Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Review

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Ironically, in this modern era of ports and remasters to bank on nostalgia, I mostly use this as a way to catch up on games I missed out on growing up. And trust me, I missed out on a lot. It’s fun, even if I often lack the intended nostalgic connection most fans will. When this latest entry in Capcom’s endeavor to preserve Mega Man’s legacy was announced, I honestly didn’t really feel much.

I had definitely played these games growing up, but my memory was fuzzy. Also, six games? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I had only played maybe two of them max. I definitely played that fifth game on the Nintendo DS, the rest? I got nothing. So, imagine my surprise when I started jumping between games for this review and came to an epiphany. All of this felt far more familiar than I had expected it to, because I had played these games. I had played all of these games. I was a Mega Man Battle Network kid, these games were my childhood. I definitely had a big folder full of battle chips, I was a cool kid.

Mega Man Battle Network introduced a generation of kids, likely my generation even, to what Mega Man even was. Being the first time the series tried to tackle the RPG genre, there’s a heightened level of mechanical intricacies that makes porting these games a lot more challenging than just making sure a platformer has minimal input lag. All of these games featured multiplayer, and while I’ve never really bothered with it before now a lot of tech exists that’s out there and beloved by many. 

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There are ten games in the Battle Network series, but not counting version differences (something started in the third entry) there are six. Each of them has a lot of similarities, which makes sense when you realize this series was annualized. There’s a messy ambition born from that kind of development schedule which is charming in a way: one game will have flaws, the next game will attempt to fix them, but introduce new ones. Rinse and repeat.

It’s interesting (and a little ironic) that Mega Man Battle Network came back during a time when things like the Metaverse and AI are hot-button issues. Back in the 2000s, these games pitched a far less cynical version of the future we’re living in right now. It’s quite refreshing to see this future society, even with the problems it depicts, so optimistic and earnest in the belief of how technology could improve our lives. Certainly an improvement over where we’re seemingly going.

Everyone in this world has something called a PET, and digital assistants called Net Navi installed on them. The Net connects everyone, being an entire digital world, with most devices able to connect to it. PETs can “Jack In” to these devices, letting the user send their Net Navi into that device to run around. The two protagonists of these games are elementary schooler Lan Hikari and his Net Navi MegaMan.exe, who either accidentally or purposefully find themselves thrown into a world of net-based cybercrimes.

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There’s a certain episodic flow to the beats in each of these games that is as comfortable in its repetition. Lan and MegaMan will hang out with their friends, tech will go haywire, his friends will be in danger, he’ll jack into the tech to run through a dungeon, and then fight an enemy Net Navi. It’s an entertaining structure, even if it does get predictable if you play these all back-to-back.

Gameplay-wise, I think the core of all of these games is incredibly strong. Battles take place in a 3X6 grid split between two 3X3 grids, one for you and one for enemies known as Viruses. MegaMan will have the ability to move between any square he owns, and can even take or lose squares. He has a normal mega buster attack, but also a folder of special attacks in the form of Battle Chips. You can collect hundreds of these across every game, but their use is exclusive to that game. You can trade them between your friends too, building your MegaMan’s arsenal in fun and collaborative ways.

The games are also pretty challenging in parts, but with the ability to jack out to restore Mega’s health and saving anywhere I wouldn’t call it punishing. Customizing your chipset and learning the synergy between their types are important to optimize your playstyle. You’ll need to customize your chip folder yourself, so you’ll naturally get more engrossed in all of the various mechanics as you build your own MegaMan to handle any scenario you run across. It’s a blast, even in the weaker of the games.

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The gameplay of these starts painfully simplistic, but the series really picks up in this regard around the third game and just runs with it. The first game is very rough around the edges, but it was the first time they ever did this so I’m fine giving it a pass. I will say though, if you find yourself unable to make it far trying to go through all of them in order there’s little shame in starting with Battle Network 2 or 3. The only games I’d say to definitely not start with Battle Network 6, because it’s the last one, and maybe 4, which would offer a subpar first impression of the series.

Where that is muddled is where random encounters meet a non-traditional leveling system. You do not gain EXP in battle, just random battle chips and money. Leveling MegaMan up is done outside of this, which does evolve and change as the series goes on. The problem comes from the fact that with so many random battles, even with excellent combat mechanics, you’ll probably get tired of that since you aren’t gaining much by this. The later games do fix this ever so slightly with a style system that bends around what you do the most in battle, but I can’t help but feel there needed to be a random encounter toggle introduced for this remaster. There is a new Buster MAX Mode, which multiplies your normal buster shot’s damage by 100, and is the closest we get to a way to automate battles. The stop-and-go nature when solving a dungeon puzzle is quite frustrating, even if you resolve the battle fast.

I generally do like the presentation and quality of life improvements made with these remasters, especially the menu holding each of the games with a 3D recreation of MegaMan.exe. You can have him talk to you, and since he’s voiced by the same voice actor as the one in the anime adaptation I grew up with, it was beyond charming. He’ll comment on you launching the collection before “chores are done”, and yawns if you try to boot into a game past your bedtime. It’s a small, yet adorable touch that is sure to make any fan’s inner child smile. These games have some of the most personality out of any Mega Man series, so it’s good that this aspect is prevalent as soon as you start either Volume up.

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They’ve recreated these games (supposedly from the ground up based on the archived source code) wonderfully, and I think in regards to the moment-to-moment play you aren’t going to get much better than this collection. The best remaster collections make their work invisible, and all of these games have made the transition over to modern consoles cleanly. They’re also coming over mostly content complete, all featuring Japanese exclusive chips/forms which is a good show of faith for western fans. If these were being emulated, we’d probably just have a situation where all the regional ROMs were offered to the player to choose from. 

I do have some nitpicks with the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection in this regard, though. The selection of borders is great, the art is of excellent quality and you can change the size of the game window between four different options. But I’m still unsure why Capcom doesn’t just let us play the games without a border. Also, the filter looks as bad as it always does so I would make sure to turn it off right away. The Game Boy Advance’s crunchy pixels might seem odd blown up but I think by Battle Network 4 and on (when the sprites shrink down) it comes together well.

What I’m mixed on might be a weird one to some, but I find the font they’ve used to replace the classic font to be odd. It’s not terrible, and I’ve certainly seen far worse from other retro remasters, but it’s quite jarring next to the pixel art. It also doesn’t feel like it meshes well with the overall techno aesthetic, with it moreso giving me typewriter vibes. 

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Also, since Battle Network 5 is my favorite in the series, I’m a bit sad to see there wasn’t the option to play the DS release “Mega Man Battle Network 5: Double Team DS”. There wasn’t much difference here from the GBA versions we have access to here, but with new OST remixes and voice acting I think it’s a shame that version of the game wasn’t valued for preservation.

There is one thing I wish wasn’t preserved, though, and that’s the translation. In my time playing the games in the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection, I don’t think I’ve found any differences between the heavily criticized English scripts we got back on the GBA and what we have here. I don’t have time to list off every grammatical error or nonsensical sentence, but they’re still here and I think it’s a true shame. I’m sure many were hoping for some kind of retranslation, or even a second editing pass, but we did not get that. 

I would have been content with them 


the awkward line formatting.

But that was not done either, with it being the worst in Battle Network 4. This is a rather divisive game for many reasons, and one of these common complaints is the really poor translation. Localization has come so far since the 2000s, and a script that reads better while conveying the same information is a pretty low bar. The change of the font makes it clear the dev team was able to access the text, so it’s likely that they could have changed it.

Lastly, I’d like to go over the online multiplayer functionalities. Each game has its own unique servers in place, letting you battle and trade chips between players playing the same game you are. The main thing I decided to test out was the netcode in battles, as many of the other aspects of these features are self-explanatory. I wasn’t able to find many matches, but the two games I tried were Battle Network 3 and 6. I tried to play with a player from Japan, and the few seconds I was able to move around before getting deleted didn’t feel that responsive. I then tried to get a friend to play with me on Battle Network 6 when their copy showed up, and while it was better I’d hardly call it ideal. It is certainly playable, but that’s a low bar. Ironically, in games about seamless connectivity with other people using the internet, the netcode is lacking. I can’t see myself using this feature often, which is a shame because the one thing I had hoped for the most with this collection was getting to try these multiplayer modes I missed out on as a kid. Maybe this will be addressed in a patch, but I won’t hold my breath.

This might come off as rather strict, but that’s because I do think these games are classics that deserve the best. I don’t want to be overdramatic though, because this Legacy Collection is still the best we’ve ever gotten. I think more could have been done, but I don’t want to downplay the work that went into bringing Mega Man Battle Network back like this. While I’m unsure if modern audiences would click with these, I think kids might still get a lot out of them even today. They’re all fantastic freshman RPG experiences that don’t explicitly treat their audience in a condescending manner. This is a great collection, but it could have been a legendary one.

Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Capcom

Total Score
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