How The Messiest Mega Man Game In History Got Canned

How The Messiest Mega Man Game In History Got Canned
The ancient screenshots remain, and they aren't pretty. (Screenshot: Capcom)

Announced back in 2010, Mega Man Universe was an ambitious project that, in retrospect, sounded like it could have been Super Mario Maker for the Capcom crowd. Or maybe it was going to be a Mega Man 2 remake. According to new information dug up by fansite Protodude’s Rockman Corner, when the game was first announced there was no solid plan regarding what it would be.

There was always something strange and vague about Mega Man Universe. From its trademark filing in April of 2010 to its announcement months later, information on the game was understandably hard to come by. But after its official announcement in July of 2010, concrete information continued to elude us. Speaking at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune told fans that Mega Man Universe would let you “play as the Mega Man of your dreams.” What did that mean?

According to one source speaking to Protodude’s Rockman Corner under condition of anonymity, there wasn’t a solid plan for the game at the time it was announced. “One day it was a Mega Man 2 remake. The next, he [Inafune] would talk about it as if it would be a ‘platform’ in itself. It went back and forth there for a little while.”

By the time New York Comic-Con came around in September of 2010, Mega Man Universe had a more concrete vision. The game, which demoed poorly on the show floor, was a sort of Mega Man construction set that you could use to craft your own levels. According to Protodude’s sources it was imagined as an ongoing storefront where players could buy new assets to add to their builds. Imagine Mario Maker packed with microtransactions, except over a decade ago.

It's totally Super Mega Man Maker up in here.  (Screenshot: Capcom) It’s totally Super Mega Man Maker up in here. (Screenshot: Capcom)

The main problem with the game at that point was that everyone hated it. The demo shown at NYCC and that year’s Tokyo Game Show was sluggish and ugly. The art direction eschewed the signature anime style in favour of a more Cartoon Network style to appeal to Western audiences. It did not.

When Mega Man creator and Mega Man Universe game director Keiji Inafune left Capcom in October of 2010, it was pretty clear Mega Man Universe was headed for the garbage heap. As Protodude’s sources describe it, development on the game was already going very poorly at that point. Graphical tweaks attempting to make the game more appealing were breaking the controls. An attempt was made to add online multiplayer co-op to the mix, only to fail miserably.

It sounds like the whole project just sort of slowly dissolved after Inafune’s departure. Work on the ambitious project was outsourced to a studio that seemed less than capable of bringing the game to fruition. One source describes post-Inafune work on Mega Man Universe “a disorganized scramble.” By the time the game was officially cancelled in March of 2011, no one was surprised.

Check out the full article over at Protodude’s Rockman Corner for more behind the scenes info on one of the biggest messes in Mega Man history.

This article has been retimed since its original publication.

Comments

  • It’s funny how close to the mark you can get without even knowing. A handful of nudges in the right directions and this is Mario Maker years before Mario Maker. Mega Man Maker seems to be doing fine, but imagine if it was multi-platform with Capcom behind it (although we have to assume it wouldn’t be cross-platform back then)?

    Goes to show the value of having a clear vision to get behind and sell the audience on. It was such a vague non-event every time it came up that I would have never suspected it was this close to awesome.

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