Some time last week, it was revealed that Armature Studios were working on a gritty reboot of Mega Man X. Armature Studios is comprised of former Retro Studios employees who left after Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Now given that pedigree alone, it’s a shame that their MMX game, codenamed “Maverick Hunter”, got the boot. I mean, these are the Metroid Prime guys. They turned a revered 2D action/adventure game into an FPS that had a good blend of action, platforming, and atmosphere — all staples of the Metroid series. Plus, like Mega Man, Samus had a pea-shooting armcannon and it stayed a pea-shooting armcannon in the transition. The game was in good hands.
Then you look images of the game they were making. And then the footage that’s leaked online. All I can say is, it’s probably a good thing that Maverick Hunter was cancelled.
I have much respect for the guys for the Retro/Armature Studios. The art direction for the Metroid Prime games were very alive, memorable, and stood the test of time. You can see much of their Prime influence all over the footage I’ll be showing throughout this article. Things like the helmet HUD, how it moves as you turn, how the camera swivels around the character and into the back of their head and goes into first-person view. Even the fearlessness of fully showing the character in third-person view for certain actions just smack of Retro’s handiwork with the Prime series. These are things that made Metroid Prime a phenomenal game, one of the best FPS games out there, and one of the best Gamecube games ever made. In all honesty, I like what I’m seeing these videos and the potential is most definitely there. Even the world X is in is up to snuff with what some of the later MMX games look like (albeit this is the only locale we can comment on).
But the way X himself looks just screams Bomberman Act Zero. They took a recognizable, cute little robot and turned him into a soulless, try-hard death machine. Given MMX was anything but a cute robot and was in fact a death machine, he still looked like someone you can give a damn about and fairly recognizable. Hell, MMX was somewhat of a reboot of the original Mega Man with a more serious tone, dealing with themes of corruption, power, sacrifice, betrayal, etc. And it did it all without going the route of something like Street Fighter 2010, Final Fight Streetwise, or Bionic Commando. We welcomed this new tone of Mega Man. I welcomed this new direction of the blue bomber.
If anything, all the elements were already in place for Armature. All they had to do was add more to it, similar to what they did with Metroid Prime. Compare Samus as she appeared in Super Metroid to her look in Metroid Prime. All they did was add more details to her Varia Suit. Now compare X’s most recent look to what you see in the footage. They turned him into Iron Man X! Funny too since one of the Armature/Retro guys designed the Iron Man Suit in the movies. That aside, what was wrong with just adding a few more details to X’s current armor?
So yes, in essence all my bitching is levied against the look of Mega Man X himself. Everything else in the game is okay (save for the enemies, but eh). I can see X doing some of the actions on display (except the weapon stealing. Can’t he just touch the damn thing and augment it into his armcannon?). And I can see him fighting around in a world like this. But geez, this is practically moviebob’s worst fears nearly come to life.
I would still like for Capcom to let Armature get another go at Maverick Hunter, under the pretense that they fix the look of X. If they can fix that, we could see another franchise renaissance similar to Metroid Prime. But if they’re were sticking to that, then it’s a good thing it got cancelled.
Of all the Mega Man cancellations Capcom is known for, this is one I can definitely get behind.