Had it not been for a few vocal tipsters, this would have totally slipped my radar. Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Mega Man Star Force! The first game in the series, spanning across three versions, released in Japan on December 14th, 2006. Goodness time certainly flies! It feels like just yesterday the original teaser trailer hit the web:
Mega Man Star Force began life under the tentative title of "Rebirth of Rockman ZN." The ZN project aimed to succeed the Battle Network series, concurrently ushering in the franchise's 20th anniversary. It wasn't until the summer of 2006 that the game was officially dubbed Ryuusei no Rockman (Shooting Star Rockman). That winter, Pegasus, Leo and Dragon versions blasted to store shelves in Japan. In total, the games collectively moved 593,675 units by the end of 2007.
Although things seemed like they were off to a good start, the series never quite found its footing financially. Beginning with Star Force 2, sales entered a death spiral.
Failing to meet projections, SF2 would go on to sell far less than its predecessor. By 2008, both version sold a meager 291,962 units combined. SF2's lackluster performance spelled the end for numerous cross-media ventures. In fact, Star Force 3 marked the first time in a little under a decade a "network timeline" game was not accompanied with an televised animated series or toy line. Star Force's financial viability reached an all time low.
Star Force 3 would go on to sell the worst of the lot -- Black Ace and Red Joker, in total, sold 174,426 copies by year's end. What's really sad about that is the game actually met Capcom's projected forecast. Capcom had little faith in Star Force 3 from the get-go!
In the end, Star Force couldn't hold a candle to the success that was Mega Man Battle Network; a brand that kept Capcom fed and happy for nearly ten years. Operate Shooting Star did little for the ailing series. Failing to live up to its potential (a crossover between Battle Network and Star Force), the game was met with negative criticism from fans of both series. Sales were ultimately lackluster.
It's hard to say what the future holds for the network timeline. Despite its shortcomings, there exists a truly passionate fanbase for this particular series. So long as the fan voice is there, there's always a chance for something like Star Force 4 or true crossover.