The Games that Weren’t: Mega Man Legends 3

February 29, 2012

Some series just have bad luck. Even though there were three fantastic releases in the Ys series over the past couple years, people will always remember the poorly-translated version of one of the worst games in the series on the SNES when they think of the title keeping them from picking up a new one. Few third-party companies supported the Dreamcast because of Sega’s irresponsible treatment of their audience with the Genesis’s unnecessary add-ons and pulling support of their own console, the Saturn. But at least they got a chance.

What It Was: Mega Man Legends 3, the long-awaited 3DS end to the PlayStation action-adventure trilogy
What Happened: “Not enough” fan response
Why We Wanted It: To reconcile the second game’s cliffhanger ending

Mega Man Legends 3 was kind of doomed from the start, but not on its own merit. It was the second sequel to a game many Mega Man fans deemed too far of a departure from the series’s history. Rather than running and gunning from left to right, the player explored a wide-open 3D landscape with towns, NPCs and an enormous and intricate underground tunnel system. Unfortunately MML was released in 1998, the same year gamers looking for this kind of experience found it in Ocarina of Time. And it came out just too early to have DualShock compatibility, forcing the player to control a 3D camera with a D-pad and shoulder buttons rather than analog sticks. This continues as a barrier to this day for new players who want to pick up the series and find the controls too frustrating.

Despite being steamrolled by the competition, Mega Man Legends did well enough to get a Greatest Hits re-release and a sequel in Mega Man Legends 2 after a spinoff, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. Tron Bonne was largely ignored, probably due to having a girl on the cover, and MML2 had an even more unlucky release date than Legends. In the US it was released on October 24th 2000, two days before the PlayStation 2. People were already selling their PS1s to FuncoLand to afford their new console. This is why so few copies were printed, and why the game costs upwards of 60 bucks on eBay. And still after the series’s unfortunate history and nearly a decade of silence ,Capcom finally announced last year that we’d finally get our sequel and an answer to the second game’s cliffhanger ending.

Capcom launched the Mega Man Legends 3 Devroom, a website where fans could share their input and directly influence the creative process of building a game for the 3DS. There seemed to be a constant flow of information from Capcom to their fans. We got to vote on character designs made by Capcom employees and even submit our own enemy and character ideas. For months, you couldn’t go to a game news site without seeing something about the creation of Mega Man Legends 3. Fans were super pumped, but apparently it wasn’t enough.

In July, Capcom abruptly canceled development of Mega Man Legends 3 and closed the devroom. We barely got a reason why, until Capcom’s European branch on Twitter blamed the very fans on whose shoulders they placed so much responsibility for the development of this game. But we had no idea how much they were relying on our input, as we were told not enough people contributed and Capcom just wasn’t seeing the response they’d expected for this game. By most accounts, it wasn’t the actual cancellation of the game that enraged fans, but Capcom’s handling of the situation. After blaming fans, the European twitter account led what seemed like a campaign of horrible PR against their fans, as they said some of the rudest things I’ve ever read from an official Twitter.

This was also the same year Capcom canceled Mega Man Universe. Two Mega Man games were canceled and none have been put into production since then. Now that MM’s creator Keiji Inafune has left the company, it feels like Capcom doesn’t want much to do with the character they once used as their mascot. It could be because they don’t feel today’s audience wants to play as a cute little blue guy with an optimistic outlook, but it’s probably because they can’t re-release the same game over and over by tacking adjectives and numbers onto the title. We just want to get him off the moon, Capcom. He’s been up there for so long.