You'll love it if:
- You enjoy complex battle mechanics
- You enjoy deck building and optimizing strategy
- You love the Mega Man franchise and the JRPG take on the series
Not for you if:
- You prefer more turn based oriented combat
- You prefer the platformer Metroidvania style of the other games
After the release of the Mega Man X Legacy Collection and Zero Collection, we Battle Network fans were very eagerly awaiting the hopeful release of the Mega Man Battle Network Collection. And let me be the first to tell you, Capcom did not disappoint. At the time of writing this review, Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Edition is available to play on PC, Nintendo Switch, and Play Station 4.
Mega Man Battle Network is a game series that began on the Gameboy Advance in 2001 with annual releases. Until their sixth installment. We will be going through the collection in this review while touching on what the collection brings to the series. The collection will sell itself as a ten-game collection, but similarly to Pokémon, from the third installment onwards the game series has multiple versions of each game.
The entire collection is compiled into two volumes with easy accessibility to jump between the games and play through each in whichever order you wish. Before diving into what this new collection brings to the table, I should explain what the battle network series is.
What is Mega Man Battle Network
For those who are unaware, Mega Man Battle Network is a game series that takes place in an alternative timeline to the original Mega Man games. A timeline where software and The Net was the focus of technological advancement. Society is now connected through the network or the net. Everyone has their own Net Navigator, or a Navi for short.
These Navis are carried within everyone’s Personal Terminals, or PETs. These allow users to explore the net, carry out personal tasks, and do things most modern phones allow. What brings these apart however is that these Navis have personalities and are much more akin to artificial intelligence. These Navis also allow users to plug into the network and explore it like a physical surface and interact with other programs and Navis. This is where we get our main character duo, Lan Hikari, and his personal Navi, Megaman.exe.
The games overall follow a more JRPG-style format and have wonderful story elements that tie the large supporting cast together. But the common theme with the battle network series is, story aside, that the gameplay is the main driver to try out and play the series.
Each game starts with Lan in his home in ACDC town. I just want to add, the naming of characters in this series is amazing. As you play you unlock new areas to explore, often traveling via the metro to distinct locations, but also unlocking new NPCs and shops through your gameplay. What really sets the Battle Network series apart is the merging of two traversable maps.
While you spend much of your time in the real world, you can find many locations scattered through the game where you can “Jack-in.” This is where you take your PET and connect to the Net. By approaching any number of terminals or machinery, you enter the Net and play as Megaman.exe.
The game is not as simple as just hopping between maps. The overworld and the Net are interconnected in such a unique way. Your starting location on the Net is Lan’s own home computer. As you exit the space, you enter the “open world” of the Net. You can traverse the area and connect to other devices connected to the Net as well. For example, you can journey through the net to reach the section of the net that is part of the downtown district. You can find nodes to access machines, computers, and personal servers connected to areas downtown as well. Without the proper address, you will not be able to enter, however.
You can then attempt to find the machine offline in the overworld and try to jack in from that location, or alternatively, gain the address from the NPC who owns the terminal. Suddenly this entry point becomes accessible to you and you can enter the Net from another device, or journey into this device from anywhere else. Instead of having a fast travel system to journey through the Net, you unlock new areas to access it from and can journey to those locations in the overworld, helping you access locations quicker, as well as skipping random encounters.
Speaking of random encounters, the combat in this game is one of the main driving forces behind the Megaman Battle Network series’ popularity. The main reason many fans enjoy the series is the unique combat system. I do not believe there to be any other game to have combat like Mega Man Battle Network, apart from a game called One Step from Eden. But for the most part, Mega Man Battle Network’s Combat system is by far among the most unique and engaging.
Net Battles, combat, takes place on a 6×3 grid where the player controls Megaman on the left half of the grid, and the enemies on the right half of the grid. When the battle begins, you may select chips. These Chips are your abilities or attacks. These include Sword attacks, cannons, grenades, or even support abilities.
These chips come from your folder and are customizable. You can acquire new chips throughout the game. This is essentially a deck builder where you have a folder of 30 chips and you randomly gain five at the start of the battle to use. As you use chips, more get added to your “hand” to access later in the fight.
You can only select one chip at a time to attack, however, you can select multiple chips of the same “code” or same attack. After a certain amount of time has passed the custom bar at the top of the screen fills up and you may access the chip transmission screen again, to add more chips to attack with. The combinations and deck-building versatility are impressive, and if you commit to earning powerful chips or unique combinations, you can make some crazy builds.
After selecting your chips, you get control of Megaman and can move around the grid and activate your chips to launch the attacks. Once a chip is used it gets shuffled back into your folder. You also have access to your Buster canon. It is a basic attack that deals one damage initially but can be upgraded throughout the game to deal more damage and have special attacks.
What makes the combat so engaging is that it is a mix of action gameplay and turn-based gameplay. After you upload your chips, you have free access to control Megaman. Your enemies also have special attacks that can steal away your tiles and limit your mobility and you can steal tiles from their half of the grid as well. Some of your attacks are close range and require you to get close, like your sword attacks, while others throw bombs at designated ranges.
Your enemies can deny you mobility as well with area attacks and destroying your tiles, making it harder to dodge abilities. With enough enemies on the board, the combat turns into a bullet-hell game and it makes it so engaging and fun to play. Once you get good enough you can jump online and engage with other players, and see just how high the skill ceiling can get. You can improve so much and get so precise in this game that there is an actual e-sports circuit and competitions for it where you compete in head-to-head battles.
Mega Man Battle Network: What Does the Collection Get You?
The Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is a wonderfully remastered collection of the game series. Immediately on opening the game volumes, we are met with a beautifully animated rendition of the title character on the main menu voiced by Andrew Francis. The Navi interacts with you when taking actions and selecting things on the menu, even commenting when you take a screenshot.
You get access to all 10 games across two volumes. Games 1-3 on volume one and 4-6 on volume two. This may not seem like 10 unique games because, from three onwards, there are two variations per game, similar to how Pokémon has multiple versions per generation. Additionally, for those who like customizability, you can customize the color scheme and borders of the menu and the game. This is just a nice little aesthetic addition to the game.
In terms of gameplay, the first major addition is the inclusion of “Buster Max” mode. This toggleable mode multiplies your Buster Canon damage by 100. One feature of Mega Man Battle Network that shows its age is the massive amounts of random encounters you can face. While not a turn-off for me, some people may find it tedious. While in the later installments of the series, I quite enjoyed the in-depth combat and additional features, I found myself slogging through sections in the first two games. I ended up using Buster Max to quickly pass through levels and turned it off for boss fights, major events, and challenge areas.
This feature was a godsend because my one gripe with the game is that over time the random encounters begin to get quite tedious. Once I really understood the mechanics, the battles went from a fun challenge to a chore. The Buster Max mode really helped me get to the boss fights and challenge battles, where the game really shines.
The next major feature is the ability to access all the “Patch” chips and download them if you wish. These were physical chips obtainable in Japan, and they each have unique features and rewards for installation. Now you have the option to get these rewards at your leisure.
Lastly, Mega Man Battle Network adds online compatibility to trade battle chips as well as duel other players. The PVP aspect of this game cannot be understated. The combat is fast-paced and very intense and features its own ranked ladder. One of the best content for the series is watching high-level Net Battles between professional players.
Mega Man Battle Network: Is It Worth It?
The full collection of the game is such great value for what you are paying. You are getting a beautiful remaster of all versions of each installment of the series for 60 euros. Each game can be played for 40+ hours, getting over 400+ hours of gameplay for such a good price. Additionally, the added online matchmaking leads to so much replayability and builds customizability. For long-time fans of the series, it is a definite recommendation. The unique combat system is definitely worth a try and I feel this game will make a wonderful addition to any collection. This review was written using a review copy and I really want to thank Capcom for allowing me the opportunity to play and write about the experience. If this has at all piqued your interest I implore you to check out Megaman Battle Network Legacy Collection and try it for yourself, you will not regret it.