This week we’re going to take a look at another one of my all-time favorite developers.
He’s the father of Mega Man and the creative mind that brought us the Dead Rising franchise, and overall helped Capcom become the icon it is today.
That man is Keiji Inafune.
Inafune started off in the industry at the age of twenty-two, shortly after coming out of college and searching for a job as an illustrator. He was brought on by Capcom and ended up doing some work for Street Fighter for the Famicom as a graphic designer. After seeing a chance to profit from the new console, Capcom wanted to create a new game character, but due to the lack of artists available, Inafune was made the lead artist of the project. This game would become the sensational Rockman, or as we know him, Mega Man. The character design was based off of several other iconic characters from the time, and utilizing the limited 56 color palette the system offered, Inafune chose to make Mega Man blue due to the amount of tints within the same color. Mega Man was released in December of 1987, and sadly wasn’t well received.
In light of the unsuccessful launch of Mega Man, the team still decided not to give up on the property and wanted to have another chance at its success. Thankfully, Capcom allowed them to do so on the grounds that they completed two games, Legendary Wings and Professional Baseball Murder Mystery.
Upon the completion of the two games, the team went on to work on Mega Man 2, and on Christmas Eve in 1988, they launched Mega Man 2 in Japan for the NES followed by the North American release months later. The game was a critical success and outdid its predecessor. To this day, it is still Inafune’s favorite entry in the series and stands tall as several other’s favorite as well. With this success, Capcom saw that the Mega Man franchise could become successful and even profitable, and decided to make an installment in the series every year.
With the success of Mega Man 2, soon followed the release of Mega Man 3 a year later. Mega Man 3 was a success just like its predecessor and was positively received, however it is Inafune’s least favorite in the series. He felt that due to the circumstances and the events that followed in making the game that the team could have done a better job on it, and overall polished the final product, but Capcom wanted the game out as soon as possible.
After the successful years of the NES, ultimately the Super Nintendo was on the horizon, and with this new home console Inafune set his eyes on something greater. With the SNES Inafune wanted to create a sequel to the Mega Man franchise as a whole, set one hundred years in the future. This series would be called Mega Man X and would be a darker and grittier tale that was supposed to follow the popular character Zero, but Capcom wanted it to continue to have comparable characters and so X was born. Mega Man X released in December of 1993 and became a critical success. Many revere it as a near perfect game to come out of the 16-bit era. With the success of Mega Man X, the series spawned seven more games, which Inafune dabbled in until Mega Man X4, after that, he set his eyes on his next big project.
Inafune had his eyes set on taking the series into another saga with the rise of the 32-bit era. Sony wanted to have a Mega Man title that was exclusive to the Playstation, and with that, Mega Man Legends was born and released in 1997. Although Inafune didn’t have much to do with the creativity behind the project, he was still the producer and was quite ambitious for the title’s success. Sadly, the title didn’t release to the greatest success and instead garnered quite the cult following. Even though the game wasn’t a true success, it did bring a sequel and a spin-off title that had a limited release but carried the same appeal as their predecessors. There was to be a third entry into the franchise, however Capcom cancelled it in 2011.
As the years went on, Inafune was one of the producers for Resident Evil: Director’s Cut through Resident Evil 5 and worked on the Onimusha franchise and although he enjoyed his work on it, we wouldn’t truly see his passion return until he started working on Dead Rising, a game that pulled inspiration from several of George A. Romero’s work, especially Dawn of the Dead. Dead Rising released in 2006 for the Xbox 360 and was positively received for its sandbox style. This went on to spawn two more entries into the franchise.
Shortly before the release of Dead Rising 2 in 2010, Inafune was promoted to Capcom’s Global Head of Production and oversaw all of the projects that were being made within Capcom. He felt that he needed to make sure that every game coming from Capcom carried the appropriate feel of a Capcom title. However, this position was shortly lived, because later in 2010 Inafune decided to leave Capcom to start over again and formed a new company known as Comcept.
Since his departure of Capcom, Inafune has voiced several times now of his distaste towards the Japanese way video games have been made over the years and praised the innovations that Western developers were taking. Since then, his company has been working on four games, two of which have been released and a third one on the way in April of this year. The fourth game has yet to be announced, but we can have our hopes that it will be something big.