Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.
Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
Mega Man is a character with many faces. Mega Man X, Mega Man Legends, the original Mega Man… All of these series have their own unique features and stories and yet all stem from the same place. One spin-off of Mega Man’s though, is pretty distinctly different from the rest. Today’s game is Mega Man Battle Network, developed by Capcom and released on the Game Boy Advance in 2001.
Mega Man Battle Network is a card-battling RPG at its core but it uses a battle system quite unlike any other game, at least any that I’m familiar with. Battles take place on a 6 by 3 grid with 9 tiles available for each side. You play as Mega Man and can move freely between any of your 9 tiles. Enemies are all on the other side of the grid, with their own 9 tiles, and move according to their AI. Mega Man can fire his standard buster cannon which is a free move but does very little damage. To ramp things up, battle chips must be used which contain a special move. These chips can do anything from fire a larger cannon straight ahead to temporarily destroying tiles on the battle grid to healing Mega Man. Outside of battle, the player must customize their deck with battle chips which are then given to Mega Man in battle randomly.
Mega Man Battle Network has players control not only Mega Man but also a human boy named Lan. The story puts players in a world that while futuristic at the time, seems pretty normal today. Everything is connected to the internet from traffic lights to kitchen appliances. Everybody has a device called a PET which lets them call people, access the internet, and send email. It’s a cell phone. It’s not called that in the game but it’s a modern day smartphone. Because of the heavily networked world, viruses have become a real problem and people can only fight these viruses with the help of special avatars in their PETs called NetNavis. People who are extra proficient at battling viruses with their NetNavi’s are called Net Battlers. Lan is a kid who wants nothing more than to be the best Net Battler along with his uniquely designed NetNavi, MegaMan.EXE.
So when playing the game in the real world, players control Lan and can solve puzzles, talk to people, and move MegaMan.EXE to different networked devices. Whenever you are “jacked in” to a device, you switch to MegaMan.EXE and can run around the labyrinth that is the internet, battling viruses in random battles and bosses which are typically based on Mega Man enemies from the original series such as GutsMan or ProtoMan.
Mega Man Battle Network received high reviews when it was released in 2001. The battle system was unique and a lot of fun since it involved real-time skill, strategic planning through deck building, and puzzle-solving by figuring out virus AI to take them down quickly. Card collecting was a lot of fun and players could use the GBA link cable to trade. The graphics and sound gave the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon with enough story to keep things going without ever getting too serious. In retrospect, the first game is seen to have some problems that the later games would resolve. The labyrinths of the internet were too convoluted and never felt like truly distinct areas compared to later entries. Despite this, the game was successful enough to spawn a large series of six main series games, three spin-off titles, and even a four-season anime adaptation.
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