Mega Man (universe)
The Mega Man universe (known in Asian territories as Rockman (ロックマン) and occasionally written as Megaman) refers to the Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from the eponymous Mega Man series by Capcom. It is a Japanese video game franchise created by Capcom. Originating on the NES, the Mega Man franchise has spawned a multitude of video games across many platforms, as well as a variety of associated media. The series is the third such third-party franchise to contribute elements to a Smash game, with the titular Mega Man being a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Capcom was originally known for creating arcade games and porting them to home consoles. This changed in the mid-1980s, when Capcom decided to formally enter the Japanese home console market by developing an original property for Nintendo's Famicom, the Japanese equivalent to the NES. A team of only six developers began work on a side-scrolling, weapon-based platformer game which they dubbed Rockman. The developers strove for perfection in all aspects of the project despite the severe technical limitations of the Famicom, and incorporated designs inspired by Osamu Tezuka's manga Astro Boy. The eponymous hero Rockman was colored blue simply because blue had the most available shades within the Famicom's limited color palette.
For the game's simultaneous release in Japan and the United States on December 17, 1987, Capcom U.S.A.'s then-Senior Vice President Joseph Marcini renamed the localized NES version of the game and titular character Mega Man, believing it would have a much wider appeal to young American audiences. Mega Man was released to favorable critical reception, but moderately low sales (around 100,000 copies overall), though they were higher than Capcom originally anticipated.
While Mega Man was not a large enough commercial accomplishment for Capcom to necessarily justify a sequel, the company allowed the development team to create a sequel as an aside to other projects. The team focused on improving the original formula with enhanced graphics and audio, more levels, and new supportive items that addressed consumer concerns over the extreme difficulty of the previous title. Mega Man 2, in stark contrast to the original, was a huge success; it sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide, definitively established Mega Man as a long-running flagship franchise, and propelled Capcom to its present-day status as a world-renowned game developer.
As of 2013, over fifty Mega Man games have been released, with many populating specific "sub-series" and exploring genres outside side-scrolling platforming. Iterations of the Mega Man character himself and other related characters, meanwhile, have appeared in Capcom-involved games outside the main series such as crossover fighting games like the Marvel vs. Capcom series that pits Capcom characters against Marvel Comics characters, and more recently, Nintendo's own Super Smash Bros. series.
Following the release of Mega Man 10 in 2010, series veteran Keiji Inafune had left Capcom, leaving the developers in limbo regarding what to do next with the franchise over the next few years, as no one at Capcom of Japan had immediately stepped up to take the leadership position. A free-to-play PC-exclusive fangame called Street Fighter X Mega Man was endorsed by Capcom in 2012 to celebrate both franchises' 25th anniversaries. Mega Man Universe was a level creation game similar to Super Mario Maker that was ultimately cancelled. And finally, the much-anticipated Mega Man Legends 3 was in development for the Nintendo 3DS and was in its alpha stage before it was ultimately cancelled. It marked a period of uncertainty for the franchise not unlike the Metroid hiatus in the 2010s, with many considering the series and its character "dead" by neglect.
However, the latter half of the decade started showing promise for a return to form for the property, as interest in the character was renewed following his appearance in Super Smash Bros. 4. Starting in 2015, Capcom started releasing Legacy Collections of the Mega Man franchise, curating the titles and archival content from throughout franchise’s storied history. This trend started with Mega Man Legacy Collection containing the first six games from the NES era in August 2015; then Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 containing the rest of the numbered entries in August 2017; the two Mega Man X Legacy Collections with all the numbered games in the Mega Man X lineup in July 2018; and Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection, collecting the four Mega Man Zero and two Mega Man ZX games, in February 2020. The success of these releases resulted in a brand-new numbered installment in the main series, Mega Man 11, which was released in October 2018 for eighth-generation platforms, including the Nintendo Switch.
The most iconic formula of the Mega Man series, which has remained Rockman in Japan, is a side-scrolling platform game where the player controls the blue robot Mega Man, who has a "buster" cannon grafted onto his arm, as he shoots his way through levels packed with enemy robots. Oftentimes, eight levels are immediately available to complete in any order, and at the end of each level is a boss robot with a similar level of advanced construction and power as Mega Man himself, referred to as a "Robot Master". Defeating a Robot Master gains Mega Man a special weapon corresponding to that Robot Master that he may use for the rest of the game, and this weapon is typically the weakness at least one of the other seven Robot Masters. Since one Robot Master uses a weapon that is the weakness of another Robot Master, a rock-paper-scissors mechanic between all of the Robot Masters is formulated due to this.
Once Mega Man has defeated all eight Robot Masters and gained their weapons, he proceeds to a final set of harder stages typically taking place in the villain's fortress lair, featuring both special, harder bosses and a room where all eight Robot Masters are defeated one in a row, before battling and defeating the villain in his latest war machine or ultimate form.
The most prolific continuities and sub-series in the Mega Man franchise are as follows, each of which has its own incarnation on the Mega Man character design:
The Mega Man universe debuts in Smash 4 as the first Capcom series to make it into the Smash Bros. franchise, receiving a character, stage (alongside a boss), an Assist Trophy, and an assortment of trophies and music tracks.
Smash Tour items
Main article: Enemies
Main article: Alternate costume (SSB4)/Mii Fighter
Main article: List of SSB4 Music (Mega Man series)
Arrangements and remixes unique to SSB4.
Compositions and arrangements directly sourced from Mega Man games with no alterations.
Main article: List of SSB4 trophies (Mega Man series)
Main article: Masterpieces
The Mega Man franchise returns with a sizable boost in representation. Along with all previous content returning (sans one Assist Trophy), the franchise has expanded its scope to include content from other subseries such as Mega Man X and Mega Man Star Force. Along with the titular character returning as an unlockable fighter, two new Assist Trophies make their debut. The lone Mega Man stage returns now with more hazards and an even larger selection of music tracks, both sourced and rearranged. Rounding out the representation is a large variety of Spirits spanning every major video game subseries in the franchise, with no other third-party series having as many Spirits in Smash as Mega Man.
With Elec Man's removal, both of the Mega Man Assist Trophies are new to the Smash Bros. series.
Main article: Alternate costume (SSBU)/Mii Fighter
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Mega Man series)
Arrangements and remixes unique to Ultimate.
Arrangements and remixes returning from Smash 4.
Tracks sourced directly from the Mega Man games.
Main article: List of spirits (Mega Man series)
Media with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series
The Mega Man universe has media represented throughout the Super Smash Bros. series with a total of 33 games and medias. The latest game represented in this universe is Mega Man 10, released on March 1, 2010.