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Mega Man Battle Network

Review By:  Tikerman

Developer:  Capcom
Publisher:  Capcom
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Action/RPG
ESRB:  Everyone
Accessories:  N/A
Date Posted:  6-10-03

Let me start this review out with a warning: Mega Man fans will not like this game. This is not a Mega Man game. But let me qualify that. People who will like this game are action fans, puzzle fans, and to some degree, RPG fans. Some of those people happen to be Mega Man fans too. This is certainly no platformer, and involves no jumping and shooting. So, before you read this review, know that if you're just looking for another Mega Man game, you're looking in the wrong place (try Mega Man Zero, also for the GBA). But if you happen to be a fan of the genres I listed above, read on.

Let's get straight to what this game is all about. You control a boy named Lan, who is currently a 5th Grader at the local school. You, like any other normal person, own a PET, or PErsonal Terminal. This PET is personified by a cute little fella', yours being MegaMan.exe. MM.exe is a Net Navi, which is what they call the little guys. He guides you around the internet, takes care of your mail, and, most importantly, is your best weapon against viruses (or viri, or whatever). Whenever you're strolling through the web and a baddy pops up, you have to delete him. The process is simple: You each get a 3 x 3 area, right next to each other, creating 3 x 6 rectangle, which goes long-ways across your GBA screen. You can move within these 9 squares. You don't have to worry about aim or anything, as tapping the D-Pad will jet you onto the adjacent square, always facing forward. Your primary (and weakest) weapon, which can be used unlimitedly, is your buster. Tapping B will shoot your buster, which starts out at 1 HP per hit (it goes up later; see below). You select a few Battle Chips, little icons that specify a move. You can use a Battle Chip only once, and can select only Battle Chips that are either identical or have the same letter code. (i.e., A, B, C, etc.,). Battle Chips might shoot a gun for 40 damage, or swing a sword for 80 damage, or something nifty, like stealing three of your opponents squares and making them your own, thus limiting your enemy's/enemies' mobility, and increasing your own. Also, some BattleChips have elements (Fire, Aqua, Wood, and Elec) which can make them more effective against certain enemies (and less so against others).

Simple, right? Yeah. The battle system flows smoothly, with a pseudo-turn based system: after using your selected Battle Chips, you have to wait for a meter at the top of the screen to fill back up, and you can select again. This system combines the real-time action and turn-based RPG elements of the game very well. The way that you run into viruses, as I previously mentioned, is by wandering through the internet. The internet is represented by platforms of varying size, connected by narrow paths, all of which seems to float over an endless digital abyss (don't worry, you can't fall off). All of this is seen at an isometric view. This kind of complicates things, and navigating from this view can be confusing and a little frustrating. You may more than once come to the point where you are told to go down an alley or something, and you simply cannot see any entrance, because of the view. This is a bit angering, but it doesn't happen that often, and you'll get over it. Look at it a puzzling challenge.

Speaking of puzzling challenge, most of your objectives hover around these. Whether out on the web, or inside various CPUs (such as your security system, your stove, a TV, etc.,) you usually have to find something or go somewhere. Because of the complicated paths and slew of dead-ends, you'll be exploring for a while (most likely, this puzzle was intended).

The story goes like this: a secret organization called the WWW (sound familiar?) has begun to terrorize the nation's internet, and it's up to you to take them out! Well, it's actually up to the government-employed NetBattlers, but being the meddling kid that you are, you get involved yourself.  Similarly to the classic Mega Man games, you have to go after Bosses who are attacking the internet, and take them out. At first, they’ll be hiding out somewhere specific, FireMan is in your stove, NumbersMan is in your school computer system, and so forth. When you beat them, you don't get their attack. I told you this isn't Mega Man. Depending on how well (based on various factors, your victory is ranked 1-10 and S, S being the best, 10 the second best, 1 the worst), you get a huge wad of cash. Later, however, copies of them show up on the web (first straight copies, then Level2 copies, and superior Level3 copies), and defeating them with a certain level will get you a Navi BattleChip, the equivalent of a summon in standard RPGs. This will summon the Navi, and have it perform a move the will hurt your enemy (some also heal). Everyone freezes once a Navi is summoned, so accuracy is always 100% (unless your enemy is hiding).

You can also score Navi BattleChips by battling your friend's Navis, or the Navis of various law-abiding townsfolk. Again, Capcom does a good job of combing the classic Mega Man boss set up with the new MMBN gameplay.

MegaMan.exe does not level up with experience, in fact, possibly to the dismay of many RPG fans, there is no experience. Rather, whenever you score an PowerUp, which increase either the power of your basic attack, the rapidity of your attack, or the speed with which you charge your buster (it's your choice), or an HP Memory, which increases your maximum HP, your level goes up. Fairly simplistic, but it provides an impetus to get all the PowerUps and HP Memories.

Also, there's armor. Whenever you have the sufficient funds, you can head down to a NetMerchant and purchase some armor, which, though not changing the appearance of your NetNavi, can help him defend against various the various elements.

When you're not out on the web, you control Lan himself, navigating the real world. There are plenty of things to do outside of the internet, as you cannot nearly do everything from your own measly PC. There are even a few puzzles and various adventures that you have to do with plain old Lan, though MM.exe will often help out. The musical score is up to Capcom standards, and will often have you humming while you play (or, to the annoyance of your friends, while you don't play).

To beat the game, an average gamer's skills will certainly suffice. However, like many games these days, there is a lot more than simply beating it. There are 175 Battle Chips to collect (very similarly to Pokémon, many of these are beefed up versions of others), as well as (again, similarly to Pokémon) a secret 176th chip which can only be attained by getting it direct from Capcom. To get ALL of these, you will have to do a lot more than just beat the game, which will definitely provide a challenge.

Highs:

  • Interesting Action RPG battle system
  • Great musical score
  • Difficulty ranges depending on level of completeness, meaning everyone can enjoy this game

Lows:

  • Confusing and sometimes frustrating web wandering
  • For the die-hard Mega Man fans, this isn't a platformer
  • May not be RPG enough for RPG fans

Final Verdict:

This game is pretty good. For those who can look past its non-Mega Man-ness, or its unorthodox RPG style, this a good Action-RPG, with puzzle elements. Sure, some things can be a bit annoying, but altogether it’s a fun experience. This will take the average gamer 15-25 hours on the first try, and more if you try to collect all the chips, PowerUps, HP Memories, and Armors. The great variety of Battle Chips and summons makes collection fun and battles even more fun. It even offers a touch of gambling with the ChipTrader! If you're looking for a fun, puzzling, RPG-Action hybrid, with a touch of puzzle and a hint of Pokémon, grab MMBN. (And its sequel, Mega Man Battle Network 2).

Overall Score: 7.5

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