The Gameboy Advance was the home for many classics. While we’re still waiting for others to make their way to modern consoles (I’m looking at you, Golden Sun). Others, specifically the Mega Man Battle Network series, have finally made the jump. To many, Mega Man Battle Network has been long overdue. Not just because it’s a fun series that took Mega Man in a new, non-action platformer direction, but rather because it was an interesting investment by parent company Capcom. This Gameboy Advance (GBA), launch window title spawned 5 sequels, spin-offs, a TV show, merchandise, and a ravenous fanbase. That fanbase got a gift from Capcom with not only the first game being remastered but all six entries, ten versions, released on the Gameboy Advance in one package, the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection. Twenty-two years later, did Capcom do the Battle Network games justice with this modern console release? Kind of…
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is a collection of every GBA adventure involving the main human character, Lan, and his Net-Navi, Mega Man. In this futuristic world imagined in the early 2000s, everything is connected to the net and run by programs. A novel and outlandish concept. Good thing they got that wrong… right? To explore this world, just about every human has a digital partner called a Net-Navi, that explores the net, devices, and just about anything electronic for them. While nearly every Net-Navi is just an assistant to the human, Mega Man and Lan’s relationship is different. They’re friends who work together. Through the six entries, you see not only Lan and Mega Man’s relationship evolve, you also see what these two will go through to save their friends, family, and town from dangerous programs.
For the purposes of this review, I looked at Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Falzar. Each is found in the two legacy collections (volumes one and two which come with the game). For some context, the entire collection is broken into two different volumes. The first contains the first 3 Mega Man Battle Network games, including both Mega Man Battle Network 3 versions, Blue and White. Volume two contains four through six with both versions of each. While not only being the two games I’m most familiar with (I recently played them on the GBA), they each felt like they’d give me a good taste of all the updates that came with the collection.
For the most part, these games are exactly how I remember them, for better or worse. They, of course, run much better since they’re being played on non-early-2000s hardware. Gameplay-wise, it’s just about the same in each one. Gameplay is broken down into human world exploration, where you can find places to “jack in” to the net. When you do, you take over as Mega Man, running around grid-like 2D environments. Randomly, you’ll be drawn into battle on a 3×6 grid, with each side, yours and the enemies, having 3×3 grids for movement. You can move up, down, left, and right to avoid attacks or line-up shots. Every ten to fifteen seconds, you’ll get to choose chips. These are the attacks that you can use. Like a deck builder, you get a hand of five out of the deck you’ve built. There are some restrictions.
For instance, you can choose any number of an attack if it’s the same card or has the same letter on it. There are variables thrown in with the later games, like asterisk and enhance chips, but this is the baseline way combat plays out. You pick the chips, you wait for openings, and attack enemies while avoiding damage. With combat specifically, more work felt like it could be done here. Mega Man Battle Network is, again, just like how I remember it. The first game didn’t get any quality-of-life improvements that were added in later iterations. Like, greying out chips you can no longer select. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it would’ve been nice to see some of the improvements from later games just find their way to earlier versions, updates that wouldn’t completely break the game.
Other aspects that feel missing are general features that we just take advantage of nowadays. Like a mini-map. Or autosave. Without guides, I would’ve been completely lost. Specifically, in one, there are times when the game doesn’t tell you what to do next or have you navigate around many big areas, wandering until you find where you need to go. Thing is, mini-maps aren’t new to the series. Mega Man Battle Network received a Japan-exclusive DS remake which introduced a new scenario and a mini-map to every area in the game. Those improvements seem lost to time now. Especially since that new scenario also wasn’t added to this version. The missing autosave feature seems even more egregious. Even a save state feature that was included in 2018’s Mega Man Legacy Collection would’ve been nice.
While you CAN save whenever you want, there were times when I just forgot. Every time it happened, it’s definitely on me. That doesn’t change the fact though that it’s always frustrating to lose hours of progress with things that are so commonplace nowadays are missing.
But this doesn’t mean there aren’t quality of life improvements; that these aren’t one-to-one ports. A new feature that I LOVED was blaster mode. This took the blaster damage and multiplies it by one hundred. So every hit that used to do 1 damage now does 100, and enemies with 300+ health now are deleted in 1-3 hits. This was great for just farming Zenny (the currency of the game) or running back to where I was after I forgot to save…again.
On top of that, a new filter was added that smoothed out the pixel-y look to look “cleaner”. If you liked how the games looked before, the original graphics option is still an option. Plus, they added PvP and trip trading to every version. So you can face off against friends with your Mega Man from one through six with your chipset. These features are prime examples of what I wanted to get added across the board.
For a collection, Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is one heck of a deal. Ten games, each being 10+ hours long, in one package?! That can’t be beaten. Plus, from a preservation perspective, this collection is great at making old GBA classics and one of my favorite series from Capcom, playable on modern consoles. While some nice touches and features are added to every game from later iterations, key quality-of-life improvements, like simple updates to battle mechanics and autosave, are missing. Regardless, I highly recommend you check this one out not only for it being a great deal, but so you can play one of the most fun series from the GBA; whether it’s for the first time or for the nth time.
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection
For a collection, Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is one heck of a deal. Ten games, each being 10+ hours long, in one package?! That can’t be beaten. Plus, from a preservation perspective, this collection is great at making old GBA classics and one of my favorite series from Capcom, playable on modern consoles.