Ask any gamer worth his salt to name 15 games he’s excited for in the next 3 months and without a doubt Capcom’s hotly anticipated Mega Man 9 will be somewhere on that list. Having been featured in over 100 different games spanning every conceivable genre, the titular Mega Man is one of the most widely recognized and versatile mascots of gaming — second, perhaps, only to Mario.
However, unlike Mario, Mega Man never seemed quite able to make the jump to 3-D when the time came, and as 3-dimensional game design became the norm, fairly or not, 2-D gaming was left in the dust. The Mega Man that many of us grew up on was banished to the realm of portable gaming and occasional console remakes, forced to eke out an existence akin to that of a former A-list celebrity becoming enslaved to the whims of whoever is in charge of making Lifetime Original movies. Horrific, but true.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when several months ago Capcom announced a brand new Mega Man game that would be released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. However, this game was going to be new only in the chronological sense of the word. Developed as a successor to the original NES Mega Man series, Mega Man 9 looks, sounds and plays like a game from 1989. As an added bonus, Capcom has even included the option to enable slowdown and screen flicker, a staple of classic gaming.
And although Capcom is being coy with a release date, stating nothing other than “TBA September,” gamers know that it’s always good to be prepared with an extra $10-$15. The real question, however, has nothing to do with the game’s release and everything to do with the decision to go retro. Is Capcom making a huge mistake? Will nostalgia be enough to win the day? And, most importantly, is “old” the new “new” in the same way that “freaking out about global warming” is the new “adopting a baby from China”? Only time, and our wallets, will tell.