MEGA MAN CREATOR’S $4 MILLION SUCCESSOR
Keiji Inafune’s ‘Mighty No. 9’ is a success story even before release
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 16:10
Keiji Inafune hasn’t forgotten about Mega Man, and neither have his fans, even if the company that helped bring Rock, Rush, Roll, Dr. Wily and the evil robot masters to life seems to have.
A $3.8 million Kickstarter campaign for Mighty No. 9—a spiritual successor to Inafune’s Mega Man—proves that. That’s not including the extra $186,380 the developer’s new company Comcept got through PayPal donations, which brings the grand total to just over $4 million.
Inafune’s departure from Japanese publisher Capcom has been loud and well documented. Inafune left to create his own games at new studios after years of complaining about stagnant Eastern development, and an aborted attempt to create Mega Man Legends 3.
Since then, Capcom has treated the beloved character with something almost approaching contempt. The company pulled the plug on Mega Man Online, all but ignored the franchise’s 25th anniversary, and has ignored any questions regarding the future of the franchise.
Not one to give up on his darlings, Inafune launched the aforementioned Kickstarter for Mighty No. 9. It is hard not to see the similarities between the new game and the original Mega Man. It basically is the original Mega Man.
A robot boy with the ability to steal powers from enemies, while firing projectiles from one arm, fights his way through eight stages and their robot bosses. The main character’s name is Beck, and he has a female partner by the name of Call, which is clearly a reference to Mega Man’s Roll (Mega Man is called Rock Man in original Japanese, making the characters’ names Rock and Roll, heh). Even Beck’s design—from the bulbous helmet, to the blue color scheme—is clearly a reference to Mega Man. And let’s not forget that Inafune’s company is called “Comcept,” which might be construed as a play on Capcom’s own company name.
You might be wondering if this sort of thing might constitute a trademark dispute. So far, Capcom hasn’t said much about the very successful Kickstarter campaign (which, for the record, outstripped Double Fine’s adventure game Kickstarter—the campaign responsible for launching the video game crowdfunding craze).
Copyright laws in Japan are much more grey than in the United States, and even here it’s difficult to prove damages in cases of “cloned” games. Many independent game companies (Vlambeer of Ridiculous Fishing and Luftrausers is probably the most prominent) have had cheap knockoffs of their games flood the iOS app store before they’ve even been released, and have struggled to find ways to fight back.
Mighty No. 9’s creation certainly seems like a reversal on that idea, with the largely humorless Capcom getting popped in the jaw by a creative type.
With more than $4 million of other people’s money on the line, Comcept should hopefully be very confident that it’s in the right. A legal attack from Capcom would make the company look even more like a villain than it does already, but a corporation is a corporation. The conversation must have happened.
Worries about legality aside, I’m personally very excited. Mega Man was an integral part of my childhood gaming habits, and I’d love to see the legend continue.
Assuming all goes well, we should hopefully see Mighty No. 9 on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U, Mac, Linux and PC in 2015.