Mega Man Battle Network was a 2001 tactical role-playing game by Capcom for the Game Boy Advance. I got to try this game out but never got to play much of it until now. Nintendo sells many old games on the Wii U’s Virtual Console. I’ve been using it to catch-up on good games of years past. The Mega Man series has a storied history. The first games were big hits on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Capcom followed their success with modern releases for each new console. Mega Man games are known by players to be very hard platforming games. I found Nintendo platformers like Super Mario Bros. hard enough, so I mostly avoided Mega Man. Mega Man Battle Network was a very different game though.
Instead of being a platformer, Mega Man Battle Network was a role-playing game, featuring a unique, tactical battle system. I liked most role-playing games, so this game was in my ballpark. It was much easier overall than a typical Mega Man game, but it still could be hard. In particular, I found the random battles could be taxing. Sometimes I needed to travel a long ways to further the story but had to face battles all along the way. Mega Man had a limited amount of health. If I didn’t play well, the character could end up dying before he got healing. Luckily, I was playing the game on the Wii U, which had the option to save anywhere at any time. Anytime there was a risk, I’d save the game beforehand. I could easily restart just that portion of the game if Mega Man died.
The battle system was a cool hybrid of turn-based and real-time gameplay. There were little tiles on the ground that Mega Man could move into in real-time to avoid attacks or position himself for his own attacks. Like a Japanese role-playing game, Mega Man got access to special abilities each turn. After using his abilities for the turn, I had to avoid attacks until his next turn. Both the enemy and Mega Man’s attacks affected different numbers of tiles and with different patterns. It was a lot of fun to become efficient at this battle mini-game.
The rest of the game was played in typical role-playing fashion, exploring new areas, talking to various people, and completing quests. I liked that Mega Man Battle Network took place in a high tech world. It’s even more amazing to think that some of that futuristic technology is now a reality. In the game, people in the real world all carried a Personal Terminal that connected them to the internet anywhere in the world. That is now possible with smartphones and high-speed wireless networks.
Inside the virtual world of Mega Man Battle Network, people took the form of a NetNavi, their “avatar” in the virtual internet world. NetNavis could be attacked by other NetNavis, but most of the time, they had to worry about viruses. If destroyed, their data was erased. They ceased to exist. The human controlling them was still alive but would have to buy a new NetNavi from a company to regain access to the internet. This is a Mega Man game, so the main character’s NetNavi was MegaMan.EXE. Because he was the hero, it was a game over if he was destroyed.
I really liked the whole fantasy of the game. The story wasn’t all that interesting, but the world definitely was. In the game’s real world, the player could only explore a small area, but the internet world had a lot to explore. I had a lot of fun exploring everything. Combined with the uniqueness of the battle system, Mega Man Battle Network was a very good game. I was impressed. The game wasn’t the most polished I had played, but it was very entertaining and worth every penny. For many years, I have been moving towards playing more classic games and fewer “modern” games. I think I will have fun with the cheap games on Virtual Console for years to come. I am pretty casual game player these days, so each one will last a while.