| The Good
2D action plus cel-shaded cartoon style
Battle chips system is a nice addition
| The Bad
Buster is ridiculously underpowered
Visual package could use a little more style
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.