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Megaman Project '94
// article by Jeff

Take a look at all the wicked-cool energy pellets that Mega Man could pick up! They're so nifty. I'm just glad I'm not the one who spelled "recharger" wrong.
This turned out to be the final sketch for Tank Man. I didn't draw this. But what started out as a robot that was to port many tank features ended up as a robot with long steel genitalia on his face.
Unfortunately, I did draw this. Poor Hammer Man. Hammer Time! *puffy pants alert!* The curly bits on his shoulders are not useful at all. His orb-like hands also appear useless. You might want to get a tetanus shot for that pointy bit on his head though.
Desperate people need desperate measures. I can't remember if we still thought girls were icky and had cooties back in 1994, but in the meantime, we created the character known as Screw Man, maybe to tide us over until we were old enough to understand proper human anatomy. I think Neil has figured it out. I'm still waiting. Screw Man's hobbies include windsurfing and the culinary arts. Thankfully, there is no picture to match this character's profile.
Truly one of the great illustrations of the 1990s. This is Boomerang Man in all his glory. Yes, apparently the Inuit people of the north are quite proficient with boomerangs! This was drawn by a girl... a girl we all know and love... sort of. She was good in spirit, but bad in drawing anything conceptual. That's OK. We still guffaw about Boomerang Man even to this day. I also don't know what happened to his lower half in that scan.

WATH OUT!

That is all you need to know.
(But if you know nothing about Mega Man, just fake it.)

My buddy Neil and I were inspired by Mega Man 2 for the 8-bit NES one not-exactly-frosty-but-kinda-indoor day back in 1994. Can I remember the exact date? No. Neil was amusedly playing through Bubble Man's stage, and that got the cogs of my juvenile psyche churning. "I think we can make up robot masters of our own! Sure, they would never make it into any official Capcom game, but dagnabbit, we were bored children! Kraft Dinner in the shape of characters and items from Super Mario Bros. just doesn't cut it! We demand mental stimulation! We demand formation of our fine motor skills! And so later that morning, we began our massive project. It was to create the world's most awesomest, most coolest, most wickedest Mega Man game ever! We called it "MEGA MAN: THE FINAL CHALLENGE"!

And truly, it would have been a challenge. It would appear rather daunting for any Mega Man fan or casual gamer alike to see that there was to be 32 different robot masters, instead of the usual set of eight. But before we could even start working on the meat of the game, we had to prepare the potatoes: the basics of the game had to be applied, and also a title page. I made a nasty title page for this game's manual. Particularly unappetizing is the pair of evil-looking eyes glaring down at Mega Man. Back in the day, all the evil eyes I drew looked like sagging breasts. Seriously weird, this is. On the back side of the title page are a couple of stupid precautions that only the greatest of idiots couldn't follow: (1) This is a high precision Game Pak. Do not keep this game in very hot or cold areas. (2) Do not wash in any alcoholic product (ie. benzene). I was nine years old at the time. Damned if I knew what benzene was then. Damned if I know what the hell it's for now.

We also had to create a backstory for this game. And it goes as follows: "A few years ago, Mega Man was invented by Dr. Light, a scientist hired in 1978. He was in experimental stage. Dr. Light flipped a switch. Brain waves zoomed into Mega Man's head. All of a sudden, Mega Man's hand clenched into a fist. Mega Man was alive. Dr. Light was the enemy of Dr. Wily, a being known as 'Deathman'. When Dr. Wily heard about Mega Man, he was furious, so he created robots to destroy Mega Man. In 6 other defeats, Dr. Wily has had it. Dr. Cossack, a friend of Dr. Wily from Mega Man 4, came along and showed Dr. Wily 32 new robots. He was amazed! Dr. Cossack told all the robots to gather their enemies for 32 levels. Today, your life is against the force of Dr. Cossack..." There is plenty wrong with this story.

I. Mega Man was invented in the year 20XX. Since Mega Man is sort of a futuristic series, I don't think they'd set it in the days when Archie was still arguing with the Meathead.
II. I was unaware that you could harvest brain waves and send them to a robot. If you can, that's great, and all the more power to you. But again...not in George Jefferson's time.
III. Since when was Dr. Wily referred to as Deathman? Sure, the general public might consider him in this light, because he did bring a fair amount of death and destruction to the Earth...but 'Deathman'?! That's just a stupid name anyway.
IV. "In 6 other defeats, Dr. Wily has had it." I have no clue why I used this weird verb tense combo.
V. Dr. Cossack was not a friend of Dr. Wily. Wily had kidnapped Cossack's daughter, Kalinka, in exchange for his help in attempting to defeat Mega Man once and for all.
VI. Um... did anyone call that event "Mega Man 4" in their situation?

I'd like to think I'm just innocently nitpicking, but...this is bad. However, I admit that I probably came up with this cock-and-bull stock, and am willing to confess to devising this lousy tale. But it's irrelevant today. Let's move on.

There were also a long list of juicy power-ups. Large and small iterations of weapon "regargers" (spelled incorrectly because we were idiots back then... although every now and again, I like to regarge my mind with knowledge) and life power-ups to increase ENERGEY (also due to our idiocy)! And of course, a free life icon, which was actually just a smiley face with a Moe Howard haircut. Energy and Mega Tanks were added to the inventory...including the weird 2-Tank and the 3-Tank, to give 2 or 3 lives to the player. Hey, with 32 robot masters to take down, you need as many lives as you can get. We pretty much stole all these ideas from Capcom. They get no royalties, but that's OK. We never officially published this or made any money on this.

But I now have arrived at what I consider to be the apex of the project, the big beefy enchilada if you will. I'm referring to the aforementioned 32 Robot Masters! Yes, they are what makes the bulk of our exciting game manual. They are what makes this project so damn enticing. I will start by doing the obvious: listing all 32 of those masters, with commentary about their arrival to fantastic reality.

1. Stringman: A strange character; Neil's creation. Basically a grenade-firing robot that's basically a large twine ball with a head and a sword. I don't know where the grenades come from. I suppose that we may have had a piece of string on the table when conceptualizing this guy. Oh, and the twine is electricuted. That's helps fry your enemies.

2. Colourman: A kick-ass monkey man who has powers that do not relate to colour in any way. I'll admit that I favour this guy as one of my favourite creations, but...still...he's a goon.

3. Brickman: It's a brick with stick feet and a nose bigger than Andy Rooney's. Apparently, if I'm reading his summary correctly, he throws bricks! Jiminy-jillikers, I'd never have figured that out on my own.

4. Swordman: Replace "brick" with "sword" in the above description.

5. Funnyman: Boasting limp fake magic wands and legs that resemble taffy, Funnyman is one outrageous dude! Here's a good quote: "His trick wands will dazzle you. He'll throw them at you. If it hits the ground, SPLAT!" That pretty much sums up Funnyman. If you get hurt though... that's not so funny.

6. Racketwoman: Feminism takes its toll as Racketwoman shines on. She wears a freaky fuchsia jumpsuit and bears a racket capable of firing electric tennis balls. This Robot Master is way ahead of its time.

7. Gunman: There's no picture to go with this one, but I'm guessing he's a giant handgun that fires rounds at Mega Man. And if I'm wrong, then... it really doesn't matter.

8. Spikeman: Spikeman looks like a man with an amazingly large head had a terrible accident with superglue and metal trash can lids. This is not good. Actually, all he's wearing is a speedo too. Picture it in your mind if you so desire, but this is bad news. Also bearing spikes as hands, he could certainly poke an eye out. That is, if he doesn't sour you with his San Francisco treat. Ew.

9. Boomerangman: Also known as Eskimo Man. This is artistry at its finest (there is a picture of Boomerang Man in the set of pics to the left). Boomerang Man pretty much just fires boomerangs; not much more to it, but it is the freakin' awesome mechamustache that gives him his flair.

10. Sportman: Every high school nerd's nightmare. He is evil as hell itself, toting a swanky athletic jumpsuit (that looks like a one-piece -- sheesh!) and a whistle 'round his neck. If you hated gym class, you'll hate this Master more.

11. Thunderman: There's nothing out of the ordinary about this one, except for one thing: he has nothing to do with thunder. He makes tornadoes. And not the alcoholic kind. No, the kind with air in it. A barkeep's nightmare?

12. Laserwoman: I wish I had scanned a picture of Laser Woman, because she looks like an institutionalized albino in a dark blue straightjacket. I suppose she IS a laser...or she thinks she's one.
13. Moneyman: I may have only been nine years old, but I knew about satire! The caricature that I provided for Moneyman actually is a fat cat! Wouldn't you know it! The only screwed up thing is the electric money I also gave him. That makes no damn sense.

14. Timeman: Already at my wit's end for ideas, I found myself drawing a clock with a face... well, a face with eyes and a mouth and stuff. I also wrote that "his arms carry waves of the past". If time travel was this easy, we'd have figured it out by now, right? There's also some horrid grammar on my behalf on this page of the manual, so I will... move on! (Interestingly enough, Capcom has recently used Time Man in their new PSP upgrade of the original Mega Man game, "Mega Man: Powered Up". They put more effort into their artwork than we did.)

15. Hammerman: As you can tell from the image in the table on the left, Hammer Man has nothing to do with the thankfully long-gone puffy-pantsed rapper from the early 90s. No, he's a fellow who throws hammers! Kind of a personal take on the Hammer Brothers, only more wussified.

16. Jetman: "Are you gonna be my girl?" Not if you present ideas like this! Jet Man doesn't even have a face. It's just a small plane. Sad, really sad.

17. Mirrorman: I look at my own reflection in the mirror in his chest. I was horrified by my image--I looked as though I had seen some weird mummy creature. But no, it was just the shock of seeing what a terrible idea I had concocted many years ago.

18. Bookman: It's Bookman. Now while he sounds like a dull Robot Master, he is, in fact, a bit more creative than you might think. Instead of just shooting books, which would be obvious, he summons the spirits of fairy tale characters to do the work for him. That's just super. Nothing feels quite like shooting plasma through Cinderella's skull.

19. Screwman: Wow. I probably did not understand the implications of his name back then... but I sure do now. And I am very sorry.

20. Fistman: A good follow-up to Screwman, I suppose. But he's a robot with a small head, medium-sized fists, and an inexplicable stegosaurus tail! What is going on?!?! It's basically a Godzilla knock-off. Weird.
21. Blademan: This is Swordman with a Wesley Snipes attitude. And rightly so. He has more of a shuriken attack than just a quick swipe of a sword. And that, my friend, is what defines suave slicing.

22. Tankman: As seen in the set of pictures provided, Tankman is one outrageous dude. He has some real fire power to back up his macho physique. The only thing I might question is the fascist salute that he is giving. Perhaps there is more to Tankman than meets the eye...

23. Radarman: In retrospect, this was a difficult character to draw. Nothing we came up with was ever truly satisfactory. We drew all kinds of sketches, and all of them failed (and were scratched out in messy blue ink). Apparently, Radarman shoots radio waves that bounce around the arena. I guess that's what radars do... sort of... or am I thinking of satellites?

24. Glassman: Crystalline are his feet, spiked is his back, buck-toothed is his face. Yes, he is the epiphany of glass. Perhaps. But the "G" on his chest indicates that he is a certified supervillain not to be toyed with. For if you toy with him, bad news is the result! ...Actually, this sucks.

25. Pirahnaman: Perhaps one of the most original of the notions strewn about in the development room, Pirahnaman's origins likely stem from overdosing on Super Mario Bros. games. Everything about this guy shouts "pirahna" -- his head, his feet, his hands... yeah, pirahna says it all.

26. Springman: Likely the only Robot Master we created who can separate into two units. And, as you may have guessed, he's very springy. This, too, was drawn by the ultra-funky technical artist, the almighty Neil. Not bad in presentation; the pants are bland though. (Surprisingly, Springman appeared in Mega Man 7, which was released a year after we made this! Methinkst they were using Radarman's powers to tap into our thoughts.)

27. Cometman: Robots can now turn into comets. From a chemical standpoint... uh, I don't know how Dr. Cossack developed this. He must be a genius. Clearly we were not, however, since we could not explain how this occurs. We were 9. We were daft. We were not astronomers!

28. Stretchman: On a similar vein to Stretch Armstrong, he boasted qualities of being able to stretch himself long distances. I wish I could do that.

29. Trickman: I have no freakin' clue. I must've been high on cold medicine or something. He looks like my Grade 10 science teacher... if he were a paper bag with frizzy hair. And I can't remember if he was or not. But his basic defense is the ol' disappear-and-reappear-somewhere-else routine. Standard? Yes. Cool? Yes. Tricky? You bet.

30. Waterman: He could've been useful, had he not been drawn like a wacky eggplant. Yet he has the worst summary I have ever read. Ever. 'This droplet may be ferocious. His impressions of Hulk Hogan are boring. His hair is swingy, like thumbtacks.' I did not exaggerate. How did I pass preschool?

31. Energeyman: Back in the mid-90s, it was fashionable to spell 'energy' as 'energey', just to rebel against mainstream English. And it worked. I also wish I had scanned the picture of Energeyman because even today, it is still a jam hot illustration. Energeyman uses energy to his advantage. Yes.

32. Moleculeman: What a way to end! Using the strategies of Niels Bohr, he can morph into any of the previous Robot Masters. Pain in the ass, no? His codpiece is eerie-looking.

Afterwards was Dr. Wily's Robot, which inevitably sucked. I won't even go into that. But there were many aspects of these games that we were never 100% sure about, particularly the correct definition of "stamina". We thought that meant jumping power. ...Does it? No, I don't think so.

Anyway, in conclusion, I'd just like to note that this project was a lot of fun for us to create back in 1994. It gave us a chance to see what kind of a task robot designers for Capcom had to endure when developing a Mega Man game. I look back on this project with a purely nostalgic eye, knowing that this is one of the last links I have to my childhood, and so I look upon it favourably. I can also tell how well my trains of thought have improved since those days. Of course, if you start at the bottom, anything's an improvement. This manual is one of my favourite pieces of memorabilia from back in the day, and hopefully I can keep it intact... at least until my house burns down.


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