megaman game ever but also one of the hardest games of all time due to a complete lack of energy tanks. I was able to beat the game, but only with Bass. I have no idea how Megaman could ever beat the game. megaman and bass was not a sequel and i guess i should have elaborated and meant the ones considered canon

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Man It would be so cool if Megaman Legends 3 came out, I loved the first two on PSone. I really was hoping the games would come out for the PSP after the japan release but they haven't :( Well here's hoping for MM legends 3 and port those Japan PSP games to the States or give them an Update and then release them here. oh and Zero is so kick ass but Mega Man (Rock Man) rules :D

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Mega Man X rules. That is all.

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If I have to pick my favorite game of the Mega Man series that would be Mega Man X 5

Avatar image for MBII_Dolla_Bill

Mega Man is my favorite game series of all time, and Mega Man Legends is one of my favorite games. I am emotionally to it and its story [even if its not the most sophisticated in the world]. it is the first Mega Man game I beat. It sucks that it didn't do well financially.

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To sonicgod: You just didn't know how to play the game. How much time did you invest in the game 10, 15 mins? Did the big robot scare ya? Personally, i loved both games, played them till there was nothing else to discover, and i'm so glad to hear the creator say that his favorite game in the franchise is megaman legends, because I too believe that those games didn't get the attention they deserve. Now, about the sales I can't comment because I don't live in the states and I had no idea that the reason a third megaman legends hasn't been made was due to poor sales, in fact, i could've sworn a third game was to be released for the ps2, but, well... Now, i'm genuinely happy because of this comments: "I'd love to make a revival" "I'm saving up so that I can make it on my own" -Keiji Inafune.

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Zero was a badass they killed him off to early why.....