While Zero battles Neo Arcadia and Dr. Weil in the Mega Man Zero games, another Mega Man tale is being told on the Gameboy Advance. In the year 200X, society has become reliant on the Internet, using it to control everything from telephones, kitchen appliances, and even keeping track of zoo animals. Instead of browsers, people use semi-sentient computer programs called Net Navigators (or “Navis,” for short) to interact on the Internet. One day, before starting fourth grade, a young boy named Lan Hikari is introduced to his own Navi, Mega Man.EXE.
The Mega Man Battle Network series takes a different look at the Mega Man universe, putting it into a RPG/Strategy type game. You play simultaneously and both Lan and Mega Man.EXE, both interacting with their respective worlds (Lan in the real world, MegaMan on the Internet). Working together, you must defend the Net Society from the evils of criminal organizations, such as the WWW and Nebula.
Mega Man battles viruses and evil Net Navis on the Internet. He retains his Mega Buster from his side-scrolling counterparts, but the weapon is comparatively weak. Instead, Mega Man uses Battle Chips, which provide Mega Man with powerful one-off attacks. BattleChips are selected randomly from Chip Folders, which you are free to edit. Both Mega Man and his opponents have Health Points displayed during battle, and if your HP hits zero, it’s game over.
Other factors can affect battle as well. “Mega Man Battle Network 2” introduces Style Changes, where the game bestows an elemental attribute and other bonuses based on your playstyle. Battle Network 3 divides the game into 2 editions, both with exclusive Battle Chips and Style Changes (similar to Poke’mon games). Battle Network 4 drops Style Changes in lieu of Double Souls, granting Mega Man an appearance and abilities reminiscent of allied Net Navis.
The Battle Network games proved an interesting and exciting experiment in the Mega Man franchise. The difficulty level was just right; easy enough for beginners to pick up, yet challenging enough to keep series veterans on their toes. The series also gave nods to the original games, creating Net Navi counterparts to many of the original Robot Masters (“Mega Man Battle Network” features each of the original six Robot Masters except Cut Man, who later appears in Battle Network 2). When Capcom announced they would be making a new Battle Network game, they held contests for kids to submit boss characters; winning submissions making it into the game.
What does the future hold for both the normal and Battle Network timelines? Find out in Part 7!