"Rockman X Interactive" was the project name for a cancelled Rockman X spin-off in development in the mid-1990s. The existence of the game came to light when design documents for the project appeared on Yahoo! Auction Japan in September, 2018. Although our search for the actual, physical documents continue, I'm happy to present to you today our initial findings and a complete English translation of the pages that were posted to the ill-fated auction itself.
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What is "Rockman X Interactive"?
On September 19th, 2018, I discovered an auction for a set of two Rockman-related design documents: one was for Super Adventure Rockman – the interactive movie game that released in 1998 for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn – and the second was for an unreleased title, "Rockman X Interactive". The seller was an individual going by the username of "deflotte" who was mostly known for selling antiques and other knick-knacks.
As the project name suggested, and what would be described in the document itself, Rockman X Interactive was intended to be an interactive movie game set in the Rockman X universe. Much like Super Adventure Rockman, the events of the game would flow and change based on the player's choices.
Interestingly, Rockman X Interactive was in development, or at least in pre-production, a few years before Super Adventure Rockman even released. According to notes printed on pages shown above, these documents were composed between December 1995 and 1996. Note the use of the imperial era format on the top image, written as "平成7" or "Heisei Era 7". The seventh year of the Heisei era was in 1995. The bottom image from page 009 out of 011 is dated "96-02-16" or February 16th, 1996.
As the lack of the game on your shelf in the year 2019 no doubt suggests, Rockman X Interactive didn't come to fruition. These documents are the only known-testament it ever existed.
The Plot of Rockman X Interactive
Portions of the game's story, including mention of new characters, events, and terminology, are described in tantalizing detail within the documents. For now, we only have one page from the story summary that's legible. Here is a scene from "Chapter 01":
"Rockman X・Interactive Story [...]
Plot ・ Chapter01
-"Doctor Neutral, can you hear me?... Father, please respond!" The voice that resounded impatiently in the dark faded out in the distance.
□Main Title □Year 20XX
In a distant part of the countryside, Dr. Alex Neutral (55~60 years old) is using his Supercomputer to create a virtual space of a possible future. He uses those virtualizations in his research to predict different outcomes for the future of mankind.
His Supercomputer, 'NEUT-3000-EVE', can get hold of information about different disasters that will happen to this Earth, and then adjust the outcome in a new virtualization. It's like the Supercomputer itself was a time machine that kept flooding information about the future into Dr. Neutral's research. The computer (Eve) virtualized then a new future. Someday in the 26th century, a girl around 17 or 18 years old stood by herself, opening a comm line with Dr. Neutral.
- "Dr. Neutral, here in the 26th century the world is just wonderful! In this era, there is a boom in weddings between humans and Reploids! Aww, I wish I too could find a boyfriend soon!"
Neutral spoke to her as well.
- "Well, you're at that age after all! It was a matter of time for you to get bored of talking to someone around your father's age..."
- "Don't say that, Doctor Neutral! You are wonderful as well!"
Neutral just laughed it off
- "Now that I think about it, isn't today your birthday?[...]"
Had Rockman X Interactive released, it would have been the first game to establish that humans and Reploids could engage in romantic relations. This concept wouldn't be referenced again until Mega Man Zero 1 (2002) wherein the Reploid Andrew recounts to Zero how he once fell in love with a human.
There's a little more to the Rockman X Interactive story. We'll get to that soon. For now, let's break down what we know:
- Dr. Alex Neutral (age 55~60 years old). This is an original character that hasn't appeared in ANY media in the 24 years since the design document was written. He is a scientist who lives in the countryside (region unknown) who uses his super computer, NEUT-3000-EVE, to create visualizations of possible futures. The document says he can "adjust the outcome in a new virtualization". The document then goes on to say that the supercomputer is "like a time machine". "Like" is the keyword here; the computer is not a literal time machine. Rather, it takes in data (from some unknown source) and churns out a possible future scenario. It's suggested that Dr. Neutral can modify the outcomes of these possible future but only in a virtualized form. Dr. Neutral's actions have no bearing on the actual future. It's only a simulation.
- NEUT-3000-EVE or simply Eve is the designation of Dr. Neutral's Supercomputer. Somehow, Eve can create virtualizations of possible disasters that will befall the Earth. The 26th century scene that's described doesn't sound all too bad; however, because we don't have access to the rest of Chapter 01, we can only assume this scene could be the precursor to some sort of disaster. The calm before the storm, perhaps?
- Teenage Girl (age 17 or 18). Her use of the phrase "here in the 26th century" implies she isn't unfamiliar with different futures. Her language suggests that, like Dr. Neutral, she is an observer. Unlike the doctor, however, it's suggested she is PART of the virtualization. It's quite possible that she is a personification of Eve itself. Both the Supercomputer and this girl are implied to be the creation/daughter of Dr. Neutral, respectively. Could they be one and the same?
At the time of this writing, it remains to be scene why Dr. Neutral has created a Supercomputer to gaze into the future or what he does with that information. Although we're missing the remainder of Chapter 01 and the rest of the game's plot, an outline from the game's second chapter (Chapter 02) adds a little more to the story.
"Chapter 02" Data & Gameplay Flow
This page lays out an entire gameplay sequence from the game's second chapter. This is where the "interactive" part of Rockman X Interactive comes into play. At various points throughout Chapter 02, the player (playing as X) must react appropriately to encounters with enemies and obstacles to clear quick time events (QTEs). Below, you'll find an English translation of Chapter 02's data flow. "(----)" denotes a word or phrase we couldn't interpret due to the quality of the original image.
Fascinating, isn't it? There's a lot to process here. Let's break it down.
- Taking place after Chapter 01 (described in brief in the top left of the page), Chapter 02 shifts the scene to a jungle.
- A Planty appears before the player. If no button is pressed, they player is attacked by a Mad Pecker. If a button is pressed, the player chases the Planty to an unknown location. Both outcomes lead the player to an "exit" that connects to a lake. The player acquires an unknown item, "(----) of water", which only appears in the Mad Pecker route (i.e no button press).
- Chasing the Planty leads the player down a path where they can encounter "Chameleao", which likely refers to Sting Chameleon. The presence of Sting Chameleon and various enemies from his stage creates a couple theories:
- Assuming Rockman X Interactive fits within canon and takes place after X1 or X2, X (and by extension, the player) could be inside a recreation/simulation of Sting Chameleon's stage. These events may not be happening in real time, but take place within NEUT-3000-EVE. If this is that case, Rockman X: Cyber Mission/Mega Man Xtreme may have borrowed similar elements from Rockman X Interactive.
- The story of Rockman X Interactive is entirely self-contained and borrows some characters from X1.
- Sting Chameleon and his lackeys are placeholders for new, then yet-to-be-designed enemies.
- As X leaves the jungle and approaches the lake, he is shot from behind. A QTE happens here. If the player fails, "Failed Input Demo 1" plays. This is presumably a cutscene that only plays when certain QTEs fail. If the player succeeds, they meet a new character, Adam, and a unique cutscene plays ("Adam (----) in the shade of a tree").
- Adam approaches X and asks to "tag along" to go to wherever X is headed (he shot X in the back to gain his attention, maybe?). The earth shakes, X leaps up a tree to get a better look, and sees the Death Rogumer engaged in combat.
- Originally, The Death Rogumer was the de-facto mothership from the Hunters' 7th Airborn Unit. However, much like its role in the events of X1, it appears to be under Irregular/Maverick control. In this scene, it's shown to be attacking a wholly different Hunter mothership.
- Adam's sole line of dialog here is deliberately strange. "For something like a Reploid to be able to convert energy indexes into human-like emotions..." Simply put, Adam getting a read of X's "energy indexes" and is impressed or intrigued that X converts them into human-like emotions. Adam's use of the phrase "energy indexes" suggests he is privy to technical vernacular / technobabble.
- Adam is more than likely related to Eve in some way. We got the whole Adam and Eve thing going on here and his dialect is supposed to be "computer-y". Like the teenage girl, he may be a virtualization of Supercomputer that's separate, but related to NEUT-3000-EVE.
And that is really all we know about Rockman X Interactive's plot for now. An image of Zero was included with documents, too, so it's very likely he appeared somewhere as well. There are no known images for any of the new characters, Dr. Neutral, Eve or Adam. I guess you'll just have to whip some fan-art up for yourselves!
The Legitimacy of Rockman X Interactive
One or two different people have asked me is it possible these pages were faked. Who's to say that they weren't whipped up by some scammer?
Under the condition of anonymity, a former member of Capcom Japan has confirmed to me that these documents are legitimate. Although they could not recall many details, I was informed that Rockman X Interactive indeed entered pre-production before Super Adventure Rockman was on the map. They couldn't recall why the game didn't come to fruition, but did say it greatly influenced the direction of Super Adventure Rockman.
The Whereabouts of the Document Itself
And so we've reached the sad part of this story. On the evening of September 19th, 2019, I publicly asked the community to help donate funds to win the auction and safely acquire these documents. My intention was (and still is) to preserve these pages. Scan 'em, translate 'em, and send 'em off to The Video Game History Foundation.
As the night went on, we easily managed to amass a meaty four figures. I won't give you the exact number but it was certainly enough to win the auction. So, feeling confident in what we could pool together, I placed a sniper bid.
The following day, the auction vanished. It disappeared into the the proverbial 404 ether. What happened?
I won't get too into it but, long story short, a few fans overseas rallied together to have the auction removed from Yahoo! Auctions because they felt that:
A) The documents shouldn't belong to anyone but Capcom.
B) The seller, "deflotte", might have obtained them illegitimately. They either reported the auction as "illegal" or contacted deflotte directly and asked him to take it down. How deflotte obtained them in the first place is, at this time, a mystery.
I'll be honest – I was pretty peeved about this. Like, who would pass up the opportunity to preserve a lost piece of Mega Man history? But then I came to terms with that, perhaps, we have different ideologies behind preservation. Although I see where they're coming from and I politely disagree with it, our friends overseas did what they felt was right.
To date, these documents have yet to reappear anywhere else. I have spent the past several months trying to reach out to deflotte; to negotiate some kind of direct sale. I'm sorry to report that there has been no movement on that front.
But the search for these documents is far from over. I have a few leads and a few contacts that may provide even more details about Rockman X Interactive in the future. In time, "The Hunt for Rockman X Interactive Part 2" will certainly be a thing. For now, I ask that you enjoy what I and my partners have managed to put together.
Many, MANY thanks to Seita and GirlGamerGab for their translation work. You guys rock. Also, a big shout out to mt Patreon supporters, too. More Patreon-backed projects surrounding the documentation and research of various pieces of rare and lost Mega Man history are coming down the pike.
As always, your support is very much appreciated. It's a dollar to start; no paywall content. Learn more here!
Holly shit, that is some rarity. If the documents where pulled from auction because they should belongs to Capcom, i hope this is where they are. That would be safer than if they are wandering who know where.ReplyDelete
sort of reminds me of Doppler with the super computer and everything, and I don't think with all the possible outcomes he could create that he would stay "neutral" towards the hunters and their goalsReplyDelete
Quite interesting, I hope we can see more about it in the future. By the way, that small detail from Chapter 3 has "Wily" written on it.ReplyDelete
That's from the SAR design doc.Delete
Something I noticed about Dr. Alex Neutral's name:ReplyDelete
Dr. Light ("right") = Good
Dr. Wily ("wily") = Deceitful
Dr. Neutral = Neutral
That had to been intentional.
While the quality of SAR is a... Debatable topic,ReplyDelete
I would still have loved to see more animated MMX action regardless.
Too bad this game never got to see the light of day. I'm already invested just going by those small dug up details.ReplyDelete