Back in March, I posted this picture on my Deviantart account, on social networking sites, and on Capcom's forums.
I didn't think I'd do anything with it after that, as I cannot program, code, or even draw a front of the box. But the ideas kept flowing, and I think I have enough of them for a 'sales pitch.'
One problem people had, and continue to have, with the Mega Man franchise as a whole is the lack of 'new content and originality'. While new characters and Robot Masters are good from a story perspective, from a gameplay perspective, the basic formula has remained the same. This is not always a bad thing—the Mario franchise has built upon the same platforming formula to great success, as has Sonic the Hedgehog. And Mega Man, with its many different series, has enough gameplay variety for many consumers.
But the difference is this.
With each new Mario or Sonic game, something new and exciting was added to the core gameplay. In Donkey Kong, for example, Mario could use a hammer and barely clear barrels by jumping. In Mario's next playable outing in Mario Bros., the POW Block, attacking enemies from below, and a second playable character, Luigi, were added. Similarly, from Sonic the Hedgehog 1 to Sonic 2, Tails, Super Sonic, and the Spin Dash were added—elements that are now considered to be Sonic staples. This has continued to even the most recent games—each new Mario platformer has at least one new powerup, enemy, or level design, and Sonic Colors and Sonic: Lost World have made Wisps core gameplay features. The upcoming Super Mario 3D World has the Cat Suit powerup, and Toad and Princess Peach playable for the first time since Mario 2—each with gameplay differences.
In short, good platform games—or good game franchises, period—offer something new with each game they create.
Now let's look at Mega Man.
From Mega Man 1 to Mega Man 2, gameplay was streamlined and greatly improved. E-Tanks were added to help with tough levels, the points system was removed, and the Items 1, 2, and 3 were created to help Mega Man out. In 3, a new character, Protoman, was added, Rush the robo-dog replaced the three Items, and Mega Man could now slide. In 4, the charged shot was added, along with hard-to find items like the Wire and Balloon.
And that was pretty much everything new that was added across the series as far as gameplay goes. Some level gimmicks were created, and weapons came and went, but the core gameplay remained the same from 4 onward.
What I am proposing is something new and exciting, while remaining true to Mega Man's spirit.
This is Mega Man Exploration. The core gameplay is similar, but different enough from the Mega Man norm to be new.
Gameplay would, on a basic level, consist of jumping and shooting—but the depth would be in what weapons can do and how the bosses react to them, explorable, interconnected areas, hidden secret areas and bosses, and 32 Robot Masters to find and defeat before moving on to Dr. Wily's fortress.
The first point to make is weapons and tools. Every Robot Master has its own weapon to collect after its defeat, and tools are scattered throughout the world—but aside from defeating enemies, they also help solve puzzles and unlock new areas. For example, the player may be walking along when they see a series of large blocks in a right-facing staircase formation. Behind these blocks is an E-Tank, and to the upper left of the screen is an area yet unexplored.
To get the E-Tank, the player could use Guts Man's Super Arm to lift and throw the blocks—and create a staircase with the blocks to access the area. Alternatively, Crash Man's Crash Bombs could be used to blow the blocks up, preventing access to the area—unless you use Tengu Man's Tornado Hold to hoist yourself up to the area.
Another example would be a ledge that's too high to reach by jumping or with the Rush Coil. You could use Nitro Man's Wheel Cutter to saw up to the platform, Air Man's Air Shooter or Tengu Man's Tornado Hold to get there via high winds, or, in an unorthodox move, make the ledge come down to you with a Crash Bomb, the Super Arm, or a charged Mega Buster shot.
With many new weapons to use on them, the existing Robot Masters would have new attacks to counter them and to use on you in general. Ice Man, for example, could skate on the icy floor to crash into you as well as fire his Ice Slasher, and if you hit him with electricity enough times he would breathe at the ceiling and cause icicles to rain down, acting as a barrier in front of him. You could melt them with fire, destroy it with a bomb, jump over them or slide under them and continue firing electricity, or throw it with Guts Man's Super Arm—and if you fought and defeated the hidden boss Quint, his Pogo Stick would shatter them on contact.
Another feature would be interconnected areas. The starting point of the game would be Dr. Light's lab, but from there you could go left, right, up, or even down if you have the right weapon. Areas would generally be connected by boss doors, in which there would be a save point and a communication with the shop. Eddie would deliver the items to you without having to go back to the Lab for items. Once you reached a set of doors, Mega Man would gain its teleportation coordinates so he could be transported there instantly form the lab or any other set of doors. However, there could also be hidden paths and shortcuts between areas that aren't obvious.
In case the player sees something to remember for later, he or she could mark the spot on a map. The map shows the areas of the world explored thus far, and boss doors are highlighted in different colors than the world around them. Checkmark spots or notes of interest would be designated by another color to make them distinct, and if the player wanted, he or she could write a short note with the mark to remind them of what to do in the room.
The Weapon System would be divided into sets and could be sorted by game, by order acquired, or by the type of weapon—fire, ice, lightning, air, etc. Rush and other support items would be on the bottom across every list for easy access, as would Energy or Weapon Tanks.
Hidden areas would also appear in the game. These would often require more than one weapon to find, and would be located in out of the way areas. For instance, if the player went to the highest peak of Wily's Castle, and used the Tornado Hold, Air Shooter, the Balloon, and the Wire Adapter, eventually they would go so high they'd reach the Moon—and get an achievement for doing so. ('Reached Out and Grabbed the Moon!') Hidden areas could have secret bosses, like the Mega Man Killers, Quint, and possibly the Stardroids or even the DOS Mega Man bosses.
But the biggest draw would be the core gameplay—to jump, shoot, slide, and explore.
As in Mega Man 10, Mega Man, Protoman, and Bass would be playable—and, for the first time in a main Mega Man title, so would Mega's sister Roll. Each character would have gameplay differences, sometimes resulting in an entirely new gameplay experience.
Mega Man would be able to use his charge shot and slide once more, as well as basic jumping and shooting with the Mega Buster. His weapons would cost the standard amount of energy to use.
Protoman would fire two buster shots at once; charging would do a great amount of damage, but do to his unstable core it would also cost some of his health. This would not kill Protoman, though it would leave him at 1 HP and be unable to charge until he regained health. Standing still would raise his shield, blocking most projectiles from the front. His weapons would do double damage in combat and have a wider radius for exploration use, but cost more energy to use.
Bass would be able to double jump and rapid fire when standing still. His charge shot would pass through walls and other obstacles, but would take more time to charge up. His weapons would do slightly less damage in combat and have less of a radius for exploring, but would cost less weapon energy to use.
Roll is the wild card. Since she wasn't built for combat, her jump and slide can go higher and farther than the other three characters. Her charge shots are weaker than the others', but charge more quickly in comparison. Her weapons would cost the same amount of energy as Mega Man's and do the same amount of damage, and she would also have her broom to use as a melee attack.
And there's one more surprise: A hidden playable character.
Ruby-Spears' Roll would be unlocked by completing the game with every character once. Unlike her 'siblings', she would be unable to use any Robot Master weapons aside form hidden bosses—but she would be able to use every weapon she had in the cartoon from the very beginning of the game, some with very different effects. She would use her toaster gun as a buster.
What makes a series thrive is core gameplay with new and exciting developments—and I feel with an explorable world, 5 playable characters, hidden areas and bosses, and a fresh gameplay experience, Mega Man Exploration is the kind of game fans would want and Capcom would need.
IF ONLY I COULD PROGRAM.