Mega Man Network Transmission for the GameCube is a spin off of the GBA games of the same title, but does not surpass them in any category. However, bringing back Mega Man to his 2D sidescrolling roots is a perfect way to celebrate his 15th year anniversary.
The story of the game is a continuation of the GBA versions. The game takes place in the future and the player is in control of a young boy and his “PET” Mega Man. Since everything revolves around the use of computers, it is up to Mega Man to stop computer viruses from taking over in the cyber world. These naughty viruses are none other then enemies from the Mega Man series. Fireman, Gutsman, and other memorable bosses are back again but under the title of computer viruses.
Mega Man Network Transmission (MMNT) plays out like an old school Mega Man game. The player starts at the beginning of a level, and he must work his way through the end. With only a few puzzles, the game is more based on action. People that played the older Mega Man games will probably appreciate the sidescrolling concept while newcomers to the series might think the game is to dull and outdated.
New to the Battle Network games is its weapon system. Instead of just shooting your blaster and gaining the power of bosses, simple but powerful subweapons can now be gained. These “Chips” are weapons that include things like swinging a powerful but short ranged sword, shooting three bullets simultaneously, and healing yourself. These battle chips will allow Mega Man to kill enemies more easily but at a price. These weapons can only be shot in limited quantities and for a specific time span. A power meter will deplete each time one of these battle chips are used along with one unit in the quantity. However, the meter will regenerate over time. This system was designed to eliminate rapid-fire power shots, as that would make the game easy.
As previously stated, there isn’t much in the field of puzzle solving as this is an action-based game. Basically, the only puzzles that will occur are simply finding the right key card to open the corresponding door. Instead, players must rely on their reaction skills as enemies will often pop up quickly and mercilessly. To the average gamer, this game can be considered much too difficult in the field of level design and boss battles and will often result in frustration. On the other hand, veterans of the series will love the high difficultly level as it will remind them of the older Mega Man games.
Besides obtaining battle chips, equipment can also be gained. New armor can be equipped to help complete the task at hand. For example, when fighting Fireman, equip the Fire Armor as it will cut the damage by 50%. This brings more of an RPG feel.
One huge downfall about this game is the fact that is it very slow paced. Mega Man himself runs very slowly. Since this game is based on action, things need to be fast moving. Even though the addition of the new weapon system is present, some of Mega Man’s best moves were lost. Mega Man can no longer wall jump to reach new heights. This simple feature is what made the Mega Man X series famous. Wall jumping while sliding down a wall has always been a great pleasure through the X series and should have been included in this game as well. However, the slide move did make it into this game. In addition, be warned if you are a new comer to the Battle Network series as there is a learning curve to the menu and combat system. The game does a meteoric job of explaining all the rules, but it could have been clearer. Since the game doesn’t explain itself completely, the player will probably have to refer to the instruction manual a few times.
The play control is very tight and responsive. The player is given the option to use either the D-pad or the analog stick. Both fit the game very well and it is up to personal opinion when deciding on which to use. “A” is used to jump while the “B” button shoots regular basic bullets. These bullets are very weak and will mostly be used when your power meter runs out. “Y” is used as the weapon button. This button will shoot or use the weapon or item that is selected. To select these weapons, the “L” and “R” buttons will be used to cycle through your inventory. Uniquely, the “X” button is used as a temporary pause. This feature will be used when you are in the heat of battle and want to switch your weapons without the hassle of dodging bullets. “Z” will bring up a new menu of battle chips while the Start button will bring up the main menu. The control layout is simple while remaining tight and responsive.
The game sports a cel-shaded look similar to Wild Arms 3. Despite the cartoony look, nice particle effects and lighting techniques are present throughout the game. Each bullet that Mega Man shoots will give off a fluorescent light that will brighten up the floor and walls that are near it. Other than that, this game could have probably pulled off the same look on N64 or Playstation 1. Typical to all Mega Man games is the same action feeling music. Players will neither hate it nor like it. The same simple sound effects are present too. But for some reason, when you jump, Mega Man sounds like a little girl. This can become very distracting.
This Mega Man game will be liked by hardcore fans of the Battle Network series but other gamers will over look it. This series is better played on the GBA. It seems to lose something when simply playing in an old school, Mega Man X format. The more RPG style of the GBA versions make for a better game. In addition, the game’s speed needs to be increased as game play is much too slow and moves like the wall jump need to be available from the beginning of the game. Also, most people will find this game too difficult, especially during the boss fights. Since both the GC and GBA games use a very similar weapon system, a GBA/GC link function should have made it into the final game since two new Mega Man Battle Network games were also released. Fans of the GBA series should probably be cautious if thinking about purchasing this game as it plays out differently. I say, if you are a fan of the series, then rent this game first. If you never played a Mega Man Battle Network game, play the GBA versions in numeric order to understand and to get the most out of the game. This is a game that probably could have been great if some design issues were worked out.