Mega Man Network Transmission
Game Info
Platform(s)
GameCube
Publisher
Capcom
Developer
Arika
Genre
Platformer
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• 2D action plus cel-shaded cartoon style
• Battle chips system is a nice addition
• Fun music

The Bad

• Insane difficulty
• Buster is ridiculously underpowered
• Visual package could use a little more style

 
Grade
B

After years of 3D adventures and some 2D sidescrollers on the GBA, Mega Man makes his return to 2D on a console with this Gamecube title based off of the cartoon series. As an online avatar for Lan, Mega Man runs around the net fighting viruses and other online problems. The main story is simple enough - LAN and Mega Man discover that a virus known as the Zero Virus is wrecking havoc on the net. When the two of them discover someone is passing off a virus as a vaccine, they find themselves fighting other user's avatars.

Mega Man Network Transmission uses the standard gameplay setup from the recent GBA titles, which involves your classic 2D platforming - where you jump, dodge and shoot enemies to get to portals leading to other stages. To augment this, Mega Man is given a random selection of battle chips to start each area. The chips have a range of uses, including basic weapons, bombs, and even the ability to turn invisible and invincible for a time. While you are only allowed five at any given time, you can swap them out when your Custom Gauge fills by hitting the Z Button. While this system is pretty random, you can select a favorite chip before "jacking in" and once you start to gain more chips, you'll be able to customize your folder, trimming out chips you don't care to use.

While each area has a set place to go to, you'll want to do a little exploration to find money and powerups. Mega Man can increase his HPs, MPs and even gain more ammo for each of his weapons, and since most of his battle chips start with such low ammo, you'll relish in each and every new powerup you find. While in the net, Mega Man can "jack out", allowing LAN to go buy more battle chips, armor and sub chips from the shop. Only out in the real world can you save, but jacking out will allow you to keep Mega Man from dying prematurely. This retreating tactic can prove to be a lifesaver, and allows you to keep your progress (unlocked doors) to a degree.

Visually, the core of Mega Man Network Transmission provides a nice package to look at. While the backgrounds and platforms are done in cyber-styled standard graphics, the characters, enemies and powerups are all done in smooth, cartoon-influenced cel-shaded graphics that do a wonderful job at capturing the theme well. The colorful visuals move quickly and there are some good visual effects in play, but I really wish that Arika had just pumped more into the game. The effects and the overall presentation feels a little timid. To be honest, the short intros for the bosses were the nicest part of the game's visual presentation. Whether this is a byproduct of the 2D nature or just a development decision, I really feel that this title was just a little push away from being great.

Audiowise, the game has the standard set of effects and the voiceacting, which come in small portions as an accent to the story elements. The voice acting is still in Japanese, but since very little is actually spoken, this doesn't prove to be a detriment. While the music is upbeat and fun, it can get repetitive, but that's most likely because you'll be replaying the levels over and over due to the extreme challenge.

The biggest gripe that just about anyone will have with this Mega Man title is the level of difficulty. Mega Man comes equipped with his Buster Cannon, which has a unlimited supply of what seems like spitwads. If you plan on using this weapon rather than the battle chips, expect to do a lot of dodging or just shooting enemies off-screen or just out of range for a good 10-20 seconds until they finally wear down and die. Also, while I like the Battle Chip system, the randomness of it can leave you without essential weapons to deal with certain enemies or bosses. While you can live with the challenge the levels give you, bosses will kill you with little effort. Only with the right set of battle chips and luck will you stand a chance with the earlier bosses. Fortunately, later on in the game after a good number of powerups are found, Mega Man seems to handle both the levels and bosses a little easier, but in all, the game will test even the sturdiest Mega Man fan.

If you can adjust to the difficulty, Mega Man Network Transmission is a good fun 2D platformer that hails back to Mega Man's roots. While I wished they had done a little more to push the story graphically, the challenge and solid 2D action were enough to keep me going.

- - Vane

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