Sunday, May 10, 2015

Regarding Mega Man Legends and Property Infringement

There's a couple misconceptions floating around concerning Mega Man Legends' present inability to be sold on the PlayStation Store. This post is an attempt to quell these murmurs, while at the same time provide specific examples of property infringement issues the title faces. We will discuss Mega Man Legends 2's case at a later time. For now, the spotlight is on the original 1998 classic.

It's not the audio. At least not anymore.

Our holdup has nothing to do with voice actors and contractual agreements. This issue was cleared up in 2010 when former Capcom USA SVP Christian Svensson provided the following statement on the digital availability of all three Mega Man Legends titles (MML1, TMoTB, MML2):

"Actually, it looks like there's an IP risk on one of the titles so the IP group won't let us re-release it on PSN. We've been trying to see if we can get that resolved but it's going to take a long time."


"The issues I'm speaking of are not audio related but I can't elaborate more unfortunately."

Indeed, voice acting and related audio can prevent games from PSN distribution, as alluded to in this interview with Svensson in 2011. This might have been the case at one point, but if you couple Svensson's 2010 statement with the eventual release of The Misadventures of Tron Bonne on PSN, it's clearly no longer an issue. Tron Bonne's audio is the same as it was in 2000... which brings us to a rather uncomfortable topic.

Teisel Bonne, or more specifically the character's English voice actor, Rob Smith. Before Tron Bonne's PSN launch, this was a popular theory: "the Legends games can't come to PSN because Rob Smith is a convicted pedophile."

Yes, Rob Smith was jailed in 2008 for the distribution and possession of child pornography. As horrible and shameful as the fact is, it did not inhibit Tron Bonne's digital release. From a contractual standpoint, Smith's performance shouldn't be an issue if/when Mega Man Legends launches on PSN. Every word he uttered will go unchanged. 

So if it's not the voice actors, what is it?

Two real-world intellectual properties are depicted in Mega Man Legends. Of the three games in the series, the original Legends is the only one to directly reference other people's IP. These properties are Oronamin C energy drinks and Yoyogi Animation Gakuin (YAG). Have a look:

Bottles of Oronamin C can be seen on numerous vending machines throughout Kattelox Island. In Rockman DASH, the product is specifically mentioned when Rock consumes the beverage.

The YAG building in Uptown is a nod to Yoyogi Animation Gakuin, an animation school located in Japan. The NPC outside the building wears an apron with the school's former mascot. In Rockman DASH, this NPC even provides you the actual phone number to the university! It's a shameless commercial, really. Naturally, the number was removed in Mega Man Legends and YAG was repurposed as a video game studio that makes "cool games like Resident Evil." The logo and mascot, however, remained. For fun, here's YAG's website as it appeared in 1999.

If these logos are so bad, how come Capcom can get away with selling the 2005 Rockman DASH PSP port on the Japanese PlayStation Store?

Simple: the textures for the vending machines, the YAG building and mascot were retouched to avoid potential litigation. They're gone. Rather than renew outdated contracts to use other people's IP, Capcom simply went back and cut those pesky logos out entirely. Problem solved, right? Yeah, for the PSP version.

According to Christian Svensson, Sony prevents developers from modifying PSOne source code. The policy insists PSOne Classics sold on PSN must be the exact same as their master disc image. No alterations, no cuts. In other words, Capcom can't remove these logos from the PlayStation version of Mega Man Legends and expect to sell the game on the PlayStation Store.

What can Capcom do then?

While a PSN release is unlikely at the time of this writing, there are a few options to get Mega Man Legends on present-day consoles and storefronts.

Option A) Mega Man 64 - With the N64 Virtual Console just coming to life on Wii U, Mega Man 64 may have an opportunity to shine. And what do you know, those infringing logos were changed here, too. The Oronamin C bottles were recolored green, and the YAG building was removed entirely! Mega Man 64 is pretty much ready to go as is.

Option B) PC/Steam - The PC version of Mega Man Legends is a decent port and no policy exists to prevent Capcom from removing those nasty logos. It's a quick fix with a great pay off: of all platforms available, Steam has the largest install base.

Option C) sell the PSP port on the US PSN store - This one is tricky. Capcom has entertained the idea in the past, but the title would either have to be sold in its native Japanese language OR they would have to invest in a translation/injection of the English script. If left untranslated, the game has limited appeal outside of hardcore fans. Injecting the English script/voice overs will require additional investment and time. It really comes down to logistics: is it worth the added effort?

Option D) Remake or remaster Mega Man Legends - We're essentially talking about a new product here. Basically, Capcom remakes Mega Man Legends from the ground up for the current generation of consoles. Property infringements are naturally removed in the process, and Capcom enhances the game in other areas wherever they see fit. This is an option that many fans would like to see, certainly. However, Legends has historically under-performed. The question Capcom has to ask themselves, is a straight up remake financially viable?

There's a number of things that can be done, yet the fact remains these options take time and money (some more than others). "Option E" exists but that one is entirely in Sony's court; ease up on the PSOne Classic policies and permit developers to tweak master code. I believe this policy exists to prevent developers from making unnecessary tweaks or enhancements -- it's a barrier to preserve games in their original, maybe not-so-perfect state.

Ideally this policy shouldn't exempt developers from modifying master disc images to protect their product from litigation. Third parties should have the right to remove outdated and expired ads, logos, promotions, etc.

At this time there's very little we, the consumers, can do. My best advice is to buy the PSN version of Tron Bonne and show, with your dollar, continued interest in preserving Mega Man Legends in the digital market. If you absolutely have to play Legends, discs are readily available through eBay at a relatively affordable price. The same can't be said for Mega Man Legends 2 ($150 and up!). We'll be looking at Legends 2 later but I can say this: it has a much higher chance of landing on PSN than its predecessor.

In the meantime, stay tuned. Policies change, new ideas are brought to light, and people sign contracts all the time. Things change. Mega Man Legends may yet have its day.


  1. I had the disc version of L2, and you won't believe this but it committed suicide. No joke, I was looking at it while getting ready to pick it up as it laid on the flat head of my tv set, when it just up and split in two right before my very eyes for no apparent reason. I still think about that day, it made me think I had a ghost in my house.

    Anyhoo I still have MM64, never owned Legends but played it by borrowing it from friends a bunch of times throughout my life. Not that it matters to me I've played/beaten L/L2/MM64 many times and they are alright but I'm not gonna go over the top trying to secure a copy of any of those, I sure as heck am not paying 150$ for Legends 2 (my least favorite entry), and I'm so far playing what is shaping up to be my favorite game in the series TMOTB. So I'm good.

    On topic though, I think Option B is kinda limiting, like why would Capcom have to port the PC port they've already made to steam? Why couldn't they just port the PS1 version and just remove any PS/Sony references if any? It would probably be the same amount of work it would take editing textures and dialog anyway.

  2. I sure hope that Mega Man 64 comes out on Wii U for Mega May next year or sooner!

  3. With money being more of a factor in today's gaming world I'd imagine Capcom would most likely go for the cheapest option in the form of Mega Man 64 on the WiiU, the WiiU has quite an impressive collection of Mega Man titles on it at present & seems to be getting a lot of attention from Nintendo & it's fans alike.. While it would be nice to have the entire Legends series on one platform, this may be the only way to get the original game available on current systems, the only problem is then would people be willing to play Legends 2 without having access to the original game on PSN? (provided Legends 2 doesn't have any major IP problems in order to get ported in the first place) It's a shame that the PS1 Classics cannot be altered it's because of this we still haven't got games like Tekken 3 on there (because the character Gon was a licenced manga character) it wouldn't concern me if MM64 was made available & then Legends 2 on PSN but I know a lot of people may miss out ... But then again MM7, X2, Battle Network, Zero, ZX, Starforce games will never appear on PSN & MM8, X4-X8, Battle & Chase & Powered Up will never appear on WiiU so to experience the majority of the various series' you'd have to own both anyway... Guess we'll have to wait & see what happens!

    1. Or own a PC and let all the games be ported to that, like seriously why do 3rd party developers even bother with consoles anymore?

    2. Because a lot of people prefer putting a game in a system after a long days work & the game just working instead of having to deal with upgrades & messing around with settings in a vain attempt to get the best out of a game which may or may not work on your current setup.... least that's MY experience with PC gaming, I realise a lot of people love PC gaming & don't have any problems + I don't want to have a huge ass debate on here regarding that so in answer to your question 3rd parties want more money & they can do so by catering to as many different audiences as possible which = more money. Technically speaking Legends was on PC so unless there's no way to change the IP problems they could easily put it up on Steam/GOG etc.

    3. OK than better question, why are people so lazy? And for those people struggling, buy a gaming PC that would cost you maybe a quarter more than a new gaming console. In that case trying to push the game to 100% is trying to go way above current consoles counterparts at that point.

      So in essence if you do have a current gaming PC, all that's left is getting the game to run like default on consoles, (which shouldn't be hard to do but) if you do run into problems, you should be able to fix it and once you fix it you should never have to fix it again, at which point it is simply "putting a game in" or double clicking the game's icon.

      Not only that but PC is always backwards compatible in one way or another, and if you invest in a current gaming PC you're probably set to compete with 2 generations of home consoles in terms of power/capabilities at that point On top of being able to port all of your old data if you ever choose to upgrade.

      I just don't get the appeal of home consoles (outside of exclusives of course)? But that's just me.

    4. I wouldn't say it's laziness it's more a case of convenience.. Personally I work a hell of a lot & get maximum 2 hours gaming time a day, way less if we are away working so it's just easier to have a console & believe it or not the majority of people outside of the gaming world really couldn't care less if a PC is better graphically than a current gen console.. The other factor is that some people aren't technically minded enough to build a PC themselves, again majority would rather walk into a store buy a box that will play what they want & walk out ... maybe that's laziness or is it more convenience? Guess that's just perspective... I personally found that you usually end up spending about the same over the years in upgrading a PC so it makes no difference to me really. Getting this back on topic Legends exists on PC but with the recent re-releases focusing on consoles mainly the issue still stands with trying to get around the IP problems for that re-release... which in my original post I stick to the point that Capcom aren't making any major new releases at the moment aside from Street Fighter 5 which was funded by Sony & RE Revalations 2 which was released episodically so having MM64 re-released on Virtual Console would be the cheapest option for them since the logos etc were not present in that version. The only other solution which I think was mentioned on here was to put the voice acting & English subtitles on the PSP re-make versions & put those out as a PSN game instead of a PS1 Classic title... Don't know how much money that would cost but it may be worth a try...

  4. Another option is to release them not as PS1 Classics but as some sort of "re-release" similar to how Capcom released their arcade fighters. They won't have to deal with the PS1 Classics restrictions at that point.

  5. yet they have no problem releasing the demo version of legends 1 on japanese psn which it has those. don't believe me, go it second disc of rockman x4 and check it for yourself.

  6. I prefer option F
    F:Make Megaman Legend 3 and have some of the area and ruin in Megaman Legend 1 and 2 can be accessed for extra progression like extra item and quest.If Capcom can make Resident Evil Revelations 2 where player retrace back to stuff that has happen in the past and stages like Raid more that use assest from Resident Evil 6.

    Just make the Legends 1 and 2 stuff act like "extra flashback" stages so that we can play it with no problem...

    Or..just go for Option D....honestly this is much better otherwise emulation is the way to go....

    I even still have my Megaman Legend 1 original pc disc lolz...

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  8. I vote for remaking Legends 1. Chances are it'll be nigh impossible to get all the old voices together (especially if Teisel's VA is a convicted felon... which sucks because his voice is probably the best one in the series) for any new Legends game, so they could introduce a new cast in the remake and use them for a possible remake of Legends 2 and maybe even Legends 3 if they're successful.

    Put it on the 3DS to make it less of a financial burden, and I wouldn't be able to pre-order it fast enough.

  9. Or Option E: Just sell Mega Man the franchise to Nintendo and not worry about it. Trust me,this will be beneficial for Capcopm,Nintendo ,AND the Fans.

    1. That wouldn't really solve the problem though. If they were bought out by Nintendo, the most they'd be able to put out as a port would be MM 64. Legends 2 and Tron Bonne would have to be remade.

    2. How would that help Capcom? Also I don't think it would be that much more beneficial to Mega Man especially Legends, since Nintendo doesn't really invest much in things that have been known to historically have repeated bombings financially.

    3. What a horrible idea.

    4. Fact! Mega Man Games have done A lot better on Nintendo consoles than with Sony consoles. If Capcom doesn't sell the IP to the big N, then maybe they will do another smart thing and allow Mega Man to be Nintendo exclusive..Just like what they are doing for Street Fighter,which is now a Sony exclusive.

  10. So basically Sony's mucking up the whole affair with a nonsensical anti-source code alteration policy.
    That's quite ironic since the only reason Mega Man Legends exists in the first place is because Sony had a nonsensical anti-2-D games policy on the PSX. A 3-D Mega Man game was their tradeoff for allowing Mega Man 8 to be released on their system. Just as Metal Gear Solid was their tradeoff for Castlevania: SOTN.
    Oh, Sony... You never stop screwing up EVERYTHING, do you?

    1. But Metal Gear Solid was hugely successful, how is that a screw up? If anything they never stop getting lucky, especially in gaming.

    2. And that's why Konami just dropped out of the gaming business, right?
      Trust me, Sony is the Wal-Mart of the electronics industry.
      What's good for Sony is bad for virtually everyone else.

    3. Well..., my point still stands. In any case, if Konami did drop out of gaming, the success of MGS on the PS sure as heck wasn't the cause of it.

      I really don't understand the logic of blaming one company's screw ups on another entirely separate company anyway. My theory is Konami struggles/struggled in gaming for the same reasons SEGA struggles and Capcom soon will struggle. One a disconnect with their IPs and their fans/audiences (there are some exceptions), and two not giving the developing staff (especially high ranked seasoned producers) enough creative freedom.

      Lastly but not leastly, in fact most important in my opinion is NOT HAVING ENOUGH IP VARIETY, all of these companies thrived when they were known for more than just a handful of IPs. None of them have IPs that they can rely on selling double digit millions when released frequently (like CoD, or Pokemon/Mario) or have general mass appeal to a sustainable large market (Sports/casual games). Capcom use to be known for a variety of fighting games, survival horror, arcade action games, beat 'em ups/hack&slash and 2D platformers now it's know for Resident Evil (and even RE is fading), Street Fighter and Monster Hunter. Well at least Capcom's foray into RPGs is doing alright with Dragon's Dogma and maybe possibly Deep Down, but Capcom's the best one in this case. Konami and SEGA pretty much boil down to Metal Gear and Sonic, even Silent Hill (the only other viable option) is under advertised and utilized. So no wonder Konami would drop out of gaming, they were barely in it before (RIP Goemon/Suikoden/Castlevania).

  11. Can't they just agree to let it be released as it would promote then?
    Still, YAG may not be easily recognized as they no longer use that logo and mascot. By the way, here's the old site with them:
    At least YAG still uses the same phone, so we won't have a NES Roger Rabbit problem here.

    A) The most likely to happen, alongside other N64 games.
    B) I wonder why Cap didn't release it and other old PC games yet... Unlike Sega, so far only recent titles were added. Also, the PC versions of DASH 1 & 2 are quite buggy ( ), so some work would be needed. (at least they released a patch for DASH 2 in its official page that makes easy mode like the PSX version: Max Buster and 2x Zenny)

    C) Many files from the DASH PSP discs are similar to the PSX ones. If not a problem for Capcom and the voice actors, copying the audio and text from one to another and some testing could be a possibility. And although I'd prefer it to be in English like the original... The PSP versions added optional subtitles, so if voices are too much trouble, original audio with English subtitles could also be an option.

    D) The top men are unwilling to try finishing DASH 3, why would they remake DASH 1? ;_; But this would be my favorite choice! (as long as it isn't poorly done like the iOS MMX)

    E) I prefer not, unless it is something like this. I'm not aware of any, but besides Legends, are there other games with copyright stuff in their games?

    F) Mega Man Legends Collection? (A la Mega Man Zero Collection)

    1. E) Many sports and racing games use logos, real people and other contents. Tony Hawk games not only have those, but also other characters like Spider-Man (Marvel) and Darth Maul (Star Wars). Tekken 3 has the character Gon. And those are only the ones I remembered, there certainly is more games.

  12. I give almost anything for a Legends Collection (preferably if it were for a Nintendo console, but beggars can't be choosers), but I know that's never going to happen either. Even a collection release of the classic series now seems like very slim chance of happening.
    - Dr. Jerk.

  13. Wait a minute, didn't they change those references for the American and European versions, at least in the text?

  14. "Rob Smith is a convicted pedophile."

    I... never knew that. And Teisel has one of my favorite dubs ever, lol.

    His career is most likely wrecked forever. How sad.

  15. You know, once you mentioned Rob Smith, I had a lot of trouble focusing on the rest of the article. That's news to me!

    Once the shock wore off, I was able to read the rest. It's sad that this series is bogged down by copyright issues. It would have been nice to play this game on a modern console with less wonky controls.

  16. Remakes and remasterings are always a bad idea from a creative integrity standpoint. Just look at Spielberg/Lucas and how they've defiled their past works with unnecessary "remastering." Another good example in Metal Gear Solid and it's gamecube remake that inserted a bunch of awful campy cutscenes and dialogue.

    A remake of anything Mega Man would especially be awful now that Inafune has left the company. Good games are good because of the people that create them. Once they leave then it becomes nothing but hollow taxidermied IP that get milked by the current rights holder. Mega Man is dead, let it rest in piece.

    1. Not when done right. They don't need to change gameplay, most re-releases of Final Fantasy games are a good example of how to do it. Same games, better graphics and audio, plus new areas and enemies that area optional. THIS is an important keyword(s) for remakes: Optional, extras, bonuses, ...

      Mega Man Legends with improved graphics and audio, plus tons of extra content until the disc is full... Think of the possibilities! Just in the Key Items you can have a database (enemies, bosses, improtant people and misc), a radio to listen music (unlocking them as they are heard and also buying them in the CD shop), and a gallery. Three new dungeons, 2 in each forest and 1 in plains, they being connected between themselves (but only themselves to not mess with main game, except maybe for a single point in the underground ruins to make all connected) and having new enemies, bosses and items, resulting in new parts and weapons. New minigames in KTOX TV (open anytime) and police sidequests (after clearing the original ones). Buy clothes in Apple Market to change Rock's look. And much more...

      However, that also depends of other things. I don't know why Rockman.EXE: Operate Shooting Star didn't go well, but I think it is due to Capcom raising to much hype for it and focusing too much in the new content, and that made many believe it to be some sort of remake or even a new game, but it is just the first game with small bonuses like new mugshots for the main characters, the addition of a few voice clips, one new scenario and boss (in the main story, although it is very short and isn't a problem to the game flow), the addition of maps (thank god, the internet is a maze!), playable SSR, a few new chips and P.A.s, and the fun multiplayer minigames. It is not a bad game, yet, it is a GBA game in a DS cart and could be much better, like MMZC (4 GBA games in 1 DS cart!). Capcom could have, for example, added some content from later games, like enemy names and (optional) transformations like StyleChange (the game deals with time travel, so why not?), and made a more complex (optional) area. But I heard they removed the elemental armors. So... *shrug*

    2. Maverick Hunter X and Powered Up are also good remakes.

      But the iOS Mega Man X...
      Minus: Gameplay (the most important) and graphics:
      Plus: Script:

  17. BREAKING NEWS: AmiAmi is now shipping their gigantic MegaMan figures. Just authorized payment this morning.

    1. Same here, can't wait to get hold it! Only another month until the Mega Man X one should be ready to go as well.

  18. Although it's free advertisement, maybe Oronamin C doesn't like the fact that in MML their vending machines can be kicked to force them to randomly give a drink for free or break, and kicking it again results on it exploding?

  19. Wow,comments all over the map here. This doesn't seem so much a Sony issue as it is Capcom not wanting to pay these IPs royalties for their use in the game.

    And in regards to Konami,do you realize how much money they stand to make if Japan legalizes gambling? Way more than what they are making producing games. And although I don't like it,it's a good business move for them.

  20. Since we know it's not the audio that's the issue, I'd be fine with them bringing the PSP versions over as digital exclusives with the English script and voiceovers.

    Or, they could not be stingy and work out a new deal with YAG since they appear to have done so with Oronamin C going by Rockman DASH demo in Rockman X4 on Japan's PSN store.

  21. This was a really well written article that not only bust the myth I heard about the voice cast, but also enlightened me about the logo and source code issues. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, it really does bring the actual problems to the forefront where they belong.

  22. Why must corporations make everything so goddamn difficult? Those dipshits at Oranamin and YAG need to realize that THIS IS FREE ADVERTISING! Why should Capcom have to pay THEM, when they were the ones that paid Capcom to have those ads in the game in the first place?! Can't we petition them or something?


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