I first really started getting into gaming when I was around 8. Before then my experience was mostly limited to Pokemon (including Snap), watching my sister play Zelda, and failing miserably at Super Mario Bros 1 and 3. Once I got my GBA though, it was all games, all the time. I didn't have to go downstairs and hog the TV, leaving myself open for scrutiny by the passers by. I could stay up in my room and (once I upgraded to the SP) play into all hours of the night. Among the many games I played, one series in particular ate up more hours than I could have possibly counted: Megaman Battle Network.
The first three games were absolutely perfect in every regard in my eyes. It had incredibly addicting and strategic yet accessible gameplay, characters that I could relate to at that age, and a story that I had no trouble being able to comprehend (which was my only qualm with Golden Sun, another game that ate away at my sleeping hours). The game mixed RPG, TCG, action, and grid based strategy all into one system that was, and still is, entirely unique. These games introduced me to a lot of new ideas, and helped me develop my skills as a gamer; something I desperately needed at the time.
Not too long ago I decided to play through the trilogy again, for old time's sake. Surprisingly, the combat system was still plenty challenging, considering I knew just what chips I wanted in my deck, how to fight some of the trickier enemies, and how to best upgrade Megaman for maximum virus-busting power. I even found that the random battles, which are blight in many RPGs, were entirely enjoyable. Though they do occur at incredibly inconvenient times, once I started picking my chips my thoughts were entirely on the battle, and I completely forgot that I was just dragged out of solving some puzzle or just walking somewhere.
The only thing that dragged the game down was the story. Where the characters had all made sense to me as a 10 year old boy, I began recognizing everything as reminiscent of a half-decent children's cartoon. Most of the time I found myself thinking "Seriously? This kid's in 5th grade, and he's licensed as some kind of internet cop? And he's going to another country completely by himself?" On top of that, the story progression is incredibly rough. Most chapters start with main character Lan and co deciding to go to the park, his dad's work, or school, and then suddenly there's a terrorist attack that only Lan and Megaman have the skills to prevent. For the most part there is no discernible, long-term goal throughout much of the game.
Herein lies the key to the game of my dreams: Megaman Battle Network with a good story. Leave the combat the way it was in games 1 to 3, just put it in a better setting. In the past few years, I have played quite a few games where the story and the world are what kept me coming back. Mass Effect, Bastion, Portal, Psychonauts, and Cave Story are all games that gave me a story to latch onto and care about to the point that the gameplay seems to be a bonus. Give me a world to immerse myself in, characters that I can care about, a clear and present goal, and motivation to work towards that goal, and I'm sold.
The sad thing is, the game already has the beginnings of a great story. Most people have "Navis," VI programs that serve as mediums between users and the Net. The Navis perform in combat called "virus busting" to, fight viruses and other Navis. Now, the interesting thing is that while every other Navi out there was written by someone, Megaman was actually a human at one point. Hub, Lan's brother, would have died as an infant, but somehow their father was able to preserve him as a Navi, and thus he became Megaman. So, that begs the question, what exactly is Megaman? Is he an organic program? How does it affect his ability to interact with other programs? Are other Navis just written to smile and laugh, or did study on Megaman lead to creation of true AIs that find it beneficial to partner with a human? How did Megaman grow from an infant being a program? There is so much there to work with, but due to the target audience so much is just left out completely.
So, that's it. Capcom needs to hire a some new writers and go digging through those archives for that battle system, because they may be sitting on a gold mine here. Just have Steve Blum voice the main character and throw in with Logan Cunningham's sexy Bastion voice, and I'll buy 10 copies.
LOOK WHO CAME: