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Mega Man Battle Network White Review
review
game: Mega Man Battle Network White
four star
posted by: Eric Qualls
publisher: Capcom
platform:
date posted: 09:10 AM Sun Jul 20th, 2003
last revision: 07:05 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005



Oh Mega Man, what have they done to you? You have changed from the stumpy blue badass robot bristling with weaponry to being nothing more than a tall skinny GigaPet trapped inside a computer. OK, so maybe it isn't that bad, but for those of us that grew up with old school Mega Man, the Battle Network games take some getting used to. Mega Man Battle Network 3 is the latest game that has taken the popular route of adding a collection aspect to the traditional RPG gameplay. This game takes that concept a step further and offers nearly endless customization of Mega Man along with an interesting backstory and great gameplay. Battle Network 3 adds a few new gameplay elements to the Battle Network series and is definitely worth checking out.

You may be wondering why this game has the subtitle White attached to it. For Mega Man Battle Network 3, Capcom decided to release two different versions of the game, Blue and White. Much like the Pokemon series, the two versions of BN3 offer content exclusive to each version. There are rare battle chips tucked inside each version as well as an exclusive fighting style and even special boss battles. With a link cable, you can battle against friends or exchange battle chips between the two versions of the game. In practice, the differences between the two versions aren't enough to warrant purchasing both of them, but if you have a friend with a different version than yours trading rare battle chips can be fun.

In the world of Mega Man Battle Network, the Internet plays an enormous role in everyday life. Just about everything from chalkboards to toilets is linked up via network. Intelligent programs called Navis protect the network against viruses, but they are also sort of like cyber-pets for their owners in the offline world. When trouble is brewing online, people have to jack their Navis into the network so they can find the problem and solve it. Megaman.EXE is the Navi of elementary school student and expert Net Battler Lan Hikari. Battle Network 3, just like the other two Battle Network games, follows Lan and Mega Man as they take on the evil http://WWW organization. There isn't really much story once you start the game, but the setting is interesting enough to keep you hooked.

The gameplay in Battle Network 3 takes place in two environments. In the offline (real) world, you control Lan as he goes to school and does normal kid stuff like hanging out with friends and uncovering international conspiracies. When you jack into the network, control shifts to Mega Man so he can track down the digital counterparts of the aforementioned conspirators and other bad guys.

While jacked into the web as Mega Man you do battle with viruses, compete in friendly tournaments, collect new battle chips, and fight against enemy controlled Navis. When you encounter an enemy, which occurs via the "wonderful" system of random battles, you are taken to the battle plane and the game becomes a whole lot more interesting. The battle plane is a 3x6 grid with half belonging to Mega Man and half being taken up by the enemy. You are free to move around your area at will and the battles rage on in real time.

In addition to Mega Man's standard Mega Buster arm cannon, Lan can send him new battle chips that will give him new abilities. Only five compatible (each chip is classified and only chips with matching codes can be used together) chips can be used at a time and range from new types of projectiles to swords to being able to manipulate the battle plane itself. Once you use a chip, it is gone and you have to send Mega Man new battle chips to use. The difficulty of the battles rises nicely as the game progresses and the mix of skill and strategy required to win is very satisfying. Getting the right chips and knowing when and how to use them is crucial if you want to succeed in later areas of the game.

As in the previous Battle Network games, Mega Man will evolve a new style based on how you play the game. When you find a style you like, you can upgrade it through the Navi Customizer. The Navi Customizer allows you to install new programs into Mega Man. The program parts, which come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, must be installed in accordance to a few simple guidelines or glitches can occur. Most glitches produce negative effects while a few will produce gameplay quirks that you can use to your advantage. The Navi Customizer and the programs you can install are like a big puzzle mini game that adds a lot of replay value to the game as you can experiment with new programs and make the game play the way you want it to. Between collecting the hundreds of different battle chips and the Navi Customizer, Battle Network 3 has a lot going for it besides just playing through the main game.

Graphically, Mega Man Battle Network 3 looks outstanding. I am playing it on the Game Boy Player and I have to remind myself every now and then that this game was designed for a handheld system. The graphics are bright and colorful and the characters are surprisingly detailed. The Navis, particularly the boss Navis that are modeled after classic Mega Man robot bosses, are detailed and look great. If you have played the previous Battle Network games, you literally won't see anything new, but the game still looks very nice.

The sound in BN3 is good, but like the graphics, it is pretty much the same as it has been for the last two games. The bleeps and bloops of the sound effects do a good job of representing the virtual online world and are pretty much what we have come to expect from a Mega Man game. Likewise, the music is vintage Mega Man and will no doubt bring a smile to the face of anyone that has followed the Blue Bomber through his 15-year career.

Mega Man Battle Network 3 is a fun cross between a standard RPG and a collectible card game. Despite the fact that it looks and sounds just like the other two games in the series, there are enough new gameplay elements here that make it worth another trip through those same environments. Having two versions to choose from is a nice idea, but it isn't necessary to connect them in order to enjoy everything the game has to offer so don't worry about which version you get. This is easily the best game in the series and is worth checking out for fans of the series as well as newcomers. Jack in, customize your own Mega Man, and enjoy.