While many would argue that Mega Man Battle Network 4 brought with it some unwelcome changes, Capcom did not seem to pay much heed to fan complaints. Indeed, the fifth (!) entry is a fairly by-the-numbers sequel, featuring little in the way of changes or additions and is mostly similar to its predecessor.
Mega Man villains just don't seem to know when the quit, so the evil organization Nebula from Battle Network 4 is back and, once more, up to no good. You once again play as Lan who, together with his NetNavi MegaMan.EXE, attempts to thwart their plans.
Just like the familiar story setup, the gameplay has hardly changed. The game is again essentially comprised of two worlds, with Lan exploring the real one and MegaMan exploring the virtual one. MegaMan can get into battles which, unlike most RPGs, are not turn-based but rather in real-time, allowing you to freely move around on a grid, fire at enemies and unleash special attacks by using up special Battle Chips. Along the way you'll meet various other NetNavis based on classic Mega Man Robot Masters, but with radically different designs.
But of course, each game has to have at least one innovation, and in Battle Network 5's case, it's the all-new liberation missions. Every now and then you'll be able to participate in these special missions which offer slightly different gameplay.
As the name implies your objective is to "liberate" the area by defeating the Darkloid lurking somewhere within. While you can walk around the map freely, just like in any virtual area, you'll very quickly find a vast majority of the place is blocked by dark panels which must also be liberated. In order to liberating a panel you'll have to interact with it, which places you in a fight much like those elsewhere in the game. Win, and the way will be cleared.
The coolest part about these liberation missions is that you will go into them with a whole group of NetNavis rather than just MegaMan, with each having their own unique special abilities. Some are more effective at clearing panels, while another is even able to simply run across them without clearing them at all. This is a rare opportunity to play as NetNavis other than MegaMan, but you'll only be able to take a few with you - so pick the right ones for the job.
Being the fifth game in the series and also the fifth game in the series on GBA - it's hard to imagine new Mega Man games used to be a yearly thing, these days - Capcom clearly had some experience working with the system by this point, so the game once again features some catchy tunes and a fairly impressive world, graphically. The graphical style is still the same as the new one from the previous game, however, which might not sit well with some players.
Just like the previous game, Battle Network 5 is rife with spelling errors. There's not quite as many, but they're very easy to spot and reek a little of lazy editing, potentially even serving as a source of annoyance once you come across yet another error.
Like the last few games, Battle Network 5 also comes in two versions. The differences really don't have a huge impact on the game as a whole, and mostly come down to the games each featuring some different characters and bosses. However, as ninja fans, we can't help but give a slight edge to Team Colonel, which just so happens to have ShadowMan!
It's another Mega Man Battle Network game, what more is there to say? This fifth entry doesn't really change things up too much, so if you enjoyed the previous game - as we did - you're likely to enjoy this one as well.
Curiously, Capcom originally also released both games as one title on the DS just a few months after their GBA release, so it remains to be seen whether or not that game will show up on the eShop as well. If you're not too fussed about the version differences however, you can't really go wrong by just picking up one of these two.