Welcome back to Save State where I’m still suffering from a chipmunk infestation. Actually, it’s even worse than that since now there also seems to be multiple nests of squirrels around the outside of the house, and they’re grabbing materials out from underneath my car’s hood to make their winter nests. It’s a complete mess. I have no idea why I’m the Pied Piper version of a Disney princess, but it sucks. In any event, over the last couple of weeks, I continued on my journey through the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection. The second game in the series, Mega Man Battle Network 2, improved upon the original Mega Man Battle Network in a lot of ways that both pleased me greatly and made me excited for what’s to come from this franchise, considering my only experience with it prior was Double Team DS and the 2D platformer Network Transmission.
Mega Man Battle Network 2 opens with Lan Hikari and his friends beginning their summer vacation. Its story is basically, “How long can Lan delay doing his summer homework, and also there’s a terrorist organization,” but that doesn’t mean the story is awful. A lot of the events are set pieces that build toward the final confrontation with the crime organization Gospel’s Super Navi, and you get to enjoy the excellent chip-based battle system the whole way through.
The visuals of Battle Network 2, as well as the music, are all improved by leaps and bounds. Environments that should be familiar to the player are oftentimes much more detailed, and the remixed background music in familiar areas lets you know that this is, in fact, a sequel. It wasn’t until I booted up Battle Network 2 that I realized how flat and uninteresting a lot of the locations were in the first Mega Man Battle Newtwork. Even more important than the visuals, however, is that the second game goes well out of its way to give the player more visual information to commit locations to memory, helping you navigate the Net as Mega Man without getting lost nigh-constantly due to a sheer lack of signposting.
The basic combat system mechanics of Battle Network 2 are nearly identical to the first game; there’s no reason to mess up a good thing, after all. You and your opponents still have your own 3×3 grids on which you can move, and you can select your battle chips and fire your buster in order to damage viruses and win the encounters. Almost all of the chips from the first title return, and there’s a lot of new chips that open new avenues of play, such as using a Grass Stage chip to turn the entire battlefield into grassy terrain, and using a fire element chip to deal large amounts of damage in one swing.
Program Advances, combinations of chips that yield a singular attack stronger than the sum of its parts, return in Battle Network 2 with a lot more combinations to utilize. I managed to assemble a powerful sword-based folder of chips relatively early on that gave me quick access to the Life Sword technique, which deals huge amounts of damage in six panels directly in front of Mega Man. Basically, unless a virus was anywhere but the back line of the battlefield, they weren’t safe. Further folder refinement and new combinations were needed when moving into the post-game content, but it was a lot of fun trying out the new strategic avenues offered by Battle Network 2.
There’s now a job request board with an assortment of tasks you can complete for rewards. Many of the additional quests on the board are fetch quests or defeat a specific virus task, but some will require you to do things like invest a bunch of money into a guy’s company, so there is a bit of variety. While you’re doing side quests and venturing through the Net to solve various crimes, Mega Man might even get a new battling style which can offer a variety of benefits to you in combat. Which style is offered to the player is influenced by how you play- finishing off enemies with your buster instead of battle chips might give you the Guts style, using Program Advances might give you the Custom style, and using defensive chips will yield the Shield style.
You can only hold up to two styles, but each one offers a variety of benefits and all but one come with an element attached that can let you use chips you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. The Guts style, for example, increases your buster’s damage and gives you super armor so you don’t flinch when hit by enemies. Custom style allows you to choose from two additional battle chips to help assemble your powerful combinations, while Shield lets you begin combat with a barrier and lets you shield at any time. There’s even a secret style that can be unlocked by S-ranking all Navi battles that combines all of the effects from the other styles, which is a great reward to aim for in post-game.
Of course, while Battle Network 2 adds new dimensions and strategies for players to use in battle, those aren’t the only places that have been improved in the sequel. The pacing of the second game is better all around, even including a fun little moment where Lan goes to a United States inspired location where he gets robbed of his battle chips because he’s an unaccompanied minor that’s way too trusting for his own good. The dungeons have considerably more interesting and intuitive puzzles, and are more pleasing to the eye which makes venturing through them more entertaining. To add onto this, you can now run from random battles, and the SneakRun subchips you can buy effectively function like Repels in Pokemon, which is a godsend when you’re doing fetch quests or backtracking.
All in all, Mega Man Battle Network 2 is more of the same but better than the original Mega Man Battle Network in practically every way. The story is simple, and the combat system is effectively the same, but all of the enhancements introduced in dungeon design, new battle chip strategies, and additional methods to customize Mega Man make for a much better gaming experience overall. There’s a good amount of post-game content as well, with plenty of chips to unlock. I’m excited to see where Battle Network goes in the third iteration, and am going to take my time to appreciate all of the improvements that title brings.
With all that said, this seems like a good place to end this edition of Save State. Join us again in a couple weeks when I’ll inevitably continue my journey through the Battle Network series.