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Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection

Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 5/3/2023 for SWI  
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I recall buying the first Mega Man Battle Network game in 2001. I had initially heard about it from a video game magazine. It was a Mega Man game that was also a RPG, a genre not typically associated with Mega Man. When I was even younger, I enjoyed Mega Man Legends, another Mega Man game in a style different from the normal 2D side-scrolling. I decided to pick up Battle Network and was glad that I did. The story, about a world where everyone has a pocket computer and an AI best friend, spoke to a 13-year-old me instantly. On top of that, the game had a combat system that was something I had never experienced before. Jumping back into this series felt very nostalgic. I was surprised by how much I recalled from over two decades ago, and how great the combat still felt was a little surprising.

While one Mega Man Battle Network title can take anywhere from 12-25 hours to complete, having six titles, or ten if you want to include the different versions of games 3-6, you are looking at well over a hundred hours to complete every game. I did not beat every game in this collection. I played through the entire first Mega Man Battle Network title, and then put in between four to six hours on at least one version of each of the other games. In the past, I have completed the first four games the year each one was initially released, but for some of those games it’s been nearly 20 years.

When talking about Mega Man games, the Battle Network titles are in a separate lane from the mainline titles. Gone are the side-scrolling platform antics that you typically see Mega Man dealing with. Instead, Battle Network is more of a role-playing style, paired with a unique combat system that as a child blew my mind. Mega Man is also one of the two main protagonists. Lan Hikari starts out as a fifth grader, his NetNavi, a sort of AI that surfs the Net for Lan is named MegaMan.EXE. Part of the time, you play as Lan working our puzzles in the real world, the other part has you log into the NetNavis with your PET, or PErsonal information Terminal. It’s more or less a cell phone connected to the internet. You have to remember that the first Battle Network game was released over 22 years ago. MegaMan.EXE and Lan go around solving low-level Net capers, like finding missing Navis to eventually stopping an evil world-run crime syndicate.

I didn’t notice it when I played these titles as a teen, but from release to release, the story of Mega Man Battle Network changes very little. You start off stopping low-stakes crimes like your mom’s oven from going crazy. Eventually defeating some type of evil organization, sometimes the same one from a previous title, sometimes a new one that wants to bring forth the destruction of the Net. You have a pretty big twist in the story at the end of the first Battle Network, but other than that, the story feels very by the book. If I was playing these titles one at a time, over the course of a year or two I might have noticed the lack of story, but piling them all in one go over the course of a few weeks, it was unmistakable. This is likely a unique problem to me and people in my position; others trying to review this collection. But an average person looking for a nostalgic trip, or someone in their early teen years, might not notice.

The combat of the Mega Man Battle Network collection is still unrivaled; playing through them again only solidified that for me. Other titles have tried to implement a combat system similar to it, but I have yet to play one that feels as good as Battle Network. Mega Man fights his battles on a 6x3 grid. You control a 3x3 portion at the start of every battle, the enemy has the other 3x3. Movement and attacking happen freely, no turn-based fighting. At the beginning of each fight, you chose your battle chips, or special moves to use at the start of the fight. There is a timer once combat starts; once it ends you can choose new chips. You can also decide not to use any chips; doing so gives you an even bigger selection when the timer ends the next time. The way combat works never changes much, while the moves you unlock do change, the way you battle doesn’t. I felt engaged the entire time I was playing the collection, I think that speaks to how well the combat is designed. It doesn’t require more than some fine-tuning in between each new game.

Are these collections worth the price? You can purchase them one of two ways, as a whole collection with games one through six, or as two separate collections, one with first three games, the second collection with games four through six. That includes the games with multiple versions, which are games three through six. Save yourself $20 and grab the whole collection for $60 instead of each one at $40. The overall presentation of the collection is near perfect. An easy-to-use menu to select with game and which version of that game to play. There is also a gallery mode and music player for people who are into features like that. There’s also online feature that lets you trade chips, or battle against people.

What don’t I like about this collection? Well, not much. My biggest gripe is the utilization of the smaller screen size on the Switch. The entire screen is not taken up when playing. Instead, there is a background border. It’s nice that the collection has a handful of borders to choose from. But when I’m playing on my OLED Switch, the last thing I want is any kind of bleed-through from a constant border. You can change the screen size, but it never takes up the full screen. While there are a lot of border choices, all of them are visually loud.

There is also Buster MAX Mode, which feels like a real mixed bag. You can turn this mode on or off in any game at any time. It allows Mega Man’s primary weapon, the weapon you use while you are waiting to unlock more chips in battle, to be boosted by 100 percent. That makes his basic weapon a one-shot kill to nearly every enemy unit. For someone like me, trying to play through as much of these games as quickly as possible, or for someone who wants just to see the story this can be great. But for someone who wants any sort of challenge Buster MAX Mode makes the game beyond boring. Battles last four or five seconds, even boss fights take less than 30 seconds to complete. A useful mode, and it can be completely ignored, but it still feels silly to provide something that is so game-breaking.

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection feels like pure nostalgia. I like these games. I liked them back then, and I like them now. I still can’t get over how fun and different the combat is from other RPGs. The added new features, like an online battle mode, is something that makes this collection even sweeter. There are only a few hiccups, the Buster MAX Mode breaks the game, making it too simple, and the always-on border screen seems unnecessary. Overall Capcom has done a great job with these two collections, and they run on the Switch without issue.

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is a fun trip down memory lane; playing in handheld mode on my Switch further pushes that nostalgic feeling. The weakest part of this collection is the lack of innovation made throughout the series, something I wouldn’t have noticed if I was playing a different game once every few years. But none of the negatives drag down the overall fun of this collection. The best part of the Battle Network series is the combat, which still feels unrivaled. Added features make it a great collection to add if you’re into either Mega Man or RPGs in general. A collection of six games, with ten different versions to play, the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is a worthwhile investment.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

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