Released on March 21, 2001 in Japan as Battle Network Rockman.EXE and on October 30, 2001 in North America for the Game Boy Advance, Megaman Battle Network was the beginning of the Battle Network series, the fourth metaseries of the Capcom franchise.
Battle Network represented a drastic departure from the standard Megaman formula. Unlike the Classic, X, and Legends series at the time, Battle Network was not a platformer but a top-down isometric RPG. Instead of robots, the seriesís focus is on a near-future society where network technology has advanced to the point where almost literally Everything Is Online, and the Internet resembles less the series of tubes that it is but more of a parallel cyber dimension where Net Navigators, sentient humanoid AIs known as Net Navis or simply Navis for short, are employed by humans to delete computer viruses, run programs of all sorts, and even battle each other in recreational Net Battles.
Naturally, the series can be rather divisive around the Megaman fandom, but it was certainly successful, as it went on to have six main installments, a collection of Gaiden Games, an anime that ran for two-hundred-and-seven episodes, and two manga adaptations. Though the series did run into problems towards the tail end of its existence, I have a soft spot for it since it was the series that got me into the Megaman franchise and I greatly enjoyed its gameplay and battle system which is actually quite deep and fun.
In this liveblog I will be Letís Playing the first game in the series, Megaman Battle Network as mentioned above. The first game, to put it simply, shows its age. Someone picking up this game after playing any of the others will probably be quite surprised at how bare-bones it is by comparison, as it either lacks many of the features and gameplay options later titles had or otherwise shows them in their infancy. Itís essentially a beta for the series as a whole, and with each subsequent game one can see the concepts put forward here being improved upon and refined.
Before we begin, letís just have a look at the main cast:
Lan and Megaman are the main operator-Navi duo of the series, naturally. Lan, whose name kicks off the series tradition of electronic Theme Naming, is in many ways the archtypical Kid Hero: an upbeat, energetic grade school student whoís great at Net Battling, has little interest in academics, and while not always the brightest tool in the shed, is nonetheless devoted to doing whatís right. Most of the time.
Megaman is naturally the more serious of the two, always making sure that Lan is on the right path and nannying him when he strays from it, whether he likes it or not. While he may look unassuming compared to many other Navis in Cyber World, he has a seemingly-limitless amount of untapped potential. When Lan and Megaman are perfectly in synch, nothing can stop them.
In a welcome change from most RPG protagonists, and most protagonists in general, both of Lanís parents are alive and present in his life. Haruka, his mother, is a stay-at-home mother and generally minds the house and her son. Yuuichiro, on the other hand, is a world-renowned scientist responsible for the current state of the world, and is the seriesís main authority figure. When Lan needs technical help, his father is the one to go to.
The biggest, loudest, and most brash kid in Lanís class, who will challenge anyone to a Net Battle against his Navi Gutsman.
Lanís next door neighbor, a kindhearted girl who also makes a note to mind Lan and consequentially often ends up as the damsel in distress. Her Navi Roll isnít really designed for Net Battling, but instead for recovery and healing. In every game Megaman will have access to her healing powers in battle.
Another classmate of Lanís. Sheís the daughter of a rich company executive, and thus can come off as condescending at times towards ďcommonersĒ. Sheís younger than the others due to having skipped a grade or two. Her Navi Glyde acts as her personal butler.
If you couldnít tell from the design, Chaud is the designated rival. Heís considered to be a prodigy in Navi operation, and is part of the Official Net Battlers - an organization that is tasked with keeping the peace online. His Navi Protoman is a master swordsman and will obey his masterís orders without question.
Yes, as in the Classic series the Big Bad of Battle Network is none other than the perennial mad scientist Dr. Wily! This deranged madman is the head of the WWW (World Three) organization, a group dedicated to cyber terrorism and the ultimate destruction of the Internet society.
Letís begin, shall we?