Review: Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection

After a stressful day at the workplace, nothing beats closing the curtains, and jacking in. (Stu, no - Ed)

No point in anything besides full disclosure, Nauties. I've never been the biggest fan of Mega Man Battle Network. The series, I mean. Of course, like any self-respecting human being, I lurrrrve me some Mega Man, but I dislurke - ahem - dislike me some RPGs. Sorry! I know that you love RPGs and you want to kiss them and do tongues, but I don't. So a Mega Man RPG would only get played by me because it's Mega Man. And I feel quite bad about that, because I know that Battle Network has its fans. I'd even consider myself one of them, in a way - I love Battle Chip Challenge and Network Transmission, and I have fond memories of playing Double Team DS many years back. But none of those games are included here, spread across the two packages - Legacy Collection Volume 1 containing the original Battle Network thru 3, the second volume featuring 4 to 6. All versions, of course. All the Cybeasts and what have you.

So let's be petulant - what's missing? Anything not on the Game Boy Advance, for a start; no Double Team DS, no Operate Shooting Star, but that's fair enough really. I will, however, say that it's a bit rum not to include Battle Chip Challenge, especially since it'd fill up Volume 1 a little more. I wouldn't have expected the Wonderswan game, for example, but another GBA one surely wouldn't have been too strenuous.

What do I know, though, eh? I've only beaten a few of these (1, 2 and 5 DS); the rest are almost all new to me, except 4 which I played a little bit and is horrible by series standards. My time with Battle Network, the original, was nice to revisit in the Legacy Collection. It holds up fairly well, being one of the less bloated titles in the series, and it has a hilariously dark twist in the tale that makes me laugh to recall it. Of course what makes Battle Network so beloved is the superb battle system, which I do indeed rate very highly. The only problem is that there are far too many battles, with what I consider a ludicrous encounter rate. It's interesting in a sense, because people really rag on, say, Paper Mario Sticker Star for the combat being "pointless", when Battle Network exhibits similar rewards and gets praised to the skies. Yes, I'm bitter.

Reviewing the actual games here, then, is a bit of a tough errand. I do genuinely think that they lean towards weak, but I know from experience that having finished the utterly hateful Battle Network 2 back in the day, I jumped online to, I assumed, join in with the slagging-off, only to find that it was considered an absolutely beloved classic. Well, okay then. I'm not accepting that about 4, though. What a pile. In essence, though, I worried if that made me not such a great candidate for reviewing the game. But then, why should a reviewer be a fan? Isn't it kind of a weird idea that someone who likes a series should always be the one to review it? I mean, to an extent I do get it - look at mainstream reviews of fighting games for some examples of horrifying dogshit - but hey, I'm a Mega Man fan, right? Shouldn't that be enough?

At any rate, I am capable of being reasonable, of recognising effort in a compilation even of games I'm not crazy about. On this front, Capcom absolutely delivers. Online, ranked Netbattles? 'Zat so? There's the usual Gallery of hi-res imagery taken from packagine, promos and the Official Complete Works book, as well as an exhaustive music player. In game, you're able to activate a "Buster Max" option which makes your pea-shooter weapon deal 100 damage; I must admit, this is a bit of a lifesaver when faced with the same virus fights over and over and over, but I would advise you to use it sparingly lest you fail to understand why people like this system in the first place. Me, I've been playing normally until irritation sets in, at which point I switch Buster Max on until I reach a new virus type or boss battle. I think that's a reasonable compromise, and the game doesn't seem to care that I'm "cheating". Another cute addition is a Mega Man PET chatting it up with you in the menus, but this is mostly just fluff. It's quite funny how deep his voice is, but apparently this is true to the NT Warrior anime which I never watched because I was too busy shagging.

As for visual options, things get a little weird - there are a number of borders to choose from, but none of them are just... black borders, which feels like an oversight. There's also a filter that smooths out the visuals, and normally I'd advise you to run away from these options but to be honest the one here kind of works, because the game UIs and text are irreversibly filtered by default, meaning that putting on the 2xSAI style visuals actually makes things more consistent. The problem is, it isn't what the games used to look like; a bizarre choice, particularly the font - maybe this is ignorant, but if they can change the font surely they can change the script? I'm not talking about the pretty much racist content in the earlier games, I mean the typos and errors which have been preserved wholesale. As for the problematic stuff, the game does include a "these games were products of their time" disclaimer, which is my usual favoured way of presenting dodgy old content. Thing is, "their time" was the year 2000. This ain't Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves, guys, this is a few lines of text. No, the racist scenarios can't be removed wholesale, I understand that. But they could certainly be made markedly less racist. Given that the Boktai scenario has been restored and translated in Battle Network 6, as well as a few other little tweaks elsewhere, it seems odd to me that the egregious typos and stereotypes weren't edited, too.

That said, it doesn't stop me from giving this Legacy Collection a high score; while it doesn't have all the games you might want, it does go above and beyond in places and that's good enough for me. Its unusual inconsistent look and bizarre script choices do knock it down a peg, but you're getting hundreds of hours of Battle Network here along with real effort put into the bonus content and presentation of the menus. It's a good compilation, but not the best Legacy Collection. Better than that one with X5 thru X8 on it, though. Sheesh!