The day I purchased my GameBoy Advance, I decided to buy a GBA game to go along with it. I was browsing the game selection, when I noticed MegaMan Battle Network sitting in a partially obscured corner of the case. I have to tell you the truth: I hadn’t bothered reading anything about this game before I bought it. I’d seen some screenshots here and there, but as big a MegaMan fan as I may be, I just kept overlooking the game. So, when I got it home and popped it into my GBA, I had no idea just what I was in for. Less then five minutes into the game, I caught myself exclaiming out loud, “Its an RPG!” A MegaMan RPG? Surely you think I must be kidding. The MegaMan series, and all it’s spin-off series have been these multi-leveled shoot-everything-that-moves type games. Even the MegaMan Legends spin-off seems like, more or less, a side-scrolling game done in 3D. So the realization that this new spin-off would be an RPG gave me pause, at least for a moment. It turns out that Capcom did a good job on their first MegaMan RPG.
MegaMan Battle Network tells the story of Lan Hikari. In Lan’s world, technology has entered a new phase thanks to PETs. A PET, short for Personal Terminal, is a portable link to the net. At the heart of any PET is a program called Navi. Navies are programs that work as helpers to the PET’s user. They do things like deliver e-mail, find programs, battling other peoples’ Navies for fun, profit, or just plain survival, and perhaps most importantly, battle viruses. A malevolent force exists in the world called the WWW, a group who is bent on taking over and destroy the world. They spread viruses through out the net and cause much chaos in general. The WWW is lead by a mad scientist by the name of Dr. Wily. Yeah, they had to work Wily into the game somehow. It just wouldn’t be MegaMan without Dr. Wily. But I digress.
Lan, like everyone else, has a PET, whose Navi goes by the name of MegaMan.EXE. Lan is a 5th grader who chronically over-sleeps every morning. MegaMan’s first duty every morning is the arduous task of waking Lan up for school. In fact, that is how the game begins. When Lan finally gets up and gets out the door for school, he meets up with his neighbor and friend Mayl. As they walk to school, Mayl tells Lan about the latest news that that many people’s ovens are inexplicably and suddenly spitting out fire. Mayl thinks it’s a new WWW plot, but Lan is skeptical.
When you arrive at school, you are free to talk to your other classmates such as Yai and Dex. When the bell rings, class begins and your teacher, Ms. Mari, teaches today’s lesson in virus busting. This lesson acts as a tutorial so the player can learn the game’s battle system. After class, and fighting Dex and his Navi GutsMan, you head home, where the game’s real story begins.
The control in MegaMan Battle Network can be divided into two basic parts. The first is when you control Lan in the real world or MegaMan as he goes through the network. The game is angled from an over-head view, like most RPGs. You move around by using the control pad, and can move faster (Lan wears Roller-blades everywhere he goes and will skate along when he moves faster. MegaMan will just run,) by holding the B button while running. To examine an object or talk to a person, you hit the A button. The B button cancels. Lan can talk to MegaMan and vice versa by hitting the L button. The R button lets you “jack” into certain devices you encounter in the world, or if in the net, jack out. The Start button brings up a menu screen. There you can go into your battle chip folder and organize it, go into a library of the battle chips you have at one point in the game owned, go into a “MegaMan” menu that lets you see MegaMan’s current status, equip armors, and apply power-ups to his buster. There is also an email command that allows you to read the mail you receive throughout the game, and item menu that lets you see the various key items you have gotten in the game, a network menu that lets you link your GBA to another person’s GBA and battle them, and the save command that lets you save your game.
The second part of the control scheme is the battle control. Enemies, except other Navies, are encountered randomly throughout the network. When you enter battle, you find yourself in a 3x6 rectangle of blocks, half colored red and half colored blue. MegaMan will appear in the center of the red squares and the enemies will appear at random on the blue blocks. Immediately, a screen will come up with a choice of five random battle chips. Battle chips are data chips that allow your Navi to use special attacks. Some of these are found, some are purchased or traded for, but most can be found when you defeat an enemy. They range in power and rarity. As you may assume, the most rare ones tend to be the most powerful ones.
You can load up to five chips at a time. All chips have a letter code on them, i.e. A, B, C, D, E, and so on. To load more then one chip requires you to either have more than one of the exact same type to choose from in your load screen or to have a number of chips with the same letter code. You also have the option of loading no chips, which is usually not advisable, or selecting Add, which will add five more chips to your selection the next turn. Add can only be used twice before you have to choose either to use some chips to none at all. Once you select your chips, the battle begins.
MegaMan can move all around the red area and attack from anywhere, remembering that all weapons have a certain range of use. You can execute your battle chips by hitting the A button. The B button fires your buster, MegaMan’s default weapon. Holding the B button, once you use one power-up item to increase the charge of your buster, will let you charge up and release a more powerful blast from your buster. You will find your buster to be incredibly weak at the start of the game, however, once you power it up enough, you will find it to be better than many of the battle chips.
There is a gauge at the top of your battle screen that will slowly fill as the battle progresses. When it fills, it will begin to flash, at that point hitting either the L or R button will bring up your chip selection screen. But be forewarned that if you have any battle chips left unused when you bring up the selection screen, you will automatically loose them. When you win a battle, you will get a screen that will tell you how well you fought on a scale of 1 to S (S is 11), how long it took you to win the battle, and what you got for winning. You will either get money or you will get a battle chip.
The graphics in this game blew me away. Graphics of this game rival that of the MegaMan X series on the PlayStation. The sprites and backgrounds alike are quite detailed. It is quite amazing just what the GBA is capable of doing in the graphics department. Capcom most definitely knows what they are doing when it comes to sprite-based games. A fact they have proven quite often.
The sound in the game was fairly good. They did a good job on the sounds of the games weaponry and the other sound effects too are not bad. But the music… the music is horrible. There only seem to be a few tracks in this game, and they repeat over and over throughout. It wouldn’t be so bad if they added more music to go along with different parts of the network or the real world, but instead they have one track for each of them. The battle music, too, gets old extremely fast. I can usually find at least one song, even in games with the worst music that is catchy, but I cannot think of a single song in the entire game that I actually enjoyed.
All in all, Capcom did a pretty good job on MegaMan Battle Network. They managed to integrate some of the better aspects of the MegaMan series and an RPG all into one. Plus, they bring back many of the old series’ “Robot Masters” in Navi forms. IceMan, FireMan, GutsMan, BombMan, and ProtoMan, among others, make appearances. The sequel to MegaMan Battle Network is due to come out very soon. I, for one, look forward to it. I give MegaMan Battle Network an overall rating of 80%.