Thursday, December 13, 2012

Promising Fan-Made Gem to Shine as Capcom's Street Fighter x Mega Man

When I was a wee lad, my first console was an NES. And even back then when the world lived and loved 8 bits at a time, I became a fan of Capcom – a lot of the games I enjoyed playing came out of Captain Commando’s namesake house, many of which went on to become classics. And they had style, kids. I flew in the war in 1942, played soldier in Commando and its Bionic sequel, channeled my inner avian billionaire in Duck Tales (woo-OO-ooh!) and even placated my pizza gluttony with Yo! Noid. But Capcom’s hallmark on the NES was the Mega Man series. We all loved that little blue rascal for reasons that I’ve really only been able to verbalize retrospectively – simple and fun controls, awesome music, character design that made sense, and some openness too with a range of weaponry as well as a choice of which order to fight the robot masters in.

My next console was the SNES, and again Capcom didn’t fail to deliver. A little older and a little more sophisticated (for lack of a better word), there was a different level of appreciation for Capcom’s 16-bit titles like King of Dragons, the Final Fight series, and even Breath of Fire on the RPG front. But again, like they did on the NES, they had one series shine above and beyond the others in the SNES era – Street Fighter. It was fun for some of the same reasons as Mega Man, with the added bonus of being able to play with and/or shame your friends publicly.

 So if you’re in the same boat as me (which I’m just going to go ahead and guess that you are) then you’ll share in my excitement about the following – in just a few short days Capcom will be officially releasing a glorious amalgamation of those two franchises, giving them the crossover treatment in Street Fighter x Mega Man. For free on the PC to boot. Players will don the arm cannon once again in a NES-style environment complete with 8-bit remixed tracks. The only difference is that instead of the classic Robot Masters we’re used to, stars from the Street Fighter roster step in, each with their own custom movesets and weapons that can be won. Sounds crazy, right? Check out the trailer on Brelston’s blog at Capcom where seeing is indeed believing, my friends.

But there’s more to this than just a nostalgic crossover. It’s a fan-made nostalgic crossover that Capcom really wasn’t the primary developer for. The man behind the scenes is actually Singapore’s Seow Zong Hui, a “superfan” and Street Fighter competitor that approached Christian Svensson at the EVO 2012 event with a prototype on his laptop. Svensson in turned shared it with Capcom’s GregaMan and Brelston, who were so excited about the game that they’re using it to kick off Mega Man’s 25th anniversary. The game will be available for download on December 17th through the Capcom-Unity blog. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, with Capcom fans clamoring for more Mega Man.

What really made me smile about this story is the fact that it was an example of a publisher embracing the work of one of their fans. The gaming community has seen a lot of unofficial fan-run projects in multiple forms of media get canned because publishers started flailing about with intellectual property claims and legalese-equipped flak, regardless of how awesome they looked. As an example Square-Enix killed Chrono Ressurection, an unofficial sequel to Chrono Trigger I was really looking forward to a few years back. And just this year Sega brought down the hammer on a fan-made Streets of Rage remake, that was made with fully original code and eight (that’s 8) years of work.

And I’m glad to see Capcom go the other way. Taking the highroad and believing it would be something fans would enjoy was the only criteria they used to make this decision. They didn’t lawyer up and scream “infringement."  And that connection to the fan community is something that should be inherent in publishers, and something I saw up at New York Comic Con as well. Not only on their Street Fighter 25th anniversary events but at their booth and on the floor they were all about fan engagement. I had a couple of questions about their new title Remember Me and the Product Manager just gave me her direct email address if I needed anything else, even as just a fan and not press. And Yoshinori Ono, producer for the Street Fighter series (God bless ‘im) was there in the mix too, dressed up like Chun-Li and on the floor interacting with a wave fans in whatever little English he had. That’s the kind of thing I like to see, and hope for more from some of the other big names.

Looking forward to giving this a go when it drops on Monday. And really, good on ya, Capcom.

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