Mega Man 11 devs on how Capcom brought back the series, visual style, Double Gear system, difficulty, future, more
The New Gear System
What was the reason behind introducing the new ‘Gear System’?
Oda: I think Mega Man’s strength is in its simplicity. Precisely because it is simple, we have players who are able to complete the game quickly and without taking damage. But there are those who are not familiar with Mega Man with the impression that the game is very difficult and that the learning curve is extremely high. But then if we excessively lower the difficulty, players won’t be able to enjoy that tension the game is so good at providing. So in the end we created the Double Gear System, within which there is the Speed Gear and the Power Gear. The Gear System is on one hand a way for beginners to play more skilfully, but also a system for players to truly see their skills in action.
So they’re aimed mainly at the causal player?
Oda: No, not really. Even players that are good at these types are games are going to able to utilize the Gear System to reach new levels of play, and look even cooler while doing it.
Maintaining the toughness of the game while introducing this system must be difficult.
Oda: The Gear System is on the surface very simple, but within it there are tens or even hundreds of combinations that can be discovered through trial and error. Right from the start, though, we had people saying that the Gear System was unnecessary, and there were quite a few heated arguments.
And so through all of that, the Gear System was born. Within the system, there is also the possibility of overuse, isn’t there?
Oda: Yes. Whichever gear you are using, if you go over the time allowed you enter an ‘over hit’ (cool-down) period, during which you can’t use the gear. We actually went over the system a lot, fine tuning, often thinking, “If it could be used a little more here, then…”
During my play test the Speed Gear slowed the movement of everything around, and it seemed pretty east to use.
Oda: I think the starting point for most players will be the Speed Gear. But as the player gets used to the game and Mega Man’s weapons become more powerful, I think they will find the Power Gear easier to use. The double charge shot available with the Power Gear is not just powerful, but will also be very useful against enemies with lots of health. You can also destroy the defences of certain enemies, making defeating them much easier.
Tsuchiya: By using the Speed Gear it’s possible to get through difficult areas safely. It’s also possible to use it to get out of the way of some of the more dangerous enemy attacks. The use and timing of the gear is entirely up to the player, so we want each player to find the best match for their playstyle, and then enjoy the game in their own way.
So it’s the way you use it that’s important.
Oda: As you get better at the game, it’s possible to combine gears. Using the Speed Gear you can avoid an enemy’s attacks and land safely, finishing them off in one attack with the Power Gear. Being able to come up with these sort of strategies is the appeal of the Gear System.
Tsuchiya: You can also use the Gear System in different ways during boss fights. One thing you can do is use the Speed Gear to see through the boss’s movements and then use your power gear like a special move. And while the gauge cost of using that Power Gear special attack may be high, you can deliver a lot of damage to the enemy.
It seems the Gear System will not only be useful tactically, but also for those players who want to show off their skills.
Tsuchiya: With current hardware it’s possible to upload and share different play styles. I think because these sorts of videos have a history of helping players stuck on something like the Air Man boss for example, there is a fondness for these creative players. I’d like all players to use their own style and their own strategies to make their way through the game and defeat the bosses.
Oda: In this current generation it seems like there are tactics and ways of playing emerging that even we could not have predicted. There is definitely the possibility of players even finding unexpected ways to work around the powerful recoil of the Power Gear.
So, it’s really a case of different horses for different courses. So that’s the purpose meaning of Double Gear?
Oda: Whatever difficult situation you find yourself in, as the hero you always want to look cool. The way for us to express this is the Double Gear. If you combine the effects of the Speed Gear and the Power Gear, the power and accumulation speed of the charge shot will increase. But, when you’re fighting so fiercely, you’re liable to overuse your powers. So while on the one hand the Gear System has the ability to change the tide of battle, it may also bring its own difficulties. When should I use it? Should I use it now? Those decisions are entirely up to the player.
So it’s really a double-edged sword. So, what happens if you overuse your powers and enter a cool-down state?
Oda: Once you have overused your powers, Mega Man will only be able to fire one shot at a time and will not be able to use his charge shot. The Power and Speed Gears will also be unavailable for an even longer period.
So he loses most of his abilities. In Mega Man, though, there is no time limit on levels, and it’s possible that you could just find somewhere safe and wait until the powers recover, right?
Oda: There are some who argue that the lack of time limit reduces the tension of the stages, but I personally think that is also up to the player. There are those that will find a safe place to recover, those that use an ‘E Tank’ to recover, and then those that push on, believing in their own abilities. There are many different approaches.
I think I would hide and wait (laughs). But I’m glad there is no limit to the number of times you can use the system.
Tsuchiya: If that were not the case and the player would end up saving it for a difficult part of the game. But then there are lots of times when they will see the game over screen without ever using it. (Laughs) The reason we didn’t set a limit was really due to Eguchi’s insistence that he wanted the Gear System to feel ‘emotional.’ In the manga, there are many times when Mega Man turns the tide of battle with one of his skills, and we used the cool-down system so players will be able to experience this drama in the game too.
I can imagine that will especially be the case with the Double Gear System. Speaking of which, the Gear System will also come in handy against bosses, won’t it?
Oda: Mega Man 11’s Gear System adds variation to the battles. More than in previous games, I think there are many different ways to deal with bosses.