Written and Illustrated by Koriander Bullard
It was October of 2010 when Capcom officially announced at a ComicCon event that Mega Man Legends 3 was in development, after years of fans begging for a sequel. This was ten years after the release of Mega Man Legends 2, which saw the protagonist Mega Man Volnutt trapped on Elysium in a cliffhanger that had never been resolved.
The new game would have been on the Nintendo 3DS, still a hot selling handheld at the time of this writing. Capcom had kickstarted a campaign in which fans of the series would create new characters, levels and offer ideas on the plot for the game. A bulk of the game data would be fan created through various contests held via their Devroom website.
The Mega Man Legends series on a whole has a cult following. Initially panned by critics for it's lack of similarity to the 1980's Mega Man line of games, hardcore gamers grew to love the series, which boasts an epic and branching storyline, decent shooting mechanic and enough tongue-in-cheek humor to break up the tension as the story unfolds. Graphically speaking, the first two games were a great way to test the limits of the PlayStation 1 console, which the games did by creating expansive caves and underground facilities to explore, hidden caverns and enough play-altering side quests and item creation to keep players returning to and restarting their journey over and over again. The only consistent complaint was about the learning curve with the camera, but a 3DS port promised to fix this.
Another reason why Legends has picked up a new fan following in recent years is it's ease of game play. Today's Mega Man fans are often seen chastising Capcom on various message boards and on Nintendo's Miiverse for developing earlier entries in the Mega Man world to be insanely difficult, allowing the player virtually no reaction time between villains. Legends on the other hand is paced evenly, with the challenge being relegated to it's later boss stages, allowing players to enjoy the game to it's fullest.
Capcom spent from October of 2010 until July of 2011 promising gamers the same expansive universe they had grown to love in the form of screen-shots and game-play videos, showing proof of concept that this was an actual game in development.
A Nintendo eShop demo was slated for release in July of 2011. In the months leading up to the demo debut, Capcom had launched an advertising campaign on par with previous entries in the Mega Man franchise. A two-page spread with insider details was written for the legendary but now defunct magazine Nintendo Power, while other publications had geared up for similar and lengthy articles detailing the game's specs, audio and storyline. Nintendo 3DS owners had made plans for purchase and were anxious to see their group efforts paying off.
The closer the world got to the demo, the more details came out. Glowing reviews from industry insiders revealed the demo was actually a prototype cut of the game, featuring ten, full levels, a full cast and intense boss battles. Early access players gave the game rave reviews and praised Capcom for keeping the cost of the prototype down to $2 in US currency.
Then, in the late hours of July 18, 2011, a rumor had leaked that the game had been canceled. Online speculation arose, as the rumor was confirmed as true by Capcom Japan the same day, and Capcom's North American branch the following day.
Despite the fact that the game was mostly made of fan content and the fact that the Mega Man Legends fan demographic had nearly tripled since the first game launched in 1997, Capcom lied to the public, claiming that there “was not enough fan support” to launch the promised game. They even chided fans via Twitter, promising to make a move if at least 100,000 fans could drum up support.
In the five years since, more than the initial 100,000 have taken to Facebook, Twitter, The Devroom and many more social media websites, petitioning for Capcom to keep their promise and release the game.
And what is Capcom's response? Simple. Troll the fans.
Aero, whose design was supposed to come from fans who entered a contest but was actually designed by Capcom developer Shinsuke Komaki, has since appeared in the iTunes game Otoranger while select levels from the game were taken apart and re-worked into less successful games. Aero would be teased for other games though nothing further has been published.
Servbots and their severed heads appear in many of Capcom's fighting games, as does Tron Bonne, who gives subtle hints about Legends 3 with her Servbots in Project X Zone, another 3DS title. Those who played as Tron in the last Marvel vs. Capcom game for Xbox 360 could unlock a new ending, where Tron goes to Elysium to rescue Mega Man Volnutt on her own.
Every other year, Capcom creates a new excuse as to why the game was canceled, and yet each excuse has been met with reasons why said excuse is a poorly-crafted lie. And their internet-troll behavior has also spilled over into their other games. Google the name “Capcom” and you'll find horror stories about on-disc DLC in which customers have already paid to own the content on the disc, but must pay Capcom again to use the content they already purchased, unwelcome reboots of beloved franchises and every horror story is followed by Capcom's indifference to fan complaints, despite this blatant attack leading to a decline in sales. It's also made it harder for fans to turn off instant online play in some of it's newer Street Fighter titles, allowing experienced players the chance to randomly attack newer players not yet familiar with the game at a faster pace than the Arcade mode. Also, the stories are more rampant than before of Capcom coding newer games to be more difficult and less forgiving, alienating newer gamers and more casual players. And the less said about alleged racial themes in Street Fighter, the better, and considering how much shorter the games are getting, it hardly seems fair to charge customers $60 per game or expansion, plus an additional $30 for a season pass or $5-10 per DLC.
When they're not trolling their fans, Capcom has also gotten poor marks from their employees. Developers on the brink of suicide, artists passing out at their desks, upper management harassment and enough stories of workers being hospitalized for ulcers and dehydration to make a team of lawyers think it's Christmas.
While rumors about the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 still swirl around the sudden departure of Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune, it does not explain the troll tactics Capcom has used for games he was not involved in. Canceling the latest Legends game may have been a move to hurt the legacy of Inafune, but it has done more to hurt Capcom in the long run.
For a company with the longevity Capcom boasts, it's business practices are sophomoric at best and self-destructive at worst. Not one of these tactics has done anything to hurt the fans or developers behind Mega Man, but it has done plenty to hurt Capcom on a whole.
In the five years since canceling Mega Man Legends 3, Capcom has learned nothing from it's biggest financial mistake, even when faced with declining sales and a high number of returned purchases for their more recent games.
The only thing keeping Capcom afloat seems to be nostalgia itself. The re-releases of their 1980's and 1990's games onto the current platforms plus an aggressive marketing campaign for t-shirts and toys based on their original line-up has proven itself to be at least semi-decent, albeit not great with price mark downs on the new ports and the amount of merchandise meeting clearance bins worldwide. It's only a matter of time before the nostalgia effect wears off, and video game fans realize the shortcomings and ruthless core of Capcom.
Five years from today, I hope the landscape will have improved. I hope that Capcom will either learn from these mistakes, or at least get bought out by a company that has a better grip on quality when it comes to their employees and their paying customers.
Or at least in five years, we might actually get Mega Man Volnutt down from Elysium.
The clock is ticking, Capcom. It's time to grow up.
Koriander Bullard is an author, cartoonist and human rights advocate. Keep up with her on Facebook!