Happy 11th birthday, Mega Man.EXE

Janne D’Arc is associated with the late 2000’s Mega Man games, but even more so strongly with the EXE / Battle Network series, and we shouldn’t forget Showtaro Morikubo either, who was a brief but glorious time with the X series

On 21. of March 2001 the first Battle Network Rockman.EXE was released in Japan. It was one of the big name GameBoy Advance releases, and the series lasted throughout the whole life of the handheld console. The franchise thus far has had six main series games, two tournament games, two side-scrolling action games akin to Classic series, a card game, an TV animation series and loads and loads of other stuff.

The series began quite simple experience, but every iteration changed the concepts and gameplay to an extent. Personally, the third one was the culmination of the series for few, bringing everything together from the first two; the game design, the mechanics, everything. NaviCustomization was a brilliant move overall that allowed the players to customize their battle style as they wished. Certainly there was insane amount of game breaking combinations with BattleChips and Styles, but these were part of the charm.

Battle Network was followed by the StarForce series on the DS, for better or worse. Simplified battle mechanics and far less intuitive gameplay in general was the series’ doom, and ultimately CAPCOM’s attempt to
re-invent the wheel failed miserably.

Battle Network series is as hated as it is loved. However, one can’t deny that the game balance was nigh perfect, the art direction satisfying, music awesome as hell, controls tight and responsive, and the quality and overall game experience top notch. Sure, CAPCOM churned out six games in six years (and more) but when two out of six are bad you can’t complain. The series has a good track record.

It’s already been eleven years, has it? I remember sitting on bench in upper-secondary with a friend and battling it out, letting the rest of the GBA’s batteries run dry while listening to the music, and that one morning in the 9th grade when  I faced against BassGS just before school. It’s still the best boss battle I’ve ever had. Mega Man as a franchise carries a lot of memories, and whereas the Classic series is part of my early childhood, the Battle Network and X series, alongside Legends, are part of my late childhood before I stepped into the world of young adults. Ok, I had the Zero series as well, but I need to dwell into that some time later. With that step time went by and CAPCOM didn’t allow us have any new proper Mega Man games outside X7 and X8… and let’s not talk about ZX. Now we have the likes of Mega Man 9, 10 and the StarForce series, which is dead. Perhaps something else will come

CAPCOM, get your shit together. I’d love to see another real Mega Man, one which carries the soul and heart of the franchise, as Battle Network did for those six years.

Otherwise it’s truly time for a farewell. Your customers can’t play tsundere much longer, and will leave you if you wait too long…

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