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Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge takes place in the Battle Network universe. Everything in the world is hooked up via network and it is up to special programs called Navis to defend against computer viruses. Mega Man is a Navi belonging to a boy named Lan and they have become some of the best in the world at protecting the net. In the Battle Network role-playing games, the pair did battle with the evil http://WWW organization and that is pretty much the same here. The story this time is that Lan and Mega Man enter a tournament called the Battle Chip Grand Prix and through their battles to climb up the ranks they discover a new plot by the WWW. There are five other characters that have their own storylines you can choose to use as well, but they aren't as important and/or cool as Mega Man and Lan.
What really sets the Battle Network games apart from Battle Chip Challenge is the gameplay. Basically, you have absolutely no control over anything in BCC. All of the running around to various locations in the real world and on the internet that you would have had to do in the Battle Network games is gone and instead the computer does everything for you. This blows, quite frankly. You just move from conversation to conversation with stupid annoying people while you watch your onscreen character run around on its own. The game progresses as you play through different rankings and earn money to move up to the next rank until you get to the end. The real core of the game is the card battle aspect, but you have very limited control over this part of the game as well. You collect battle chips by purchasing them at a shop or winning them from other characters.
You then take these chips and place them onto a pyramid shaped grid. The way the game works is that the computer chooses a random path through the chips on your grid and uses them in that order. This means that the chips on the second level from the top (your chosen Navi is on top) have a 50% chance of being chosen, the third row have a 33% chance, and the fourth and final row a 25% chance. The chips in the game give your Navi new weapons they can use as well as defensive tactics such as shields. Each chip takes up a certain amount of space and what chips you can place on your grid is determined by how much space your Navi has available. This means you can't just load up your grid with super powerful attacks.
The problem with the game is that once you place your chips on the grid, you don't really have control over how a battle plays out. The computer chooses a path through your grid and then executes the attacks or defensive moves without any input from you. All you can do is press the A button to move the battle along and watch from the sidelines. When you are setting up your grid you can also place two chips in special positions that allow you to use them each once in a battle at your discretion, but these two chips rarely have a big impact on the outcome of a match. If the computer repeatedly chooses a poor path through your grid you are basically sunk no matter what you do. The lack of control is the biggest problem with Battle Chip Challenge. You really only have control over your grid and the rest of the gameplay consists of you pressing the A button over and over and over. That simply is not very fun. The card game suffers even more by forcing you to rely entirely on luck. It isn't as if this game is all that difficult, but it just isn't fun to watch the computer play through a battle for you.
Despite all of these major shortcomings, it is still possible to get hooked. Playing Battle Chip Challenge is sort of like playing the lottery. Getting new chips when you win, buying a new pack of chips and not knowing if you just spent $3000 on great new chips or ones you already had, and the random nature of the battles themselves. You never ever know how a battle is going to turn out and some people , mostly gambling addicts , will find something to like about Battle Chip Challenge in spite of the ridiculously simple gameplay. Graphically, Battle Chip Challenge is a severe disappointment. These are the exact same graphics that were used in the last Battle Network game with no upgrades to them whatsoever. The game doesn't look bad, but it was obvious that not a whole lot of effort went into it. Likewise, the sound is pretty much exactly what we have heard before. Even though it isn't entirely brand new, the music in the game is catchy and old school through and through.
Overall, Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge is a title that is going to be hard for most gamers to like, but it relies so heavily on luck that some people may enjoy it just for the gambling aspect of it. Every battle is literally like buying a scratch off lottery ticket. The severe lack of control over battles and the fact that the computer controls pretty much everything means you spend a lot of time watching instead of playing which is never good. If you are a big fan of the Battle Network games you might enjoy Battle Chip Challenge just because of the familiar characters and locations, but collectible card game fans and everyone else other than gambling addicts probably won't think too much of it. Try it before you buy it, but I find it pretty hard to recommend Mega Man Battle Chip Challenge to anyone but the most masochistic.
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