DIGITALLY DOOMED: MAVERICK HUNTER

We all have that one game that we were beyond excited for, only to find out it was canceled. Perhaps it was never even announced, quietly snuffed out to be discovered later. This can happen for many reasons, from the sudden closure of its development studio, to the firing or resignation of a key member of the title in question. These games were doomed to never see release, but that doesn’t mean the concepts were bad. Today I’m going to talk about one such game, called Maverick Hunter, which never saw the light of day.

MMX_miniboss

One of my favorite video games has always been Megaman X (MMX), the 1993 Super Nintendo classic. I have no memories of discovering it for the first time, and when I try to think back, it seems like it was always just there. This makes sense, considering I was two years old when it initially released. Regardless of this, I’ve spent untold hours traversing those sidescrolling levels and battling the Mavericks, rogue sentient robots who have become violent.

So imagine my surprise when I recently discovered a canceled First-Person Shooter (FPS) remake (or reimagining) of Megaman X. It was codenamed Maverick Hunter, not to be confused with the PSP remake of MMX titled Megaman: Maverick Hunter X. Few details exist, save for some juicy tidbits about a dark story that would span a trilogy of games. There have also been statements that point to Keiji Inafune’s (creator of Megaman and its spin-offs) departure from Capcom as the cause of its cancellation. Most enticing of all other leaked information, however, are the gameplay videos of a playable prototype.

Gameplay

Other than a new first-person perspective, Maverick Hunter’s most prominent departure from the original MMX would have been the primary weapon of X, the protagonist. Like Megaman before him, X has traditionally sported a buster cannon on one arm. In Maverick Hunter, this would have been replaced by a more generic machinegun hand — with additional upgrades available later.

The wall run, a staple of the MMX series, would still be present along with X’s ability to take each boss’s unique weapon. Expanding upon this ability, players would also be able to activate cinematic third-person finishing moves to kill an enemy and temporarily steal their weapon.

Platforming would still be present in a big way, as in the original, but would obviously function differently in first-person.Like a strange hybrid of Megaman X, Halo and Mirror’s Edge, this game would surely have been a blast to play.

While fans of the original sidescrolling MMX games would have been shocked by this new direction, its development wasn’t being taken lightly. The Maverick Hunter project was being handled by Armature Studio, the same team responsible for bringing Metroid into the FPS genre with the Metroid Prime series. Keiji Inafune was also overseeing the development while consulting on the story.

Story

Although the storylines of the MMX series can sometimes be dramatic, the bright colors and cartoony art direction never quite allowed things to veer into darker territory. Maverick Hunter wouldn’t have had the same limitations, and was intended to be a more mature tale.

This reimagining was to feature an overall man vs. machine theme, with X having a human partner (said to be based on Bruce Willis) whom he would eventually betray. As X was forced to hunt down robots not so dissimilar from himself, he would begin to question his own existence while growing more powerful with every victory. X’s inquisitive nature would only become more prominent over the course of two games until, after achieving his full potential, he would seemingly turn his back on humanity and become our biggest enemy.

This is where another fan-favorite character from the MMX series, Zero, would be introduced. As the protagonist of a third entry in this new series, Zero would be ordered to hunt down X and his new army of followers… and that’s all we know.

Art Direction

Maverick Hunter featured a radical new design for X, one which seemed sure to divide longtime fans. Created by Adi Granov, the artist responsible for the armor designs in the Iron Man movies, this new X truly looked like a man-made technological marvel.

No longer resembling a teenager in blue spandex and armor, this X featured a holographic humanoid face projected over a cold, emotionless robotic skull. When engaged in combat, his helmet would seal itself over this face and leave only a glowing X-shaped visor. This visor provided the Heads-Up Display (HUD) in-game, keeping track of health and ammunition.

maverick_hunter_concept_screenshot2

Final Thoughts

For the longest time I DREAMED of a gritty, first-person take on Megaman X. Finding out that it very nearly happened is torture. Armature Studio seemed to be headed in the best possible direction, somehow finding a way to retain the spirit of the first game while adding broader appeal. X’s new look was jarring at first glance, but I’ve come to appreciate it in spite of the limited footage available.

I truly wish this would have made it to full development and release, if only because it was the best shot at bringing a wider audience to the Megaman franchise. This could have been an amazing remake, so long as the platforming and boss battles were handled intelligently.

Instead, Capcom has seemingly allowed Megaman to languish in a kind of digital purgatory. Aside from cameos in other games such as Super Smash Bros. and Project X Zone, the blue bomber and his many incarnations have suffered after Keiji Inafune’s split from Capcom. Such a long-lasting icon of gaming deserves better treatment than that, and we’ll keep our fingers crossed that it happens soon.


Chris Cobb is an Associate Writer for MONG and has shattered every bone in his body trying to walljump like X. You can tell him how stupid he is on Twitter.

 

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