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Megaman Battle Network 2 - Review

Bred from Capcom's usual sequel formula
By: Phillipe Richer

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 9
   Interface 8
   Music & Sound 4
   Originality 8
   Story & Plot 3
   Localization 7
   Replay Value 2
   Visuals 8
   Difficulty Hard
   Completion Time 25-30 Hours  
Overall
6

An electric Frisbee can cause some major damage.
An electric Frisbee can cause some major damage.
Mega Man Battle Network 2

   Less than eight months after the first game in this spin-off series was released, Megaman Battle Network 2 rode into stores and gamers' GBA's. The first game turned out to be quite a surprise in terms of gameplay and overall quality: two aspects which the sequel intended to push slightly further. However, as is customary with Capcom, the second Megaman Man Battle Network game proposes only the bare minimum in terms of improvement to warrant its purchase. While it does provide an enjoyable diversion, MMBN2 is simply much too reminiscent to its predecessor to be considered a great game.

   Three months have passed since the evil WWW group threatened to annihilate both the real world and the cyber-world. People expected that calm would last for a while, but already a new threat has risen: the Net Mafia Gospel. Now that school has ended, Lan and Megaman have all the time they need to rise among the ranks of the Net Battler Guild, fighting hard to ensure the safety of all citizens. The Net is an immense and dangerous place, but only by uncovering its darkest secrets will Lan and Megaman succeed in their quest.

   The battle system in MMBN2, as well as the gameplay in general, is extremely similar to what was seen in the first game. Lan can wander around the real world, looking for people to talk to and places to jack into, while Megaman gets busy in the digital world, the only place where battles occur. Basically, you can move Megaman at will around your section of the 3 x 6 grid while shooting enemies using your trusty buster cannon. Every ten seconds, you get another opportunity to utilize a few of your 30 battle chips. The battles are very fun and always diversified. There are a couple of upgrades here and there, but you'll quickly feel like you are essentially just playing MMBN all over again.

   As for the changes in the gameplay department, the major ones would be the fact that Megaman does not heal to full health after each battle and the increase in total battle chips from 175 to 250. You can now purchase sub-chips, which are simply items to be used on the field to heal Megaman or unlock certain data. In battle, the maximum number of chips available has been reduced from 15 to 10, while the method of adding new chips has changed slightly. Megaman will acquire different styles, such as HeatGuts or AquaShield, which have various specialties and weaknesses. This is a good addition since it completely changes your fighting mentality depending on what style Megaman is employing, but personally I have never been able to get away from the overpowering nature of the HeatGuts style once I acquired it. Also noteworthy is the ability to escape from any battle without using an "escape" chip.


You're all aiming the wrong way!
You're all aiming the wrong way!

   The Net also sports a couple of new features in this sequel. It is now possible to explore the Net areas of several cities, which in turn makes the Net much bigger. A fun part of the cyber-world are the various Net Squares where you can purchase items, talk to people, and read messages from the BBS (message boards) to obtain hints and tips from other fictional people. The controls are almost exactly the same as the first game. Wandering around with either Lan or Megaman is easy, battle commands are very simply to master, and your battle chips can be sorted easily. It's all very easy to get used to.

   Much akin to the first game, the sound department does not exhibit anything particularly exciting. The music is of a very low-quality, while the tunes themselves are very redundant and forgettable. There isn't much to delight your ears here, so don't worry about missing out on something if you ever have to turn the sound off. Again, the battles steal the show with help from the great array of different sound effects accompanying every enemy and battle chips. The sound sampling job is notable. Outside of battles, sound effects are almost totally non-existent.

   In its grand scheme, the story is almost a total replica of the first game. A group of terrorists are disturbing the world and the Net and you have to stop them. However, in the smaller scope of things, Lan's actions will be very different this time around. Lan will now strive to become a stronger Net Battler in order to "officially" eliminate this new menace, while the locations you will be exploring are completely different from the first game, as are most of the people you will encounter. Nevertheless, the story is not very appealing, though the various little missions are somewhat enjoyable.

   Much like in the first game, the localization has received ample attention from Capcom. Dialogues are usually very simplistic as they appear to be aimed to the younger audiences. The tone is very casual, and the amount of colloquialism from certain characters fits the bill surprisingly well. In the BBS, the sentences are kept very short to facilitate your perusal. It's short and sweet.


Getting some fresh air is important.
Getting some fresh air is important.

   MMBN2 is a harder game than its predecessor because of the changes made to the battle system. It is still not that hard to play through, but considering all the factors that come into play (chip strategies, reflexes); MMBN2 definitely offers a bigger challenge than most regular RPGs. Replay value is where the game takes a blow. The plot is absolutely linear, and the game presents no secrets to speak of. Much as in the first game, the only "side quest" so to speak is to collect every one of the 250 battle chips. However, not only is that incredibly difficult and time consuming, it is also completely irrelevant given that there are no special dungeons or enemies that require Megaman to be exceptionally strong. Also, if you feel like toying with the MMBN battle system again, you could just as well replay the first game.

   The game presents a small step up visually from the first game. Lan's hometown of ACDC Town would be rather hard to differentiate from the first game's rendition, but the areas you'll explore this time around are slightly more detailed and colorful. The biggest improvements are seen on the Net where the environments are much richer. The Net sections affiliated with the various towns are all very dissimilar which makes it easy to know where you are standing. The battle animations have also been enriched somewhat.

   In the end, MMBN2 only offers the strict minimum to differ itself from the first game. The plots of both games are very unappealing and rather disconnected, which doesn't provide a big incentive to playing through the games. If you own the first game and didn't enjoy enormously, chances are the second game won't convince you any further. If you haven't played either of those games, any of the two will most probably provide an interesting diversion. After playing through more or less the same game twice, I am certainly not enticed to pick up the third game, especially since the series is taking a bad turn in a Pokemon-esque direction. I've had my fill of MMBN.

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