Mega Man Network Transmission


posted 6/24/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
Platforms: GC
I never could comprehend the appeal of the Mega Man Network Transmission games on the Game Boy Advance, but apparently it was strong enough to warrant two sequels and now, a GameCube adventure based in the same universe. The transition from Game Boy Advance to the GameCube was a rough one, however, as this latest Mega Man title is rather flat and will most likely appeal only to the jaded gamers of yore who remember Mega Man from his glory days on the NES and SNES.

It’s appropriate that Capcom would go back to its roots for the Blue Bomber’s 15th anniversary. Opting to drop all of the tedium of the GBA games, Network Transmission is a straightforward 2D platformer that harkens back to the SNES and PSOne days. Say goodbye to the endless pages of text and say hello to moving from the left side of the screen to the right side of the screen. Ah, the good old days.

But it’s not for everyone.

All right, so the game hasn't dropped all of the tedium. There's far less text here than in the GBA adventures but for a side-scroller it’s probably not as straightforward as many would have liked. There is an unreasonable amount of navigation and reading required for such an action-oriented game. To make matters a bit worse Network Transmission’s technically inferior graphics and stale audio elements are bound to turn off the Johnny-come-latelys who weren’t fortunate enough to play the earliest entries in the Mega Man series.

Like the GBA games this title features a slightly skewed version of Mega Man. He looks a bit more childish and is actually the PET of a kid named LAN. Personally I’m not a big fan of this iteration of Mega Man as it looks and sounds rather feminine. It’s not exactly the image that I like to associate with one of the greatest gaming heroes of all time. Unlike the GBA game you assume direct control of Mega Man as he runs, jumps and platforms his way through the cyber level.

Where this game really differs from the other Mega Man games is where our hero draws his power from. Instead of gaining new weapons by beating other bosses, Mega Man’s abilities are derived from a set of cards that are of limited use. I wasn't a big fan of the weaponary in the game as they all seemed to be a bit too generic and bland for my tastes. To its credit the card-based system of powerups is pretty nice but it’s a vast departure from the Mega Man that many people may be accustomed to.

Many of the game’s problems can be found in the gameplay department. There’s nothing wrong with the traditional side-scroller perspective but rather the manner in which it is executed. Playing the game becomes tedious thanks to some pretty cheap enemy tactics. Enemies sometimes will attack you before you can even see them and the majority of them take far too long to dispose of. Boss battles become especially annoying, to the point where one could become bored out of sheer frustration. Unless you’re a masochist of the worst kind, make sure you have plenty of patience before deciding to leap into this one.

Technically the game looks OK, albeit a bit dated. There are some nice particle effects in play here but nothing that even comes close to Capcom’s upcoming GameCube side-scroller Viewtiful Joe. Everything looks painfully plain and is lacking in structure and refinement. There are far too many repeats of enemies. Sure they have different abilities but they’re still the same on the outside. Where’s the fun in killing 500 of those little hardhat wearing guys? To add a bit of contrast Mega Man himself looks rather nice and animates with the perfect amount of fluidness.

The audio is basically what you would expect out of a title of this genre, although I’m a bit disappointed that the speech in the cutscenes was in Japanese. There’s not much in-game speech so you’re forced to read plenty of written text, a rather large mistake if you ask me. I had a newbie come in and check out the game and within minutes she was bored due to the exorbitant amounts of reading that the game subjected her to.

Other than a slightly bumpy trip down memory lane, there’s not much here that will appeal to the casual gamers. Hardcore Mega Man fans may want to check out Network Transmission to see how he turned out on Nintendo’s little ‘Cube but casual fans should probably stay away and hold out for Viewtiful Joe.

It’s a very simple game that doesn’t try too hard to be something different and unique and at times, actually looks as if it could have appeared on the PSOne or even the SNES. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its share of frills and thrills though. There are some redeeming elements that make this game worthwhile for hardcore fans.

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