Mega Man Battle Network 2 (GBA), the sequel that gave a new style to the blue robot, turns 20
In 2001, Capcom released Mega Man Battle Network for the Game Boy Advance, bringing a new style to the blue robot. From platform and action games, it became part of a series of tactical RPGs with card game elements, and its story, which took place exclusively in the physical world, began to include the virtual world of computer programs. It was a sudden change, but most players accepted it positively. In this way, the long-awaited sequel that will confirm the success of the new franchise.
Mega Man BattleNet 2 he arrived a year later, in 2002, with a very difficult mission: to surpass his predecessor and bring something new to the series. And indeed it did, improving some gameplay points, making the game more dynamic and expanding the game system with new items, attack combinations and areas to explore. In terms of story, we saw a direct sequel, introducing new villains and more challenging enemies.
Back to the connected world
The titles of the Battle Network series take place in an alternate reality where the Internet has become the main means of communication, connecting almost all common objects (stoves, tables, windows, etc.) to computers and personal devices. In this world, people use software avatars called NetNavis (Network Navigators) to connect to the computer network and other devices, allowing them to explore as if they were physical locations.
However, there are also those who use the network to commit crimes and terrorist acts, steal data and spread viruses. These threats are fought through a program called Battle Chips, where literal battles take place between NetNavis and virtual villains.
In Mega Man Battle Network 2, we return to this world and regain control of young student Lan Hikari and his NetNavi MegaMan.EXE, the summer after the events of the first game. After defeating the criminal organization WWW, the hero duo face off against the new terrorist group Gospel, which shows a distinct lack of attack pattern, causing trouble and random destruction, in the supposed spread of chaos.
Mega Man Battle Network 2’s exploration system continues as in the first game, using basic RPG concepts. We continue to switch between the real and virtual worlds, but with improvements in each.
In the case of the real world, new cities were added, expanding Lan’s role by having to talk to more people and visit different places. As for the virtual world, to access it it is still necessary to connect to the Internet through a device and through the “jack-in” action, by switching control to MegaMan. In this world, all the action takes place; that is, in addition to exploring large areas and solving puzzles, here we fight against computer viruses and other dangers.
Compared to the previous game, the look has been completely changed: each area has its own background and a different basic design. They went from a maze of narrow paths (which resembled network cables connecting computers) to representing roads of different sizes, research sites of different shapes, and paths with one-way arrows.
It’s good to point out that in order to avoid confusion between the layers of the grid, each one has started to represent a different color scheme and tones, something that really helps with locating, since there are no maps available. Also added are NetSquares, places where NetNavis can roam without being attacked by viruses. In them we have shops where you can get items like Battle Chips and Sub Chips.
New in the combat system
As with the first Battle Network, battles take place randomly as we walk through the virtual world. Focused on action, strategy and planning, combat takes place in an area divided into 18 spaces, with the right half reserved for MegaMan’s real-time movement.
In addition to the basic attack (straight blaster shooting), we can use Battle Chips, small chips that allow us to perform special moves during the battle. Each has a different effect, from stronger hits and energy recovery to helping other NetNavis. At the beginning of each fight, we can choose up to five tokens of the same type or letter, and during the action, a new choice becomes available from time to time, indicated by a bar at the top of the screen.
The news was about the preparation of Battle Chips. Previously, it was allowed to use up to 10 copies of any chip in a custom map. That number has been reduced to 5, forcing the player to choose a wider range of moves. Because of this, the number of chips with different effects was also increased, and the code “*” was created, making certain chips usable with others that have any letter code.
Another important change was the replacement of the old armor system with a style system, which brought advantages in the fight against certain types of enemies not only in terms of damage received, but also in terms of attack damage, in addition to changes in physical appearance. During the game, MegaMan can take on one of five styles (Guts, Team, Custom, Shield, and Hub), each of which can be combined with one of four elements (Fire, Wood, Electricity, and Water).
Opening the franchise door
On first sight, Mega Man BattleNet 2 it may seem like a no-nonsense sequel, mainly because the graphics are very similar to its predecessor. However, when we play it carefully and analyze it, we can see the benefits it brought: it simplified the battles, improved the visual representation of the scenarios and added more variety of skills and moves, along with a fun story and a surprising ending.
Its success at the time of its release showed that the franchise has a lot of future ahead of it, leaving fans eager for the next entries. As for today, the title has aged very well, and even today, it’s very fun and challenging to play, as every Mega Man game should be.
Review by David Sousa