Mega Man Battle Network is a spin-off of the popular series for the Game Boy Advance. In this universe, set in a somewhat futuristic setting of ACDC Town, everything is run by the Internet. People have NetNavis that help them in day-to-day activities. The hero, Lan, has a NetNavi called Mega Man Exe. As a young student, Lan is swept into the illegal dealings of the WWW; an organization that wants to take over the world with various virus based terrorist attacks. From locking up schools to stopping the water supply, there’s no limit to their chaos. The story is cliché, shallow, and preys on the idolization of Saturday morning cartoon shows, but without the charm.
The gameplay takes a turn for the series, implementing a grid based RPG battle system. When Lan jacks in to ports, players will take control of Mega Man Exe. Wandering around the net causing random battles. Exe can move around the grid, shoot enemies with his buster, as well as use items by building up a special meter. The battles are innovative, fun, and are a great excise in using smart tactics. Unfortunately, it gets repetitive quickly thanks in part to the extremely frustrating rate of random encounters. It’s a new school battle system tacked on to a tired trope.
For a GBA game, MMBN looks pretty decent. The game has an interesting color scheme as well as a cool, anime themed character design. To bring up the story again, the plot and dialogue also mirrors that of anime albeit a terrible one: bland, soulless, cringe worthy. The environments also lack any depth of feel to them making it an RPG held back by a lot of what makes RPG fun. The music, infused with rock and electronic beats, is pretty decent, though it can’t hold a candle to its NES brother.
Mega Man Battle Network was an interesting take on the franchise. Imagining Mega Man as Neo from the Matrix sounds cool, but the execution just wasn’t there. Perhaps if the design and story were better and if there weren’t so many random encounters and backtracking issues, it’d be good. A great, yet flawed experiment. If ever Mega Man gets revived hopefully it’ll be as a better RPG than this one.
Score: 2/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on July 30, 2013 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.