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Mega Man Battle Network 2

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: RPG/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

For anyone familiar with the Mega Man series, it should come as no surprise that Mega Man Battle Network 2 is nearly identical to last year's version. If you think about it, Mega Man games are practically the Maddens of the side-scrolling world. Every year there is a brand new game with practically no change to the game style, but an entirely new roster of bad guys to fight. Such is the case with Battle Network 2.

The graphics and sound are just as good as they were in the original. Brightly colored sprites, detailed towns - everything looks fantastic. Of course, Battle Network 2 does come with minor visual upgrades as well. In addition to some new artwork on the battle chips, battle arenas have also gotten a small upgrade and now include obstacles that correspond to the virus you are fighting (such as the 'magnet walkways' when battling Magnet Man). Last year's suits have been replaced with style changes, which are ability changes to Mega Man that include a slight visual change. Music remains the same from last year, and while the GBA has produced much better quality tunes, they get the job done and fit the game.


Gameplay:

For the most part, Battle Network 2 remains unchanged from the original. Having defeated the WWW, Lan settles back into the normal, everyday life of an average boy in ACDC town. He goes to school, hangs out with friends, and dodges the constant nagging of his mother to do his homework. Of course, as experienced Netbattlers already know, Lan is anything but normal.

Like many other people in Lan's world, he possesses a NetNAVI (Mega Man) to help him through his daily tasks. For new comers, NetNAVIs are a person's presence on the Internet. After jacking into a system, Lan (as Mega Man) can travel through devices and interact with their programming. As with most electronic devices, there are always a few kinks in the programming called viruses. As Mega Man travels through the net, he battles these viruses. Some are small, harmless things while others are more powerful and can only be defeated by truly skilled NetNAVIs, called NetBattlers. Mega Man can also challenge friendly NetNAVI's to battles in order to gain addition skills, called chips.

One of the more interesting parts of Battle Network 2 is the combat system. Unlike other Mega Man games, battles are based more on strategy than anything else. In fact, battles are more like poker than anything else. Before battles, Lan can arrange Mega Man's battle chips into a folder - allowing players to customize Mega Man's battle tactics to fit their personal style. At the start of a battle, Mega Man is randomly dealt five chips from his folder. Mega Man can then choose to use one or more of the chips (depending on what kinds they are) or he can throw some out and wait a turn for better chips. Once in battle, Mega Man can move around the arena, using his buster cannon to peck at enemies or use his battle chips to do massive damage. Some chips can even be used together to create a Program Advance which produces even more damage than regular chips. The number of strategies the system opens is overwhelming and should fit just about any style of player.


Difficulty:

Since the battle system plays so much like poker, it also has many of the same disadvantages. For one, since chips come up in a random order, you are not always guaranteed to get the ones you want or get that one powerful Program Advance. Also, the enemy NetNAVIs are always playing with a stacked deck, allowing them to always use their most powerful attacks. This makes boss battles incredibly hard - especially when you throw in the usually high hit points enemies are given in relation to Mega Man's. I cannot tell you how many battles I was forced to start over because bosses were able to kill me with two or three hits. This is not to say that bosses are unbeatable since I was usually able to take out most enemies with a simple change in tactics and by adding a few different chips to my folder.

Much of the game's difficulty will also pivot on how well players plan their folder. Simply throwing in random chips will certainly spell disaster. However, seeing how chips work together and loading your folder with those chips will make things easier.


Game Mechanics:

Even though the controls are simple, I still recommend spending some time with the instructions because there are many features that are not explained during the in-game tutorials. For example, when in the folders, pressing the start button brings up sort options that make chip navigation easier. Also, pressing select will allow you to set a certain chip to be your main one - allowing it to always come up during your first battle turn. The little nuances like these may not seem important - but can mean all the difference in battles.

Battle Network 2 is a definite departure from the usual style of Mega Man games - but it is a good thing. While at times it seems incredibly cheap and hard, it is still an amazingly fun and addictive adventure and will keep you coming back.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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