I remember the summer of 1989 well. I saw Tim Burton’s “Batman” in the theater probably 10 times, Milli Vanilli was all that was on the radio, and a little blue robot dude was practically burned into my TV. It was the summer of “Mega Man 2” and that cartridge didn’t leave my NES for months.
My memories of blasting Dr. Wily’s Robot Masters into oblivion—while trying not to fall to my death—are dominated by the game’s final act, which takes place inside of Wily Castle, a fortress built by the deranged scientist. Adorned by a gigantic skull of all things, this place was like turning the already tough game up to 11, since it not only had its own bosses to defeat, but all of the ones I’d vanquished earlier (Quick Man, Air Man, and the rest) were back as well. Still, despite wanting to throw my controller in the trash more than once, I just couldn’t stop trying.
Thinking back to this summer past is what inspired me to pick Wily Castle as my latest video game property evaluation here on the Movoto Real Estate blog. I’ve previously valued places like Stormwind Keep, Castlevania, and the Spencer Mansion from “Resident Evil”, so I figured it was high time this stronghold from Capcom’s 8-bit classic got its due.
After revisiting the game’s pixelated hallways and many—many—spiked floors, I determined that if Wily Castle were to go on today’s market following its owner’s defeat, it would list for $113,730,000.
Which stage is worth the most? Where is Wily Castle? How can a 2D building have square footage in the first place? Put on your blue jumpsuit and join me as I answer those questions and more below.
How I Did It
Whether a fictional property is constructed by an evil genius or tie-wearing gorilla, I figure out its value using the same three basic elements:
- How big it is
- Where it’s located
- How much similar properties sell for there
Let’s take it from the top and figure out just how large this place is first.
This Castle Is Wily Big
13-year-old me was sure that “Mega Man 2” was the longest game he’d ever played. It took me weeks to beat the thing. As it turns out, it can be completed in around half an hour if you’re really good. That’s still a long time to dash through two-dimensional hallways, so just how big could the final act be?
In order to find out, I first needed to look at maps for each of the six stages that comprise Wily Castle at the final area of the game. Once I had a complete overview of them, I decided to use the Mega Man sprite itself to determine scale. Since pixels don’t mean anything in terms of real-world length and width, though, I had to get creative. So, I figured out how big Mega Man would be in real life.
To determine this, I turned to original reference art for the character by his creator and game making legend Keiji Inafune. According to his notes, Mega Man stands 4-feet-4-inches or 132 centimeters tall. Using that info, I could deduce that the standard character sprite—where Mega Man is standing idle with his feet apart—is 115 centimeters wide. From there I was able to measure the 2D floor space of each stage.
Since property values are based around square footage, I had to figure that out too, which is… unusual for a 2D game. Thankfully I’d done it before. I chose to use the biggest character from Wily Castle, the giant tank-like Guts-Dozer, to determine the building’s width. Using Mega Man’s real-world size, I calculated that Guts-Dozer would be about 30 feet wide, so I made the castle 50 feet wide in order to give this imposing boss some maneuvering room.
That mean the square footage for each stage was:
- Stage 1: 26,800 sqft
- Stage 2: 39,450 sqft
- Stage 3: 19,050 sqft
- Stage 4: 45,500 sqft
- Stage 5: 18,700 sqft
- Stage 6: 17,750 sqft
That adds up to a total floor space for Wily Castle of 167,250 square feet. Now to place it in the real world.
(Kinda) Big In Japan
As a kid, I knew that all the cool video games came from Japan, but I don’t think I ever gave much thought to their settings unless it was expressly stated. For “Mega Man 2”, it’s never said where the game is supposed to take place, but it’s pretty easy to infer a location based on a few different factors.
For starters, there’s the fact that the game was developed in Japan by Osaka-based Capcom. During the intro, we see a futuristic cityscape (in the year “200X”) with Mega Man standing atop a tall building. It would be safe to say the city is supposed to be Tokyo, but maybe it was meant to represent a (then) future Osaka. Either way, I placed the general setting as urban Tokyo.
Wily Castle, however, isn’t in the city. In fact, it appears to be on a mountain some distance from urban areas, as indicated by the rural countryside seen upon beating the game. This lead me to split the difference between Tokyo and Osaka—Dr. Wily would want to be centralized to easily send his Robot Masters to wreak havoc far and wide—and the best-case mountain in that area is Mt. Fuji. There also happens to be a nearby lake, Yamanaka-ko, which helps my argument since Wily Castle is seen near water in subsequent games.
So, I placed the castle near Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi, Japan, a tourist destination that probably wouldn’t be able to put up much a fight against a mad scientist with killer robots building his headquarters there.
Yamanashi: Much Cheaper Than Tokyo
Not only does setting up shop in Yamanashi mean fewer people meddling in your nefarious plans; it’s also far less costly than in a major Japanese city like Tokyo. According to recent reports, the price per square foot in Japan’s capital can reach (and go beyond) $7,600 per square foot.
After comparing some properties in Yakanashi—traditional large houses; there aren’t any castles on the market there—I found the price per square foot in the area to be a much more digestible $679. That’s nowhere near as cheap as in Transylvania, where the “Castlevania” fortress was valued at a measly $31 per square foot.
You’ll Need a Robot to Clean It
For that price, you’d get a fortress of considerable size, but without any of the robots, traps, or the projection system that caused an alien being to appear before Mega Man that Dr. Wiley had installed. After all, the Blue Bomber destroyed all of those. You might want to consider buying a Roomba or 2,000 for the place, though. Just remember: they’ll work on tile and carpet no problem, but not on deadly spikes. Man, those spikes.