Having never played the original MegaMan Battle Network, I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I booted this cart up for the first time. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised, though. MMBN2 is an addictive and entertaining Action/RPG that no GBA-owning RPG fan should be without.
The gameplay of MMBN2 is simple when compared to most RPGs, yet it's still quite compelling. You collect "chips" throughout the game, each of which represents a specific attack or defensive move that MegaMan can perform. You can equip 30 of these at a time. Each battle round brings up a window showing five random choices from your equipped chips. You can either choose chips to use or select chips to discard. If you have multiple chips that share the same class, you can equip more than one per round. If you discard them, you will gain twice as many new ones in the next round, but not have any chips to use in the current round. This limits you to your arm cannon, which starts off quite weak, but eventually grows in power as you progress through the game. MegaMan increases his level by finding specific items, such as HP Memory, which raise his maximum hit points (obviously), and PowerUps, which can be used to upgrade any of his three stats: Attack, Rapid, and Charge. At a certain point in the game, MegaMan gains the ability to use "guts" attacks, which are charged up elemental versions of his arm cannon. These attacks are very useful against some of the more difficult enemies.
As for the actual battles, they are quite fun, and very fast-paced. After you've selected your chips for the round, you'll find yourself on a 3x6 grid. You are restricted to your own half of the grid, but you can use chips to steal some of the enemies' space, if you like. You are free to move around your half of the grid and attack as you please, using either chips or your arm cannon. All the while, an active-time bar fills at the top of the screen. When it is full, you are allowed to return to the chip selection screen. Any chips you used will be replaced with new ones from what you've equipped. If you chose to discard some for the round, you will have anywhere from 6-10 chips to choose from. After making your decisions, the next round will begin. Depending on how fast you dispatch your enemies, you'll gain rewards after each battle. If you're really slow, expect a small amount of money, but if you did well, you could earn some pretty powerful chips. It's very addictive, and perfect for playing a few minutes at a time.
MMBN2 is a great looking GBA game. The colors are bright and vivid, the animation is superb, and the backgrounds are well done, if a bit repetitive. The "real-world" segments of the game, in which you control a young boy named Lan, are the highlights, graphically. While the internet world is by no means ugly, it does lack variety. Lan's world is colorful and detailed, and the environments are among the best I've seen in a GBA game. The animation is very good, especially with MegaMan's summon attacks and the boss characters. Overall, MMBN2 is about as good-looking as a GBA game gets.
The story in MMBN2 definitely takes a backseat to the gameplay portion. Yes, it's there, but it doesn't really matter. It deals with mainly with Lan training to become an "Official Net Battler(TM)". Throughout the game, he will deal with many situations in which people are in trouble, and, of course, it's up to him and MegaMan to save the day. The majority of these problems are caused by an entity called "Gospel". The actual identity of Gospel is left unexplained until the end of the game, so it really doesn't seem like a big, bad enemy until then, just an underlying connection to keep the story flowing along. All in all, the story is mediocre, but it doesn't really matter too much in a game like this.
MMBN2 is very easy to control. Everything is very responsive, which is important in a game where your movements determine how much damage you take. You move your character and select things with the D-pad, and the rest of the buttons are used to perform various actions. The menu is easy to navigate and very simple, which is great for a game like this. Overall, the control is excellent and it fits the game perfectly.
MMBN2's music is typical handheld fare, which isn't so bad, but it repeats often, which is very annoying. At first, I thought some of the songs were pretty good, but after the 800th time I heard them, it got old and I turned to volume down. Of course, how many people actually listen to GameBoy music? Basically, I don't think a portable game's music affects the overall experience in any way, but if you're one of the two people who really care about GameBoy music, this isn't exactly the most impressive stuff you're going to find.
Overall, I found MMBN2 to be a highly enjoyable experience. It features a fast-paced and addictive battle system, a fun character development system, and some nice graphics. If you own a GBA and you like RPGs (and if you're reading this, I'm assuming you do), then you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. You won't be disappointed.