Mega Man Battle Network

a game by Capcom

Platform: GBA

Genre: Action

See also: Mega Man Games

Overview

Create a preteen robot in a souped-up, metallic battle suit with various weapons and toss him inside a computer to run around the Internet and everyone else's computer. This is MegaMan.EXE and he's about to save the world -- with your help, of course.

In this future world of "everything networked," an evil conglomerate of techno gangsters called the "World Three" (WWW) is running through the network and planting viruses that set ovens on fire, shut down entire buildings and close connections with the sole desire to control the network age. As a fifth grader named Lan, you carry a personal exploration device (PET) that allows you to connect to the network through almost any electrical equipment. Once connected, your network navigation program (Net Navi) then runs through out the network, various appliances, technological gadgets, computers and servers. You personalized Net Navi is MegaMan.EXE and he's going to fight the WWW and its multitude of viruses. You'll help him collect battle chips and various information that will power him up and enhance his battle skills as he shuts down the WWW before it crashes the network.

Capcom's long-standing series starring Mega Man stretches into the role-playing game genre, challenging you to find enhancements for Mega Man and choosing the best strategy to destroy the myriad viruses attacking the network.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

This is a unique game for the Mega Man series. The gameplay is intriguing and different to say the least. When taking the role of Lan in the real world or Mega Man as you explore the network, your bird's-eye/over-the-shoulder view lets you navigate to various locations, people and objects. Pressing the A button lets you talk to people or interact with objects. Pressing the B button cancels your action. When you find a location where you can connect or "jack-in" your PET to the network or "cyber world," pressing the Right (R) shoulder button sends you to the cyber world. At any time, pressing the Left (L) shoulder button allows you to converse with Mega Man or Lan, depending on which world you're in.

Besides gathering information about the WWW and its many viruses, you and Mega Man collect battle chips in both the real and cyber worlds. These battle chips, when added properly and strategically to your folder, supply Mega Man with the weapons and tools to defeat the viruses he will come across. The strategy is to choose the correct weapons from the list of 175 battle chips. When viruses attack, the screen changes to a half-screen of the Battle Setup Screen and the other half-screen of the main Battle Screen. The game play becomes turn based, ending when either viruses or Mega Man are deleted. In the Battle Setup screen, you must select the best weapons that are compatible both with each other and the best means to destroy the viruses displayed on the half-screen of the main Battle Screen. If you don't see what you want, you can tell Lan to download more chips from the folder. Be warned, though; this download completes only on the next turn, so Mega Man is left with only his all-purpose weak cannon and fancy footwork to defend himself. After selecting your weapons of deletion, the Battle Setup screen disappears for this turn and the battle begins on a three-by-six grid. You have a three-by-three area to maneuver and send attacks against the viruses in their three-by-three zone. The methods of destruction range from a power sword to a long-range cannon to a bomb. Remember, there are 175 battle chips and when certain chips are combined correctly, major pain is unleashed on the nasty little monsters. Each victory raises Mega Man in levels and power.

In truth, there is so much more to this game that I could go on for pages detailing its complexity. The underlying gameplay is a very healthy dose of exploration, collecting and strategy, strategy, strategy! The controls are simple and the selections are numerous. Gamers will be pleasantly surprised with the robust strategy of properly distributing battle chips and using the best combination against the tough viruses. Virus attacks happen randomly and boss stages require a lot of thought and knowledge of the best uses of battle chips. It's all very involved and quite challenging.

Multiplayer Support

So what can an RPG game give to link play between two GBAs? Aside from the normal trade of battle chips between games, you can also battle one another in a Test Arena. Not challenging enough? How about a real battle with a friend where the winner takes one of the loser's battle chips! This pits your strategy against that of another human. Now that's a battle of wits, actually a very impressive concept. Requirements for Link Play include two GBAs, a link cable and two Mega Man Battle Network cartridges.

Graphics

Graphics are rich and vibrant. The GBA pixel and color palette are used well and gamers will enjoy the look and feel of a traditional Mega Man series game. When wandering the two worlds, it does become difficult to see objects for selection due to their minute size. Thankfully almost everything on the screen is selectable and will offer you information. The best rule of thumb is to click on everything possible and "jack-in" whenever you can. It may not look much like a toy sitting on the floor in Lan's friend's room, but you can't really tell until you select it. Still, the battle screen is quite clear and detailed and the attacks are interesting enough.

Audio

The audio is typical of the Mega Man series with traditional RPG music and battle sounds. This is one of those games where it makes no difference whether the volume is on or off. Putting on headphones only makes the RPG music reverberate between both ears.

Bottom Line

This is a fun and intelligent game that gamers will enjoy. Gamers who have followed the Mega Man series, from Mega Man 1 to Mega Man X4 and beyond, will really enjoy this game. There's very strategic gameplay with an engrossing storyline, even with the "techno-esque" terminology that the story plays upon (WWW, cyber world, etc.), and the feel of Disney's Tron. This is a great little weekend RPG, full of exploration, collecting and strategic combat.

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