1up's interview with Mega Man 9producer Hironobu Takeshita offers a look back at the brilliant downloadable sequel and its development. The 8-bit style, which is one of the game's most distinctive and eye-catching features, almost didn't happen! While Capcom's management liked the digital distribution idea (it's cheap!), they didn't go for the retro look at first. "We heard lots of negative responses; they thought it would be better to make it 3D and that the 8-bit style would only appeal to the Mega Man fans, which would limit the sales potential." Presumably, they eventually figured out that 8-bit graphics were also cheap.
Takeshita also describes the idea behind the item shop, which is wonderful and hilarious. "Even if MM9's 8-bit design interested them, the difficulty level would turn them off. With that in mind, we tried to create a system that encourages casual gamers who might not be so experienced with action games." That's right, the item shop is in there to offer assistance to casual players. We love the idea that someone at Capcom thought that all people needed to be able to finish Mega Man 9 was a few E-tanks and a new dress for Roll.