It's time. Well, almost time. After months of updates, what feels like an eternity of teases and new developments, and the projected release period for Mighty No. 9 is... actually already here!
Initially estimated to release in Spring of 2015 back when the project was announced near the end of 2013, now with the more recent updated window of sometime in April of 2015, we'll probably be hearing news soon. Whether that news is good and we get a surprise release soon or whether it's news of a delay, as Kickstarted releases and as indie releases often understandably face, the fact is that we'll have this game in our hands in the relatively near future.
I'm sure many of you already have some kind of opinion or another about this game. I'd like to think most people will try to go into it with a fair and open minded outlook and look at the game only for the game, but considering how this past year and some months have passed, I'm not as confident as I'd like to be.
To give a brief rundown of how this game's Kickstarter came to be for those who aren't aware, Mighty No. 9 is being led by former Capcom employee Keiji Inafune, who is one of the biggest reasons for the Mega Man franchise being what it is today. In 2010, Inafune left Capcom, offering numerous criticisms in regards to the Japanese gaming industry before and after his departure.
Since, Inafune formed his own company, Comcept Inc., and he and his new company have since had some roles in various games since his departure from Capcom - Mighty No. 9 perhaps becoming the biggest, and one he may become most known for, especially depending on just how the cards fall after release. Even though it isn't out yet and even though Soul Sacrifice Delta is still a thing that exists. And that brings us to Mighty No. 9.
Mighty No. 9 is, simply put, a new Mega Man. That's not to say I think the game will necessarily have the same relevance or impact as the original, that's just what it is. Some people could argue Shovel Knight was a new Mega Man too. That's just how it is. It has a lot of the Mega Man people behind it too, so that adds to it, doesn't it? Moving on, the game was brought about through a fairly successful Kickstarter campaign and is set to release soon.
That sounds fairly straightforward, right?
Well, I wish that were the case, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be. Some suggest that Mighty No. 9 is just an attempt to grab at the void Capcom is leaving and others have suggested all other manners of things, from talking about the game's Kickstarter campaign to going after Inafune.
Guys, the fact is, Capcom... isn't making Mega Man games anymore. Two big projects, Mega Man Universe and Mega Man Legends 3, were both cancelled, and beyond Mega Man's appearances through cameos and crossovers lately, that's been pretty much it besides for the never localized Rockman Xover mobile game, which probably deserves a blog itself one of these days. Is it that wrong for someone else to then step in and do it?
Some could certainly argue that Inafune's leaving Capcom was what led to the demise of these games, but I feel that's just making Inafune into a scapegoat - especially considering Inafune was among those who spoke out and offered to help finish the game when it was announced that it would be cancelled. We can't deny that Capcom was been making poor decisions before he left, after he left, and with games and franchises completely unrelated to Inafune.
The reason I'm talking so much about Inafune, Capcom, and Mega Man is that a lot of this stuff is, unfortunately, likely going to come up once Mighty No. 9 releases. It already has, and I feel it's come up far more frequently than necessary or appropriate for what's actually happening here.
If Capcom wanted to make a Mega Man game, theyreally don't need Inafune or Inti-Creates for it, as we can observe by looking at Shovel Knight and all the various other Mega Man-like games out there.
... Unless they actually do need Inafune and the rest, in which case, isn't that Capcom's own fault for lacking talent? To break off into a brief tangent here, far too often I see people in the gaming community going after those who are creating things they want done one way or wish was something else, but shouldn't the more logical approach be to be upset at the people who can make what you want but aren't? Just a thought.
People tend to forget that creators, and people in the public eye in general, are human beings, especially if they do bold things like criticize an entire industry (not that everyone else isn't doing that to Japan lately). People tend to forget when they've had a position for a few decades that setting out on your own again is hard and things will be different than they were. People tend to forget a lot when they're not personally involved with things, when their investment ultimately ends with a comment on the internet or a game. People tend to just forget and not consider a lot period.
Love him, like him, dislike him or hate him, I don't think anyone can deny that Keiji Inafune has strong feelings about what he does. I think he might have been rash with his initial speaking out, as many of us, particularly people in creative positions that are in situations where they're feeling trapped, are prone to do. I think people may not have taken his words as he meant them, and considering just what he said, I don't know if we can ever really say for sure if we'll really know what exactly he meant.
He wasn't happy with what he was doing. He, as a creator, as a human being who wants to live his life to the fullest just as the rest of us do, set out on his own. Honestly, I don't think that's really all that strange. In some respects, I wonder if it's even really our business.
Looking at how differently things are going down with Hideo Kojima's mysterious situation right now, I'm honestly kind of baffled. Inafune, who wants to give people what they want, who stepped out on his own to try to pursue his own passions and do what he couldn't in his position, is the target of endless criticism, it seems like. On the other hand, Kojima, who's repeatedly tried to end his most beloved series, has a studio named after him, and is known for screwing with his fans on a regular basis is getting sympathy and empathy from seemingly every direction I look.
I have to say, I would really have thought it would be the other way around. Or at least people would have empathy for both rather than empathy in the way that they do.
That's the internet for you, I guess.
So assuming you haven't run down to type up your angry comments yet, you're probably thinking something along the lines of... "What the hell does this have to do with Mighty No. 9?"
The thing is that I think... No, I'm certain that Mighty No. 9 is going to be the target of a fair amount of criticism that it quite simply won't deserve. It's going to be criticized for things completely unrelated to the game itself, be it Inafune, Capcom, Comcept, the Kickstarter campaign, and worse yet is that a lot of these criticisms have been born from misunderstandings.
And that brings us to what I'm hoping to accomplish with this blog post. Before a release date or a delay is formally announced and we all get swept up by hype or whatever else happens, I want to just point out some things, remind people of some things, and most of all, I want to encourage people to look at the game as just the game when you consider what you'll be taking away from the experience.
If the game is worthy of criticism, then by all means, criticize away. But if you criticize the game when you're really upset over forum drama or a Kickstarter campaign, I encourage you to, if nothing else, criticize those things separately.
So now, without further stage setting, introduction, or delay, I want to respond to some of the most frequently brought up criticisms this game has faced.
THAT GREEDY INAFUNE KEEPS ASKING FOR MONEY EVEN THOUGH THE KICKSTARTER ENDED A LONG TIME AGO!
This is the most common one I've seen, and it's also the most misunderstood one. The basic gist of this complaint revolves around how Mighty No. 9 seemingly kept starting new Kickstarter campaigns, which is a really funny looking word now that I look at it, long after the initial Kickstarter ended.
And technically, there is a kernel of truth to this. The Kickstarter campaign ended after being fairly successful at the end of 2013. Kickstarters do that - they end.
But do you know what didn't end?
Fans contacting Comcept wanting to support the project. Fans suggesting things that they could do beyond what had already been announced and what had been accomplished through the Kickstarter and its stretch goals.
So Inafune responded to them after months of getting these requests and said they would open up "Slacker Backing" with some new stretch goals, just like people had been asking for. It's not even a novel concept for Kickstarters - many of them do this kind of thing, yet you don't see them getting the same sort of flak. Obviously, it's likely that the people criticizing him for responding to them aren't the same people who asked in the first place, but can anyone else see why this doesn't make sense to me?
One very, very common misconception about this is that they "kept" asking for money. This is actually something that's false. When they reopened backing, they said from the beginning there would be new stretch goals announced as current ones were met. Anyone complaining about the frequency of it was flat out not paying attention - not to the fact that they said from the start they would be doing more stretch goals and not to the fact that people approached Comcept wanting to back even after the Kickstarter ended.
Still, let's talk about this a bit.
Was it because of the misunderstood "frequency" with asking for money?
Was is that people thought it wrong to give people what they want?
Was it because new content was being planned even before the game's release?
I've said it before, but that's just how it is with gaming today. If that's the case, the fact that people looked at these things over the fact that everyone who backed would get all of the new content for free if it succeeded or the fact that they made clear they wouldn't let new content interfere to any great extent with the game's releasing is just kind of depressing.
But even beyond that, this whole complaint is one that really just doesn't make sense to me. The game is coming out - that's established and a done deal. Not getting the money for new content will not change that, and even better, even backing a little for some of the new content would let everyone get it should it have pulled through.
Do people think new content will pay for itself?
Do people think Inafune and Comcept is just taking all the money for themselves and lying about how much they need, even after it was laid out and broken down?
Do people not remember how to simply say no?
No, not all games need huge budgets. As a fan of the Hyperdimension Neptunia franchise, I think it's important to be able to judge a game for what it is rather than what you want it to be or what it could have been if someone else had done something else with it.
To put this into perspective, Sony Entertainment UK put nearly eight million dollars into just the marketing for Uncharted 3. Thousands of dollars worth of prizes was just given away during a campaign to promote the game elsewhere. That's obscene.
And here, we can plainly see where the money is going for the most part. I don't think it's fair to add this much more criticism just because they're asking for it from us - and that's the thing. They're asking for it. Have people forgotten how to say no when asked a question?
That should really have been the end of it.
"Here is a new stretch goal and here is how much we need to make this content. Would you like to back?"
The end. No, the content might not come, but that's the choice that you made by saying no. You can't say no and then get mad because the thing you refused is, well, refused.
If you don't want to pay, just say no. The end. That's it. Move on and take what comes out of this when it does.
IT'S NOT THE END! THEY ASKED FOR MORE MONEY! THEY'RE SUPER SUPER GREEDY!
Okay, fine. If you can't accept that games don't magically create themselves out of thin air or that there were people who actually wanted them to make those things, then let's just look at it by the numbers.
Out of nearly 70,000 original backers, only about 2,500 chose a tier without an included copy of the game. The minimum for this was $20 - if the game costs $20 or more, then thousands of people have basically gotten the game for free and Comcept will have gotten no profit from them beyond getting to complete the game. Let's go even further. The suggested DLC scenario would have been given free to all backers - all backers. This likely included ones who didn't even opt into the tier for getting the game.
If this was intended to be paid DLC for non-backers, this is a huge potential loss. At $190,000 requested just to make it, if their intended price was as little as $3, they would already have given away over $10,000 of potential profits. To some of you, this might sound like a lot, and to others, it might sound like only a little, but regardless, it's still money.
Some might argue that the aim was for non-backers, and while this is true, this is the internet age. People interested would know and have the information and it's up to them to choose to back or not. We also have no idea if non-backers will buy it. With the sheer volume of people who backed the game and with how many of them that opted into tiers that guarantee them a copy, who's to say this game didn't already give away most of its initial sales by simply coming into existence?
Here's a fun fact some of you may not know. It's going to vary from situation to situation, but if you write a book, you might be lucky to get a dollar for every book sold. That's great for people who write the next Harry Potter, but for those who don't? For all the time, energy, work, and costs that went into that book, something menial probably would have given them much more benefit.
For those who are suggesting that Mighty No. 9 is at all a labor of greed, I strongly encourage you to think otherwise, because unless this takes off - which we have no way of knowing if it will yet - I just don't see it. Like it or not, it's pretty damn expensive to make pretty much anything that people will consider "quality" in today's society, and "quality" is something that is fairly subjective anyway.
INAFUNE IS SPENDING OUR MONEY ON OTHER THINGS FOR THE SERIES LIKE A TV SHOW!
This one actually has a very easy answer.
The company that wants to make the Mighty No. 9 TV series approached Comcept about the idea, not the other way around, and has a vague "sometime in 2016" release date. Chances of the money from backers being involved is likely nonexistent, as the project will probably be canned if the game doesn't take off, and it would have been long since released by that time anyway.
If it's an issue of the TV show existing, or in talks of it existing, before the game even launches, well, is that really Comcept or Inafune's fault for being approached with a good deal and taking it? And for that matter, if you take issue with the idea inherently, I'd like to point out... well, basically everything Level-5 is making these days, as well as the likes of Square-Enix's Gyrozetter, Capcom's Gaist Crusher, and all the other similar franchises - including the once promising Kaio franchise. It's not that strange anymore.
It's also something the Mega Man franchise itself has actually dabbled in before... But that was a... different time.
INAFUNE KILLED KAIO BECAUSE HE LIKED MIGHTY NO. 9 MORE! WE HAVE TO KILL MIGHTY NO. 9 AND AVENGE OUR PENGUIN OVERLORD!
This is something we really can't know for sure, but the fact is, we really just don't know.
When presented with the idea of Kaio a few years ago, it sounded huge. The idea of a game tying into so much the way Marvelous and Comcept were suggesting was a relatively new concept at the time, and it sounded like they were planning on making it into an epic franchise.
It's easy to pick on Inafune, but with what little we know, aren't there other possible theories? For example, didn't Marvelous' own Kenichiro Takaki announce a new large scale project that would span multiple forms of media soon after Kaio was announced to be canceled?
In comparison to this new project (Valkyrie Drive), of which there is little competition of this kind on this scale aimed at the demographic that series is targeting, a cute game like Kaio would have had to go up against Yo-Kai Watch and all the other titans that have since adopted similar strategies - things that didn't even exist to this extent when Kaio was announced - not to mention all that was already around (as in pretty much everything Nintendo does right now).
Simply put, it may well have just made more sense for Marvelous to invest those resources in something easier to make that they could bank on rather than the exponentially larger gamble that Kaio looked to be.
I admit, this is just more speculation, but with all that said, if you're judging Mighty No. 9 based purely on your own speculation related to an entirely different game, don't you think maybe that's just a little unfair?
Regardless of what happened to Kaio, and what didn't, let's do out best to take Mighty No. 9 as it is. Who knows? Maybe we'll see Kaio again someday too...
INAFUNE IS JUST PANDERING TO MEGA MAN FANS!
So what if he is?
Everyone panders. I'm going to be talking about this in another blog someday, but people really need to let this whole "pandering is bad!" mentality go. Demographics are a real thing, and they're something we should acknowledge and even embrace rather than fight. Who wants to force everything to be mainstream and dumbed down for mass appeal?
People are different. Not everyone will like the same thing, and some people will like certain things more than others. Almost everything is trying to reach out to some people or another in some way, and that is okay.
The way this term is thrown around, you'd think only the most evil and selfish people do it, but let's be real for a minute here. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are full of pandering to fans of the first generation of Pokémon titles. Most crossover games have pandering of some kind, but look at how beloved the Super Smash Bros. franchise is. Look at the hype surrounding Mega Man's Final Smash! And the Mega Man Battle Network series is arguably full of this "pandering" too in how it was full of redesigned versions of older characters rather than inventing new ones. Hell, I can't even count how many different demographics amiibos target and "pander" to.
Just because something "panders" doesn't make it any less of a something. Not at all.
INAFUNE IS JUST A BUSINESSMAN, NOT A CREATOR!
I'm going to be blunt with this one.
I think this is one of the stupidest quotes I have ever heard.
There is no reason a creator can't be a businessman. There is no reason a businessman can't be a creator.
Personally, as a hopeful creator myself, I would want to be a businessman, or at least have some skills in that area so I don't get taken for a ride. The suggestion that it's somehow wrong for a creator to do businessman-like things just doesn't make sense to me. Do you want to put your heart and soul into something only for nothing to happen?
I'm not saying it isn't enough for some creators to create, but for others, what they want is for others to enjoy their creations - and unless they give those things out for free, which is a pretty unrealistic suggestion, that means that there's going to business afoot.
Is it really that wrong for a creator to want their creation to get around or be noticed?
Is it really that wrong for a creator to make things they know people would enjoy?
Is it really that wrong for a creator to do their own business so they don't get taken advantage of?
I'll point to Taka from Marvelous again for this one. He's best known for the Senran Kagura series right now, and I consider him a great example of someone who can be both a great creator and a great businessman. Sure, plenty of people don't like what he creates or don't approve of how he does his business, but the fact that people enjoy his products and buy them means that he's doing something right, and I don't believe for a moment that that's wrong of him to do at all.
tl;dr: Whether Inafune is or isn't one, being a businessman doesn't make you not a creator, and people need to stop looking to this quote like it's gospel. It's insulting to real creators, if anything.
This was a thing. Maybe it still is a thing. If you don't know what this is referring to, consider yourself lucky.
As for me, I experienced many of the same issues those who complain about this thing complain/complained about. I don't exactly disagree, but I also don't think Inafune or the people who actually matter at Comcept had any genuine involvement with it. I doubt it had any lasting impact in the long run as far as the game's development is concerned, and I can only hope it doesn't have any lasting impact in the minds of those who think about or consider playing or purchasing it.
The thing is, guys? It's over. It's done. The game is coming out soon - we don't know when, but soon. And the game is what the focus should be when that time comes.
Can't we focus on that instead of all this other stuff?
Come on, internet, I know we can do it! Think positive!
When all is said and done, I sort of feel like what the campaign of Mighty No. 9 really did was give some of us on the outside a look into what gaming development and costs are like these days, because it made us a part of it. Maybe I'm wrong. I can't know. I only know what I've taken from it. And part of that is that I don't think anything that's transpired thus far was done out of greed or any malicious intent, and as a backer myself, I don't feel taken advantage of. If the game sucks, oh well. It won't really be that different than if I buy Shovel Knight in a week and it doesn't live up to the hype.
Looking around, as things stand right now, I just don't see this ultimately being in Comcept's, Inafune's, or a potential franchise's benefit. And that's a shame. Even if it was bad, everything has to start somewhere. But this is probably going to get criticized for all of the things I brought up here and more. Many of you reading this are likely already formulating comments to do just that even as you read this.
When all is said and done, unless the game really takes off or people who haven't been paying attention to or don't care about its creation get into it, and maybe those things will happen, I can't help but think this will be a loss for Comcept and Inafune - and maybe future attempts at big, truly big, Mega Man successors too.
For those of you who have stuck with me this far, I want to leave you with this one last thing.
If the game ends up being bad, say it. I'm not saying anyone should say the game is good if it isn't because Inafune or Comcept "need defending" or anything of the sort. Likewise, if the game is good, tell your friends! Be honest about how you feel about the game, but please, just make sure it's about the game.
All I want is for the game to be judged for what it is. If criticisms relevant to its circumstances come up, then that's one thing, but if not, then set those aside, please. Too often I see games being criticized for things that have nothing to do with the final product, and that's just a shame.
All I ask, from both Destructoid and the gaming community at large, is that discussion of Mighty No. 9 try to stay focused around what really matters here.
It's not about politics or issues in the gaming world today. It's not about internet drama, it's not about who said or did what when they left this or that company. It's not about who asked for how much or how who got what job, no, it's not about any of this.
It should be about the most important thing of all. It should be about the most basic, fundamental thing, something it feels like we lost sight of a long time ago.
It's about how some of you chuckleheads voted for the wrong Call.
Oh, and uh, I guess it's about the whole focusing on the games and not the politics and agendas so we can all live in harmony thing too.
But it's mostly about Call.