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It Had To Happen Eventually
Without a doubt, the excellent battle system is the best part of MBN. Battles combine both action and tactical RPG elements surprisingly well. Megaman and his enemies each have a 3x3 grid that they can move across freely in real time. There are exceptions to this as land can be "stolen," cracks can be made which eventually break off, or land can be broken off entirely. In addition to the standard blaster, Megaman can download special abilities from the main folder. Each ability has a specific range and area of effect. These allow him to perform special attacks such as creating blocks, using a sword, and summoning. Every turn, he can download more of these based on their type and code letter. If needed, Lan can also try to gather more for download at the cost of an itemless turn. A good deal of strategy is needed to make an incredibly effective folder and unleash combos such as a special ABC cannon. Once Megaman's blaster has been upgraded enough, he can begin to charge it for powerful blasts. What makes battles even better is the fact that players are rewarded for winning battles quickly and with as little damage as possible. This makes even random battles fairly enjoyable.
Difficulty increases a lot over the course of the game from the slow moving enemies early on to the powerful teleporting enemies later on. Nevertheless, this increase is very gradual and, thanks to plenty of upgrades, things never become too difficult as long as the player doesn't miss a vital armor upgrade. Generally, the player will likely be more concerned with getting a high rank than with being defeated.
MBN's play control is a little sluggish, but is generally quite good. The primary exception to this is when a turn begins and though it is easy for enemies to use special abilities on him, it is very difficult for Megaman to do special attacks or much of anything for a few moments. The menu interfaces are quite good though, especially the main folder which can be sorted in virtually any way desired. The localization is a little off at times and some people's speech patterns don't translate very well. It isn't major, but it's still noticeable.
Most of the characters found in MBN come right out of previous Megaman games. The story itself isn't too original either. However, the battle system is incredibly original as it combines action and tactical RPG elements and does so effectively. Sadly, that alone isn't enough to make up for the lack of originality in the rest of the game, but it helps.
MBN's story is very simplistic. There are a number of viruses that attack some part of the city and the Megaman/Lan duo try to save the day from whatever robot enemy is next. There is usually a lot of running from point A to point B to point A to point C and back to point A or something similar which gets in the way of plot progression and is rather tedious. The story is there seemingly to give the player a break from netbattling rather than to serve any other real purpose. There is very little character development to be found either. Despite lacking in many areas, the story does a good job of linking each level together.
MBN's music is good, but it gets repetitive quickly, especially the Internet track and the regular battle track. The boss themes are catchy though and help make up for this. Most dungeons have their own background music as well which is a nice touch. The sound effects aren't anything special, but they fit their role well.
Each sprite is detailed, especially those found in battle. Each sprite even has a small range of animations which, although not incredibly impressive, is still a nice touch. There are plenty of enemy palette swaps to be found which is never a good sign, but it's not too bad. The best part about MBN's visuals is the large supply of artwork that appears on each chip. Each scene is detailed and demonstrates the ability it holds beautifully. Another added bonus is character portraits which are always nice.
Megaman Battle Network is a good game, but it lacks story. The battle system and its ties to the Megaman world are the real reasons to play this game. It does a good job of making the transition to RPG and shows a good amount of growth potential. I recommend this as a good choice for Megaman fans.
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