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After recent speculation had been floating around the web regarding an enigmatically-titled “Prototype Version” of Mega Man Legends 3, we now know just what that was all about. Capcom has just sent words mere minutes ago that “Prototype Version” is more than what one would expect. While it is indeed an unfinished version of the full game, it will be made available to the general public for testing instead of being kept in the developers’ hands as most protos typically are, this side of full-price obvious betas (insert reference to 2006′s Sonic the Hedgehog).

Interestingly enough, it seems like “Prototype Version” is more than just a fancy name as players will actually gain access to unfinished areas (potentially including beta mechanics and graphics) and even get to use certain debug commands. A new character named “Barrett” will also make an appearance. Described as the leader of a sky biker gang, his specialty is apparently close-combat fighting, which would contrast with MML1 and 2′s focus on long-rang attacks, what with Mega Man using his Mega Buster and all. Presumably, Barrett has nothing to do with Mr. T or arm-mounted mini-guns, unlike that other guy.

So, short of manually handing out costly printed copies or selling them in stores (which would be questionable), how will Capcom make sure that the public can try out MML3:PV? Simple: It’ll be a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS’s eShop! Nintendo’s new online store should be opening with the awaited major 3DS patch that’s expected some time in May, and while pricing (or hopefully lack thereof) has yet to be announced, Capcom does encourage players to report back their thoughts and findings once they’ve tried out the proto. It seems the company’s new initiative to have players take an important part in game development is resulting in some pretty interesting new venues for gaming; maybe other studios will follow with that concept?

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