Friday, September 30, 2011

Rockman EXE WS

A Game Even A Series Fanatic Won't Go For...

In the year 2003, Nintendo's Gameboy Advance dominates the handheld market hands down. While there have been many competitors over the years, amazingly none have ever managed to crack the ''shell'' of mainstream success. With games like Rockman EXE WS however, it's quite easy to understand why...

Before I begin, I would like to establish a few facts about myself:
1. I am *obsessed* with the Rockman series. Regardless of how similar the games are or how unoriginal they keep getting, I am nonetheless in love with the franchise. I don't know what it is, but there is a certain charm to the games that (I feel at least) no company has ever been able to reproduce.
2. In truth, I own just about every Rockman game made, as well as own many toys, guides, books, videos, etc.
The original news surrounding this title detailed it to be nothing more than a port of the original Gameboy Advance ''Battle Network Rockman.EXE'' which Capcom released a few years ago. Eventually however, it became known that this Wonderswan title was actually an entirely new game, and a side scrolling one at that. While I will admit that I love the Rockman.EXE series to no end (mostly for it's hybrid Action/RPG elements) the fact that I could play a side scrolling game in the EXE universe truly got me salivating. Naturally I pre ordered the game and got it the day it came out. Unfortunately, the excitement ended then; i.e. after the game arrived. For you see, Rockman EXE WS is truly one of the worst games I've ever played before, and I mean that introspective of ALL games, not just those in the Rockman series. Opening the box with much anticipation, I quickly read through the manual (I know Japanese BTW) and threw the game into my Swan Crystal (as opposed to the two Wonderswan Colors I have lying around from those Final Fantasy I and II special edition sets) and turned on the power. The first thing I notice is a refrence to the Japanese Rockman EXE anime series (in terms of copyright) and I began to have doubts. Then the title screen comes on and I don't hear the familiar Rockman.EXE title screen music...Once the game starts up I've just about given up all hope, and indeed such was not without need. I'm not sure what it is that makes Rockman EXE WS so bad, as there is essentially no end to what could make it GOOD. In truth however, the game is arguably *worse* than the horrid Rockman and Forte ''port'' that Bandai released years ago for the original WonderSwan (i.e. the black and white machine). While the graphics are for the most part excellent (although by no means are they anything amazing), they really don't have much of a chance to shine in the first place since every stage consists of 8 or so screens, none of which scroll when you reach the ''edge''. It's quite annoying, as it's like the game has to ''load'' up each new area for you. The most glaring problem with this game however, is the control. Because this is the EXE world and not the Rockman or Rockman X worlds, battle chips come into play. Netto (the main character; Rockman.EXE is his net navi...see the GBA games for help if you've confused) sends data chips to Rockman and you (the player) must map them to one of the four ''Y'' buttons on the Wonderswan Color/Crystal. This is a disaster in and of itself, how Bandai ever thought that one could manuever swiftly while at the same time reaching for the Y button series is beyond me. You can literally die in a boss fight simply because you're trying to use a battle chip and had to move your thumb off the X button series (thereby essentially having Rockman stand in place). And using the battle chips are hardly an easy task. Given the difficulty involved with actually reaching to use them, it's TRULY a rare event to have the hopeful recipient of said chip still in the same place once you execute the maneuver. Just TRY and use a Big Cannon chip while in the air. You'll have landed before your hand can even reach the correct button.

There are some good ideas in the game however, thus all is not lost. Chips will randomly fall from defeated enemies. All the chips are found in the normal Rockman.EXE series, as are the enemies, thus there is a feeling of familiarity. Sadly the number of enemies isn't anything to write home about, however it's better than nothing. Additionally, each stage has a junction in it that leads to a completely different area. Take the high road (which I constantly view as the ''easy'' path) and you'll be pitted against one boss Navi at the end of it, however take the low road (which I constantly view as the ''hard'' path) and you'll be pitted against a completely different boss Navi at the end. While this itself is a great idea, sadly the ''branching'' parts of the stage rarely differ from one another, thus you essentially only get a different boss fight. This would be quite cool if you actually could gain the bosses' powers, but you don't. Another redeeming feature is the ability to ''collect'' the various Style changes present in Rockman.EXE 2 and 3. In all, there are 5 different ones to ''find'' in Rockman EXE WS and while they truly don't alter the game in any noticeable way, it's still gives the title an air of reliability (as do the aforementioned branching stages). Sadly I must now go back to the bad a move that is beyond questionable, Bandai for whatever reason prohibits you from dying more than 9 times. That's right, die more than that and it's game over. While this may sound like more than enough chances for some players, the game is FAR more difficult than it should be. I can't even count the amount of times I've died trying to make a simple jump because the control isn't precise, or because a projectile had hit me in mid air. Additionally because monsters don't drop any kind of healing items (only healing chips), you must go through the entire stage without healing unless you want to waste one of your valuable chips which are almost vital to surviving the boss encounters. While the 9 continues replenish after you finish the given stage, the cheap shots and hit detection usually means playing through any given stage takes more than just the given number of attempts. Another large problem I have is that the game is too linear. As with Bandai's ''.Hack'' for the Playstation 2, there is no ''real world'' to explore, only the navi's world (in this case only Rockman.EXE's stages). Thus any conversing with Netto is done in extremely short cut scenes as opposed to having him walk around town and find out new schemes and such. Thus, you essentially go from one stage to the next, without even being able to select the next area or such. I would have liked the game much more had it retained the format of the Gameboy Advance titles, simply with side scrolling levels once you uplink Rockman.EXE to the internet.

Personally, I don’t care much for the plot of Rockman.EXE WS. It seems to borrow too heavily from what Capcom already established (heck, it uses the same boss navi and user characters). I have yet to see the Rockman.EXE anime of which this game is based on however, thus I can not comment further. I apologize if this review is a bit jumbled together, but alas it's no more so than the game itself is. Rockman EXE WS tries to be a bit of everything, but in the end just goes to remind the unwitting consumer that Bandai can never hope to recreate the magic that Capcom brings to the series. While I should be concerned that the upcoming Rockman EXE for the Nintendo Gamecube will be a recreation of this poor title, the mere fact that Capcom is actually the one creating it sets my mind at ease.
 I couldn't fint the commercial clip ( i don't even know if it exist) but whatever, here is a walkthrough clip

SYSTEM: Wonder Swan Color



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