Thursday, June 23, 2011

Remembering Super Adventure Rockman

13-years ago tomorrow, one of (if not the) strangest Rockman titles in existence released throughout Japan. On June 24, 1998, Super Adventure Rockman made its debut on the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn, and to this day, it remains an oddity both in the eyes of fans and Keiji Inafune. A game so odd that it warranted an apology from Inafune himself.


Super Adventure is unlike any Rockman title before it. It's a strange blend of the interactive FMV genre with elements of first-person/arcade shooter segments dispersed throughout. The core elements that made the franchise unique -- the rock-paper-scissors weakness system and non-linear progression, remained. Despite the familiarity these elements brought to the table, the game just has this aura that screams "out-of-place." I don't know how else to say it: Super Adventure Rockman, while not a bad game, is downright weird. You can feel it the minute you give it a spin. This aura of utter strangeness isn't just limited to gameplay or presentation -- the story itself is bustling with moments and scenes that betray the light-hearted image of the classic series.

The number-one rule behind the development of a game targeted at youngsters is to not depict death. Alas, the game was riddled with death; there was no subtlety to it.

"The ultimate unspoken role about making a game that is geared towards children is that you simply cannot kill anyone, but here you have military helicopters falling out of the sky and people dying in droves," writes Inafune in Mega Man: Official Complete Works. "If it had been up to me, I would have at least made it so they all 'got away safely' via parachutes or something. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, Roll dies... and to top if all off, the whole world is destroyed! I was like, 'Did they really need to go that far!?' I will never let them do something like this ever again. If we, as developers, start getting confused about what 'safe for children' means, we'd not only be betraying our players, but I'd feel like I was betraying every single creator that ever put time into this series."

The franchise's violence factor has certainly turned up quite a bit in the last ten years or so, but before Super Adventure Rockman, death wasn't so prominent. It was always subtle, comedic even. The fates of those who did die (such as Robot Masters at the hands of the player) where entirely dependent upon the player's desecration. Super Adventure Rockman, however, didn't give player's this privilege to use their imagination. Sure, things turn out well in the end, but to get to the rainbows and sunny skies, players had to get Rockman through quite a few hardships with death hot on his heels.

Classic Rockman has always been targeted at a young and impressionable audience: children. There's no denying it. That is why fanon stuff like the Cataclysm Theory (supposed event in which Zero mercilessly kills off the classic series cast) make no sense. Seriously, look at Inafune's comment -- read it closely. There is absolutely no chance something as extreme as the "cataclysm" could happen. Ever.

There's more to be said about the game, but you're better off checking it out for yourself. On the positive side, SA sports top-notch FMV animation, voice acting and the plot is actually surprisingly thick in Rockman-terms. To experience the Super Adventure for yourself, you've a few of options. The most inexpensive being watch the game unfold on YouTube (available with optional subtitles). Collector's, however, may want to invest in purchasing the game physically. Ebay is home to frequent Super Adventure auctions, with the PlayStation version being the more common of the two. There's no discriminable difference between the PSX and Saturn versions, so it's entirely up to preference.

We've no definitive reason why the game didn't journey to our side of the pond. It could be a number of things from Sony's bizarre no-Mega Man policy to the lack of interest in the FMV genre in the West. One theory that wouldn't be all too surprising is Capcom withheld the game purposely for the very reasons Inafune despised it. Regardless the reason, it was probably for the best. Super Adventure is pretty niche, and the risk of finding an audience would have been far too great.

30 comments:

  1. I liked the game personally....

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  2. I actually still have my copy of this game.


    Honestly, it's pretty decent, and it feels like having a sort of classic-series Rockman anime, but with a game at the same time.


    I think the only thing that was annoying was the over-use of the Rock Buster Arm Change animation. It happened A LOT, and it never got faster, unlike stuff such as the Cross Fusion animations in the EXE anime.

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  3. At least the animation is pretty decent. The least they could have done was compile this into its own little OVA.

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  4. I HATED it. Gameplay was repetative and short. The shooting segments lasted like a minute. Menu navigation sucked.

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  5. I think I'm the only person on Earth who thinks the more "mature" content of the game made it better. And seriously, I played this thing when I was six, I wasn't into deep trauma for seeing how people died inside exploding helicopters or Roll dying or hell, the world ending. World end is an extremely classic goal for villains, I don't see how it hurts to see it happen ONCE.
    Also, the fact that the game had more story than the typical "MWAHAHAHAHA I AM DOKTAHR WILY AND I SHALL CONQUER ZE VORLD!" was a nice touch. Gameplay wasn't that great, but I didn't mind that as much as the story itself.

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  6. I think you're over playing how horrific most of these scenes are. I get Inafune didn't enjoy them, but they aren't terribly more graphic than even Mega Man 10.

    Yeah, Roll dies, but it's a failure state no worse than many other games out there for children.

    I think the game actually does a good job of giving the mostly bland one dimensional characters more personality than had been really seen from them up to that point. The real most horrific part of this game is actually playing it.

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  7. @Hate comments:


    And there's another to add the the Megaman Fandumb List Of Games We Hate Because They're Not MegaMan 2, 9, 10, X1-4, or Zero 1-4.

    -_-

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  8. Is it strange that this is the game that brought me to the series itself?
    That said,I enjoyed it a lot.

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  9. Super Adventure Rockman gets a bad reputation. Nothing about it was ever so graphic or shocking. It was only as drastic as Ariga's stories. In fact, the element of death and bad endings gave the plot urgency.

    I find it utterly hilarious that while Inafune condemns this game for depictions and implications of death, he was directly responsible for Rockman 9, which featured the systematic, government-funded destruction of sentient robots.

    Inafune is a good producer but I honestly believe he thinks in black and white when it comes to Rockman. The entire franchise isn't just for children. A lot of it's demographic is made of adults who grew up with the original games. One extreme alienates a portion of the audience. It's about finding balance and respecting both parties, even if it involves darker themes.

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  10. Man I didn't even know about the existence of this game until around 2001-2002 when I had my first job and learned about ebay. What a bad combination lol. I managed to win a sealed copy.

    I've been wanting this game remade for the Wii/PS Move but nobody wants to make use of those controllers...

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  11. I wanted this game for years. All though high school i would drool over images and ebay aucions. I told myself: one day im gonna plunk down the $50 for it and play it!! Never happened lol

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  12. Sure the game's a bit darker than usual, but it wasn't anything surreal. The game overs though were the very dark outcomes, but everything else was fine.

    Inafune's probably mad he didn't think of it first =P

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  13. Game sucks. It's not a Mega Man game. It's a cheap experiment and quick cash-in

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  14. This game begs for a WiiWare or PSN release for use with the Wiimote or Move. But of course, it'll never happen. Nor will a Rockboard for Virtual Console.

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  15. Dude, it looks freaking awesome.

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  16. @3rd Anonymous

    No, you aren't the only one who thinks mature things in the classic series is alright. I just think Keiji doesn't quite understand the limits of Mega Man and children's minds. Mega Man is not something you'll find on PBS and shouldn't be treated as such. Death and other mature subjects should be the norm as the classic story progresses, especially when trying to bridge the series from classic to X. Death is necessary, death is unavoidable. To shelter children into thinking everything will be alright everytime and everyone will "get away safely" is just setting them up for a bigger emotional disappointment later in life. I also think a lot more older, hardcore gamers play Mega Man rather than youngsters. In a way, I think it may be better Inafune is no longer with Capcom as I think he would hinder Mega Man's evolution. Then again, I wouldn't be entirely opposed for his new company Comcept to take on the franchise.

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  17. @MegaMac:

    Capcom pretty much capped their audience before Super Adventure. Remember the children's books? The bed-time story Protodude found? The children's furniture? Toddler's chair? Capcom pretty much set a threshold for the audience, and won't cross that boundary.

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  18. @Amir

    Can you just shut up please ?

    This game is bad and you know it

    Like I said in another talk back, you like crappy games, we are proud of you, now shut up !

    Yes we like 2, 3, X1-5, Zero 1-4 because we grew up with these kind of Rockman games

    When Megaman 2 hit the shelves, I rent that game. Where were you in 1989 ? Probably not on this planet ! Maybe this is why you don't understand

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  19. Well i found this game pretty exotic, in fact,I enjoyed playing this game rather than those pokeman sagas.

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  20. I flippin loved Super Adventure. Sure I didn't know any Japanese so I just guessed my way through but I still loved it!

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  21. @7anon

    Wow, get off your high horse. So what he likes Super Adventures? Grow up and stop attacking others for having a different opinion.

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  22. @ 7th Anon: I'd be very careful about attacking other people on this blog if I were you.

    Amir in particular is most likely older than you, has already proved himself to be one of the most prolific and intelligent people on this blog that isn't scared to fight against popular opinion, and he's one of the few people who knows what's going on in the Japanese side of the fanbase.

    Unless you can do any better, I wouldn't talk as if you're any superior for having taste. Anyone can like something or hate something. It takes a real person to explain why.

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  23. What "no Mega Man" policy did Sony have, out of curiosity?

    Anyway, I never thought this game was that bad, and I do wish we would have seen it in some form or other. It isn't much more than a side-story at best, but I did kind of like it (I have a copy for the Saturn).

    So I wonder how much of a hand Inafune had in this game, or was it just developed by other people and he had just minimal say so?

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  24. @Allahweh

    97-98, there was a whole hoopla in terms of the kinds of games that could be released during the system's earliest years. Capcom had trouble securing X4 and MM8 to release because of their 2D nature. Sony, if I'm not mistaken, was adamant on exemplifying the system's 3D, polygonal capabilities as opposed to sprites and the like. It wasn't a no-Mega Man policy per se, but every initial attempt to get him on the system proved difficult.

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  25. What pisses me off is this notion that some people have that children can't handle death.
    I grew up watching movies like The Land Before Time and The Lion King, both were aimed at children and dealt with death and a lot of sadness. It's like Don Bluth used to say, kids can handle sad things in a movie as long as it all turns out ok in the end, lol

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  26. Some of you are negative. I really liked it, I finished it. It was fun. :)It was like Dragon's Lair. :)

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  27. "If it had been up to me, I would have at least made it so they all 'got away safely' via parachutes or something."

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, wow. So, he was going to pull a Saban Entertainment, then? That reminded me of how the censorship was handled in the '96 Dragon Ball Z dub (A.K.A. the Ocean dub), where violent scenes, such as the destruction fo an entire city, or a newscrew getting shot out of the helicopter, they had the characters make false claims like:

    -"Too bad it's Sunday. Those buildings would've been filled up tomorrow."

    -"That area may have been evacuated, but it'll give them something to think about!"

    -"Look! I can see their parachutes! They're okay..."

    These lines were said, even though the cities clearly weren't evacuated, and when the people that were killed clearly weren't wearing parachutes before the helicopter was destroyed. Was Inafune seriously thinking of doing something like this?

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  28. @Crazy Monkey: I guess he would have just actually made the game sort of like that, to where death wasn't something that really happened. Yet, I do think that the game is different, but in a good way. I like when people change things up a bit to try something different with a franchise.

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  29. @Krazy Monkey

    Lol, exactly what I thought of too. And at the second to last Anonymous...I know right? Disney doesn't shy away from death. I also don't see Simba or Aladdin toting a cannon for an arm, so maybe Inafune should have thought about his character in general, lol. It's just truly asinine really and even if they did try to bridge over the classic to the X series in a movie or game, I shudder at the thought of how they would explain what happens to everyone. >_<

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  30. @Protodude

    that was rather rude of Sony. the 2d sprites were impressive in their own right

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