When it comes to the 25th Anniversary of Mega Man, we've had scraps to feast on from Capcom. We've had figurines, USB sticks and a free PC game, but what the fans truly crave — new top-end games in the franchise — have been absent so far. Courtesy of Polygon, meanwhile, we now have a glimpse of a Mega Man project that, on the surface, looks like it could have been a bold, exciting new direction for the franchise.
In the first half of 2010 there were prototypes put together for an FPS Mega Man title; before you recoil in horror, it should be emphasized that the developer tasked with the project was Armature Studio, itself founded by key members that led the Metroid Prime Trilogy games. That series converted a 2D franchise into a critically acclaimed first-person action/adventure series, which is very much what this Mega Man project, called Maverick Hunter, was trying to reproduce.
With consultation and scripting by series creator Keiji Inafune, the title was to take place in the "X" part of the Mega Man universe, which would have better suited the darker, more serious aesthetic. Rather like the Prime series, it had a goal of taking staples of the 2D games and reimagining them in a 3D environment; this was to include the iconic arm cannon, the wall jump from the X series and also enemies having particular weaknesses to exploit. It's said that the project was deemed too risky by the higher-ups in Capcom, and this was the year that would ultimately see Inafune depart from the company.
Although the title only existed for a few months in prototype form, the team involved and the concept seem to have been full of promise. There was a broad plot outline for a trilogy of titles, that would have actually seen Mega Man become power-crazed and the villain in the concluding part, with Zero becoming the protagonist for that finale. With more parallels to the Prime series, the intent was for a light, organic style of storytelling that would take place through actions and exploration in the game. As Polygon also explains in some detail, the lore of the series and back-story from some of the previous X titles had set the groundwork for the direction that Maverick Hunter would have taken.
Although Inafune has never acknowledged this project directly — no doubt to avoid issues of non-disclosure agreements — he did say the following about the idea he'd had for a Mega Man shooter at last year's Tokyo Game Show.
At the time, I thought about the good old Mega Man fans from the past, that was an audience from 20 years ago. They've grown up. They're adults. And when I thought about what people were enjoying the most right now, especially in the west, the answer was first-person shooters.
That's why I thought the people who grew up with Mega Man might like it. I felt that it would be a huge hit for Capcom.
We encourage you to check out the videos below which, for our money, show a project that had serious potential. If you want a lengthier, more detailed tale of this Mega Man game that never was, check out the full article. Let us know what you think, and whether you believe you would have liked this game, in the comments below.