Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection PS4 Review. Capcom digs deeper into the Mega Man vaults and brings up a haul of one of the franchise’s most endearing and enduring spinoffs. PlayStation Universe reviews the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection for PS4, and investigates whether or not the cyber adventure series still brings digital delights.
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection Review (PS4) – Capcom Brings Another Slice of Its Past Into the Present With Great Success.
Capcom doesn’t half like a spinoff. Resident Evil is plagued by a very inconsistent mix of them. Monster Hunter comes in all shapes and forms. Mega Man though? That series is on a whole other level. There’s entire sub-franchises within the Mega Man series and they hold a special reverence for fans. One of the most distinctive spinoffs is the Battle Network games.
The Battle Network series takes Mega Man out of the platform shooting comfort zone. Now he’s in cyberspace and the RPG space. As Mega Man games go, there’s very little that connects these to the mainline series. You aren’t actually playing as Mega Man or his usual cohorts, but as a school kid in the future. Here, Mega Man is a virtual pet of sorts. This collection gathers six entries of the series, with Battle Network 3-6 having two distinct versions each. So a pretty healthy box of 10 Battle Network treats with features that will help old hands and newcomers alike enjoy them in the present day.
The original game appeared on the Game Boy Advance 22 years ago. It saw an alternate reality where Mega Man and his foes and allies are digital constructs. Students use them to represent themselves in online spaces. The net is used for almost everything in life. From commerce to crime prevention. That naturally leaves humanity a bit vulnerable to online bad guys. The protagonist, Lan (yes there’s lots of internet-based names, and yes, they’re delightfully cheesy) has a Mega Man digital buddy. He ends up having to utilize the iconic android in an online war against a terrorist group looking to use the online space to rule the world.
The rest of the games follow a similar pattern of storytelling. The protagonist gets embroiled in a different adventure each time that ultimately relies on their connection with the net space. In the real world, you walk around in an isometrically-viewed space that elicits many classic RPG traits, and generally progresses the story through interaction and exploration. But when it comes time to descend on the internet world, the game’s other flavor comes to the fore.
Combat takes place on a 6×3 multi-lane battlefield. Mega Man must flit between in order to attack and evade a menagerie of classic Mega Man enemies. You have limited action points each turn to use attacks known as Battle Chips that you’ll need to maximize. Ordinary shots are available, but tend to be weak and time-consuming. So the special Battle Chips can make shorter work of more stubborn foes in a variety of ways. You can collect different ones to change up your abilities too and even go into online battle with your custom setups to take on other players.
The earlier games keep the combat relatively simple to understand (plus new features are in place to make it easier for newcomers). As the series progresses, there’s some greater nuance and complexity to the system that puts it more in line with modern combat systems in RPGs whilst retaining a classic feel.
Each game has been remastered wonderfully. Graphical upgrades and extra features are used in much the same way they were for previous Mega Man collections. There’s a genuine love and appreciation of what these games meant to those who played them before. There’s a level of care applied to it that will undoubtedly ensnare those unfortunate enough to miss out the first time around.
The Internet in Your Hands
There’s a wealth of history sewn into the lining of the Collection as well. That helps it act as a virtual museum of an entire series. As much as I enjoy Capcom remaking other big hitters in its catalog, I can’t help but look at what it does with things such as the Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection and pine for a similar treatment for classic Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, et al.
Also, this is a series of games that would feel so much more comfortable in a portable form. As such, the PS4 version is at something of a disadvantage compared to the Nintendo Switch and Steam versions. Those naturally have such options available. There’s still plenty to like about the games provided on a big screen; it’s just that there’s a distinct handheld feel to these games that is hard to shake.
I remember the era of handheld gaming this series was born from. Subsequently, I have a real soft spot for these collectible card-style battlers. Pokemon took the headlines, but there was a wealth of creativity within that formula elsewhere (Capcom had previously featured in an SNK vs. Capcom game in this mold on the Neo Geo Pocket), and I found a warming nostalgia in revisiting the Battle Network Collection, even with the game’s I’d not played before.
A Lasting Legacy
It’s rare an established franchise can find a new niche and make it work. The Mega Man Battle Network series is of that rare breed. The earlier games, despite some technical improvements, haven’t aged quite as well as later entries. They’re just as important to experience in this collection though. The trajectory of an entire series is encapsulated in another of Capcom’s superb collections.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.
Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection is due out on April 14, 2023 for PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.