The internet has been buzzing with excitement and cautious optimism due to the reveal of Game Informer's January cover story: Mega Man 11. After the lackluster release of Mighty No. 9, fans have been crying out for the return of the true Blue Bomber, and thankfully it looks like that wait is going to pay off. 

In an interview with producer Kazuhiro Tsuchiya and game director Koji Oda, Game Informer sat down to discuss the development process of the new game. The full video can be found at Game Informer's hub for Mega Man 11, which can be accessed here.

The following is the text translation of the interview.


GI: Starting out, do you just want to talk about basically where this game is coming from, in terms of the gameplay specifically, and do you feel like this game is coming from the same mindset as 9 and 10? 

Tsuchiya: For myself, one of the big concepts very much is to just let fans knows that Mega Man is truly back. If you look at titles like Mega Man 9 and 10, it was more-so going back to the retro feel. This time around, it's not so much about celebrating the past but more of taking the past and combining all the elements that really worked from each specific title.
Whether it's the retro games on Nintendo, going to Super Nintendo, or PlayStation, we want to make a game that sets out to say "Hey, you know what? Mega Man's back and he's better than ever." On top of that, we really want to have it accessible to a younger generation. There's been a resurgence of a lot of platform games, which makes me personally really happy. I hope that this will be another addition that really piques their interest in the genre.

GI: And so to have Mega Man be back for real, do you feel like you have to push forward instead of looking to the past? Do you have to look to the future, and do you see this as a new beginning for all of Mega Man?

Tsuchiya: That's definitely something that a lot of developers, including myself, have to tackle. We have to look at the past, but make sure that it's not just about recycling elements. That's just not enough. We have to look at what's relevant today and take a look at some of the elements that might be complete and trustworthy on their own and making sure it's modernized.  


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GI: How did you know how far you could push the gameplay? Did you try going to an extreme end?

Oda: It wasn't too much about being worried about changing the gameplay too much. I really feel like we shouldn't break something that works. The original gameplay is very trusted, very tight. It's all about embellishing upon it and making sure it's accessible to more people than just the veterans.

GI: Okay, so it's not a full reinvention of the Mega Man formula for fans.  

Oda: Of course, yes. There's definitely some core components that remain in the game.

GI: What are you most proud of? What do you feel the team has nailed so far?

Oda: Because the franchise has lasted for such a long time, I think there's a lot of room for interpretation for each individual. I think it's one of those things, whether its the visuals or gameplay, I'm happy to say we designed it in a way so that whoever picks it up won't be able to say "This isn't Mega Man." We've designed it to be the finest Mega Man we can make.  

GI: And do you feel like if fans put a 1:1 comparison to gameplay in 11, to let's say 10, what small differences will they notice in the actual movement of Mega Man and the actual animations themselves?

Oda: In terms of the visuals and controls, I feel like it's been powered up. When I went through all the previous titles chronologically, I noticed that with the increased animation you would run into situations where it would impede some of the controls. So I made sure that the visuals and the controls would work in harmony so that you would have the tightest controls possible. 

Tsuchiya: We want to focus on gameplay and make sure that it's challenging in a good way. In a related sense, I think it's important to bring back the intuitive nature of the relationship between the robot masters and their weapons. I think if you look at some of the earlier titles, the relationship was a little easier to understand. For example, if there was a robot master that was focused on ice it was very obvious that you needed to use a fire-based weapon to defeat them. As the series went along, it became a little more difficult to figure out. Both from an R&D and from a consumer standpoint. For example, it's like, "Okay, you have a centaur, knight, and samurai... who's strong or weak against what?" It was hard to define that. So for Mega Man 11, we're going back to the roots and trying to figure out "Okay, how are we making this challenging but not too complicated?" 

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GI: Is it a challenging development so far? Is it a tough game to make?

*Tsuchiya nervously whispers to Oda*

Oda: Yeah... I mean, put simply, it's tough.

GI: Specifically, what's the toughest thing to nail, in terms of Mega Man gameplay, that maybe you didn't appreciate until you started the project?
 

Oda: Something that might be easier to discuss is choosing the robot masters. From a distance, it might look like a very fun thing to work on, but when you actually dig deep, it's really difficult to figure out what really jives with each other. You might create a certain element for a robot master, but then you end up realizing that it's difficult to design what the robot master will look like. It might be difficult to envision what the stage would look like, making sure that it doesn't mimic the style of a previous robot master. There's a lot of factors that, unless you start working on it, you don't realize. We have hundreds of robot masters with different concepts, it's boiling it down to what works individually and how it pairs together.      

GI: And do you feel like the overall development team is relearning this talent from the past within Capcom, or is learning it for the first time?

Oda: There's definitely the experience that we utilized making robot masters in the past, but really we're starting from scratch. We're starting at the very beginning. Based on that, we're really re-learning the process as well.

GI: Overall, is the majority of the development team new to Mega Man? Or did you recruit developers who had worked on it previously?

Tsuchiya: There's a huge mix of talent in our group. We have members on the team who have worked on previous Mega Man titles. We have veterans who've worked in the gaming industry for a very long time, but have never worked on a Mega Man title themselves. We also have younger talents who grew up on Mega Man who joined Capcom because they really wanted to work on a Mega Man title. One of the key factors for this team is that we have this balance of a lot of mixed talent, mixed history. Having people that are very close to the way that our fans think and what fans want. Having veterans that may not be ultra familiar with Mega Man, but can offer a different take from what works in other titles. It's really director Oda here who is able to take all of that in and determine what works best. I think we have a very good pool of talent to work with.

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GI: I'm imagining it was exciting for the team to go back and work on the Mega Man series again. Do you feel like that excitement is still carrying through with development, or has it faded over time and now it's just hard work?  

Oda: I think that excitement has continued to permeate through the team. I feel very fortunate for having such a strong team. I think a lot of the success of the title really builds on, a high percentage, on team building and the team dynamic. I think all of the team members have a very strong, defined perception of what Mega Man is. Whether it's the sound of Mega Man, the music of Mega Man, they all have a very strong sense of what Mega Man is. When you have a team like that with strong opinions, there are definitely moments where we clash with one another, but it makes it easier for someone like myself to hand-pick from so many good ideas. I have to say, I'm also very fortunate to have such a talented engineering team. When you give them a concept, and they're able to make that come to fruition really quickly.

GI: So when you look back at everything you guys have accomplished so far in the game's development, what does it make you feel? What's the overwhelming sensation?   

Tsuchiya: As a producer, I have the responsibility of being the leader for the team. Aside from being part of the team and being part of R&D, what I feel going into this title as a fan of the series is... "Wow, I get to be the first person to play the latest Mega Man!" That makes me feel excited, it makes it a very exciting experience. 

Oda: I'm definitely very proud of what we've been able to accomplish so far. I think very much this is a true Mega Man title. When you have a lot of differing opinions, sometimes you might create a title that leans too heavily towards one person's opinion. But I think this time around, the team's been pretty unified and just from the get-go we've been a very solid unit, and I think that comes across in really showcasing what we feel is a really strong Mega Man title. 



- Transcribed by Zack Burrows