Title: Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Vol. 2
Release Date: April 14, 2023
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Strategy RPG
Following the conclusion of Mega Man Battle Network 3, I honestly had no idea how Capcom could follow up with three, technically six, new entries. While I never grew up with these games when they were released, I completely understood the burnout that fans and critics felt back then. Still, my curiosity won me over, so I decided to experience the contents of Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Vol. 2 and was left rather impressed. Amidst familiar stumbles, the latter half of the Battle Network saga entertained me far more than its first.
Due to this being the second collection, you’re assumedly familiar with the previous one and its contents, so we can forego the initial premises. Unlike Legacy Collection Vol. 1, where only the third game had two versions, each of the three titles in Legacy Collection Vol. 2 also has two versions. Naturally, I only played through one of each, so I can’t account for my times in all six games.
Firstly, Mega Man Battle Network Vol. 4, Red Sun and Blue Moon (which I played), are probably the strangest games across both Collections, and that’s primarily because of their narrative structure and method of progress. To elaborate, protagonist Lan Hikari and his NetNavi Mega Man enter tournaments facing different matches throughout each of your playthroughs, which is pretty wildly different than what came before and even what arrived afterward. Plus, even select story segments change. So as you can likely infer, you have to do multiple playthroughs to see everything this entry offers and then double if you intend to complete both versions, Blue Moon and Red Sun. But then again, I highly doubt most players would want to do that.
In concept, I honestly find this idea compelling. Replayability in JRPGs is not embraced too often, so I welcome it when it’s attempted. However, maybe because of the inherently similar gameplay across the Battle Network sub-franchise, I find it to be a bit much. Regardless of wanting to innovate to keep these entries feel fresh for veteran players, necessitating multiple playthroughs for complete comprehension when the core plot isn’t even all that great comes off as questionable. On the other hand, the new gameplay features make the prospect of revisits more inviting, even if in minor ways.
Most significant is Double Soul, replacing the Style Changes from the previous two entries. This new collective of transformations is undoubtedly more exciting than Style Changes and with a significant consequence; correlative Chips being the costs for activations. A slew of new abilities are granted while in Double Soul, too, and they can turn the tides drastically if used correctly. Another new facet is the Emotion Window which simultaneously indicates how Mega Man feels and whether the player’s battle performance is up to snuff. The benefits of these states didn’t seem overly vital, as only slight benefits appeared to arise. Still, this mechanic helps give combat an appreciated edge to encourage more refined playstyles.
The presentation has also seen a considerable change in this title and the subsequent one as well. UI changes, portraits, sprites, and backgrounds, have a massively different look, often appearing far cleaner and simpler, which I’m a fan of. Ultimately, Battle Network 4 didn’t exasperate me as much as the first Battle Network did, but if I did do multiple playthroughs, it would’ve probably become somewhat miserable. In fact, while I’m most likely incorrect on this point, the encounter rate felt amplified this time around as well. Then again, impatience can over-magnify even the seemingly slightest flaws to further justify an irrational perspective. Although what I do know for sure is that Battle Network 4 is the low point of this package. Granted, I enjoyed it more than the previous collection’s first outing, but a low point is still a low point.
Thankfully Battle Network 5, Team ProtoMan and Team Colonel (I played the latter) stepped up, and quite massively. Aside from the narrative returning to a more traditional structure, a significant gameplay addition was made, Liberation Missions. Throughout these unique scenarios, you control Mega Man and the provided party members across a map akin to a tactics game. They’re tasked with destroying the Darkloid at the end while prevailing against numerous familiar turn-based bouts. Further, you can play as other characters here, genuinely adding plenty of much-needed innovation to this tried-and-true gameplay formula.
However, you can only complete battles within a limited number of turns, so there’s added stress and consequence here, such as needing to endure field attacks from foes. In addition, of course, the multiple NetNavis you control have unique abilities of their own, and knowing how to utilize them adequately and how to space the units themselves is paramount for success. Admittedly, the Liberation Missions can become a little too long and overstay their welcome, but I really looked forward to their arrivals as a way to change up the monotony that arose from the typical dungeon crawling. Moreover, these instances help grant Battle Network 5 one of the best gameplay mechanic narrative integrations that I’d say is at the series’ best, not to mention heightening individuality that can be overlooked when looking at each entry collectively.
Lastly, Battle Network 6, Cybeast Gregar (which I played) and Cybeast Falzar, became my favorite Battle Network entry, chiefly because of its tone. While the titles were becoming increasingly more mature and dire in their stakes, Battle Network 6 often feels effectively jarring by comparison, but in an admirable way. The tone and interactions almost appear melancholic, and the conclusion is pretty fitting. There are even new gameplay incorporations here, such as the altered Double Soul mechanic, Cross System. Far more lenient than its predecessor, chip sacrifice is no longer required for activation.
Still, the wildest gameplay implementation is Beast Out, a new transformation state that temporarily causes Mega Man to become a Cyber Beast. Offense is the name of the game here, as you can decimate the battlefield to almost comical extents. After how overwhelming Battle Network 5 could be, what with its Liberation Missions and a myriad of tools to utilize by extension, Battle Network 6 made matters more welcoming, also making this finale boast impressive closure. I found the stories in Battle Networks 5 and 6 the most engaging in the series, but, like every other entry, the lack of in-game maps needlessly hampered my time.
Well, I would say that if 6 didn’t fix it. I was delighted to see some maps provided in the final entry as they mitigated annoyances. Still, the encounter rate frequency gradually vexed me more and more, and occasions of what felt like sudden difficulty spikes took me by surprise. So, I certainly had inherent critiques of these games, yet my feelings never went beyond mild frustration.
Regarding this Collection’s features, the Gallery’s avenues of content are the same as the first Collection, and Buster MAX mode is back, but optional Patch Cards have replaced the Download Chips. These were only obtainable via special promotions and events during the games’ initial launches, so their additions here is a neat way to compile everything. Although they can break the difficulty of the titles quite heavily, meaning you may want to refrain from their usage if you’re pursuing the original intended difficulty levels.
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Vol. 2 suffers from familiar faults found in previous entries. Still, the updated gameplay concepts, captivating stories, and endearing characters made this collection a grand experience. Even with Battle Network 4 being the low point, there’s still much to enjoy about each entry. Coming from a new fan of the series, you owe it to yourself to play through this adventure.
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