Monday, June 20, 2011

Where DS Rockman Games Go To Die

Around this time of year, Japanese game retailers clear out their cache of unsold titles to make way for new releases. Games that nobody wants find solace in carefully placed bargain bins; hoping, waiting for someone to pick them up at a steal of a price. 

Above, piles upon piles of unsold Nintendo DS Rockman games, from the recent Operate Shooting Star to the original Ryusei no Rockman (Star Force). And no, these aren't used copies -- they're new. Never been opened, never been bought. The games on display above are going from anywhere between 200 to 380 Yen, or roughly $2.50~ $4.73 USD. Curiously, they still fetch a pretty penny to import stateside, OSS in particular. Crazy right?

The leftmost bargain bin plays host to well over a few dozen Rockman games, whilst the rest contain boxes worth of unsold Ryuusei copies (in their original factory packaging, no less). It's certainly a sad sight, but one not too surprising given the sales performance of some of these titles in the domestic market.

Whether it be Capcom setting their shipment expectations too high, or the quality of the games themselves, it's difficult to determine precisely why these titles in particular faired poorly in their lifetime. And it's not just Rockman: many games, great ones even, hit bargains quickly in Japan. Zelda, Metal Gear, Final Fantasy -- big name franchises are being sent to these "wagon sales" faster than ever before. Nintendo particularly is well aware of this trend, and as a means to spare Ocarina of Time 3D the same fate as Phantom Hourglass, has shipped a limited number of copies to Japanese retailers. A smart move, one that is said to be paying off.

Gaming in Japan isn't necessarily dying, it's sporadic. You're either a hit or a miss these days.

Thanks to reader Jimb0 for the pictures from his recent trip to Japan!


  1. "Capcom is meen, prefering Street Fighter and Resident Evil over Mega Man".

    One must wonder if THESE kind of commercial failures have influenced Capcom's take on the whole Rockman franchise.

    Last retail MM games were a commercial failure. Most of them being based on the Network Timeline.

    MM9 & MM10 were released as downloadable titles, with mostly positive reviews.

    Legends 3 is revived, with an uncertain future. It promises to be a huge improvement of Legends's 3D JnS gameplay.

    Next thing you know, more Jump-n-Shoot games are released (maybe akin to MM9's retrofad), and the Network Timeline goes into a deep slumber, akin to Legends's and Classic's.

    *points at the SF protagonist kid and SpikyRushThingy.EXE*

    Good job, Jeremy :D.

  2. You know, with some of the games, it's almost like they didn't even try. OSS, for instance... a proper enhanced port would have been great. However, what we got was just the old game with a new scenario. Given how clunky it was, and how they didn't streamline it or address some of the other problems with the game, it's no wonder people didn't shine to it. The only reason I was going to consider it was that I couldn't find a working copy of EXE1!

    The problem here is that they tried to turn it into a cash cow, rather than focusing on quality. By the time RnR3 came around, it was too little too late - though it was a great game, way better than the previous two, the franchise had been hit hard by the sub-par games in the series. As such, even though it was the better game, many people had already given up faith in the series.

    EXE still has some name power behind it unlike RnR, but unless they come out with 7 and it's a huge hit, it'll probably fall out of favor in the same way RnR did, especially after OSS.

  3. The only question I have is where can I get my copy of these titles at this price? Are any sites selling them at a low cost or is this in store / retail in Japan?

  4. @Anon:

    I looked around; it's in-store only on a retailer by retailer basis. I wasn't told if it was widespread.

  5. How are those games still in stock? They're more than 5 years old already.

  6. I notice Phantom Hourglass is there. That's also a damn good game.

  7. Kind of sad. Personally I prefer the Star Force series over the Battle Network series. At least the SF cast had character development and the stories were darker.

    Although, $5 for Operation Shooting Star sounds good...


    Star Force series has no love, probably even from Capcom. Even ZX, the series with least media (only 2 games and a manga), is more popular than Star Force. Maybe it's because of the multiple versions with little differences no one cares?

  9. This is proof that downloadable games are the future of gaming. There will be no dependability on retailers or manufacturers of games to distribute products. The only thing you'll see in retailers are prepaid cards and mascot trinkets. And that's just the ways things are going to be, it'll be incredibly profitable for those in the game industry.

  10. It really surprises me how unsuccessful Capcom has been when it comes to MegaMan games for the DS. Star Force had mediocre reception at best, and ZX totally flopped. Maybe the lesson is that trying to re-do the same series under a different name isn't the way to go. Granted, Star Force isn't Battle Network, nor is ZX Zero, but maybe they could've done more to make that obvious.

    I loved the games myself. I'm just happy I was able to find them. Those titles are pretty difficult to come across around here. (Nevermind finding them new.)

    The whole MegaMan situation just makes me sad really. The only way to sell MegaMan to anyone these days seems to be to play up the retro angle. :/ The retro angle isn't bad itself, but the reality of it only serves to reaffirm Capcom's complete and total fear of change when it comes to anything MegaMan.

  11. Poor star force. I actually like it. It has a good story and good characters. Well, here's hoping for a star force 4 game.

  12. Star Force is casual, EXE is pro (exe 4), thats all.

    See the sales on wikipedia, Star Force 3 sucks with 174 000 units.
    EXE 4 with more than 520 000. You see?

  13. I think part of the reason is because just about the only place Capcom advertises is youtube and their website. I also agree with MusashiAA.

  14. With the retro mania, Mega Man 11 will end up looking like this:

  15. I thought it was Spirit Tracks that Nintendo had trouble pushing in Japan?

  16. ...a sh1tload of unsold megaman starfox (or whatever it is called), is that a surprise?

    Long live real megaman phuck yeah!

  17. Was the "it's a sad site" line supposed to be punny?

  18. Although the future of the 'real' Megaman games are in question too, when the last few in recent memory were either digital distribution (MM9, MM10, and MMU before cancellation) with Capcom not releasing any concrete numbers as to how well they have done, and the last few retail games bombed even worse.

    It doesn't help that Capcom doesn't seem to be putting much faith in Legends 3, given its past record. Sure, Legends 3 was announced to a lot of fanfare. But despite the contests and information released since then, where's the hype now?

    But I would just say that this is just a transitional period not only for the Megaman franchise, but also for much of gaming in general. After all, did anyone else notice how E3 was practically dominated by shooters and western RPGs? There was almost no Japanese industry presence there at all.

    When the 25th anniversary slides by with nothing notable, then we should be worried.

  19. I find it funny how half the comments here are basically SSR/EXE hate.

    Oh, how I love thee, Megaman fanbase.

  20. @Alilatias: That's... actually pretty scary when I think about it. You're dead on with that E3 comment - there was next to no Japanese presence, especially outside of Nintendo.

    I think the problem is that Capcom tried to milk money out of it. BN1 and 2 were fine, but starting with 3 they began doing the different versions. However, this isn't pokemon, where the point of that was to encourage people to get out and socialize. I think starting in 3 they just began making things cash cows.

    It's especially jarring in SF3, where the only difference is giga cards and the uberform - which could easily be done via the second save slot similar to how SF2 handled it. If the network timeline continues, here's hoping that they realize that the multiple versions is a bad idea, and they focus on quality instead of pushing stuff out.

  21. @ Amir: While I usually agree with you, I'm not seeing it this time. Outside of kotipeltox returning to old habits (and to think I thought he redeemed himself in recent months), most everyone here is just provding commentary about Capcom's handling of SSR or even the entire Rockman franchise in general.

    Not exactly hate as far as I'm concerned.

    @ Role: Actually, now that I think about it, saying that there was next to no Japanese industry presence at E3 is a bit silly. Capcom and Square Enix got to show off a couple things, and Nintendo is still running smoothly.

    I'd say it's still true that shooters and western RPGs just about buried most Japanese presence there, though.

    I only hear of the new Halo games, or whatever Sony's answer to them is, or whatever Activision is doing with Call of Duty right now, or Skyrim (of which Skyrim is probably the only western game that I'm interested in). Hardly anyone talks about Capcom's new Dragon's Dogma IP, and many consider Square Enix past their prime at this point.

    But I guess we'll just have to wait until TGS or something. I don't recall TGS being particularly exciting during the past two years, though. It was definitely enough for Inafune to give several talks over the past few years about how the Japanese gaming industry was dying.

    It's all so depressing.

    On another note, at least OSS' one redeeming quality was that it wasn't released in two versions. I guess that's a start, even though it's sort of a port of sorts. (I would give it slightly more credit for changing a lot of smaller details, but they are details that casual fans and onlookers would just gloss over.)

  22. Personally, I put OSS on a higher plane than Zero Collection.

    At least OSS had some totally brand new content, as opposed to ZC which had literally nothing actually new. (Mod Cards don't count, since they were in JP Zero 3, and were supposedly useable in US Zero 3 with cheats. And having a "Oh My God you must be truly retarded" Easy Mode isn't really new either)

    Plus, for some strange reason, using a Battle Music Change cheat and changing the Final Boss music to the SSR1 Title theme while using SS Rockman himself, makes the fight turn really epic for some strange reason. XD

  23. R4DS. Nobody except parents buying for their children pay for Nintendo DS games here in Asia, lol.


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