‘Sibley Put’ is where Josh Sibley, real American hero, boldly and unabashedly dissects the hot-button issues of modern video gaming and its surrounding culture. Everything he says is to be taken as personally as possible, so get those brows ready for some serious-ass furrowing. You babies.
I want to bring to light a couple of things I saw today that dovetail nicely with a couple of points I was making in the latest podcast.
First, there’s this. They really nailed the aesthetic of those old game commercials from my childhood. It’s actually really difficult to make something properly aged and weathered, and I appreciate the craftsmanship there.
Beyond that, this is probably the worst case of pandering I’ve ever seen in my life.
Really look at that ad: They’re not selling a videogame. That could have been any product. They’re selling me a decade. They’re selling me my childhood. Unfortunately for them, this doesn’t work with me. I spent a greater portion of my childhood thinking how terribly lame every single videogame ad was, and wishing to see the unstoppable advance of technology. To me, this ad is no different than AXE or Budweiser or whoever the hell making ads that basically go in your face “use our product and women will fuck you!”. It’s the nerd equivalent of those old beer ads where bikini women magically materialize when you crack a cold one. It’s disgusting. Hilarious, but disgusting.
While this ad doesn’t work with ME, it will be incredibly effective with everyone else on the planet who cares about this kind of thing. Gamers are, if nothing else, the most pervasively nostalgic sub-group I’ve ever seen in my entire life, and Capcom, occasional geniuses that they are, know this. They know that the group that actually gives a shit about Megaman as a franchise overlaps and dwarfs the group that goes “Ha ha, that was a very unique time from long ago that I lived through, wasn’t it?”.
Both Megaman 9 and 10 have been enveloped in this cocoon of retro marketing, and it’s worked like few things do in the game industry. We talked about studies showing that most marketing that doesn’t involve gameplay footage is ineffective against people like me and the gang, but this is one kind of non-gameplay-footage marketing that DOES work, and it works wonders. It didn’t matter that over half of the boss sprites were minor sprite edits. It didn’t matter that some enemies were re-used other than mets. It didn’t matter that it was apparently harder than the Megaman games you remember are supposed to be. All that mattered was that it pressed the nostalgia button, and nary a negative word would ever be said. I guarantee you that Megaman 9 AND 10 cost a pittance to make, both in terms of time and money. They probably spent more on the marketing for it, and boy howdy jesus did it pay off. Contrast that with Sonic 4, where SEGA is trying to do a new hi-res entry into the franchise and the fans basically do nothing but bitch. It’s funny how good-naturedly stupid SEGA is: they churn out nothing but shit, but they’re really the only company that does so completely without meaning to. They genuinely try every time to make something at least marginally good, they just suck dick at their jobs.
Meanwhile, you have this. This dude did an HD version of Megaman 9, and it didn’t take that long at all. And this is just one dude not getting paid. Granted, it doesn’t look that good, but shit, you should have seen the crap Capcom tried to pass off on the Gamecube Megaman collection. Capcom easily could have given us a beautiful new entry into the series. Hell, they could have made it so you could switch between 8-bit and HD versions, but why would they? They’re not selling a game, they’re selling a decade.
Megaman’s name co-opted to grease the wheels for Capcom’s foray into whatever new fad has come up in the game industry is nothing new. Megaman is basically a litany of wildly different projects with the name slapped on at the last minute. The original Blue Bomber was a re-tooled Astro Boy game that Capcom couldn’t distribute due to a lost license. Megaman X wasn’t even going to be part of the franchise at first. Megaman Legends has little to do with anything in the franchise save for the main hero is blue and has a gun arm, all so Capcom could have a major entry into the gorwing 3D games market. Everything since then has been basically an excuse to create a poor man’s Yu-Gi-Oh. The only “pure” Megaman entry was the Zero series. However, these retro games are the first time that they’ve dipped back into the original franchise to sell a new idea, and this is the first time that “new idea” isn’t a gameplay or story mechanic but rather for pure, unadulterated pandering.