Mega Man - and all his iterations- will always hold a special place in my heart. His was the franchise which first ignited my passion for video games; the Blue Bomber was the first character I ever controlled on-screen. I still fondly recall my first experience with the first experience with the series. I was at my grandfather's house, playing through Snake Man's stage in Mega Man 3. I can't have been older than 4 at the time. Truth be told, I honestly had no idea what was going on; only that I was having a whole lot of fun.
A few years later, Mega Man X was the first game I ever beat.
As I've grown older, my taste in games has matured, somewhat, though I've always retained a passion for old-school platformers.I was thus quite pleased with Capcom's attempts to reboot the classic Mega Man games with the release of Mega Man 9 and Mega Man 10. What I didn't know at the time was that they were planning a revival of the Mega Man X series, as well...and that this revival would have gone in an entirely different direction.
The game - which never made it past the conceptual stage- was known as Maverick Hunter, and would have been a first-person shooter developed by the same team behind the wildly successful Metroid Prime. Maverick Hunter would have represented a total rework of the original series, with a number of classic Mega Man X characters re-imagined in a 3D arena, and mechanics such as X's wall jump preserved and translated from two dimensions.
It also would have represented a darker take on X's ability to absorb the powers of his fallen foes - reportedly, a trilogy was planned, with the third game seeing gamers take control of X's partner, Zero; who would be "forced to destroy a Mega Man who had grown incredibly powerful and infinitely intelligent over the course of two games."
X himself was redesigned by Adi Granov, the same concept artist responsible for Tony Stark's armor in the Iron Man films, and though the game retained many of the elements of the classic series, a number of other features - weaponry in particular - were more grounded in realism. The game would have gone into X's struggles with his nature in much more depth, particularly with a hard-boiled human sidekick for X who would have made him seem all the more humane.
It looks like this is one game that will never be. All we can hope is that the playable prototype of the original will some day be released to the public. For the time being, it doesn't seem likely Capcom will take up this project, which was deemed too significant a gamble for the already troubled publisher. Still, it's a fascinating look into what could have been, and a great means of examining all the ways a reboot can go right - and wrong.