Capcom has attempted several new Mega Man projects over the past few years from a customizable take on the character in Mega Man Universe to an online community game in the form of Mega Man Online to the ambitious Mega Man Legends 3, but none of the announced titles completed development. Now thanks to Polygon we know that the company was also working on a first-person shooter based around the Mega Man X brand. In an attempt to do for Mega Man what Metroid Prime did for Samus Aran, Capcom teamed with many Prime developers who regrouped under the Armature Studio banner, but the project was quietly canceled in 2010. I think that's for the best. This project, Maverick Hunter, looks awful.
Maverick Hunter's approach to weapons and attacks were more grounded in realism. Mega Man's gunfire rocks with the metallic sound of a machine gun, and his more powerful shots are missiles, not charged up energy blasts from the classic X-Buster. He can charge into enemies, kicking the camera out to a third-person view as he demolishes them with a close quarters melee attack or energy burst. The core of Mega Man — gaining powers by defeating bosses and swapping out weapons on the fly — would be kept intact.
Mega Man would have been able to absorb the weaponized abilities of his foes after defeating rival robots. "Comboing weapons together" would have been part of Maverick Hunter's combat system, as would disposable weapons — bombs, sentry guns and tank turrets — that could be snatched from some enemies and used only a handful of times.
In classic Mega Man fashion, enemies would be weak against certain weapons, requiring players to switch weapons on the fly to take them out. And despite the linear path shown in the prototype, the full game would have included branching paths. The design of the original Mega Man X, with its upgrades and sub-tanks secreted away in various corners, influenced Maverick Hunter's. Branching pathways and context-sensitive areas that could be discovered by players would have offered variety to the game's level-based design.
I suppose the basic Mega Man pieces and parts are all there, but watching the videos included in the Polygon article irritated me in a way I hadn't thought possible. This is Mega Man turned into a dark, gritty, generic action shooter. It has none of the Mega Man charm in this early form. It's not what I want from a Mega Man title. Metroid Prime was still Metroid at the core; Samus Aran was recognizable, familiar items were updated, and the basic structure of what made Metroid, well, Metroid remained intact. Maverick Hunter, on the other hand, is unrecognizable as a Mega Man X adventure. It's takes so much more than a blue metal man as the protagonist to make a Mega Man game and I don't see that Armature understood that when working on this project (even in this early concept form). I'm glad that it was canned because while I want to see Mega Man make a grand return, I absolutely do not want to see the franchise come back to life in this form. If this is the kind of thing that Capcom believes that Mega Man fans want, then the company really has no idea what to do with this brand.