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June 21, 2005
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 Written by D'Marcus Beatty  on August 02, 2005

Review: Mega Man saves the world for the gazillionth time

The Mega Man Battle Network series has become fairly established due to regular sequels and a loyal fan base. For those not familiar with the series, Battle Network takes Capcom's favorite blue android, Mega Man, into a world where he is a Navi, which is sort of like a living PDA. Together with his owner/friend Lan, Mega Man sets out on a series of adventures throughout the world and cyberspace. While there haven't been many changes in the series' overall formula, the gameplay still proves entertaining, if not innovative, and should be instantly accessible to Mega veterans and newcomers alike.

The formula behind the series has Lan as the passive hero, who explores the real world, communicates with people and sets the story in motion. Mega Man, conversely, explores cyberspace, which is Battle Network's equivalent of an RPG dungeon, although it has a decidedly futuristic theme. For example, instead of locked doors, Mega Man encounters security cubes, for which he'll need to get the password, BN's version of the key.

Battle Network 5 is, at its core, a role-playing game with chip-collecting elements, not unlike card battle games. Throughout the adventure, Lan and Mega Man collects chips, which become Mega Man's method of attack. Each chip gives Mega Man a certain ability, such as a boost to his buster cannon or the ability to heal himself or a sword attack. The pseudo real-time combat takes place on a grid, with half of the screen accessible to Mega Man and the other half accessible to the viruses he fights. Mega Man and foes move about their assigned squares in real time and attack in real time as well, although Mega Man can only access a certain number of chips at a time. Strategy comes into play here as Mega Man is randomly assigned a number of chips from the active list of chips that he possesses. This requires the player to regularly manage the types of chips in the active list, discard unnecessary repetitions and trade chips for more useful ones. These chips can be used in unison according to their letter designation. For example, Mega Man can use all the chips that are designated ?A?, or he can put them together sequentially (ABC) for a powerful attack. There are also other factors to consider, such as the emotion window, which shows Mega Man's state of mind. Depending on how the player performs in battle, Mega Man's mood may change. Numerous damaging attacks can make Mega Man worried, which hinders his abilities, while if you enter Full Synchro mode, which occurs when Mega Man is performing well and is ?in sync? with Lan, it will enhance his abilities. There is also the Dubl Soul and Chaos Union, which seems to allude back to Mega Man's earlier and simpler days. Mega Man occasionally acquires souls which he can merge with temporarily to gain new abilities, much like he used to do in his action games.

New to the Battle Network series are the Liberation Missions, which allows the player to control additional Navis in a quest of liberation. In this mode, the panels that are dark are infected and must be ?liberated?. Moving to a dark panel begins the battle, and defeating the foe there frees the panel from their dark influence.

The sound and graphics are pretty much unchanged from any other chapter of the series, using a cartoony visual style as well as simple sound effects and music. The game is presented from a three-quarters overhead perspective, with bright colorful characters.

Players can also trade chips between GBAs via the system link and battle friends. There is also another version of Battle Network 5, subtitled Team Colonel. The differences in the versions include different bosses, different available Navis, and different Soul unisons.

Bottom Line
Mega Man Battle Network 5: Team Protoman offers more of the same that has made the series so popular. However, there definitely isn't much new to look for here. If you are new to the series or are just looking for a another quick Mega fix, Battle Network 5 is undeniably a decent adventure. Like most Mega Man games, just don't look for much originality or innovation.

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