Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Review – PET Collection

A blast from the past.

Posted By | On 12th, Apr. 2023

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Review – PET Collection

One of the things that made Capcom’s Mega Man series so enduring and beloved was just how flexible the character and the IP at large turned out to be. While the original games started out as action platforms, over time, Mega Man branched out and appeared in genres as wide ranging and eclectic as action adventure games, puzzle games, hack and slash games, and even role playing games.

That last one is what Mega Man Battle Network was. Yet another sub-series reinterpreting the mythos of Mega Man through a role playing lens, Battle Network was created in the wake of Pokemon’s explosive success, even though in terms of actual moment to moment gameplay, the two series end up diverging a fair bit.

"What chips you get in battle depend on which ones you found in the world (either by exploring, or by beating enemies) and equipped to your character."

Like Pokemon, however, Mega Man Battle Network was created for Nintendo handhelds – the GBA at the time. Like Pokemon, the releases came in dual, split versions (well, the later ones anyway; the first two were singular releases each); like Pokemon, the series involved a significant collection element. However, the similarities end there, and the actual structure and gameplay of the two IPs is much more different than a lot of impressions would have you believe.

The chief difference was, of course, in the battle system, which plays like a simplified tactical RPG, and mixes in some real-time elements into the mix as well. In battles, you have a specific, limited range of movement, as do your enemies, and other than a basic, weak attack always available to you, your abilities and powers are dictated by the chips you have on hand. You get to change your load out every turn (itself governed by a meter that fills up in real time), and depending on the chips you use, you can end up with buffs, debuffs, damage dealing attacks, heals, support moves, or some combination and variation of those. Multiple rules govern what kinds of chips you can use, and when – for example, ordinarily you can only use one chip per turn, but you can stack multiple chips together in the same turn if they are compatible (denoted by them having the same letter rating), or if you forego equipping any chips for a turn.

What chips you get in battle depend on which ones you found in the world (either by exploring, or by beating enemies) and equipped to your character. It sounds like a lot to keep track of (particularly for a kid friendly version of an already kid friendly franchise) but the games all come with an excellent (if, unfortunately, unskippable each time, no matter your past experience with the franchise) tutorial to make sure you’re fully caught up on what’s going on.

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection

"All of these were, at a bare minimum, good games – there is no obviously weak link in the package here, unlike, for example, the classic Mega Man series, or the Mega Man X games, and while there are some games that are definitely less beloved than others, all six of these are solid, satisfying, and fun RPGs. "

There is also very little variation in the battle system across the six games (and the dual versions of the latter four), meaning you only really have to play some of one of them, and you’re set in all six. Oh, sure, there are some differences – the ability to run from battles without using a specific chip didn’t exist until the second game, for some reason, and later games try to add some wrinkles to the mix, such as a synchronicity meter for critical hits and a charge beam for your basic attack; but by and large, these games all play the same.

Which contributed to the sense of sameness that originally did these games in to begin with. Between 2001 and 2005, Capcom released six of these games, and all of them shared their battle system, the same characters, the same locations, and even a lot of the same plot beats and themes. All of these were, at a bare minimum, good games – there is no obviously weak link in the package here, unlike, for example, the classic Mega Man series, or the Mega Man X games, and while there are some games that are definitely less beloved than others (the original and the last game are both considered weaker than, for example, the third game, which is a fan favorite), all six of these are solid, satisfying, and fun RPGs (albeit ones that should really not be played back to back). Their strong 16-bit art style and aesthetic, their strong soundtrack, their aforementioned unique battle system, and even their surprisingly prescient stories foreseeing the rise of smartphones and a constantly connected society (as well as the accompanying cybercrime that comes with that territory) all make playing at least one of them very much worth it for RPG or Mega Man fans.

It helps that the Legacy Collection itself seems to be a pretty good compilation of these games too. All the original games are emulated extremely well, with players also getting the option to play them through a high res filter that smooths out the look (why you would do that, I don’t know, but you can), the option to change the borders when you are playing, an optional “Max Buster” mode that greatly increases your damage and can be turned on or off at any time (except for during online battles, where it remains off), an art gallery, a music player, all the special tie-in and event cards that the original games had, and both versions of each game. In quite literally every way possible, this compilation is the definite way to play these games (unless you really prefer playing your games on original hardware, in which case good luck hunting down a GBA and a copy of all ten games included in here, I guess). 

Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection_02

"In quite literally every way possible, this compilation is the definite way to play these games."

Which means it comes down to the quality of the ten games (well, six, with four variations) included here; as mentioned, these are all, at bare minimum, good, and at their best, very good games. They are, however, very similar, and even though you get all of them in one go, you really would be advised to treat this as a multi-month, if not multi-year, long project. Not because the games are long (usually they take 15-30 hours to finish, meaning even the longest one would be on the shorter side for an RPG today), but because playing them without a break is the easiest and most effective way I can think of to get yourself to hate these games. And/or yourself.

These games aren’t great. They don’t hit the purity of design that Mega Man classic has, the fluidity and exciting kinetic dynamism that Mega Man X has, or the sheer highs that Mega Man Legends has. They are the Saturday morning adaptation equivalent (of a property that was already like a Saturday morning cartoon to begin with). You will like them, but they’re a bit like strongly scented vanilla ice cream. It makes an impression, but not nearly enough for you to try and parse the nuances to its flavour. 

But they are good – and this collection is the best way to play them, and a loving and reverential homage to them, adding a whole bunch of cool concessions and goodies without diluting the spirit of the original games. If you like Mega Man, get this collection. If you like RPGs, get this collection and play at least one of these games (preferably 3). You’re not going to fall in love, but you’re going to have a good time – and if you end up playing all the games over time, you’ll have a lot of it for a very low price of entry as well.

This game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch.


THE GOOD

Six good to very good games; the emulation is great, a whole lot of classics (new and original) are included, and concessions to modern players (such as a smooth filter, online play, and an easy mode) are all included.

THE BAD

None of these games ever approach the highs of other Mega Man sub-series (or other RPGs); the six games are all VERY similar.

Final Verdict:
GOOD
Without question, Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is the definitive way to play these beloved games. However, with that said, the worth of this compilation to you will come down to how much you value these games themselves.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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