At a time when the third dimension was taking over the gaming landscape in the mid-1990s with 3D polygonal-based consoles, 2D-native characters of previous generations were making the leap to 3D, often to mixed results. Franchises like Super Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy made the jump to 3D and closely followed their 2D gameplay concepts. Mega Man's transition wasn't familiar.
In what could be called one of the boldest transitions to 3D gaming ever, Capcom completely re-imagined the very core of Mega Man for his first major entry in the world of triangular-shaped polygons and textures. No longer did you select your level on a menu. No longer did you jump and shoot across side-scrolling stages and fight eight robot masters and anthropomorphic robot animals, or fighting evil scientists and rogue reploids. It wasn't gonna be the same Mega Man we knew. Not anymore.
|Pictures by GodDamnProtoman.|
Ah, hell nah. This was Mega Man Legends. You explored inside abandoned ancient dungeons. You shot at creepy bloodthirsty robots that live in said dungeons. You talked to goddamn talking monkeys and legomen. You live in an airship that crash lands on an island that becomes invaded by pirates who gave you psuedo-Team Rocket vibes. You fought a vaguely effeminate, psychopathic cyborg that wants to invoke a skynet-like apocalypse on humans that aren't even humans but "Carbons." You can kick cans over to a bakery and get free money. You could kick animals if you wanted to. In 3D.
So you have these awesome concepts that don't fit into the traditional Mega Man formula and yet it identifies itself as such. How do you market this game to your core fanbase, and the mainstream at large? Well, you create a demo and you include it in the same demo disc of a highly-anticipated sequel to your biggest-selling PlayStation game, with the director's cut release of that game in Japan. Enter Rockman Neo.
Capcom included this demo in the second disc of first edition copies of the Japanese version of Resident Evil: Director's Cut in 1997. The video above demonstrates the several major differences in gameplay, audio and visual content in this pre-release that the annotations in the video will elaborate over.
Mega Man Legends went through many name changes in its development. First, Rockman Neo in Japan, whereas the English name would officially be known as Mega Man Neo when it was showcased at E3 1997 in Atlanta, Georgia; followed by the final Japanese name Rockman DASH. Mega Man Nova (really?) was a likely candidate before someone at Capcom USA or Japan recalled a boring lecture from their astronomy classes in school and figured how lame the name sounded, and finally settled upon... you should know by now.
Yes I know its 35 minutes long (!) but it's full of information, tons of beta facts, and fun stuff that supplements background to this demo. Plus, there's references to TauVertex's Mega Man Legends Abridged series. So take a seat and enjoy all the juicy details this demo has!
If you're even more interested in Rockman Neo, you should check out the Rockman Neo page give at The Cutting Room Floor! Lots of fascinating material found inside the games you thought gave you everything it offered!