In writing the post about TransFormers‘ anniversary, I very nearly forgot to mention that today is also the 44th birthday of Capcom’s answer to Nintendo maestro Shigeru Miyamoto, Keiji Inafune!
For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Mr. Inafune is a pretty high-level guy at Capcom, approving all kinds of crazy stuff like Street Fighter IV and Bionic Commando, serving as Producer and creator of games such as Lost Planet, Dead Rising, and one other little franchise you might have heard of: Mega Man.
Inafune began as a staff artist for the company, originally assigned to work on the first Street Fighter, but soon moved to one of Capcom’s first attempts at a video game created from the ground up for the NES in Mega Man. But though he is often credited as the father of the Blue Bomber, in actuality he did not create the character. As he reveals in a 2007 GameSpot interview, “I’m often called the father of Mega Man, but actually, his design was already created when I joined Capcom.”
“My mentor [at Capcom], who was the designer of the original Mega Man, had a basic concept of what Mega Man was supposed to look like. So I only did half of the job in creating him. I didn’t get to completely design a Mega Man [protagonist] from scratch until Zero (Mega Man X, SNES). Back when the SNES was coming out, I was asked to give Mega Man a redesign, so I created this character. But I realized that this design wouldn’t be accepted as Mega Man, so I had another designer create the new Mega Man, and I worked on Zero to release him as the ‘other main character’ that would steal all the good scenes!”
Of course, Inafune has been responsible for and overseen numerous other characters and series since, including Mega Man Zero, Mega Man ZX, MegaMan Battle Network, MegaMan Star Force, and of course, MegaMan Legends, which is a favorite among fans and its creator alike. However, due to slow sales of the original PlayStation versions, Capcom has been slow to green-light any further entries. Inafune, however, is not deterred:
“It didn’t sell anywhere as well as I had anticipated,” Inafune said. “‘I was really confident about the game during its development, considering how fun the game was. It was really something new, something that we thought would be unfortunate if gamers didn’t play. And we released it, and oops!’ The designer then let loose a hearty laugh.”
I have long been of the opinion that the MegaMan Legends titles have been ahead of their time, and that if Mega Man is to move into the next generation successfully (with fare more modernized than Mega Man 9), Legends may be key. And it seems Inafune agrees, at least in part.
“It was a bit too early for its days. Ever since then, people started saying that ‘Inafune’s ideas are seven or eight years too early.’ It was a sandbox style of game, kind of like Grand Theft Auto. One has Yakuzas and the other has robots, but it’s kind of like the same. If we made it at the present time in modern quality, I believe that it would have sold a lot better.”
On a separate note, I cannot help but think that it is insanely cool that Inafune and TransFormers essentially share the same birthday, almost like some sort of destiny. If only Mega Man had the same opportunity to grow the way TransFormers have.
Nonetheless, my birthday wish for Inafune is that he is soon able to return to his favorite of the Mega Man series, Legends, and create a new title that is well-received and revives that branch of the franchise, allowing it to move forward.
News Source: The Mega Man Network
Image Source: Insert Coin