Earlier this month, a fan film was released onto the public about everyone's favorite little blue dude from the 90's: Mega Man! And, as a long time fan of movies and Mega Man, this film is an absolute success in the realm of game to movie adaptation. Now, I'm going to say it was easy because a little indie guy did it. On the contrary, its that much more amazing. A man without the near infinite resources available to big budget studios has achieved the best of all previous game adaptations and in fact exceeded their work in some respects. Mathematically, it shouldn't be, but in execution, there it is.
So what makes Mega Man so effective? Why, there's a small list of bullet point items that I think sums it up very nicely!
1. Hire a Fan With Skills to Run Your Show- Honestly, this should be all you need, but we all know producers and share-holders love to bring their giant robotic spiders to the party. Outside influence happens. But, at the core of this point is the need to have someone that loves and cares about the source material making key day to day creative and quality decisions.
The benefit? You know how in the Street Fighter movie, Ken and Ryu went from these dramatically interesting eternal rivals from two individually fascinating sets of motivating factors to a pair of money motivated arms dealers? Yeah. Eddie Lebron's Mega Man allows every character introduced to be the same character that they are in the games. Rock is Rock. Roll is Roll. And Dr. Wily, gloriously, is Dr. Wily. Very clearly, Eddie Lebron knows the next point...
2. Work With the Story they Gave You - Plenty of pre-3D games, story was semi-incidental. Jumpman runs right, jumps over things, and there is allegedly a Princess all the way right. That's all you really need to enjoy the gameplay. There's an actual setup written in the manual. And in that story, there's reptiles with powers, the transmogrification of the mushroom peoples, and a pivitol princess that will facilitate the redemption of the world.
Oh hey check that out. All of that is in the Mario Bros movie! As out there as that flick is, its so true to the source that it almost hurts. What it doesn't do, is make something out of the existing lore that just isn't there, thematically. Looking back at Mega Man, the characters and situations are thematically true, especially where it counts among the core roster. No one seems out of place because no one is out of place.
3. Nail the Look / Go Hard or Go Home- This one is always tricky. The first live action X-Men movie came across this one pretty hard. Similar to video games, translating the costumes and the look of the characters could very easily end in disaster. A guy with ridiculous muscles wearing yellow spandex with claws coming out of his hands and this weird triangle/devil horn haircut looks completely ridiculous in real life. And ultimately, that's just not what you're going for with the X-Men. But, if you don't have ANY of that, then you don't actually have the X-Men. So what do you do?
You put this guy in reasonably fitted leather, have claws coming out of his hands, and keep the ridiculous haircut. Eddie Lebron knows this all too well. Roll's blond and unflappable. Check. Dr. Wily is an unsavory dude with a mustache, a lab coat and a bright red tie. Yeah. Check! Mega Man, and most of the other robots, are dudes in gear. You got it. Is it the same exact gear as the anime interpretations? Nope. Is it all kind of silly looking? Oh sure. Is it consistent and deliberately crafted in a way where you know who you're looking at? Yes. Absolutely. And that's very important.
Movies are visual, and, if the world, the characters or even the "powers" of the game world don't get translated to the more visually reliant medium, then you've failed in adapting the movie. Period. When i look at Chun Li from the latest "Street Fighter" movie, and I don't know who she is just to look at her, something is completely lost in the translation. As unreal as Chun Li's look and outfit is, you've got to either quantize it into real life fashion or, pick out parts of it that just work. No woman in Hollywood has the thighs to wear those tights, but putting Ming Na in the dress, while third person embarassing, made it abundantly clear who was supposed to be in that whole crazy JCVD vehicle.
4. No really, Use the Story they Gave You!- Beyond the setup, Mega Man, as a movie, triumphs in bringing out the real stories in the Mega Man series. Eddie Lebron hits on so many essential themes and feelings that make Mega Man lore interesting. We have the rift between the ideologies Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. We have the free will and all that comes with it from Proto Man's backstory. We have the theme of Rock's regret in destroying robots. We even get a deeper look into the minds of the individual doctors, and why they do what they do.
In that, we see a great deviance from any canon lore of the series. Wily never had a female AI to bounce ideas off of, and Dr. Light has never been associated with any sort of family other than his bots. In terms of straight, literal adaptation Mega Man, there is nothing there to base a Mrs. Light or some other side character on. Go hard, use the story yeah? Technically, Mr. Lebron's completely gone rogue.
But, in terms of having a watchable, human story, the addition of those characters and background details merely fleshes out what's been there the whole time. Dr. Light must have some reason for caring enough to make these bots, and Doc Wily must have some basis for being an evil genius, yeah? While the movie breaks strict canon here, the end result fills in the "stuff" that someone following the lore internalized on good faith.
While many people haven't been buzzing about Mega Man, its not wholly unexpected. Somewhere between game-movie stigma and fan film's inherently niche existence, its easy for even the best of fan films to just "be" and never really see addition to the collective consciousness.
Way of The Samurai, Shadow of the Colossus, Castle Crashers, Jet Grind Radio, ICO, Super DodgeBall, Canabalt, FTL, Final Fantasy VI and X-Com are some of the finest games ever made in ever
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Tatsunoko Vs Capcom Code: 2107-0561-3043
Brawl Friend Code: 1762-2359-5359 "Tbatc"
Players can elect to summon "cartoony" versions of bats, bombs, guns, and flamethrowers. These types of items can be used to destroy objects or even other summoned items (e.g., a club can be used to hit an animal; steak can be attached to a baby to attract lions; rockets can be lobbed at a man).
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-A Nintendo Staffer explaining why Golf was added to Wii Sports Resort
"I have seen the Summa that everyone talks about. And I want to pour gasoline on him and cut off his ear. "
-Pendleton21 after listening to the disavowed Podtoid 94: So Baller
"question, did you play with controller or keyboard?
because controller is unplayable"
-Luc Bernard re: the first release version of Eternity's Child on Steam
"Just because u like a game doesn't mean u have to give it a high score" -excerpt from the epic trolling on the Prototype review, inFamous/Protoype Wars, June 2009