This is a must-have for a Mega Man Classic fan. Packed with art from every game in the franchise prior to Mega Man 9, there’s a huge amount of history to be found within these 208 pages. There’s also a heap of interviews and insights from several key Mega Man staff, including current MM head honcho Keiji Inafune, who’s been there ever since the beginning of the series.
The book begins with a breakdown of each game in the series, which showcases the art of Mega Man and his friends, the Robot Masters and Dr. Wily, enemy designs, the powers Mega Man receive, and other art. Sprinkled within are staff quotes that reveal the concepts, inspirations and other details about the creation of the games, which are commonly comedic. It’s obvious that the staff loved the opportunity to share their personal memories and insights, which give this book a lot more character. And the art itself is fascinating to flip through. Inafune’s work from MM1 to the later titles is particularly awesome, as you can witness his style develop and become stronger as you progress from title to title. And his sketch book is reason enough to buy this book for longtime fans. Tons upon tons of rough doodles fill these pages, and seeing how the world of Mega Man came to life (and what was rejected) is marvelous to discover. A massive gallery of special illustrations, a collection of art supplied by various staff members for the book (it came out in Japan on the 20th anniversary), and several picks of the various media Mega Man’s been involved in, from Japan, Europe and North America, adds to the joy. There’s a heap of cool stuff inside these pages.
In fact, the only downside to the book ties into how Udon decided to release it overseas. The original Japanese version of the book held both Classic Mega Man and Mega Man X within its pages, and for some reason (financial, I’m sure), Udon decided to tear out the MMX segments from the book and release it as a standalone product. The unfortunate thing is that Udon did little to hide their choice – there’s clear evidence throughout the book that MMX was indeed part of the original title. You can spot X and Vile on the cover, see the MMX packages on the introduction page, and several of the segway pages feature X, Zero, or some other MMX character alongside Classic Mega Man heroes. The MMX book measures a little over half the page count of this one, as well, so the overblown price of $39.99 for what was originally part of this book is a little crappy. One could argue that importing the Japanese original would likely run $80.00 in its own right, and it wouldn’t be translated, but the splitting of the book into two unbalanced halves for our market screams out rip-off to me. *shrugs*
Outside of that, though, I can easily say this is a fantastic tomb of information and art for anyone who’s loved a Classic MM title. Lots of nostalgia, loads of art, and a wide collection of developer insights ought to be more than enough to bring a smile to a Mega Man fan’s face.