Initial release date: April 14, 2023
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, Microsoft Windows, Amazon Luna
Series: Mega Man, Mega Man Battle Network
Engine: Eclipse Engine
Developers: Capcom, Digital Eclipse, Backbone Entertainment
Genres: Platform game, Shooter game
Publishers: Capcom, Capcom U.S.A., Inc.
"Review Copy Provided By Capcom"
While the classic Mega Man games on NES and SNES are often the first thing that comes to mind when the blue bomber is mentioned, the franchise has ventured into other genres as well. Among these are Mega Man Soccer, Mega Man The Power Fighters, and a range of RPGs featuring characters from the series. The most renowned and beloved of these RPGs are the Battle Network games, now available to play on modern consoles with the upcoming release of Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection.
Initially released on the Game Boy Advance and the DS, the six main games in the series are included in this collection, along with four additional titles that offer variations akin to Pokémon games. The collection provides hundreds of hours of virus-busting fun for fans and newcomers alike. The Battle Network games introduce players to schoolboy Lan Hikari and his virtual sidekick MegaMan.exe, navigating both the real world and the internet. These adventures are filled with schoolyard escapades, endearing characters, and a looming global threat that can only be thwarted by the heroic duo.
At the heart of the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is the engaging action RPG combat. Players control Mega Man on a 6x3 grid, choosing from an assortment of weapon chips to attack familiar digital foes. The variety of chips ranges from cannons and blasters to close-range swords and tile-specific grenades. The chips available at the beginning of each battle are randomized, but players can use multiple chips per turn if they are of the same type or have the same letter. This encourages players to collect and strategize with chips that have matching letters, potentially swapping out stronger attacks for better synergy with their folder (the game's version of a card deck).
Despite a well-organized folder, there will be turns where players lack the firepower to defeat their opponents. In these instances, they must wait for the meter at the top of the screen to refill before selecting more chips and continuing their onslaught. In the meantime, players can use the Mega Buster to deal a small amount of damage. This core gameplay remains consistent throughout the six Battle Network games, but each title brings unique forms, transformations, and upgrades that set them apart. While not all of these innovations are equal, they provide enough variety to maintain player interest during extensive playtime in the game's digital world.
The imaginative online setting of the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection still feels distinct and original. Lan's real-world interactions mainly involve exploration and conversation, but numerous locations allow players to jack Mega Man into the digital realm. Accessible through devices such as home computers, stereos, street signs, and microwaves, these areas can offer essential progress or additional rewards and currency. Each game in the collection presents a new iteration of cyberspace, with a refreshed aesthetic featuring vibrant colors and neon backgrounds. The graphics, particularly in later games, are still visually appealing today. The collection offers display options, such as screen size and visual filters, to cater to different preferences, as well as a selection of stylish borders.
The collection also adds features such as powerful abilities available from the menu, some of which were originally accessed via e-Reader cards or alternate game versions. Although these abilities can disrupt the game balance, they offer players more interested in the story a chance to enjoy the narrative with ease. Despite the enhancements, some issues remain in the collection, such as the slow start of each game with repetitive tutorials. These were more forgivable when games were played with a gap of a year or more, but in a collection format, they become more noticeable. Additionally, some design choices in individual games, like the inability to escape battles without specific chips in the first game, seem archaic compared to later entries.
Overall, Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is a fantastic compilation of retro action RPGs that retain their charm and freshness today. With engaging grid-based battles, deck-building strategy, and the delightful cyberspace setting, this collection is a must-play for fans of the blue bomber's legacy. Although some slow starts and outdated design choices can be found, the experience offered by this collection is undeniably worth exploring.