MegaMan: Battle Network
MegaMan: Battle Network, known as Rockman.EXE in Japan, is an spin-off RPG in the Mega Man franchise, and the start of a whole spin-off series.
Lord Wily and his evil organization, the WWW, cause trouble around town, with the ultimate plan to attack cybernetic technology and the society that depends on it as a whole, and it's up to Lan Hikari and MegaMan.EXE to save their friends and the world.
Why It Rocks
- Fun card-like RPG gameplay featuring a wide variety of BattleChips for varied, diverse options when it comes to attack styles. It also plays with action elements as opposed to being strictly turn-based, with both sides having a 3x3 playing area that can be used to launch attacks and avoid attack
- The story, while suffering a few issues in terms of tone, is overall decent.
- On that note, the game has a wide cast of colorful and unique characters, and though some of them are admittedly underdeveloped, others are given better character development.
- The protagonists, Lan and MegaMan, are relatable and have interesting chemistry with each other.
- In addition, the big bad, Lord Wily, is a formidable opponent who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals and exact his revenge. Even his defeat in this game doesn't stop him for good, as he continues to be a recurring villain throughout the series. He truly lives up to being a counterpart to Dr. Wily from the classic series.
- This game has many cool references to the classic series mainly, but also have references to other series in this franchise. Most of the Navis here are inspired from Robot Masters in the classic series.
- Impressive spritework for both the overworld and the battles.
- The music in this game is a real set of bops, and meshes quite well with the graphics, leading to solid presentation overall.
- The merger between the real world and the cyberworld was a neat idea, with a not-bad execution, and it delved into the IoT well before that became a widely discussed topic.
- In addition, different locales, in the real world or in the cyberworld, look unique and have their own unique flair to them.
- This game's minor enemies, known as viruses, have creative designs and attack patterns, with some of them referencing minor enemies from the classic series, though some of them can be basic. In addition, the player has an incentive to bust them beyond money and experience, as each virus can give BattleChips or money.
- The overworld puzzles in the "stages" are not difficult for the most part, but they are fun (at least for the most part).
- Due to the way this game handles virus busting, things don't feel too grindy, though the random encounter nature of viruses means that some chips might take a while to find, and finding the right chips is crucial to being able to deal with tougher and tougher battles.
- This game also handles upgrading MegaMan in an interesting manner. You have to either find or buy things called HPMemory upgrades to boost MegaMan's HP, and PowerUp upgrades to improve his default buster.
- This game uses these, as well as money and BattleChips in certain areas, to encourage exploration, and it was handled decently.
- Bosses can be found randomly in the overworld at certain points to be rebattled after being originally defeated, and these rematches are more challenging versions of the original battles. Beating these rematches can give chips relating to the respective bosses. Friendly operators can rematch you at certain points in the story by talking to them, while enemy Navis have to be found in the cyberworld.
- Program Advance attacks can be achieved by combining certain chips, which encourages the player to try different chip combinations to see if they can create a whole new option to deploy in battle.
- This game has a secret post-game area filled with unique challenges and three post-game bosses available after defeating the final boss for the first time.
- This game offers the ability to trade chips and battle with other players using a link cable.
- It spawned the Mega Man NT Warrior series of anime, which takes these characters and ideas and takes them in an awesome new direction. The anime goes with the cartoonish vibe of this game and runs with it.
- The story can come off as overly childish and cartoonish in some instances, but has surprisingly dark scenarios that don't mesh too well with the cartoonish style. While it does not delve too deeply in these dark themes, it certainly fails to handle them tactfully.
- In one scenario, an arsonist is pretending to be a repairman to modify ovens to cause fires, all to steal sensitive data.
- In another scenario, a different villain literally takes a school hostage and attempts to indoctrinate the students to join the big evil organization of the game. After the heroes defeat him and his navi, and a scolding later, he abandons the villains and joins the protagonists to become a recurring protagonist himself throughout the series.
- In yet another scenario, a different villain takes a kid hostage and forces his father to cut water to an entire city. After this plan is foiled by the heroes, she then goes on to hijack the city's automated traffic system, causing countless fatal crashes. Thankfully, this plan is foiled as well, though not before causing several crashes and mass panic.
- On that note, a worldbuilding gripe: With how easy it is for literally anyone to literally enter and interfere with any electronic device at all, there are barely any security measures at all to keep dangerous incidents from occurring everywhere.
- In addition, some characters are underdeveloped and feel like they were just inserted into the game without much thought.
- Fighting NetNavis (this game's equivalent of bosses) can feel like glorified viruses with their limited attack patterns, despite most of them being operated by humans who supposedly have a wide variety of their own BattleChips. Even the final boss and secret bosses suffer from this. This does not necessarily make them easy, but it does make them far more simplistic than they should be.
- While MagicMan does have a mildly more interesting fight, he does so by summoning random viruses and otherwise launching a single attack while not even moving.
- MegaMan's HP stat of 100 may be good for the beginning of the game, and the player is likely to come across a few HPMemory upgrades while playing the game normally, the default buster is severaly underpowered without upgrades. It can't even charge unless you put a PowerUp in the Charge section. It takes a lot of powering up to make the buster useful at any point in the game compared to BattleChips.
- The post-game area is neat, but there is no indication aside from random exploration or prior knowledge that there is any post-game content at all.