A brief history of the game for those living under a rock, Mega Man or Rockman ( ????? in Japanese) was released in Japan on December 17, 1987, and localized to the US that same month. Sales weren’t great on the first game, but the bad sales in North America were blamed on the terrible cover art during localization. It was a difficult game, but the concept was very unique at the time. The whole idea behind the game was rock, paper scissors. Each robot master has a weapon that Mega Man can use upon defeating them. The key to success is knowing the correct order in which to defeat them, as one robot masters weapon can be another ones weakness.
There was your history lesson now to the cover art. First we have the Japanese original.
The art of this is accurate to the game, and it sells it well in my opinion as a fun kids game. Most of the Japanese games had this Manga style art to them which I liked, and thinking back as a kid I would have chosen this over the North American and PAL region versions any day. So what was so bad about this North Amercian artwork depicting one of the most popular gaming franchises for the late 80′s/90′s?
This is what America saw on their shelves in 1987… it looks like a bad 70′s record cover, or a Beetles animation… I mean the characters pose is all wrong, and Mega Man looks NOTHING like this in the game. He’s all blue. How in the hell did they get this from the Rockman art above? What was Nintendo of America thinking? I’m picturing the localization meeting going…
‘Hey we need to make this crazy Japanese art more appealing to the kids of the 80′s here in North America. How do we do that?’
‘Oh I know lets make Mega Man look like a total douche, and give it a real drug trip like feel. Kid’s are into drugs now right?’
‘We’ll also make him a middle aged man because kids can relate to that rather than a boy robot’
And he holds a gun… he has a cannon built into his arm, that arm is the gun!
Epic FAIL! It’s amusing that back then they did this to many Japanese classics that ended up being cult classics later on. For some reason NOA, always felt that they had to Americanize, these great Japanese games when really they just needed to translate them that was it.
Okay I’m done… breathe. Now for the PAL version.
This art was used in the PAL releases of Mega Man in Europe, UK, and Australia. It’s not as bad as the North America but still comes second to the Japanese one for me. It has this epic movie poster feel to it which is cool, and almost seems to look like some kind of Japanese martial arts film. Mega Man actually looks accurate to this in the game, the robots kind of look like that but the whole game is meant to have that Manga cartoon style. This version was released in 1990 so well after Mega Man 2 was released which spurred sales of Mega Man one in North America. It took the sequel for people to want to buy the original. Now that cover art is a different story but I’ll save that for another time.
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