Review Megaman Battle Network

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Tempest Stormwin

Kweisatz Haderach
Former Staff
Oct 29, 2002
On temporary hiatus.
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It's no small secret that I love Megaman games. When I got my GBA, I knew I just had to try Battle Network out. For convienience, I'll be referring to it as "EXE" (the Japanese name), since everyone tends to call it that anyway. I knew EXE wasn't a traditional Megaman, and that was part of the pull. Let me say that I'm pleasantly surprised.

It's truly impossible to classify this game into any single genre. The closest I can find is a console RPG, a trading card game, and Pokemon, since it has elements of all three in it. You control Lan Hikari, a 5th grader in ACDC town, DenCity, in a world where everything has been hooked up to the net. The people experience the net through PErsonal Terminals (PETs), a cross between a cell phone and a PDA (PalmPilot-device), with the help of a sophisticated AI routine called a Navi. Lan's Navi is MegaMan.EXE, and the two are best friends almost to the point of being brothers. MegaMan, being no more than code, can't exist outside the electronic realm, but can enter anything electronic and fix up any glitch within it -- thankfully, since all these systems are populated with Viruses (read: little enemies). The game follows Lan and MegaMan around as they get a bit too deep in over their head in Net crime... and they uncover some interesting facts about the Net, each other, and Lan's father, Dr. Hikari... (a side note: Hikari is Japanese for Light. Dr. Light... hehe)

Most good RPGs start like this. //////// Email is a neat addition to the title.

Okay, here's where it gets interesting. The game itself feels like your average RPG, admittedly with good graphics and, surprisingly for Capcom, amazing English writing. The characters Lan interacts with are well done, and the nature of their conversations helps to build up a feel that's quite immersive. Standard controls apply: Move with the D-Pad, run by holding B (Lan uses rollerblades, but for some reason has no trouble running on stairs...
), Examine/Pickup/Talk with A. L activates the PET interface, letting Lan talk to MegaMan (a good way to figure out what to do next, most of the time), and R is Connect. Walk up to anything with a "jack in port" (wich is almost everything) and hit R to send Megaman into the network. The graphic style changes, and you're controlling MegaMan in the digital world. Here's where it's most like an RPG, as there's often mazes, glowing diamonds of Mystery Data (read: Treasure chests), and even random encounters with viruses.

Lan's classrom, the real world. Jack in and you'll be in the classroom's network.

The battle system is... unique, in a word. It takes place on a grid. Move with D-pad, and MegaMan will blink to a new square. B fires the MegaBuster, initially a weak weapon, but as you find PowerUP items it quickly becomes an amazing device indeed (instead of one damage point with slow rate of fire, it can fire for 5 each time blindingly fast, or charge up to do 20 and then 80 damage!). This happens in real-time, so be ready to dodge attacks -- quite often, if you're new to it, you'll get hit a lot, which is why your health refills after each battle. At the start of each battle, there's an Upload interface. Here, you find a random selection of your "Battle Chips", which are like trading cards, but for special attacks. They range from Recov10 (heal 10 HP) to Cannon (40 damage) to Sword (melee 80 damage) to interesting ones like Steal (take the front column of enemy area as your own) and Dash (tackle through your target). My favorite ones summon a Navi of either someone you've beaten or a close friend. You find them after battle, or in data, or buy them on the Net -- just about anywhere. Anyway, you pick your chips (the mechanic is well described in the manual and in the game) and use A in the battle to use them. You can reload after a set time has passed, so don't worry. I know it sounds confusing, but after two battles in the tutorial, you'll be doing fine!

The card game influence: Pick a chip... ///// and use it for explosive results.

The art style is a nifty isometric viewpoint, with astonishing detail into the character sprites. Even animations only seen once (like Lan pulling down a power lever, or some Navis blowing up on the field screen) are beautifully done. In battle, animations show up most with other Navis, and some are really funny. The faces in the speech bubbles range from so-so to amazingly well done, with more in the "well done" category than anywhere else. There's also some annoyingly bad animations, though (ROLL! A great chip, but her lack of animation is SO painful...). The only really annoying part of the graphics are some of the psychedelic backgrounds in the Net. My screenshots can't show their shifting nature well, but it's there. Music is appropriate, I found. It's often repetative, but at least it's ALL original. MegaMan's theme, the Net theme, and a few others are nifty, though. Soundwise, you hear most of it in battle, and there's few annoying ones -- MegaMan's buster, ironically, sounds more like a plasma cannon here than in the games with the REAL Mega Man, who's Plasma gun sounds like a pea shooter... On a final note, as a big ProtoMan fan, I should probably say that they did an absolutely amazing job on him, both in battle and out of. They even gave him his sheild and something to trail (I can't tell if it's a cape or a ponytail, but...).

Use whatever chips you want. ///////// The best part is fighting other Navis.


There's a few annoyingly bad story sequences (the introduction to Mr. Higsby, in particular, although he's better later on), and ProtoMan landed such an annoying operator that it's rather funny (he even calls him "Load Chaud" instead of "Lord Chaud"...). The ending is also a bit rushed, it seems, although it's at least consistent with the game itself. Some battles are REALLY hard, and I'm talking with normal viruses here. Finally, much of the game is geared to a completist -- while you can easily beat the game just for fun, like I did, you can never unlock some pretty cool stuff unless you pretty much get everything in the game. There's even several hidden Navi's on the Net which you need to get several chips from... some people see this as a bonus, but I don't. Finally, there's the biggest downside of all: only one save file. Yeah, it's harsh. But, with a flashcard or emulator, that's avoidable.

Reviewer's Summary

Overall, though, it's throughly enjoyable. Just don't go into it thinking it's another MegaMan, or a Pokemon rip off, since it's not. EXE is a completely new game type, and it's a fun one at that. I'd give it an 8/10, but due to a few letdowns (such as the reward for finding the trial monster and beating him, which is no small task) and the slight lack of streamlining in the battle system, and of course the single save file, I'll dock that a bit to a 7.9/10. If you like console RPGs, it's fun. If you like action games, it's fun. If you like trading card games, then by all means, get it and get a friend to get it too, since you can challenge them over a link as well. It's very good.

-Tempest out.-
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