I thought 8-Bit gaming was dead and gone. Then came Mega Man 9. Capcom announced Mega Man 9 on Nintendo's Wii Ware service.
The kicker: it will be in 8-Bit.
Finally... FINALLY, game developers are beginning to understand. You can thank Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune for the breakthrough. Graphics don't make a game, and the less powerful systems had amazing games partly because they were given a framework in which to work.
The analogy is comparable to structure in literature. Sometimes free verse is the way to go, sometimes a sonnet. A novel, or a short story. The limitations inspire and force creativity. "Bit" graphics can offer the same structure and variety to video games. The text should dictate the form used. It's a simple question: would this game work better in 8-Bit. In the case of Mega Man, the answer is, most certainly, YES.
Form should not be picked at random (and, most often it isn't: video game form is tied directly to $$$), it should be carefully chosen. Video games have constantly moved toward "new is better" which is a result of professional reviewers having an extreme bias toward game that don't have a billion-dollar budget. Re-released games will often receive scores in the 4-6 range simply for being "outdated," and crappy shovelware titles might squeak by with a 6.9. See their review of Metroid. Now take a look at TV Show King. I'm not making this up.
It's 2008 and the developers had a wide variety of forms to choose from. They chose 8-Bit because Mega Man just works in 8-Bit. And this is a major victory for 8-Bit. 2D gaming never expired, it just migrated to the handheld market. But even there, the insistence that games be 16- or 32-bit was overwhelming. 2D gameplay was okay, but only if you had tons of bells and whistles to justify not being a 3D game.
Finally, someone had the balls to say "fuck it," and just made an 8-Bit game. Hopefully, their vision and inspiration (and profits) will inspire other companies and developers to do the same. Capcom are making an argument for 8-Bits, but the implications are further-reaching. This isn't about 8-Bit, i'ts about form and video games and art. If video games are going to progress, then they must have the option to use whatever form they feel appropriate, even if that requires technical limitations. The gaming community should embrace this mindset.
I do know a few tidbits about the mechanics of Mega Man 9. Not much is known at this point, but the robot masters will be: Magma Man, Galaxy man, Jewel Man, Concrete Man, Hornet Man, Plug Man, Tornado Man (wait a minute, didn't the already do that?), and Splash WOMAN (ZOMG)! The slide move and the charge-shot will be purchasable via Dr. Light's shop (a la Mega Man 7). Mega Man 9 launches in September, in Japan. Other releases to follow.
Also interesting: I'd bet that most gamers excited about Mega Man 9 have played a Mega Man rom hack (I've even made one myself)? Or an unrelated rom hack? After all the internet is teeming with romhacks... wait a minute. Why the fuck didn't developers catch on to this before? Because the people handing out money are idiots, obviously. However, have no fear, I am sure Mega Man 9 will be a smash hit, outselling everything else on Wii Ware. Devs will jump on that cash cow like a trampoline. Expect a slough of crappy 8-Bit games, but don't worry, we'll sort the good from the bad.
This is history in the making folks. Enjoy the gallery.