I feel like I need to write this article because for one reason or another nobody sings the praises of this excellent video game series. Mega Man Battle Network is an RPG spin-off of the Mega Man series that was released on the Game Boy Advance in 2001. However, unlike Mega Man Legends, Mega Man Battle Network is able to capture the spirit of action platforming in its battle system.
Real-time Strategy RPG
Combat in MMBN takes place on two 3×3 grids, one for the player and one for the enemy. Both the player’s and the enemy’s attacks have specific attack ranges that have their advantages and disadvantages. These mechanics should remind you of a turn-based strategy RPG but what makes MMBN ingenious is that every action taken is in real-time. This means that every attack needs to be executed at the right time and any attack can be avoided with quick reflexes. After a battle, the player is graded on their performance dubbed the “Busting Level”. Depending on the Busting Level the player receives different rewards ranging from money to special attacks inspired by the enemies called Battle Chips.
In MMBN Mega Man can attack enemies with his Mega Buster similar to the classic series, however, most of the attacking you do will be through the use of Battle Chips. Battle Chips are special attacks that the player can select when the Custom Gauge is full. The player is able to equip 30 Battle Chips at a time but the number of Battle Chips that can be selected each turn is limited by two factors. Battle Chips that are the same can be selected together and Battle Chips with the same letter code can be selected together. Battle Chips come in three classes (Standard, Mega, and Giga) that each have their own limits on how many you can equip.
What really impresses me about MMBN’s battle system is the amount of meaningful customization that the player can engage in. Starting from Mega Man Battle Network 2 the series added transformations that each augment Mega Man’s abilities in different ways. What makes the transformations great is how they’re designed to suit many different play styles. From Mega Man Battle Network 3 onwards the series added the “Navi Customizer” that allows players to further augment Mega Man’s health, attack, and abilities. The Navi Customizer will look very familiar to fans of Kid Icarus Uprising since it is nearly identical to the powers system.
It might sound overly complicated but it will surprise you how simple Mega Man Battle Network’s battle system is in its implementation. Even more surprising is how a battle system originally designed for PVE makes such a seamless transition to PVP. MMBN’s PVP is most reminiscent of a fighting game than an RPG like Pokemon with players weaving in and out of each others attack range, counting invisibility/stun frames, and pulling off spectacular combo attacks. If you are interested in checking out the MMBN games I suggest starting with Mega Man Battle Network 2 because the original is more of a tech demo that showed off what could be done with the battle system. If you are already familiar with the MMBN games I highly recommend checking out the fan game Mega Man Battle Network Chrono X which should be releasing a new demo soon.