I’ll be honest — I’ve never played the Mega Man Star Force series. As much as I love the numerous Mega Man Battle Network games that I grew up with, the futuristic spiritual successor series Star Force ended up passing me by. My lack of familiarity with the series only made me even more excited to check out the Udon-published official art book for it, however. The Mega Man Battle Network: Official Complete Works compendium was an incredible dive into the complete visual history of one unforgettable Mega Man spinoff series. Now, with the recently released hardcover edition of Mega Man Star Force: Official Complete Works, familiar fans and curious newcomers alike can learn about the artistic vision and gorgeous details of yet another iconic Mega Man world.
Mega Man Battle Network: Official Complete Works had the daunting task of compiling every art element from nearly two dozen Battle Network mainline entries and spinoffs, resulting in a book that was jam-packed with major art and concepts while rarely going into the weeds and exploring the design process for each game. By comparison, the Mega Man Star Force: Official Complete Works book only has three mainline games to cover, and it does so exhaustively.
This is especially true for Mega Man Star Force 3, a game that takes up well over the first half of the book alone. Perhaps as a result of the third entry in the series being the most recent one to be developed, there seems to be an extra amount of behind-the-scenes visuals available for the final piece of the Star Force trilogy. Multiple poster and cover art illustrations for this game get accompanying pages of step-by-step design walkthroughs, thoroughly detailing how Battle Network and Star Force illustrator Shinsuke Komaki takes these illustrations from early color-blocked concepts to fully realized works of digital art.
Character designs get just as much of an in-depth profile in Mega Man Star Force: Official Complete Works. Alongside polished final renders for every character, you get to see every possible minor illustration available for the massive cast of the game, even down to obscure special illustrations used for online marketing images or game manual inserts.
The best part of these character profiles, though, are the paragraphs of explanations from the key artists of the series explaining the significance of certain illustrations and how the designs of each character came to be. You even get to see rough practice sketches and numerous initial concepts for each character, alongside explanations for why they were changed or went unused. Some of my favorite parts of the book are when the artists candidly explain why certain illustrations or designs fell through, such as when Komaki shares a trio of beautiful Mega Man Star Force 1 cover illustrations that were never used because he straight up missed his submission deadline.
For as thoroughly as the Mega Man Star Force: Official Complete Works book covers the designs and artwork of every imaginable character in the trilogy, another element of art books that I adore is getting a collection of auxiliary visuals related to the game, like the pages of in-world graffiti from the Splatoon art books or the renders of official merchandise in the Mega Man Battle Network: Official Complete Works book. This design book has some of that, with pages showing off artwork used for promotional trading cards, plastic folders, real-life tournament prizes, and more.
Still, the world that the game takes place in doesn’t feel like it’s presented in its entirety. While we do get a look at various minor design elements like in-game posters and logos, only 10 incredibly cramped pages in this book account for the world and environment design details. Characters are obviously the main appeal of this collection, but I still wish I could have seen some more insight into the various environments of the Star Force series.
Despite having never played a Mega Man Star Force game, this book makes me feel like I’ve spent years with the franchise. It features some of the most in-depth and high-volume concept and design information I’ve ever seen in an art book, giving a refreshingly candid look at how this trilogy of Mega Man spinoffs came to life. I certainly wish more emphasis had been placed on detailing the world-building of the series, but the eye-widening amount of character art and special illustrations present in this book still make it a must-own not just for Mega Man fans, but for anyone interested in character design and sharp game illustration.