Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection’s second volume offers players who missed out on Battle Network 5 and 6 the chance to experience some of the Blue Bomber’s best titles for the first time. The fourth entry may not sit at the same pedigree, but it’s no reason to pass this opportunity up.
The deep, rewarding PvP combat in Battle Network 6 has finally gone online. This alone would be enough to justify the collection. Capcom even has a ranking system in place in an attempt to keep the matches balanced. It’s not perfect, but it should keep most matches fun.
The Volume 2 games in particular benefit the most from the inclusion of region- and event-exclusive content. This includes Bass soul, side quests and all the patch cards. Online play thankfully has a toggle to allow or disallow these features. These come alongside music and gallery features, though I doubt you’ll spend much time with these after day one.
This doesn’t mean the collection is without hiccups. There is no toggle or permanent run feature, which can be cumbersome for modern audiences. Similarly, walking is rarely useful, so holding down B just for faster traversal is as unwelcome today as it was back on the GBA. Matchmaking also fails the intuitive test, using the same host/guest system from the link cable days. This shouldn’t be an issue until the online population starts to die down, though.
Capcom proudly advertised the Buster MAX feature. When enabled, it boosts Megaman’s standard buster attack 100x. Their hope is that this will speed up progression for returning players, getting them to a PvP-ready state faster. New players can use it to help if they get stuck on a tough boss fight, but this runs the risk of not learning the lessons those bosses are trying to teach. While probably not the perfect solution, Buster MAX is a welcome feature.
Mega Man Battle Network 4 was the best-selling entry in the series. It was also the worst entry in the series. After iterating on the same ideas with only a few unique gimmicks here or there, BN4 was the first true deviation. All the overworld assets were remade, cutting into development time for other new features. The most controversial change was the New Game Plus system, which, instead of giving players access to the postgame and all the battle chips in one playthrough, required three completions. With styles and the navi customizer, the series didn’t need a forced reason to encourage replayability; NG+ is just lazy padding.
Not all changes were bad, though. Double Souls are added in lieu of styles, letting Megaman.EXE sacrifice a battle chip to combine with another character for three turns. This opens up new attacks and buffs for the sacrificed element. The styles of previous entries were rewarded based on a player’s long-term playstyle, so Double Souls speed up the rate at which players could experiment with different folders in exchange for the variety offered by BN3’s style-specific customizer parts. Neither is better than the other, but it’s a nice change of pace.
Battle Network 5 keeps Double Souls, adds six playable characters per version and drops New Game Plus. One addition remains the line between “love it or hate it,” though, and that’s the Liberation MIssions. The new characters each have a special ability that is used to progress through these missions. Dark panels and barricades block progress to the area’s boss, and players need to break through them by selecting a panel and winning a battle in three turns. It’s prevalent and different enough from the main game to turn players off if the system doesn’t interest them. Otherwise, a strong return to form.
Finally, there’s Battle Network 6. The devs likely saw the writing on the wall back in 2005 and threw the kitchen sink at this one. Double Soul has been replaced with the Cross system — essentially the same but with the turn counter and chip sacrifice requirement removed. This is much stronger but frees players to experiment without restraint. Beast Out is new as well, letting Megaman.EXE channel the version’s beast to unleash wild destruction for three turns. These two systems can be combined, leading to cross beast forms for each cross. That’s 13 forms per version, folks.
The game moves fast, resulting in some of the best boss fights in the series and without doubt the best PvP. The navi customizer can be overstuffed, filling up past the outer edges — everything here is “yes and.” Even when it missteps in pacing or postgame content, the game is so easy to forgive for its excessive benevolence.
If you haven’t played these games because they were stuck on the GBA for so long, give them a go — especially BN6. If you already love these games, the Legacy Collection has become the definitive way to play. These games are some of the best the Blue Bomber has to offer, so do yourself a favor and pick them up while the PvP iron is hot.
A Steam key was provided by PR for the purposes of this review.
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Volume 2 of the Battle Network Legacy Collection is the definitive experience for new and returning players. BN6’s excellent combat design and PvP finally have the online component to make them shine, and BN5 is a worthy entry in its own right.
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