The Start of the Affair: Mega Man Battle Network

[Editor’s note: It’s people like Kazooaloo that makes Capcom put out a new Mega Man game every other day. Check out his Start of the Affair as part of this month’s Monthly Musing. — CTZ

My love for gaming started like any other gamer out there, on the NES. I was two when I started playing games. But when you’re that age, you don’t mind the game; just the pretty colors being emanated on the screen. My dad was playing a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 and doing tag team with my sister. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get very far in the game, world 4 if anyone’s keeping score. That, and there was no save option in the original game, so every time you started the game, you had to start from the beginning. But one day when I decided I wanted to play, my sister showed me how to move Mario and how to make him jump. Over the next week, the two of them would sit in the room with a notepad going “you can do that?” and the occasional “I didn’t know that was there,” while I was playing. Ah yes, the birth of a gamer.

It was also during this time when there was no ESRB rating system. You judged your games by how the front cover looked. So to my parents, when they saw Mega Man 2 for the first time and saw the wonderful boxart, they figured it would be too violent for me and I was never allowed to play that game. This is also the same family that thought The Legend of Zelda cartoon was too violent for me, and the day I swung from my bed to the other side of the room using the curtain rod was enough to stop allowing me to watch the Adam West Batman. Of course, as the years went by and all other kinds of games entered the market, the banning of Mega Man in my house was soon forgotten.

More after the jump.

Then 2002 came, the year that would introduce me to Mega Man. My latest copy of Nintendo Power came in the mail, and I was so excited to come home and read what was inside. Of course I also had the Internet and was able to find out what was going to come out moments before NP told me. In the issue was a video game series that I had never heard of. The name was Mega Man Battle Network, and the article was talking about the second game in this series. “Interesting name,” I thought to myself as I skimmed the article, and then continued read on the rest of the article. But as I found myself bored in my room working on homework, I kept opening up that copy of NP and kept re-reading the article on MMBN2. The more I read it, the more I wanted to buy it. So when I saved up my money I went to Target to buy it. My mom looked at the box and wondered if I really wanted this.

After playing the second game, I was hooked. I loved it. I was really into the depths of the Internet: creating my own web sites, talking on forums, all that fun stuff. I really liked how this game made the Internet come to life. Having a device where a computer program could talk to you. Then you could take a plug from the device and “jack-in” to the Internet. There the program could wander around the Internet, talk to other programs, even battle against computer viruses. But wait, this is game 2. That must mean there is a game 1 out there somewhere. Well when I found the first game and played it, I liked it but not as much as 2.

By the time Mega Man Battle Network 3 was announced, I was ecstatic. Not only was Battle Network 3 coming for the GBA, but a whole new MMBN game was announced for the Gamecube. Mega Man Network Transmission was the game. But as I went to GameStop to pick up my copy, I noticed something on the box that made me think. On the box had a nice little symbol that said “Mega Man 15th.” “15th?” I wondered. I asked the clerk who told me that Mega Man had been around for 15 years. Well that’s not possible because Battle Network 1 came out in 2001. That’s when I realized that there were other Mega Man games besides Mega Man Battle Network out there.

Over the next couple years I went out trying to grab every Mega Man game I could find; actual or ROM, it didn’t matter to me. I had to play every one. It first started with Mega Man Zero for the GBA, and then Mega Man X5 for the PC. Yup, I found a copy of X5 at a GameStop for PC and instantly grabbed it, and it is still my favorite X series game. When a new Mega Man game came out, I knew about it and I saved up to get it.

Then I stumbled one day on a little site called Rockman.EXE Online. As I started to read about it, I realized that there was an Anime based on the Mega Man Battle Network series. But Rockman.EXE? Why is it called Rockman.EXE? And that’s when I started to piece together that Rockman is to Japan as Mega Man is to America. When the anime came to America, I always made sure I was there in front of the TV just to watch it. When the DVD’s and the manga’s came out, I always got them just to watch whenever I got bored.

To me, Mega Man is probably one of my favorite video game series out there. I don’t play for the best graphics, or the amazing surround sound feature. I play for the story. Although pretty much every Mega Man sequel in a series looks like the game before it, I don’t care. As long as the game has a good story, I’ll play it. For the original games, there wasn’t much of a story. All you did was start a stage, fight your way through, and then try and beat the boss without him wiping the floor with you.

But the best story, for me, is the story that got me roped into Mega Man in the first place: Battle Network. In the beginning of the series, Battle Network attempted to create a Mega Man story that was believable. Robotics was the in thing for science fiction books, movies, even games. However by today’s standards, the Internet is more fascinating and has pretty much controlled almost every aspect of our lives. To take that experience, expand it to control all aspects of our lives, and to make the Internet more interactive with human beings was cleaver and is plausible in today’s world. In all honesty, wouldn’t you like your watch to be able to check the Internet?

I know a lot of die hard Mega Man fans hate the Battle Network and its spin-off Star Force series, but that’s only because of it’s card-based RPG. To me, Mega Man can be side-scroller, first person shooter, Devil May Cry style, it doesn’t matter. All that matters to me is the story of Mega Man and whatever distant or alternate universe brothers he has.

Over the years I’ve collected a lot of Mega Man merchandise and games. Not because I’m one of those hard-core collectors, but I buy the games and usually my sister buys me the merch and stores it for my birthday, or I get for free, like the 15th anniversary wall scroll from a GameStop and the grey Mega Man t-shirt my boss gave me at a conference of his. Of course this is not everything I own, but most of it is there.

The first step towards healing is admitting you have a problem

Looking at my pile there sitting behind me, it’s kinda scary. I never realized how much stuff I have bought for Mega Man. But then again, when you buy something for something you like, that’s called support right? Nevertheless, Mega Man will keep on chucking out games, and I’ll probably keep buying them up. And who’s to blame for all of this? Why Nintendo Power of course. For without them, I wouldn’t have this giant collection currently sitting in the family room waiting to be brought back into my room where the rest remain.

The article that started it all. Thanks Nintendo Power.