This Mega Man X developer diary is a funny look at what sounds like a very difficult development. While light on technical insights into the Mega Man X development, its a nice a slice-of-life piece from Capcom in the early 90s. It’s also interesting to hear that Inafune was stumped at the planning stage for awhile, considering his previous experience with Mega Man.

The “epilogue” is a parody of the Japanese Mega Man X ending, which differs in wording (though not really in spirit) from the English translation we got. As such, it might be hard to appreciate the wordplay.

Mega Man 9 interview
Mega Man X liner notes

Mega Man X Development Diary

from the Rockman X Alph-Lyla CD liner notes

Chapter 1 – The Doorway to Hell

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Keiji Inafune in 1994.

“Make a Rockman for the Super Famicom.”

There I was, just enjoying another lazy Spring afternoon, when the order came down. “R, Rockman? on the Super Famicom? You want me to handle that…?!” Ah, what was I going to do?

You see, in the Capcom Consumer division, the Rockman series was the most dreaded of the three “instant death” series (along with Ghosts and Goblins and any Disney game). If you were assigned it, you could kiss your freedom goodbye. And now it had come to me…

“You can do it!”, I tried to tell myself, “and if it goes well, you’ll reap all the accolades!” Besides, the company pays for meals when you work overtime!

Ugh… I only had 3000 yen left in my bank account this month–and ten more days to go till payday. I’m not going to lie, it was a struggle (I could only use 300 yen a day for food!!)

The dangerous aroma of a free meal was leading me on… “Ok, I’ve got it now! Being selected to make the next Rockman game–there’s no greater honor! I’m fired up now! Let’s do thissss!”

…if only I had been a bit more frugal with my money, or if I had disliked money more from the start, what horrors, what hell I could have avoided…

(Planner – Keiji Inafune)

Chapter 2 – Ah, Lovely Weather

Ah, lovely weather today. Since I’ve got this free time, maybe I’ll go watch the horse races this weekend. I mean, hey–as a programmer, there’s not much you can do until the planners get their work done, right? Inafune is sitting across from me… he keeps making these random grunting sounds. Huh? You’re working this weekend again, Inafune? Man, what a hard worker you are. I guess we’ll just have to have your fun for you! You should be thanking us, really…!

…ah, is it 5:30 already? Time to head home! Inafuneeee, are you coming? Wow… he sure gets angry. It’s not like it’s our fault he can’t go home! Anyway, it’s we programmers who are in trouble if the planners are late! Geez, why can’t he understand that? Jerk…

(Programmer – Saka)

Chapter 3 – Reinforcements

What the hell is going on with this Super Rockman team? (Super Rockman, by the way, was the working title for Rockman X. “Rockman X” was also a contender from the beginning, and at some point it became the official title). They haven’t made any progress! After finally getting handed this work… is this their idea of running a project? At this rate, far from being an “honor”, this whole fiasco is going to be blamed on us, the designers! I have no idea how mad they’ll be, but if I end up getting dragged into this…

Ok, well, it’s a pain, but it looks like some of us are going to have to lend a hand. Yes, and those generous souls who help are lauded in the annals of Capcom history, their names immortalized in the credits of countless of games! (<-- lies! that was inserted by my boss!) That's how the honorable Tsuge, and I, the sprite artist par excellance, got involved. With our assistance, this game is as good as done! Yeah, I should really start looking for a venue for our release party. Kyahahaha.

(Planner Sho Tsuge and Designer Kazunori Tazaki)

Chapter 4 – Rage

I did! It’s done! The opening stage is finished! All I need now is the OK from Tokuro Fujiwara, our manager, and it’s smooth sailing from here. (“the OK from Fujiwara”… I wonder how many unfortunate souls have shed tears when this was not given?)

Well, I heard back from him…….. and I have to redraw the map AND all the sprites!!!!!! Ugh… there goes my Golden Week… noooooooooo! ARghhhh… this rage… what can I take this rage out on? Ah, I know! I’ll go visit the planners! (bang! bam! ouch…)

(Designer – Hayato Kaji)

What the hell are those planners doing?! The deadline is steadily approaching, and they haven’t given us any designs for the enemies! At this rate I won’t be able to create anything even if I want to! And Tsuge is always playing pachislots down at the Pachinko parlor, or betting on horses, or playing Mahjong. He doesn’t do any work, he just gambles! What the hell are they thinking? Are they screwing with us?!

(Designer – Kazunori Tazaki)

Chapter 5 – A Planner’s Tale of Woe

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The unlikely origins of the wall dash…

I have no ideas. I can’t think of a single thing… nothing. The programmers are getting angry, the designers are getting restless… I’m in Hell. This is surely Hell.

How did it get into this mess? My anger is rising… goddamnitall, I’ve gotta take it out on something! (kicks wall) Ouch! Pfh… well, guess I should head home now.

Wait a second. The wall… kicking the wall… !!! Yes, this could be just the new action I’ve been looking for for Rockman X! When you get pissed you can just kick the wall over and over! This is a revolutionary new system, I’m a geniussssssss!!!!

(by the way after changing some things around, the wall kick did become the wall dash we know and love today!)

(Planner – Keiji Inafune)

Chapter 6 – Lost Sheep

Hellooo! We are the New Recruits Corps, reporting for duty! We’ve been assigned to the Rockman X team as part of our training! Although there’s some concerns here and there, it looks like everything is progressing smoothly! We hear the team leaders are all wonderful people, so we won’t let them down!

(The Sleeptalk of the Blissfully Ignorant)

Chapter 7 – Crunch Time ~1 month to the deadline~

1. The Limits of Endurance

“Tomorrow the ROMs are due. All that’s left now is some fine-tuning!” Or so I thought, until Tsuge showed up.

“Hey, Keiji! I need you to make that Mandril something-or-other, so we can add him to tomorrow’s ROM!”

“What?! Look at the time! I can’t make a whole boss that quickly! And to be honest, I’ve been feeling sick, I was hoping to head home early today…”

“Stop playing around! You sure don’t look sick to me! Forget about that and get to work!!!”

“Ughh, my body is at its limit… someone, just kill me now…”

But somehow my sense of duty to complete this assignment healed my body, so I am oh-so-thankful to Tsuge. Yes, I can’t wait till the next moonless night, hehehe…

(Programmer – Keiji Kubori)

2. What do you make?

What the hell is this?! Where in the world is Tsuge? How could he be missing in this critical time! We’re up to our necks here! What?! His child is about to be born, so he went to the hospital? How could he go and have a child like this, during our time of need! Idiot! A child takes 10 months and 10 days, so couldn’t he have planned this out better? Would YESTERDAY or TOMORROW have been so hard to schedule? Y, you bastard! You’ve got a lot of nerve lecturing me, your senior! I’ll make sure you get your just desserts…

(Designer – Kazunori Tazaki)

3. About those sheep…

Summer… our summer… it’s gone, and we didn’t get to do anything. The other new Capcom recruits got to fully enjoy their summer… what did we do to deserve this?

“Hey there, new guy. You don’t look like you’re doing anything. Help me out with my work here. It’s nothing really, you’ll have no problem getting it done tonight!”

Ahahaha, now I understand. Another day of overtime. Aha, hah, hahahaha… we are already dead.

(New Recruits – The Half-Alive)

4. The Final Step

The new planner bolted up, yelling out “I’m not asleep! I’m not asleep!!” Yet no one had said a single word to him. Yeah, sorry guy… you were out cold…

With the deadline finally at hand, today is another day of bug checking late into the night. We’ve been through so much, yet I’m suddenly moved by the thought that we’ve already made it this far. When I close my eyes, a flood of memories replay in the theatre of my mind.

the hard times…
the painful times……
the times I cried……….

………”Aaa! I’m not asleep! I’m not asleep at all!”

(Programmer – Koicihiro Nakamura)

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“The war has ended for now,
and peace has been restored.”

Epilogue

The development is over.
When tomorrow dawns, peace will
once again return to the land.
However, those who fought,
collapsed, and fell fast asleep—
they shall not see that morning.

Why did they have to fight?
No one can answer that for them.
Somewhere, the next game is
already being discussed,
and they will surely be sucked into
the vortex of battle again.

The Capcom Console Team,
developers who gave up
all worldly desires.
How long will their fight last?
Will their pain never end?
And the light was shining coldly,
glittering off their prematurely bald heads…

Afterword

Greetings! I’m Tsuge, and I came up with the idea for this development diary. Ok, so maybe there’s a bit of hyperbole in there, but it is true that the end of the development was horrific. The main reason for it is that we planners were very late… so let me say my apologies again to all the sprite artists and programmers.

Although this diary reads like one of those stereotypical “development hell” stories, we still had a lot of fun on the project. For me, especially, it was the first time I got to see characters I had envisioned come alive on-screen. It was a really moving experience. And yet, seeing those characters get beat-up and destroyed by the playtesters… can I admit, I got a little sentimental about it? (ugh… Flame Mammoth… I made you too weak, forgive me…).

(Planner – Sho Tsuge)

P.S. By the way, did you notice that the epilogue was a satire on the ending? Of all the things I was involved in for the Rockman X development, that ending was my favorite.

Composer Comment

As a member of the Capcom Console Sound Team, Rockman was a road through which I could not pass: to wit, a wall.

To be honest, before I joined Capcom, I was completely ignorant about their hits like Street Fighter II, to say nothing of Rockman. To me it was just another difficult game.

One day it was decided that I would work on the music for this new Super Famicom Rockman, and thus began my long struggle with the blue bomber.

“Mega Buster!”
“Slide, slide!”
“Ugh!”
“Damnit!!”

Day after day I struggled through all the old Rockman games, fighting, getting knocked down, and getting back up again. Then one day, T-san came to talk to me about his image for the music of this new Rockman game.

“It’s Rockman, but… it’s not Rockman.”

My mind nearly short-circuited. Rockman and I had only just become friends. I was only just getting to know his world.

Mega Man X OST.

“Im, Impossible…”

But my mind went on working, until at last, I hit upon it:

“He’s…. a badass?”

Anyway, the songs for Rockman X are full of variety, the result of a lot of experimenting: I didn’t try to ape the musical world of the previous Rockman games. It’s my hope that the compositions are fully satisfying to a gamer; likewise, I hope for music lovers that the power of the game shines through.

(Composer – Setsuo Yamamoto)