Jack in! MegaMan.EXE! The infamous words uttered by Lan Hikari when logging in his companion MegaMan.EXE to the internet. The Mega Man Battle Network series revolved around a world that was essentially controlled by the internet. It was a basic what if scenario of Dr. Light focusing on networking instead of robotics. But, even though in this world the Blue Bomber did not exist physically it did not stop him from being amazing.
Mega Man Battle Network proved to be extremely popular for Capcom. The series spawned 6 numbered sequels and dual versions of the games 3 and onward. The battles revolved around a grid system which sounds a little bit complex, but in execution is extremely simple. However, once you delved into the meat and potatoes it would demonstrate its true colors. Yes, Battle Network’s fighting system was very rewarding to those who dared explore the mechanics and it lead to many game breaking combinations.
But, after two very successful games, Capcom decided it was time to venture into more familiar territory. For this they utilized the original concept of Mega Man (side-scrolling platformer) and mixed it in with the Battle Network series for the GameCube. The result was none other than Mega Man Battle Network Transmission an interquel which predated the events of the second game. This was also the only game in the series which had Zero as a character and he was every bit as daunting as ever.
The story featured a virus which was infecting all of the Net Navi (short for navigator) and in turn it was driving them berserk (a nod to the Maverick Virus of X). The populace were worried it was up to Lan and MegaMan.EXE to save them all. But, even Mega Man is not immune to the virus and becomes infected at one point in the game, this is what leads Lan to set out and find a cure. If my memory serves correct there is even a choice at this point of the game that can affect the ending and it’s pretty obvious what it is. Still the obvious Wily was behind the plot (sue me the game is over a decade old) was clear from a mile away. Thus the game did not help develop anything which happened in the sequel.
While the game had little impact on the story arc of the whole series it was still an enjoyable game on its own. But, MegaMan Battle Network was not without its flaws. There is a steep difficulty curve which skewed towards the beginning when Mega Man was under-powered and under-equipped. Once the player can find enough chips and expansions it leans towards the opposite direction.
The custom bar which allowed you to choose what chips you could use in combat would also take a long time to charge. This posed the dilemma of pushing through while improvising or waiting for another round of chips to come through. While this might seem like a minor inconvenience at worst it could lead to restarting a level because of an enemy for which you were ill equipped to face.
Yet, while critics gave it mixed results, I loved this game. It was fun and it harkened back to the days of Mega Man 1 through 8 and Mega Man X. While involving the characters I had grown to love during Battle Network 1 and 2. It incorporated Battle Chips in a clever manner while limiting your ability to spam them and it was probably the closest we’ll get to seeing how MegaMan.EXE felt during battles. The battles were tough and intense (although at times unfair), but these felt rewarding to beat.
It might not have had the reception that Capcom wanted, but this game was an enjoyable experience for any seasoned Net Battler. Mega Man Battle Network Transmission will forever stand as an oddball among the series.