Does Japanese Mega Man Live in Monsteropolis?


My backlog of questions from readers is literally close to 100 questions now, so today I decided to have followers on Twitter decide which one to do my next update about!

I actually got way more responses than I expected – thanks, everyone! By an overwhelming margin, the winner was… Mega Man!


So here’s a Mega Man question that Morgil asked long, long ago that I’ve been meaning to get to for ages:

Back on the subject of the early Mega Man games, The original US manuals refereed to kept changing the name of the city the games take place in. The first game called it something like Monsteropolis, while a later game called it Mega City. I wonder what this is the the Japanese versions, if there even is a city name at all?

Wow, it’s been a long time since I actually had a copy of the Mega Man 1 box or manual, but I still remember that Monsteropolis name! It was so weird and out of place that I guess it wound up being that memorable; I guess the fact it was all over the back cover and written in bold helped:

In hindsight I probably should've realized that it says there are seven societies that need penetrating, yet there are only six places to choose from... so there was still one secret society to penetrate

And I could also swear at some point they use the name “Monsteropolis” in one of the Captain N cartoon episodes back in the day, but upon checking my DVDs I can only find references to “Mega Land”.

Of course, “Monsteropolis” was also in the story part of the first English manual a few times… so let’s take a look at the Japanese and English stories side-by-side!

Whoa, cool! Is that the Gutsman level? Or is it Wily's base? Or just a thing?Whoa, cool! Is that the Gutsman level? Or is it Wily's base? Or just a thing?
(Japanese image courtesy of The Reploid Research Lavatory)

And here’s all that side-by-side for easier comparison:

Japanese Version (basic translation)English Version
In the year 200X, through the use of scientific advances, humanity created humanoid robots for industrial use. One day, Dr. Light, the foremost authority on these industrial robots, received the following news.

”The robots you developed are going out of control one after the other! At this rate, robots will take over humankind!!”

Robots taking over humankind!? This must be the work of the evil genius, Wily. He’s modified the robots Dr. Light developed and is bent on using their power to take over the world. …

Dr. Light summoned “Rock”, a household robot he always cherished like his own son. And then, to recover the heart portion from each of the six robots he had created himself, he modified Rock into the combat robot “Rockman”.

Go, Rockman!! Successfully recover the six robots! And then destroy Dr. Wily’s massive robot factory and restore peace!
It’s MEGA MAN versus the powerful leaders and fighting forces of Monsteropolis – that strange multi-faceted land of robot-like Humanoids.

Brilliant scientist Dr. Wright conceived the construction of fully-operational human-like experimental robots to perform specific everyday duties. Dr. Wright, and his assistant Dr. Wily, encouraged with their very first near-human robot — MEGA MAN — proceeded to develop six additional Humanoids, all programmed to perform prescribed rituals.

But, with the exception of MEGA MAN, all of Dr. Wright’s near-human robot experimentation went awry. Assistant Dr. Wily turned disloyal, re-programming Dr. Wright’s Humanoids, now bent on destroying opposition so Dr. Wily could control the world and its resources.

Resisting re-programming, MEGA MAN is chosen the defender of the universe and its inhabitants. MEGA MAN dares to single-handedly penetrate seven separate empires of Monsteropolis, eliminating the leaders and followers of these sovereignties.

Get ready for some very exciting challenges!

Wow, they’re pretty different, yet not as profoundly different as I was expecting! I kind of like the cheesy, B-movie / crappy sci-fi novel / “every 80s Atari game ever” feel of the localized story – it at least matches the localized box art perfectly!

I almost didn't post this, but then I felt it was almost mandatory, you know?

Anyway, my basic translation is a bit rough around the edges, but I think it gets the details across. On closer look, here are some things of note when I compare the two:

  • The name “Monsteropolis” is entirely a creation of the localization team – it wasn’t in the original text. There was NOTHING like it in the original text.
  • Dr. Wily is made Dr. Light/Wright’s assistant in the English text, but that wasn’t the case in the original text. Off the top of my head I can’t recall if later Japanese versions do claim that Dr. Wily was his assistant (or the other way around), so if anyone knows, let me know in the comments!
  • Rock Man is just a house robot in the Japanese version. I think it’s kind of neat that a domestic robot is what’s needed to defeat industrial robots!
  • The Japanese text also makes it clear that after you defeat the boss robots, there’s still another goal left – to destroy Wily’s big factory. When I was a kid, I’d only played the American version, so the fact that there were a ton of really hard stages after the main bosses came as a big surprise!
    I was NOT expecting stuff like this!

There’s probably more I could say and pick apart, but basically, the answer to Morgil’s question is that the Japanese story has no mention of a city’s name or even a city, really.

I then checked through the manuals for the rest of the games but couldn’t find any Monsteropolis mentions, so I kind of want to believe that it was a Mega Man 1-only thing… Yet something in the back of my mind says that’s not true. If anyone knows where else it’s mentioned in later games, let me know – I’d love to start piecing this Mega Man localization stuff together, for my own sake at least.

Anyway, the next part of Morgil’s question was about the name “Mega City” and how it’s supposedly the name of the city in later games. I’m not sure what “later games” refers to since there are so many games and spinoff series and all that. But from what I could tell, the name “Mega City” was introduced by the Archie comics series that has Sonic/Mega Man crossover stuff:

J...Jughead? What happened to you???

This is getting into territory where I KNOW I know nothing, so I can’t say too much more at this point. But I do know that on occasion Japanese creators will embrace and adopt localization choices – Sonic and chili dogs is one example, I believe. So, with that in mind, I did some more searching around on Japanese sites… but still couldn’t find any real Japanese equivalent to these city names in the Rockman games. So it seems these Monsteropolis and Mega City names are isolated to the fandom outside of Japan. Which is actually kind of an interesting idea in its own way and might be worth an article of its own someday!

The Japanese Rockman/Mega Man games don’t seem to make any references at all about “Monsteropolis” or “Mega City”. These terms only seem to exist outside of Japan.

I’m actually curious to know if these city names were used in releases in other languages – if anyone knows, let me know! And since my Mega Man knowledge ends right around X or so, I’m 100% sure I’ve overlooked or forgotten something here. If so, let me know in the comments or Twitter or e-mail or whatever else!

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  1. Pop Fact: The art drawn on the original Mega Man box art was by Keiji Inafune (or Inafking as he was referred to in the credits) who has
    directed the series from 2 up till’ just recently, when he became CEO of Capcom for a few months then left to start his own company called COMCEPT.

    1. Ha, cool, I never knew that. It makes sense now that I think about it.

    2. Some of that info is waay off. He drew the Japanese box art for the first Mega Man (and I think all the rest of the Famicom games), but he definitely did not do the American version’s art. He was also never the CEO of Capcom, not even close.

      1. But now I’m left to wonder: was that cover entirely American-made? Or did someone on the Japanese side whip that up while under the assumption that they’d be appealing to American tastes? One thing I find rather interesting about the whole thing: look at that fortress in the background on the American cover. The aesthetics aren’t exact, but its general architecture looks VERY similar to the fortress (I’m assuming Wily’s) seen on the Japanese manual page there (it also appears on the Japanese cover, now that I look at it again). So, whoever drew it apparently had a good bit of knowledge despite the character model being horribly off.

        On another note, it’s interesting to see how Wily’s fortress looked before he adopted the skull motif from the second game onwards.

  2. I thought the name Mega City was used in some late game, possibly one of the spin offs, and the comic just ran with it. Actually, the way the comic did it was that the city was unnamed until i think issue 20 or something, where they had the mayor in the comic rename it to Mega City in honor of Mega Man.

    Speaking of the comic, if you hadn’t read any of it, i’d highly recommend it. While there are a few pacing issues in the first couple of storylines, it does a pretty damn good job of adapting the games while still being a fun read. For the most part, it mainly follows the Japanese plot of the first game, with the only real aspect of the US version included being the whole “Wily is Light’s assistant” thing.

  3. I dunno about anyone else, but ‘genesis wave’ (or even ‘post-genesis wave’) sounds like the coolest music genre ever.

    1. It’s making me think of an A-ha tribute band featuring Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, which… I don’t know that “coolest” is a word I’d use to describe that.

  4. My brother is a huge Mega Man fan, and he once told me that Wily was indeed Light’s assistant. Couldn’t tell you where he got that info, though. He’s even read that archie comics series. He says that so far it’s been canonically sound with what he knows for the most part. :p

  5. A token Japanese Wikipedia check tells me Dr. Wily and Dr. Light are just old rivals, not former colleagues, if that helps any.

  6. Dr. Wright? Haven’t seen that localization of Dr. Light’s name before, although it’s apparently the first. Sounds like another Capcom series (pointing out the obvious, I know).

    1. For the 3DS VC release (I don’t know about Wii/WiiU, but I’d suspect so), Capcom copy-pasted the NES manual text for the Operation Guide, that localization included. 😛
      (pretty sure they settled on Light even by Mega Man 2)

    2. For some reason I remember them going back and forth a lot back in the 80s, but maybe I’m just remembering articles that didn’t fully have it figured it out yet.

      1. Interesting, didn’t know about the 3DS release! The Wii releases of VC games received VERY scant instructions that basically just told you how to play the game, so any mention of the game’s story line was minimal at best. And considering the “manuals” that came with the Wii releases were modern and not based on the original instruction manuals, I’m assuming the VC Mega Man refers to the character as Dr. Light, assuming they mention him at all.

        As for the name confusion, I do know that the ending of Mega Man 3 refers to him as Dr. Right, and I think that’s the name they went with in Captain N as well.

      2. I distinctly recall arguing about it with other kids back in grade school, sometime around when Mega Man 2 came out. There was definitely a bunch of confusion.

    3. Dr. Wily’s name has those issues as well, which is a bit more silly. The worst of it is Mega Man 7 calling him “Dr. Willy”.

      Side note, wow, they actually updated this site. And apparently there’s an interview from some Clyde Mandelin guy.

    4. Funny thing… The name Wright is actually a legitimate name. The name wright has been in my family for generations. My brother and father’s both have the middle name My father has the middle name Wright, as does my brother, how passed it down to my nephew, and my grandfather also had it, who my father tells me was middle named after a family fiend who’s last name was Wright. So, Wright IS a real family name… But I don’t ever recall ever hearing of any body ever being legitimately last named “light”.

  7. From what I understand, Light and Wily attended the same robotics university and were colleagues. Wily just developed a bitter rivalry with Light due to the fact he felt upstaged by Light’s accomplishments.

    As for where all this takes place, we all know Mega Man and X’s games do take place on Earth. Wily’s lab in MM1 is supposedly on the Pacific Ocean somewhere. Light’s lab seems to be situated in the United States interestingly enough as the U.S. cartoon series placed it somewhere outside New York while MM8 pegged its location somewhere near Denver, Colorado, according to the boss select screen. This Monsteropolis nonsense was just the U.S. Capcom branch’s usual stupidity with trying to make it sound interesting. They probably couldn’t tell that Wily’s robots were robots, not monsters.

  8. As far as I know Dr. Wily was never referred as Dr. Light’s assistant in the original Rockman games, this was created during localization. They did supposedly interact before (Attending same university? Former colleagues? It’s vague really.) but never like that.

    As for Rock being a domestic robot, yeah; he, along with Roll were house keeping robots meant to assist Dr. Light with stuff.

  9. The manual of Megaman Anniversary Collection (PS2/GCN/Xbox) also mentions “Monsteropolis.” Though I can tell they just copy/pasted the synopses from old instruction manuals into that particular manual, so I think that may have help perpetuate the whole Monsteropolis thing.

    The Anniversary collection has some pretty cool behind-the-scenes stuff included, but it requires many, many hours of gameplay to unlock it all.

  10. This isn’t exactly related to the question at hand perhaps, but since the romanization of his name came up – as far as I’m aware, “Dr. Light” was always “Dr. Right” in Japan. I’m not sure exactly if/when/how this was established, but as recently as in Rockman 9 he was referred to as such. As per the game’s plot of the good doctor being framed for Wily’s crimes, the big logo outside the boss room that says “Dr.W” in most games in part 9 says “Dr.R” in the Japanese version and “Dr.L” in the overseas version.

    1. His name is spelled “THOMAS RIGHT” on his database CD in the Japanese Rockman & Forte, and the shortform for his “Right Numbers” series of robots (the 6 robot masters from the first game, plus Mega Man, Roll and Proto Man) is “DRN” (while the Wily Numbers are “DWN”).

      1. In the Battle Network series the Doc is the grandfather of the main protagonist Lan Hikari, and “hikari” is Japanese of “light.” Which is confusing, because despite Japanese games spelling his name as Dr. Right, it kind of appears as though they intended for it to be Dr. Light.

        1. The Mega Man wiki sheds a little “light” on the situation…

        2. Well, the character modeled after the doctor himself is named Tadashi Hikari… and while “hikari” (光) does indeed mean “light” in the “illumination” sense, Tadashi (正) means “right” in the “correct, just” sense.

          Considering the evil scientist is named Dr. Wily, it seems the original intention was to name the two after English words that meant “bad” and “good”, and that the English localizers just never picked up on this.

          1. Interesting, when you put it that way it does look like the scientist characters were intended to have last names that were synonymous with “good” and “bad.” Also, I had forgotten that his full name was Tadashi Hikari in the Battle Network games… seems as if the development team was aware of the name confusion and combined the two different versions for his counterpart in that series.

  11. No “Mega City”, but there is a city called “Megalopolis” in Mega Man X8 (Gigavolt Man-O-War’s stage) and the name is also used for the fourth stage in the Japan-only game Rockboard. Since he’s Rockman in Japan, the city was probably not meant to be named after the titular hero.

      1. Correct. To clarify, in X8 it Megalopolis also appears to be the proper name of the city itself, and the closest thing to a “Mega City” that appears in the games, as far as I’m aware.

  12. I find it interesting that the Japanese instruction manual says you’re recovering the robot bosses from Dr. Wily’s reprogramming, while the localized story implies that you had no choice but to destroy them.

    1. Well the Dr. Right robots do show up in Super Adventure Rockman to help out Rock.

      1. Consider that in MegaMan Powered Up, you can save a Robot Master by defeating it with the Mega Buster only, so this aspect of the story is still there.

        I’m surprised no one mentioned that the English manual says Rock “resisted re-programming,” while the Japanese version leaves this out, making it sound as if Dr. Wily didn’t bother trying to steal Rock or didn’t even know about Rock. This too is borne out by MegaMan Powered Up with an opening scene where Dr. Wily makes an excuse not to capture whatever character you’re playing as.

        I also notice “seven separate empires” implies there’s another after the six masters’ stages, so a Dr. Wily level shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise.

        1. The “Powered Up” version reveals why: He was just a household robot at the time with no combat capabilities (or, as Dr. Wily puts it, “no special abilities”), so Dr. Wily ignored him when he came to capture the Robot Masters.

          1. Also, only Mega Man’s story’s canon in the game.

            He only makes excuses in the non-canon branches of the story to give himself a reason not to kidnap whatever you’re playing as, despite technically being more capable than Mega Man in their functions at the time. (Dr. Light’s modifications, I presume, was to reprogram their bodies in order to weaponise part of it so that they could take on Dr. Wily. The fact that Rock without his suit’s playable in the game implies to me that he made more modifications to his body in order to allow his tool mimicking ability to also be able to mimic weapons {and to give him his trademark Mega Blaster, for that matter}.)

  13. The manual and box back for Mega Man (which I haven’t seen for over 20+ years), reminded me of how weird the blurb for Mega Man was in the Official Nintendo Player’s Guide as it talked about how the Humanoids were hiding in concrete uprights and embedded under ice. Turns out the blurb just REALLY truncated the box’s story.

    The Player’s Guide always fascinated me (I have it in mint condition still, sans stickers) as it always had this ‘translated in Japan’ vibe to the entire thing that gave it it’s own unique charm. It also had a large section in the back of the book where it listed every released game at the time with small blurbs like that Mega Man one I just mentioned. Some games had stories that I don’t think were ever shown anywhere else, like Excitebike’s blurb was about your racer thirsting for revenge against “Arche Rivale” for running over your foot with his bike in the last race.
    Always wondered if the entire thing was created out of whole cloth for the English market, or if they took chunks out of existing Japanese resources. I know the section for Rush’n’Attack discussed how to reach secret areas that weren’t actually in the US release.

    1. Whoa, I didn’t even think to check that guide! I finally bought one this year after wanting one for like 25 years and now it’s just hanging out in my closet. Time to take another good look at it, thanks!

  14. I don’t know about partnerships in the original backstory, but Drs Wily and Light have collaborated in Megaman 3, when Wily was pretending to be reformed. They even got a combined logo, seen in Magnetman’s stage:

  15. As far as canon locations are concerned I think the only concrete info we get is in Megaman 8’s stage select which shows what seeks to be clearly the Earth with a pointer for Light’s lab being somewhere in America.

  16. answering to your question, Dr Light and Wily used to be partners, it’s referenced many times in the series! 🙂

    can I make a request through here?
    on Pokemon X and Y, there’s a couple in that main city ( the one with the Eiffel tower ) and they have a dialogue that changes during day and night
    here are some pictures,

    my question is… does the japanese version contain this adult joke?

  17. Not totally related fact: The Megas, a band who puts lyrics to songs from Mega Man, titled their version of Air Man’s theme “Annihilation of Monsteropolis”, with the title being part of the lyrics.

    I never knew it was a reference to actual Mega Man material (strange localization or not) until now!

  18. “Mega City” was, to my knowledge, first used in Dreamwave’s MM comic. Archie’s comic adapted it later on. In Archie the mayor decides to rename the city “Mega City” in honour of Megaman. I think the letter column says the original name might have been Monsteropolis, but I could be misremembering that.

    “Monsteropolis” is also mentioned in “The Official Guide to Megaman.” It’s pretty fascinating. It really tries to make the retro sci-fi story focused on in the back of the boxes work as a story and it comes pre-MM4; before MM’s origin and look is really cemented. It talks about “the Great Mining Wars” and calls robot masters “Androids.”