Megaman, battle routine set! Execute!

Also available in Blue flavor.

Something about the Megaman Battle Network series has kept me playing it on and off for the better part of 8 years now. Granted, after the third game the series turned to complete and total garbage, but the second and third games have been played to completion by me numerous times. I can't put my finger on exactly why. Maybe it's the atmosphere of the games: one in which virtually everything is connected to the Net in one way or another and can be jacked into and explored. Maybe it's the "gotta catch em all!" chip-collecting aspect-- although it'd be odd if it was... I normally despise tedious activities like that in my video games. Honestly I think most of the appeal comes from a few simple qualities the games possess.

  • You can save anywhere, anytime.
  • They're easy to pick up and play on a whim.
  • They aren't too awful difficult.
  • You can get as little or as much depth out of them as you please.

Being able to save anywhere, anytime may seem like a silly high point for a game. But it's nice-- especially in an RPG-- to be able to play without worrying about locating save points if something comes up that requires your attention. Or if your battery is dying and you don't have your charger handy. Save points are one of my pet peeves in gaming in general. I only make exceptions in rare situations, such as older consoles. Let's face it, Enix and Square had no clue what they were doing when they were making Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy. If they did, the thief wouldn't have been completely useless in Final Fantasy. Hell, by the sixth installment of that series, Square still couldn't program things like magic blocking and evasion properly. And don't even get me started on the Relm sketch bug.

But yes, saving whenever I want is good, and goes hand in hand with the game being easy to pick up and play on a whim. The plot isn't too involved, which isn't necessarily a bad thing-- it basically serves as an excuse for you to run around, jack into every piece of electronic equipment in the world, pillage data and money, and battle other folks. Oh, and spoilers, Dr. Wily is the bad guy. Like you didn't see that one coming.

If you've ever played an action game before and been somewhat decent at it, the battle system isn't overwhelming. It can take some getting used to, but putting together a decent folder really doesn't take much thought. You can beat most of the game just using your mega buster, anyway. It'd take a long time, but it's possible. In fact, the hardest part of the games is sometimes just remembering how to navigate the various areas on the Net, especially toward the end of the game. A lot of the areas start to look the same, and some of them aren't visited all that often. Their labyrinthine nature doesn't help matters at all, either. I can get from Lan's PC to just about anywhere in the ACDC area without thinking, but beyond that I usually have to wander aimlessly for a few minutes to figure out where I'm going. Of course, that could just be me. Who knows?

On my current play through I'm not really going out of my way to get a ton of extra or rare battle chips. I'm just enjoying the scenery, blasting my way through battles, doing some side quests when I feel like it... just kind of making things up as I go. I remember when I was playing the game for reviewing purposes, I got sucked in big time. I was a chip collecting fiend, I had to S rank every boss, had to collect a ton of bug frags... but not now. I've seen most of what the game has to offer. I just want to play it and enjoy it without using my brain too awful much. And so far it's been fun.

I picked this one up used at Gamestop for less than $10. It was worth the $40 I paid for it when it originally came out, and it's definitely worth a ten spot now. In my opinion it was the high point of the MMBN series, which is unfortunate. That's not to say it's a bad game, because it most definitely isn't. It just seems like Capcom sort of gave up after this installment. The first game was a new concept with a lot of rough ideas that were smoothed out when the second chapter was made. The third one refines these ideas and streamlines them further... and after that, Capcom became focused more on gimmicks than actually building on the story and atmosphere of the previous games.

I never really thought about it before writing this, but the series is very similar in quality to its NES cousin. The first game had some good ideas but was just kind of thrown together; the second game streamlines them a bit and removes unnecessary elements; the third game serves as the pinnacle, where things are fresh and familiar at the same time while introducing some minor enhancements and still being tons of fun; the fourth game throws in some new ideas that don't really help things at all; the fifth game discards those ideas for even worse ones, and the formula wears noticeably thin; the sixth game is more of the same and goes unnoticed.

I know most people disagree with Megaman 3 being the pinnacle of the NES series (choosing the second installment), and that's fine. I disagree, and I think it creates an interesting (and disappointing) parallel between the two series.

The Verdict

Five dopey-looking mettaurs out of five

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