Friday, September 30, 2011

Megaman Network Transmission

The best of both worlds.
Capcom gave us the original Mega Man for the NES. It was a difficult side scrolling title where the main character, a robot, attacked enemies with only a buster on his arm. Capcom looked upon their creation, and it was good. About a decade later, Capcom gave us Mega Man Battle Network for the GBA. It was an RPG type game featuring two separate worlds with two main characters, a net battler that used battle chips and a robot that attacked enemies with tons of attacks, including a buster on his arm. Capcom looked upon their creation, and it was good. Now imagine, if you will, that the original Mega Man for the NES and Mega Man Battle Network for the GBA were spliced together. Capcom transformed this idea into a reality, and gave us a little of both worlds. Not only does Mega Man use his buster to attack enemies in difficult side scrolling levels, but now he also uses battle chips featuring over 100 attacks. Capcom looked upon their creation, and it was *drools* excuse me for a minute… *drools*

GAMEPLAY: Those who have played any form of Mega Man other than the Battle Network series will recognize fun side scrolling gameplay. As Mega Man, you shoot your enemies, and they eventually drop health power-ups. Staples of Mega Man gameplay are found here as well, such as disappearing ice blocks in the waterworks and the dangerous laser beams at the bank. Popular stages are here such as a zero gravity level, a plant level, and a pyramid level. Also, the enemies are easily recognizable to Mega Man veterans such as those penguin enemies in the ice level. The difficult gameplay is unmatched my many other sidescrollers. Of course, if it were just that, then it would be an ordinary Mega Man game. You’re probably asking where Battle Network fits into all this. Well, although the random battles and 3x6 grid battles have been removed, the chip system remains. The main human character Lan, from the Battle Network series, sends you battle chips which you can use as a strong substitute for your buster. Chips like Cannon, Ratton, and Roll make returns in this game. You get more chips by killing enemies quickly and/or buying them. As I said earlier, you aren’t limited to the 3x6 grid anymore in Network Transmission. Rather, the enemies are wholly present, and you just use the chips during side scrolling. Think of it as a real-time Mega Man Battle Network. Using chips is somewhat different as well. Although, Lan still does give you 5 chips each time the custom gauge on the top of the screen fills (it takes longer than usual in this game), there are no codes on the chips. Those who have played the Battle Network games will remember the codes on the chips that prevented you from sending two different chips on the same turn if they didn’t have the same code. Since the codes are gone, you can send as many of the chips you are given to Mega Man at once. What’s more, if you collect doubles or triples and so on of any chip, then you can use an attack as many times as you have chips. For example, let’s say you have 20 Cannon chips. You can use the Cannon attack 20 times. Of course, eventually the chip amount will reach its limit, but until then, you’ll want to collect as many of the same chip as possible.

Another difference with the chip system is the addition of MP. Yeah, you don’t get off that easy. The more powerful battle chips use up tons of MP. This addition pretty much makes up for the fact that there aren’t any codes on the chips. In fact, if you ask me, they make the gameplay even harder. Don’t fret about this too much though, MP is returned pretty quickly. A final change (or removal, for that matter) is that Mega Man doesn’t develop his own style based on your gameplay. However, this game takes place before Mega Man Battle Network 2, when styles were introduced, so you can’t really blame them. Other than these minor changes, the MegaMan.exe you’ve come to know and love is the same as ever. You still power him up with HP memory and Power-Ups that raise the Attack strength, speed, and charge of his buster. You also pick up special chips and zenny (money) through little diamond bits of data. So, yeah, it’s still Battle Network in a way. Granted, as much fun as it is playing as Mega Man, control as Lan is very limited. In fact, you have virtually no control at all. All he does in the real world is walk around in his room while you customize your chip folders or choose the next stage. Battle Network veterans will miss the puzzles Lan had to solve in the real world. However, it isn’t that big of a loss, as we all came to play Mega Man, not Lan’s Adventure. Also, since Lan doesn’t really need to jack in anywhere unless there’s a problem, you won’t have that much choices of places to go until you progress through a story. This is a change from the original Mega Man where they allowed you to go through pretty much any stage whenever you wanted.

Aside from the actual stages, you’ll get a kick from customizing your chip folders to use the chips that suit your gameplay. Whether you’re a shoot with a cannon from afar person or an up close and personal sword type of guy, you will enjoy the diversity of chips presented. Program advances found by using different combinations of chips enhance your gameplay by providing you with a chance to search out these strong program advances and use it as a large power-up in battle. Finally, the last thing I want to mention are the bosses, or Navis. They are tough little <censored>. However, they are truly some of the best bosses in a side scrolling game. They’re what bosses need to be, big, tough, and ruthless. You can even fight Navis again after you beat them the first time using the special net battle simulator. By beating them as quickly as you can, you can take a Navi chip from them and summon them during battle. The bosses are familiar and include Gutsman, Iceman, and of course, Protoman. Also, as you near the end of this long game, you encounter some of the coolest bosses. Overall, this 20 something hour game will keep you entertained throughout the whole way with its difficult gameplay, stages, and bosses. Taking the best elements from two worlds of Mega Man games, Mega Man Network Transmission is truly one of the best Mega Man games out there.

GRAPHICS: The graphics are cel-shaded, but it looks cool and makes the entire environment appear 3D although it is really 2D. The Navis and Mega Man look surprisingly great in cel-shading. Don’t doubt a cel-shaded game’s cartoonly looks. The stages are pretty as well with amazing backgrounds, and eye-popping foregrounds. This is the most beautiful Mega Man sidescroller that I have ever played.

STORY: Well, since most Mega Man stories are pretty weak, a story from Mega Man Battle Network is used. Taking place after the events in Mega Man Battle Network, but before the events in Mega Man Battle Network 2, the story sort of acts like a what if story for the Battle Network series. Basically, the Zero virus attacks certain Navis and causes those Navis to make electronics in the real world to go haywire putting Lan’s friends and family in danger. In fact, Mega Man is eventually infected by the Zero virus as well. Lan and Mega Man must put a stop to the Zero virus before it’s too late. The story features the same characters from the Battle Network series, but the story itself is mildly interesting compared to the other Battle Network games.

SOUND: Much music is from either the Mega Man games or the Battle Network games. Veterans of either will quickly recognize some tunes. The music matches with the stage and is pretty good.  The sound is diverse and every enemy makes a different sound. What really stands out about the sound is the voice acting that was used. While no voice acting was really required, people were hoping that dub voices from the recent anime would be used. Well, the voice acting from the recent anime is used, but it’s the Japanese voices. It really doesn’t matter. Though I find it really cute that Mega Man sounds like a little kid, it’s just not him.

REPLAYABLE: Those who want to collect the chips can do so again, but it seems like there aren’t as many chips this time. Upon collecting all of them, well you’ll have to find that part out. Still, you can search for hidden power-ups throughout the large stages if you want. Even if you don’t want to look for the power-ups and such, it’s just really fun and old-school to just play the levels because you feel like.

OVERALL: Those who like classic Mega Man side scrolling gameplay may be turned off by the Battle Network elements. Likewise, those who have only played Battle Network games may be turned off by the side scrolling elements. They may want to at least consider renting this. However, for those of you who like both types of games, you’re in for a real treat if you buy this game. You won’t regret purchasing such a great title from Capcom. Let’s hope for another game like this!

SYSTEM: Game Cube



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