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Mega Man is coming back with a flourish, though it took over six years for us to receive any indication the Blue Bomber is still breathing.
What took so long for Capcom's little robot to spring back into the battlefield? The January edition of Game Informer has answers about Mega Man 11's development process—and the events leading up to the project getting green-lit. Some of the revelations are available on Game Informer's site (the staff got to go hands-on with the game), and others were gleaned from the issue itself and posted on Protodude's Rockman Corner.
Here are 11 cool tidbits we learned about Mega Man 11:
The Mega Man 11 team was unsure how to pick up the series after Keiji Inafune departed Capcom
Mega Man 11's producer, Kazuhiro Tsuchiya, says Capcom's staff had a hard time saying, "I want to work on Mega Man" once the usual man behind the wheel, Keiji Inafune, departed the company. When he left, remaining staff was unsure about how to fill his role.
There are four difficulty settings
Like Mega Man 10 (and the American release of Mega Man 2 long before it), Mega Man 11 will have difficulty settings. Four, to be exact. We know of two so far: "Normal" is a standard Mega Man challenge, and "Superhero" is for Mega Man enthusiasts who enjoy the musical crunch of a steel-plated boot sailing into their shin.
The Robot Masters are former allies of Dr Light
It's not uncommon for the nefarious Dr Wily to simply turn his good colleague's robots against the world with a little re-programming (or with some good old-fashioned coercing), and it seems that's the case in Mega Man 11, too.
The gears under Mega Man's health meter have something to do with the game's difficulty
If you look at screenshots or video of Mega Man 11, you'll see an image of some gears below Mega Man's health and weapon meters. According to Game Informer, these gears are part of "an entirely new gameplay mechanic that will impact Mega Man's moment-to-moment action. Unfortunately, we can't talk about this feature, but we feel that it's a nice addition to the action and helps balance the difficulty." Hmm!
There's a weapon wheel
Shuffling through menus isn't fun in the NES Mega Man games. Later games let you choose weapons with bumper-buttons, but even doing that wastes time. Mega Man 11 has a cure for the weapon-switching blues, however: A weapon wheel that's programmed into each console controllers' right analogue stick. Now we just need to remember which direction switches to which weapon. With my lousy memory, it looks like I might be hitting L and R all the time anyway.
Mega Man's helmet and armor change when he equips a Robot Master's weapon
You've probably already seen the concept art floating around of Mega Man wearing a suit of bricklike armor. Turns out when he switches weapons, his body design changes along with his color. We're looking forward to seeing the cool alterations Capcom applies to Mega Man's classic bod.
All eight Robot Masters can be challenged from the outset
This point is probably a "Duh" for less involved Mega Man fans, but there are actually several Mega Man games that force you to take on the Robot Masters four-by-four. Not Mega Man 11. All eight Masters are available for a beating as soon as you start playing, so enjoy your prolonged period of performing guesswork while you slowly grow your weapon stash.
Mega Man was almost "super masculine"
Mega Man 11's director, Koji Oda, says the team experimented a bit with Mega Man's design. At one point he was "super masculine," but that idea was scrapped, presumably after the artists started having flashbacks to DIC's Mega Man cartoon from the '90s.
Several people pitched new Mega Man game ideas before Kazuhiro Tsuchiya got the go-ahead
As you might expect from a franchise as beloved as Mega Man, more than one pitch was made for a new game. Koji Oda's pitch ultimately wound up getting the green light.
Mega Man 11's team re-designed old stages from Mega Man 5 through 10 to test the new art style
Not everyone is a fan of Mega Man 11's new art style, but rest assured it went through testing before it was given the final thumbs-up. The team re-designed old stages from Mega Man 5 through 10 to make sure the style gels with Mega Man's sharp movements.
There's no female Robot Master this time around
"There was actually a female Robot Master at the concept stage [for Mega Man 11], but when we paired up all the different weapons, she was one of the Robot Masters that didn't make the cut," Oda says. "We definitely feel like there are plenty of opportunities to add female Robot Masters in the future. This is one of those things where we feel like it's all about what fits best for each occasion, and there are those occasions where a female would be more appropriate than a male." Well, Splash Woman will always flip-flop around in our hearts, right?