Mega Man: Battle Network is not the side-scrolling game that fans have grown up with, but rather an isometric, role-playing adventure game. For those cringing at this evolution, don’t despair–with an amazing real-time battle system, this game should appease even die-hard platform-shooter fans.
In the near future, the Net is connected to virtually everything–from computers to office water coolers. An evil group is bent on dominating the world by corrupting the Net with viruses. You play as Lan, a young hacker, who must stop this threat with the help of his virus-busting program (and best friend) Mega Man.exe.
Lan can walk up to just about any object and either use it or get some interesting (and often funny) information about it. In fact, this kind of exploration is necessary, because there are Net jacks in the strangest places–even a doghouse. And while Mega Man.exe is deployed fighting viruses on the Net, you often have to go out and collect clues in the real world. This teamwork adds some refreshing complexity to the game.
Fans of Pokémon will like the battle chip system. Finding chips and upgrading Mega Man.exe is the name of the game, enabling the program to unleash more powerful attacks. Battle chips can be sold, traded, and combined into rarer, more powerful chips. In addition, you can link up with a friend and trade chips, or battle for them.
The game’s best element, however, is its battle system. Battles occur in real time, with fast arcade action. Mega Man.exe can lob bombs, shoot his hallmark cannon, summon other virus-busting programs to his aid, and more–depending on which of the 175 battle chips you find and deploy in battle.
Mega Man: Battle Network is a solid performer, but its story is geared to a younger crowd. Still, there’s plenty here to satisfy fans of the series. –Bryan Karsh