MegaMaster Musings

Multiplayer Games
June 21, 2007

A reader asked me recently about multiplayer Mega Man games. I admit I don’t discuss the issue frequently simply because multiplayer features are frankly not common in Mega Man games. Here’s a brief list:

  • Most of the arcade games (and, consequently, most of the ports thereof) have some sort of two-player support (since most of them are fighting games).
  • Battle & Chase and Mega Man’s Soccer are two-player.
  • I believe Rock Board supports up to 4 players, but I haven’t actually tried playing it with multiple people, so I can’t comment much on it.
  • Most of the Battle Network games support some form of trading and dueling between two people, although you can’t actually play through the game with multiple people. (I assume Star Force will continue this trend.)
  • In Mega Man Zero 2, you can play mini-games with another player. You can’t play the main game plot with another player, however.
  • Mega Man 7 has a sort of miniature two-player fighting game mode, although it’s not very extensive. You can find information about it at the bottom of the Tricks and Secrets section.
  • I don’t know if this counts as being multiplayer, but Powered Up supports the ability to upload and download fan-made stages/levels. You can’t play the game with other people but you can share your creations with them.
  • Mega Man 3 supports using the second controller for doing some pretty funky things. This isn’t exactly multiplayer, but I suppose it merits mention because having a second person around to hold down the buttons for you can help.

This may look like a decent list, but out of over 50 titles total, this isn’t really a lot. Also consider that most of these are only vaguely multiplayer. It’s curious to notice that, effectively, the only games where you can play through the entire game’s content with multiple people are those games that do not use the traditional/classic game engines. (Fighting games, racing games, sports games, and board games.)

I’m not discounting those games that do support multiplayer, but wouldn’t you think that it’d be fun to be able to play through the standard games with your friends? Imagine a Mega Man X game where both X and Zero could be in the stage at exactly the same time. Or a Battle Network game where both of you could explore the Net and go through the entire plot together. I think you get the idea.

Why don’t they make such multiplayer games? The answer is simple—it’s easier not to. Adding additional players also adds additional problems to overcome. For example, for home console systems, how do you keep both players on the screen? For portable systems, how do you deal with one player triggering a plot point when the other player isn’t there? (Or, for that matter, both players triggering plot points simultaneously in different locations.) If one player dies, can the other one continue on without him? And so forth.

These issues can be solved, but it’s just easier not to bother. So...most developers don’t bother. Sad to say.

- The MegaMaster