I watched Nintendo's press conference live online earlier this week and was generally underwhelmed. There were no new entries in their best-selling franchises (Mario, Zelda, Metroid … Kid Icarus), and the sequels they demonstrated, such as Star Wars and Call of Duty, hardly left anyone's jaws hanging.
I was especially disappointed by the lack of attention given to WiiWare. This two-month-old venture is Nintendo's answer to the Xbox Live Arcade, but we were given neither numbers of its nascent success or promises of future titles from big-name companies. When the stage dimmed for one last surprise, what I expected was not Wii Music, but a final opportunity for WiiWare to shine — in the form of Mega Man 9.
This WiiWare game, due from Capcom in 2008, is an original title that looks like it was created 20 years ago, ignoring even the graphical advances of Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8. I'm fascinated not only that the reception to this game has been so popular — 15 years ago, the formulaic Mega Man games were almost a joke, yet now we're hungry for more — but that Capcom has dedicated their time and resources in creating an original product for such a niche audience. Will MM9 appeal to newer gamers who have been weaned on 128-bit graphics and never played the original Blue Bomber titles? Have enough older, hardcore gamers stuck with the Nintendo brand that they'll be available to buy this game on WiiWare and not XBLA? Will MM9 stir up interest in the years-old Mega Man Anniversary compilation? I'm not sure what Capcom's angle is, but between this and Bionic Commando, they're certainly being generous to us retrogamers.
For Mega Man 9, here's the opening sequence:
This gameplay montage suggests a challenging mix of new and old: