In the early 2000s, an ancient and long-forgotten era when Capcom regularly released new Mega Man games, the company decided to produce not one, but two mainline Mega Man series on the popular Game Boy Advance. Mega Man Zero would continue the gameplay and storyline that the previous action platforming franchises were famous for, while another series—Mega Man Battle Network—would be set in its own world and follow an all-new RPG template. It was an unconventional idea, but Capcom quickly showed the value of its vision for these games, and now they’ve been brought back in their finest form yet under the Mega Man Battle Network Collection.
Available split across two volumes on the Switch eShop or on a physical cart with all 10 games, the collection includes the original GBA game and its sequel, and then each pair of subsequent sequels. So, 3 Blue and White, 4 Red Sun and Blue Moon, 5 Team Protoman and Team Colonel, and 6 Cybeast Gregar and Cybeast Falzar.
Mega Man Battle Network is set in the distant future in a parallel world to the main Mega Man timeline; here network technology flourished instead of robotics. Everyone carries around an advanced device in their pocket called a PET, which can handle various tasks such as sending emails and making phone calls, but most importantly houses that person’s Net Navi. A Net Navi is an artificial intelligence that acts as a person’s representative in the digital world of the internet, which here is realized as a navigable, physical space. Viruses on the internet take the shape of a bottomless onslaught of monsters that must be kept at bay by human/Navi pairs of Netbattlers.
Each game follows the adventures of Lan Hikari, a spunky Netbattling kid, and his Navi, Mega Man.EXE, as they get caught up in various plots to save the world. Narratives are typically broken up into a series of small arcs that somehow tie into Lan’s school life, each of which culminates in a fight against another powerful Net Navi and advance the overall story a bit further. Though the games tend to rely a little too heavily on tired shonen tropes and overcoming all odds through the ‘power of friendship’, there’s nonetheless a lot of heart at the core of the writing here.
Lan and Mega Man’s relationship is especially well fleshed out through all six games, and his core cast of supporting friends and allies adds some nice texture to the storytelling as it evolves. Whether it be the somewhat adversarial friendship between Lan and his best friend, Dex, or the will-they-won’t-they subtle romance between him and Mayl, there are a lot of great character-driven moments here to humanize the narrative.
Battle Network gameplay follows an RPG-esque structure where you explore isometric worlds as either Lan or Mega Man. Just about anything that uses technology can be jacked into, and many devices are directly connected to the internet itself, which acts as a big super dungeon that you slowly uncover more of as you progress the story. Echoing the design philosophies of the classic Mega Man games, the villain of each plot arc is given their own themed dungeon, too, usually featuring puzzles and environmental hazards in line with their main gimmick. Blast Man, for example, rules over a domain where firestorms can come from any direction at any time. There are steel cubes placed throughout that you can hide behind when you see one coming, and you take damage if you can’t dive for cover in time.
Every now and then, you’ll also come across sections of the dungeon that require some information or action on Lan’s part in the real world. For example, Flash Man’s dungeon is initially too dark for Mega Man to see anything in, requiring Lan to occasionally run to a nearby room to turn on a light switch. While giving Lan something to do, it can sometimes feel a little forced, although we appreciated how the dungeons usually make a point to highlight how the duo is acting as a team, rather than just Mega Man doing all the heavy lifting.
Combat in Mega Man Battle Network employs an innovative take on action and deckbuilding that, with the exception of One Step From Eden, hasn't really been seen in another game or series since. Battles are randomly triggered and see you whisked away to a grid-based 6x3 battlefield; the right half of it can be traversed by viruses while the left half is reserved for Mega Man. Before battle begins, five battle chips—representing attacks or support actions you can take—are randomly selected from your chip folder and are presented to you for selection, though the odds are quite good you’ll only be able to select two or three at a time. Every chip has an alphabetic code attached to it, and you can only select chips that are either duplicates of each other or share an alphabetic code.
Once you’ve made your selection, you then shift to the action phase of battle where you can nimbly move between tiles on the grid to avoid enemy attacks and line yourself up for effective shots on your enemies. Mega Man has his trusty Megabuster for chipping away at foes, which can be charged to do a more damaging shot, though chips will always be your main damage source. As the action phase goes on, a bar at the top of the screen fills up over the course of a few seconds; once full, you can then call up the menu to select more chips and repeat the cycle.
In practice, this combat system remains a brilliant and dynamic means of engagement, especially given its relatively high skill ceiling. For example, later games allow you a window to counterattack enemies if you manage to damage them during the windup animation for their attack, both freezing them in place and doubling your next attack’s damage. And while it’s difficult to build a chip folder that outright doesn’t work, a lot goes into efficiently building decks that utilize synergies among chip codes and elemental types alongside more technical considerations like animation timing. Building a proper chip folder is thus an interesting exercise, one that keeps renewing itself, too, as you slowly amass a larger collection of hundreds of chips.
And while the average virus encounter doesn’t push your skills too hard, there are still plenty of interesting ways that your foes play around with the mechanics. One enemy, for example, attacks by placing a time bomb somewhere randomly on your side of the battlefield, requiring that Mega Man peel off and destroy it before it nukes his whole side. Another enemy can create holes on your side of the field, limiting your ability to evade other enemy attacks. Every boss will have their own distinct gimmicks and elemental attacks, too, such as requiring that you hide behind barriers placed on the battlefield to avoid a directional super-attack.
Depending on the game you’re playing, there are also additional mechanics to expand the combat system even further. Battle Network 5, introduces Liberation Missions, which add an SRPG-esque mode for retaking certain areas of the internet from terrorists. Battle Network 6, on the other hand, lets you “Beast Out” in battle and turn Mega Man into a half-beast version of himself that does way more damage, though you do so while running the risk of losing control and using chips and attacks randomly. We appreciated how the developers iterated on this combat system with each successive entry; it never lost its core appeal, but every game brings in some interesting new ideas that really build it out.
The only real drawback to this combat system is that it feels like the random encounter rate can be a little too high. You’ll often find yourself attempting to solve a puzzle in a dungeon, only to be interrupted every few seconds by yet another group of easily defeated viruses. Battles typically take no longer than 30 seconds and usually less than 10 to complete, but it can still be a recurring irritation. Capcom didn’t include any means of dialing down the encounter rate for this re-release, but it did see fit to include a “Buster MAX” mode that sees your Megabuster doing a hundred times its normal damage per uncharged shot. You can toggle this on or off at will at any time, and it trivializes just about any enemy or boss encounter, which can be a good solution for those who want to get through battles as painlessly as possible.
Every Mega Man collection up till now has had some new additional mode to round out the package and Capcom has kept that going here by including a full-fledged online mode for trading chips and Netbattling. For battles, you can play either casual or ranked modes and determine rules such as whether Patch Cards are allowed or whether the loser will have to pony up a battle chip to the winner. We didn’t get to give this mode a try as other players weren’t available during the review period, but it seems that this will be a great way of adding more playtime to the overall package — in case the mountain of content being offered in single-player somehow wasn’t enough.
As for presentation, these games have stood the test of time reasonably well and still look good today. Though the overworld and exploration portions took a noticeable downgrade to a simpler art style from the fourth game on, the futuristic environments and digital landscapes nonetheless have a distinctive and evocative look, while the virus designs are both memorable and creative. Whether you’re running through the busy streets of Den Town or rooting around in the seedy depths of the Undernet, there’s something quite charming about seeing such a bright and optimistic take on a futuristic society, not to mention it’s rather cute to get a sense of how some people in the early 2000s predicted the internet might look in the future. There are also various options you can select for changing the screen size, choosing various themed borders, or adding a (gross) smoothing filter if the jagged pixel edges bother you, which gives you a decent level of control over how you want these games to look as you play.
The soundtrack hasn’t held up nearly as well as the visuals, but there are still plenty of memorable themes here. Even though the tinny quality of the Game Boy Advance sound chip is on full display here, Capcom managed to make the most of the hardware to produce some solid chiptunes, whether it be the peaceful theme of Lan’s home, ACDC Town, or the intense battle themes that play across the countless battles and boss fights. It feels like some of these tracks can get just a little bit too repetitive, especially the ones that will play in multiple scenarios, but most of them don’t grate too harshly.
As for supplementary content, Capcom has included an extensive gallery of promotional and concept art for each game, alongside a music gallery for listening to original tracks and some remixes. Additionally, the Japanese exclusive Patch Cards (like an old version of amiibo) can now be ‘scanned in’ from a menu in each game to give you some helpful goodies, and even the side content tied to Konami’s Boktai series has been included here. None of this is game-changing, sure, but it shows that Capcom went the extra mile to ensure that this would present the old games in the most feature-complete way possible.
There’s quite a bit of content to explore for those who really get hooked. Each game can be beaten in 20-ish hours, but you can easily triple that number or more if you want to see all the content and attain full completion in each entry. Sometimes this can be a bit of a grind—Battle Network 4 requires that you play through the whole game three times before you can unlock everything—but most of the post-game content is quite compelling. Hunting down all the secret chips to fill out your library, solving esoteric puzzles, and taking on brutal superboss fights are par for the course here, offering up plenty of additional challenge for those who found the story too easy.
It's clear that a lot of effort and love went into Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection; this is a worthwhile re-release that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. While everyone will have their favorite, the Mega Man Battle Network series remained remarkably consistent throughout its whole run, due in no small part to the innovative battle system and charming storylines present in each entry. If you’re a fan of Mega Man and haven’t given these games a shot yet, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up immediately. Even if you’re not a Rockman enthusiast, these games each offer up some inventive RPG experiences that are certainly worth your time.
My second chance to play those Megaman games from GBA on modern consoles.
So, I want to ask these questions.
1. Are both Switch and PS4 running on 60 fps?
2. Is there any option to make full screen without being bordered by the frame?
Give it to me nooooow.
Am a big fan of the series, so will be picking up my copy.
Reading through, sounds like they didn’t include the enhanced MMBN1 & MMBN5 releases on the DS; the former of which was a Japan exclusive.
Then again, the MMBN5 rerelease included the dub voices from the anime which were always way too deep for the characters and personally I thought they were massive miscasts. Much preferred the JP VA’s.
Definitely grabbing this one!
I might just bite and get this compilation, being a Mega Man fan. I loved the first entry, although I never finished it and I have not played any other entries, either. So getting this essentially means buying all new games for myself, excluding the first one.
Is it possible to play the games without ugly borders, though?
I've never played the games before and I've never really been a Mega Man fan or anything, however I played a lot of One Step From Eden which I loved which has made me curious in checking out the Battle Network games. Don't think there's a physical release here unfortunately but I'll be importing a copy along with a few other games that have released recently.
@Anti-Matter Can't speak for PS4, but I didn't notice any frame issues whatsoever on Switch. And you can have the play area fill the screen vertically, but there's always little borders on the sides because these games maintain the same resolution as the GBA screen.
Looks interesting enough..
Will wait for a huge sale though.
I’m so bummed that this isn’t on Xbox, because I have all the other Mega Man compilations on there
“Random encounter rate can be irritating”
All I needed to hear.
Not played Mega Man before but I like deckbuilders and RPG's so will probably pick this up. Will have to be next month though, the back end of April is pretty crammed with Eshop releases that fit my tastes.
Most of the games in this collection feature consumable or upgrade items called "SneakRun" that allow you to reduce the encounter rate for weaker enemies.
It's only absent from the first game.
Although there are nuances to using SneakRun in that it can filter the types of encounters, such as making random boss encounters more likely.
@Krambo42 yeah these games have Amazing Battle System but the encounter rate is atrocious.
If you really can't stand random encounter stay away from this.
As for me, always liked the franchise and can't wait to get this.
Capcom really dropped the ball by not giving this one a European physical release. The quality of the compilation seems very solid, but I just don't want to give my Day One money to a company that doesn't deem my region as worthy of a proper physical release.
I always wanted to try these games. I definitely plan on picking up the collection.
I have no idea how I missed this series back in the day. I love megaman, battles and networks. Definitely picking this up day 1.
Actually just made a preorder. Almost did GameStop’s Buy 2 Get one free and bought the Megaman Legacy X collection along with it but decided not to since I still need to preorder Trinity Trigger.
If there was an option to reduce the random encounter rate, I think I would be much more interested in this collection. I remember playing the first game about a year ago and not being able to take like 10 steps without getting into an encounter. My only hope is that the game will get some sort of update that allows you to manually reduce the number of encounters.
This was the Mega Man series I grew up with and I'm looking forward to playing through all 6 of these games again for the first time in years.
Pretty cool that almost every Mega Man series is now available on Switch. Only missing Legends and Star Force now.
Wait, what? Europe doesn't even get a physical release?
Well, to be fair.. this IS Crapcom.. I should've expected this. Oh well, an easy skip then for me personally.
Wanted to wait for a sale on a physical version - digital sucks - but if there is none.. Oh well. There's loads of better Switch games coming anyway.
This is the only release I'm excited for this year on switch, bring it oooooooon
@StarPoint all the games from two onwards have consumables that let you avoid most of the encounters. Pretty sure starting in three it becomes a piece of equipment as well as a consumable.
So it can be a little frustrating for a bit, but it's not unbearable for the whole game.
Good to hear this collection is as good as it seemed, will eventually get it for sure!
I pre-ordered and paid for mine on Amazon. But because it doesn't have Release-Day Delivery, I won't be able to play the game until I get it on the 18th, next week. It's sad, really. Why is it that Capcom can't pay to prioritize this collection to be delivered on the day of its release while Nintendo CAN afford to do that for the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom?
Very excited to finally give these games a try!
It’s a shame this collection is missing some games in the series. What about Network Transmission and Battle Chip Challenge?
@FX29 I would love to see a collection of the Game Boy games, too.
Battle Network Transmission on GameCube was soooo good. Never got a sequel which was a bummer. I wish that game was also on this collection. It’s a shame it’s not since now we can play almost everything Megaman. Maybe one more collection with legends and transmission!!!
Gonna be a skip for me. While I enjoyed the first 3 games. It was just a downgrade from 4 onwards.
I just checked around for a purchase but this seems to be one of those games that seems to be skipping a EU physical release. 😔
I'll wait for the moment then but I'll buy it eventually.
This will make a fine addition to my collection.
Now we just need Mega Man Star Force Legacy Collection, Mega Man Legends Legacy Collection, and a Mega Man Gems Collection with all the odd-ball games that haven't been added to a collection yet like Network Transmission, X Command Mission, Mega Man & Bass, Powered Up, the Xtreme games, etc.
I am SO hyped for this release!
Recently, to hype myself up further, I've been watching the anime, picked up an imported Rockman DX Progress P.E.T., 3D printed and hand painted a Roll figurine, and also have the upcoming official Rockman Exe figure set pre-ordered (which includes Rockman/Megaman, Roll, Gutsman, and Fireman figures, as well as the 6x3 battle grid from the game to display them on).
I've got Battle Network fever! Friday can't come soon enough.
I'd say take a point off for not including Network transmission but other than that good collection. I stopped playing these after the third so this time I'm gonna go through the whole series.
I pre-ordered this one. I have the first game of the series, but never finished it, although I enjoyed it. Looking forward to jumping back in.
Can’t wait to get this game! I’ve sadly never played the battle network series so I’ve been waiting for this to release to I could try it.
@Kirbo100 Mega Man Soccer
The Battle Network series was a good chunk of my childhood and is by far my favorite Mega Man sub-series; I've never really been able to get into the platformers despite a couple of attempts with the original and X series. I'll certainly be picking this collection up down the line! Even if I still own one GBA copy of each "main" release from 3 on up (MMBN 3 White, MMBN 4 Red Sun, MMBN 5 Team Protoman, and MMBN 6 Cybeast Gregar respectively; I have played Team Colonel and Cybeast Falzar as well). It'll be interesting to revisit this series using a modern lens; PETs (Stands for PErsonal Terminal) are essentially today's smart phones.
@SwitchVogel Did Capcom fix the typos in this collection? Not sure if I want them to or not out of nostalgia. XD
@Bratwurst35 I'll agree in regards to 4 since you need to play through both versions three times to truly "beat" them, and 5 to a lesser extent since I wasn't the biggest fan of Liberation Missions. I disagree regarding MMBN 6 since I felt that pair were a nice mechanical love letter to this sub-series. Cross-fusion/Linking whenever without relying on certain chips, AND combining that with an OP Beast Out mode (Not to mention Beast Over was a fun albeit risky mode)? Sign me up! Though moving Lan to a new town only to move him back to Den City at the end seemed a slight stretch.
Are these better than the GameCube spinoff, I remember getting very bored with the battle chips and the story?
@Tyranexx Fair enough. I just felt 3 was peak and the rest felt lacking.
@Tyranexx I only liked the first 3. I only got into the series because at the time Capcom was doing a crossover with my other favorite game Boktai.
@Krambo42 I was thinking the exact same thing. Went from a day one to a sale purchase for me.
This. Not sure why Capcom never included them in the original Legacy collection. With the 3DS eshop gone there's no legal way to buy them on modern consoles now.
I've never played a game in the series. I look forward to this.
Looks like a quaint entry point to the franchise
Day one buy indeed, can't wait to get into Battle Network 1, 2, and 3 again and hopefully 4, 5, and 6 eventually.
Has much as I played the GBA back in the day I just never got around to playing this series. I’m about to change that.
@Bratwurst35 I did quite like 3, in fact they're narrowly my second favorite pair of the bunch. I quite liked style changes (Though I do prefer the utility of Double Soul more), genuinely found the game challenging back in the day, and I thought they tied up the first Dr. Wily arc pretty nicely before bringing him back in 6. My only regret is I wasn't ever able to get hold of the better Blue version back in the day.
@Vexx234 To be fair, the first three are more tied together in plot, mechanics, and visual style compared to later entries. As mentioned above, 3 is my second favorite of the bunch (2 is third). Funny you mention Boktai; I had no idea for many years that the references were actual tie-ins to another series. Wish I'd known more about it back in the day. I mainly got into the Battle Network games thanks to the anime (localized as Mega Man NT Warrior), and even then had no idea there were related games until my brother was gifted one.
@Tyranexx Haha no problem. To be fair it's not surprising if you didn't hear of the game. It didn't fair so well outside of Japan. However it's from the Metal Gear series creator Kojima.
The game had a solar senor attached to cartridge and well direct sunlight was required to play the game. But yeah, it was cool. You got a few bonus items from each game, a mini subplot, and multiplayer.
Better to "Jack in" than the reverse.
They should have added features like:
@Vexx234 I first read about the Boktai series a couple years ago and thought it was a cool idea on paper, but in execution...I can kind of see why the series didn't really catch on outside of Japan. I can't think of many people who'd want to use any type of screen for long in direct sunlight since the brightness would really need turned up, thus eating through the battery faster. 😅 I've read the games function like stealth titles outside of direct sunlight.
@Tyranexx Lol no, they didn't fix the typos. I kind of prefer the script being a little rough tho, I think it adds to its retro charm.
"In the early 2000s" I've heard enough. 10/10.
I just finished selling my last complete in box GBA Game and about six of them were Mega Man Battle Network games, normally I would just emulate these but the fact that it has online components is amazing and it's probably why I'm going to actually buy it.
@SwitchVogel The nostalgic part of my brain agrees with you. The OCD typo part will need some soothing however....
YES!!!! THIS IS WHAT WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR!
I can't believe I am buying this, but here we are. Out of all things, the Master Blaster Zero Collection rekindling a love for Saturday morning cartoon storytelling. Sounds like a good time.
I had the first game and I remember enjoying it but being ready for it to be over (can’t actually recall if I completed it or not). I’d give one of them a go on Switch online (which clearly won’t happen now) but don’t think I’ll invest in the collection.
cant wait, the first one was one of my favourite gba games back then
this is a megaman series i never really got to play so its interesting going in.
i hear its definitely a case of the sequels improving a lot on the first game so im not going to let the first game paint my impression on what is to come but so far there are aspects im loving about it and others im hating, i can definitely say that the encounter rate is frustrating mainly in areas with puzzles, and compared with how you often cant see too much of your surroundings its making dungeons frustrating as hell at times.
however i can also see the groundwork for something truly special, i love the whole vibe it has with its story and it takes me back to watching cartoons and anime on TV, and the combat system is extremely unique, the visuals and spritework is also really nice, especially in the outdoor areas though the "dungeons" can be a little bland.
either way i am happy with how this collection is done and am definitely hoping we see more of these to come in the future especially for something like the legends games.
Just got this today and it’s beautiful. Full on nostalgia blast and a ton of content to keep me busy for quite some time.
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