For bringing Mega Man into three-dimensional gaming, Keiji Inafune’s Capcom team broke down the character’s essence. Set in a flooded far future, where treasure hunters loot the cavernous ruins of a precursor civilization to power the surface world, Mega Man Legends fixates heavily on equipping the Blue Bomber. Shops offer parts for your buster gun and items to help in a bind, but the meat of this endless reconfiguration comes from scrounging up busted devices and discarded schematics during dungeon raids. Hand them off to Mega Man’s adopted sister, Roll, and she’ll give you specialty weapons and equipment–rocket skates, springs to help you jump higher, and a drill that can bust down specific walls in seconds. Each addition prompts return trips to previous sites. Dig around enough, and you’ll uncover a honeycomb of these ancient halls, loaded down with deathtraps and prowling murder machines to test your walking, customized tank against.
Mega Man Volnutt is also as much a do-gooder as previous iterations. Crash landing on an island with his family, he immediately strives to make himself useful to the sleepy community, doing odd tasks or helping a pregnant woman get to the hospital. Beyond platforming superheroics, where he fights off a group of tenacious, if ineffectual, pirates, Volnutt is a jack of all trades. Give him a purpose and the right tool, then let him plow through.
Significantly, Volnutt is happy to compartmentalize these aspects of his life. While his exploration intersects with attempts to repair his family’s broken ship and a mandate to stop the pirates from inadvertently unleashing doom, a steady, dreadful realization of familiarity dawns on the boy. Arcane writing he’s able to read. Dormant tech he knows how to operate. The implications become all too clear by the time a genocidal final boss rolls around to confirm them. Yet, Volnutt never discusses this with anyone, even when it’s clear it troubles him. When prompted by Roll to open up, he simply responds “Don’t worry about it.”
The line is a brush off, but it also sums up the conflict of Legends. The smiley, perpetually sunny Kattelox Island (and, presumably, the world it inhabits) exists within the craggy walls of older civilizations which suffered calamity. Cautious and fearful, they’ve responded by taking on soft domesticity, rarely exploring and happy to watch game shows or read comics to forget (rather than acknowledge) the danger which lurks beneath their feet. Paradoxically, all their material comfort rests on gems which must be looted from these dangerous places. Volnutt, like other diggers, walks in both worlds, and learns the consequences of the two mingling too much. Given the happy-go-lucky milieu of the surface world Inafune and crew have constructed–where crippled girls can walk within moments of hospitals getting new equipment and even the pirate scourge are cheerful, loveable dorks as likely to fall in love with their enemy as they are to shoot at him–it’s natural a people pleaser like Mega Man would avoid distressing the populace. So, he keeps his work at work, in the dark underbelly, where monsters wait to rise again.