We are all familiar with the high-profile Mega Man game cancellations from the past few years -- Mega Man Universe, Mega Man Legends 3, and Mega Man Online. But what about the projects that never even left the conceptual stage? What about Maverick Hunter, the Mega Man X first-person shooter by Armature Studio?
Polygon's Michael McWhertor and Wes Fenlon did some sleuthing and discovered that, in early 2010, Keiji Inafune gave the team of former Retro Studios staff the go-ahead to re-imagine the Blue Bomber's cooler, sleeker cousin in much the same way Retro re-imagined Metroid. Their idea was to give X a Bomberman: Act Zero makeover, assign him a human police officer partner, and replace his Buster with a machine gun that fires missiles when charged up. In other words, Mega Man X in the very loosest sense.
Armature envisioned a trilogy culminating in a final chapter starring Zero, who would be forced to destroy a power-crazed X. That vision will never be realized, as Maverick Hunter was axed in a greenlight meeting a mere six months into the project. And with Keiji Inafune's depature, it's unlikely that anyone at Capcom will be willing to revive it. All that exists is a playable prototype, videos of which Polygon has also shared.
Personally, I am not sad that Maverick Hunter was quietly shelved. I've frequently expressed my disappointment about the franchise's mistreatment and numerous cancellations, but a cold, gritty first-person shooter is most definitely not what I would consider a good fit for the brand. Even Capcom senior vice president Christian Svensson has stated that a Mega Man FPS is "not something I would advocate."
The Metroid Prime's first-person direction works because the character designs are consistent with the series' trademark style and all the classic elements were translated into 3D with only minor liberties taken. This hyper macho X, complete with a cross-marked face plate that he dons when entering battle mode, is virtually unrecognizable from the source material. It's not that I don't think a significant genre shift is possible -- I love the Legends games after all, with their combination of exploration and third-person shooter combat -- but Maverick Hunter seems like it was trying to ape gritty Western conventions to an almost comical degree. But your mileage may vary.
Still, great job in securing this tasty scoop, Polygon! Catch more details as well as gameplay footage at the link below.