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Mega Man Starforce 2: Zerker X Ninja

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 5
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Megaman Starforce Zerker X Ninja 2 has a title that will probably lead to hundreds of disappointed kids. I say that because mom or dad will probably only catch one or two words out of that jumbled mess and end up bringing home something completely different. Either way, this is yet another of what seems to be a never-ending stream of Mega Man universes, and after experiencing this one, I can't tell you that the names mean much of anything.

The main character, Geo, lives in a pretty neat and clean futuristic setting. This bright and happy setting isn't the most graphically impressive thing that the DS has ever seen, but then it doesn't seem like this game was meant to break new ground. This just seems like your typical overhead view game with little sprites running around. The game does at least have large colorful anime portraits of the people you talk to, and you can usually see a larger portrait of them in the top screen where their personal star carrier information is displayed. You can think of star carriers as a kind of all-in-one smart phone device, but with futuristic holographic displays. Eh, that honestly makes it sound more exciting than it is in the game. Another area that does the job but doesn't impress is the battle graphics. Every battle puts you into a 3D grid arena. The system is good for clearly showing what's going on in the battle, but no one is going to look over your shoulder with envy.

Background music is catchy enough and might have you humming a bit of it. Other than that, I guess you could say you can tell what it will sound like by the look of the game. Little clicks and blips will bring you flashbacks of Final Fantasy games from the Super Nintendo days. It has its charm, but this is one book you can pretty much judge by its cover.


Mega Man Starforce Zerker X Ninja 2 puts you in control of Geo Stellar, a young boy (with hair like a rooster) living in a futuristic world. Here, you can materialize what you need out of "EM waves," so people can carry around their cars in their cell phones if they want to. It seems like the world should be dramatically different with this technology, and imagination could run wild with the possibilities, but things are pretty much the same here. Geo's life isn't much different than, well, the typical fictional school kid nowadays. And well, that all adds up to a whole lot of bland. To push it even further, Geo is a bit of a softie in most everything. Perhaps that's the only interesting thing about this series: the fact that Mega Man is a shy, reluctant little kid this time around, and is constantly getting harassed by his alien partner Omega-Xis.

Mega Man Starforce 2 is something of a card battle game, but don't go running for the hills yet if that's not quite your thing. Like many card games, it's something you have to play for a while to really get what the hook is. What you've got here is a blend of turn-based and real-time strategy, though it's not really a deep game in any area. You'll get an opportunity to stop and select cards from your deck at regular intervals. You'll then resume the real-time game, where you need to dodge enemy attacks and maneuver into place in order to use your cards. And it is mildy addictive. You don't always know if you'll get the card you need, so you'll often have to deal with less than optimal attacks. One drawback is that you might just end up picking cards you don't really want just to use them and make room for new ones to shuffle in. That feels less like fun gameplay and more like a chore, and it's times like that where you'll stop and wonder what you're doing playing this game in the first place.

There is a pretty decent online component to this game, but it's not without its drawbacks. Though you can set up battles with people over the internet, there doesn't seem to be an effective ranking system. In my first fight, I was matched up with someone with 10 times my hp level. Needless to say, that fight did not last very long. There is also a local multiplayer option, but there is no single-cart download play option available. One particularly nice feature here is the brother system. When you form a brother band with a friend, you'll be able to use one of their favorite cards in your single player game. You don't have to trade cards to get this, it's simply a special card with a random favorite from your friend in it.


Mega Man Starforce Zerker X Ninja 2 isn't a hard game by any means. There is a bit of a learning curve to it, and you'll be deluged with a sea of text about targeting, star cards, and folder organization that won't make sense until you actually get into the game. Thankfully, most of the important stuff here is easy to pick up as you play around with the game. While you can still lose if you don't pay attention to the fight, it's pretty easy to manage with a minimal amount of effort. For all the strategy you'd expect with its gameplay, you really don't have to be a savvy player to win for the most part. It's just more annoying to fight ineffectively, and it takes a whole lot longer. It's a good thing the fights are fairly easy, because the random encounters are pretty frequent. Of course, quick fights are good for portability, and the ability to save anywhere is always good as well. The only thing that would make this game easier would be an auto-save or a retry for tough battles. Then again, you should be able to see a tough fight coming and save beforehand (there are even little boss marker tiles that warn you before you step into a boss fight.)

Of course, you will gain bonuses for running a quick and efficient battle. More money and the potential to gain valuable cards are the lure here. And, of course, that's part of the loop of addictiveness built in. You're always wondering if you can finish the next fight quicker, so you always have that carrot at the end of the stick.

Game Mechanics:

Oh yeah, about those random encounters - I thought we were past that in games. Well, it's clear that Mega Man Starforce Zerker X Ninja 2 is close to its old school roots. When you're not in fights, you're running around, doing the classic Japanese RPG stuff: talking to people, looking at things and seeing what your character says about them, flipping switches. There's not much more to it. I can say that at least you have a diagonal walk. Curse the days when you could only turn at right angles, those were dark times.

In a fight, things run pretty smoothly. You can run a fight entirely without the stylus, which is great because switching between stylus and handheld controls has always been a major annoyance for me. Even if you want to use the touch screen, the cards are fairly large and easy to select with a finger press. And there's a bit of timing to master with every new attack and every new enemy. Some battles will have you frantically moving, dodging, and trying to get into position for the perfect attack opportunity. For the most part, it's an interesting concept for a battle system, but then it doesn't seem to have changed much from the previous game.

It's hard to recommend just purchasing this game out of the blue. If you liked the first game, you'll probably be happy enough with this one. In the Pokemon tradition, there's even another flavor of the game you can buy where you have the option of playing as a Saurian class instead of Ninja. It's just that the story is so bland, it's hard to stay motivated enough to keep playing this game all the way through. It's only mildly addictive. Only mildly.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Nintendo DS Cake Mania 2 Sony PlayStation Portable Hellboy: The Science of Evil

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