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Capcom continues its Megaman revival

Every game publisher dreams of a cross-media success - a brand which will not only sell millions of games, but will be a cross-media phenomenon resulting in income from toys, merchandising, TV shows and even movies.

Nintendo, most obviously, has Pokemon. Konami has Yu-Gi-Oh. Bandai has gradually turned the 20-year old Gundam franchise into something similar. Now Capcom is dusting down one of its most venerable character franchises - and it may well have a winner on its hands.

Eagle-eyed followers of the UK games market may already have noticed the Megaman Battle Network titles on the GBA popping up in stores, and doing surprisingly well in reviews; now the blue lycra clad digital hero is on his way to the PS2 in a title which slots in between those two GBA games in the story arc, called Megaman Network Transmission.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, because in Japan, Megaman is already on the second phase of a massive revival - and we're just about to receive the first wave over here, as Megaman games, merchandise and perhaps most importantly, the Megaman TV series appear on these shores.

Called Rockman EXE in Japan (where Megaman himself has always been Rockman), the TV series is actually surprisingly non-rubbish, and although it's definitely kids fodder, the relatively light hearted tale of Rockman and his owner and their adventures both in the virtual reality of the Internet and in the real world seem like exactly the kind of fare that could develop a serious following within a young demographic.

A second series of the TV show is now on the way in Japan, with the rights being licensed to Shogakuan to develop a show which will be aired on TV Tokyo beginning in October and will tie in more closely with the games than the previous series.

Toy rights for Rockman/Megaman have also been licensed, this time to giant toy company Takara - one of the largest toy manufacturers in Japan, and quite a player in the world market at that.

Games, TV, toys, merchandise - Capcom certainly has all the bases covered for the Megaman franchise. Of course, the ultimate success of the brand will depend entirely on the fickle viewing and playing habits of a core demographic of children - but given the success of most other Japanese brands which have been exported to the West since Pokemon really broke the floodgates, don't be surprised to see one of the classic stars of old school gaming making a comeback on school lunchboxes in the near future.

Author

Rob Fahey avatar

Rob Fahey

Contributing Editor

Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.

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