As promised, Capcom extended an olive branch to fans of its quarter-century old action series Mega Man on Monday morning, giving an official publisher-release release for the fan made Street Fighter X Mega Man. Seo Zong Hui, the man behind the new downloadable, wanted to make a fitting tribute for both of Capcom’s series that turned 25-years-old in 2012, pitting the diminutive Mega Man (or Rockman for Japanophile purists) against eight world warriors from Street Fighter. Each fighter, including the original fireball thrower Ryu and relative newcomers like Street Fighter IV’s C.Viper, wait at the end of platforming stages styled after the original NES Mega Man games, much like the last Capcom-developed Mega Man game, 2010’s PSN/XBLA/PC/Wii release Mega Man 10. The game is free of charge.
Capcom also announced that it would be offering fans of the series some additional downloadable titles, albeit for tidy sums of cash. Starting Dec. 27, Capcom will start releasing the Mega Man 1 through 6 on the Nintendo 3DS eShop in the US. The NES games have already hit the eShop in Japan and Europe, but now Americans will be able to slowly enjoy those games over the next year. Mega Man 2 will follow on Feb. 7 and the others will be released bimonthly throughout the year under the guise of a prolonged 25th anniversary celebration for the series.
There is a pattern within these releases: Each of them cost Capcom nothing to distribute or develop. Hui actually developed Street Fighter X Mega Man for his own edification. “I wanted some practice with game programming, so I decided to make something for practice,” Hui told Kotaku recently, “I managed to find some images online for Mega Man, and made something from it just for programming practice. At the that time, 8-bit pictures were popular so I made some gifs of Street Fighter in the same style to test the response from the community and used Ryu as a test on the game engine I was building on. The results were great so I decided to continue working on it.” Ultimately Capcom didn’t need to put any effort or resources into the game’s creation. A low risk way to keep the brand around.
Capcom Japan’s unwillingness to recommit to one of its most famous series persists in the wake of series creator Keiji Inafune’s abrupt departure from the company in 2010. Multiple Mega Man projects, including the ambitious free-to-play, community based MMO Mega Man Universe where people could create their own Mega Man levels and characters, were unceremoniously cancelled following his resignation. Pride, not profits, seems to be keeping the series down.