In this short interview promoting the Rockman Complete Works series, long-time Mega Man steward Keiji Inafune shared his renewed appreciation for the classic 2D action game format and the importance of providing games that can be immediately grasped by players of all ages and skill levels.

Confusingly, Inafune’s succeeding Mega Man Zero series for Game Boy Advance would focus on unabashedly hardcore action with a somewhat opaque ranking system, but one can witness those principles put into practice with 2009’s critically-acclaimed throwback title Mega Man 9 and its sequel, Mega Man 10.

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Mega Man 9 – 2008 interview
Mega Man 9 & 10 – 2010 interview
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Mega Man X4 – 1997 interview
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Keiji Inafune – 1999 Developer Interview

originally featured in Game Hihyou magazine

I’d like to start today by talking about how we came to the decision to port the Famicom Rockman games to the Playstation. 2 years ago, there was a special event for Rockman’s 10th Anniversary. We had the Famicom Rockman games on display there, and I was very surprised to see how much people were enjoying them. Many of these children were not even born when the first Rockman came out, and yet they were completely enrapt by this old game. To them, I guess, it was fresh and new.

It was then that I thought to myself, “The good things in a game don’t really age, do they?” While the graphics and such may be outdated now, the fun parts remain the same. What I felt in that moment inspired me to want to bring the old Rockman games back on modern hardware.

Many recent action games are in 3D now, but when you go 3D, the controls and gameplay become more complicated—too complicated, I think, for kids who aren’t at least middle school or elementary school age. It’s too tough for younger children. In comparison, the Rockman series is 2D, and the basic controls are just two buttons: jump and shoot, with the directional pad for movement… and even if you aren’t very good, you can still make progress. For a game to be friendly and easy for children to pick up—that is honestly something very important, I think.

On a personal level, I would like to continue making action games in the future. The first game I really got into was Super Mario Bros., and the first game I made was Rockman, so I’m an action fan at heart.

However, the reality is that unlike the old days, it no longer suffices to release a game that is interesting on the merits of its action gameplay alone. The volume and size of games has increased, and it’s now possible to include non-gameplay attractions in a game. I think that’s a very natural progression for video games to take, but for a person like me who has been making action games all this time, there’s something sad about it too. I’d like to make a game that retains the flavor and style of the older generation of action games, while also including the necessary modern elements people expect today. I’d like to make a completely new, modern game, but one that makes you remember the joy of older games.

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All six Rockman Complete Works games, courtesy of kidshoryuken.

To be completely honest, though, I have had times where I seriously thought to myself: action games are dead. What has stopped me from despairing in that moment was some local brats, err, I mean kids, in my neighborhood. You see, I have a small child, and his friends often come over to play, demanding “let us play Rockman!!!” When I saw those children earnestly playing those old games, it reawoke that dormant longing in me: yes, I’ve got to keep making action games. It was the same as the 10th Anniversary event: seeing children actually playing and enjoying these games is a huge encouragement to me. Not wanting to disappoint them is another reason I want to keep making action games in the future.

It’s my hope that when people think of Capcom, they think of a company that makes a wide variety of games for all age groups. In that sense, I think focusing on development for young children is very important. Right now I’m working on Onimusha, and even there, I feel like my ability to make a good game for adults has been informed by the work I’ve done for children. Even Shinji Mikami (the producer of the Resident Evil series) made games like Aladdin, long ago… (laughs)

If someone asked me, “Of all the games you’ve made, which has left the deepest impression on you?”, I would naturally have to answer Rockman. I’ve been making the Rockman series for over 10 years now, so it’s fair to say that I have grown up alongside it. And I hope I can keep growing with Rockman into the future.