The Mega Man Battle Network series is one of my favorite videogame series. Surprisingly enough, the first game in this series is the last one that I played. The fact that I have played all of the other games in the series makes it so that I will probably be more/less critical of some elements of the game as an individual game, as I will tend to judge these elements in the context of the series as a whole. That being said, let's get started!
Mega Man Battle Network takes place in the future, when electronics are widespread and most devices are interconnected through the Internet. Humans possess computer programs imbued with artificial intelligence called Net Navis. These Net Navis are humanoid programs that navigate the Internet and the inside of electronic devices. The protagonists of our story are a human, Lan, and a Net Navi, Megaman. Throughout the game, the player will constantly be switching between controlling Lan in the human world and Megaman in the electronic world. The main conflict of the game is that a terrorist organization named WWW is on the rise, and it is up to Lan and Megaman to suppress the organization.
The combat takes place within a unique grid and card based system. The player selects chips from a screen at the beginning every battle, then navigates a 6x3 to attack enemies by using these chips alongside Megaman's default weapon, the Megabuster. Everyone 10 seconds, the player has the option to replenish their chip arsenal by reopening the selection screen. I am a huge fan of this system of combat, and I have not seen anything like it in any other game. The combat system is a unique and fantastic element of the Mega Man Battle Network games.
In this first game, however, the combat does have one glaring flaw. At the end of every battle in this game, Megaman's HP (Health Points) are fully refilled. This definitely takes an edge off of combat and lowers the difficulty significantly. Whereas in the later entries to the series the player has to be cognizant of how much damage they are taking and whether or not they can realistically continue adventuring on the Internet, this game cuts the player a lot of slack by allowing reckless battling to be rewarded. This element ultimately makes the combat much more forgiving, which takes away from any feeling of danger, while also allowing the player to not develop any strategy or skill in battle.
Another element of Mega Man Battle Network that is disappointing is the navigation within the Internet world. In this initial entry in the series, the layout of the Internet map is just plain bad. It is frustrating to navigate the Internet within the game without a map pulled up on the internet in real life.
Despite these obvious flaws with the game, Mega Man Battle Network does its job of introducing the player to what would become an amazing six game series. Mega Man Battle Network balances strategic, unique combat alongside a strong story and a wide cast of characters. This game is a bit more fast-paced in its story compared to later games, which makes for an interesting experience. I personally was not bothered by the faster pace - I enjoyed it a lot, however I do prefer the more balanced pace of the later games.
The gameplay is great, however certain elements take away from it. Specifically, the health refill after every battle and the confusing/frustrating map both lend to a less than ideal experience. Luckily, for anyone interested in continuing with this game series, both of these issues are taken care of much better in later entries! The story and combat both are fantastic. 8/10.
The music in the game is fantastic. I love the electronic music found throughout the series. The first game definitely hit the nail on the head in regards to music. 10/10.
The graphics in the game are what one would expect from an early GBA game. Nothing groundbreaking for the time but fantastic for this specific game. I wouldn't change a thing about the graphics in the game, although I am sure others could find fault and make suggestions. 10/10.
In terms of lasting appeal, Mega Man Battle Network holds its own while still showing its flaws as the first entry in the series. I definitely believe it is a perfect introduction to the series. It is easy on the combat, although difficult on the navigation. Later entries build on this game well and fix any mistakes made in this game. Playing the later entries will reveal some of the flaws of this game to the player, however this game still holds the same mood and fantastic story and combat that are unique to this series as a whole. 8/10.
I highly recommend Mega Man Battle Network to anyone considering it, and I definitely recommend the entire series. I began with Mega Man Battle Network 4: Red Sun when I was 7, and still enjoy these games over a decade later. Please give this game a chance! I know you will love it!
Overall Rating: 9/10
yes: I recommend this product