In an trade the place online game franchises proceed for many years, it’s at all times shocking when a well-liked collection ends. That was the case with Mega Man Battle Community, Capcom’s beloved tactical RPG collection that also has a fierce cult following right now. The Mega Man spinoff moved like a whirlwind within the early 2000s, debuting on the Sport Boy Advance in 2001 and releasing six mainline titles by 2005. Its momentum stopped useless after that, going from an annualized collection to a defunct one within the blink of an eye fixed.

Now 18 years after the discharge of its closing recreation, Mega Man Battle Community Legacy Assortment is giving the collection its nostalgic second within the solar. The compilation consists of all six mainline video games, a few of which have two completely different variations like Pokémon. Which means followers are getting 10 RPGS for the value of 1, making it probably the most “bang to your buck” recreation launch of the yr thus far. No matter whether or not or not each single one is price taking part in, it’s a simple advice.

What makes Mega Man Battle Community Legacy Assortment significantly helpful, although, is its position as a historic doc. By placing these busy few years of Sport Boy Advance glory again to again, it’s straightforward to see each why followers nonetheless find it irresistible and the place Capcom went unsuitable in aggressively making an attempt to capitalize on it. It’s as a lot a postmortem for Mega Man Battle Community as it’s a celebration of it.

Jack in

The Mega Man Battle Community collection is a inventive spinoff of the traditional platforming collection that also feels recent right now. It takes place in a futuristic society the place expertise controls every little thing from canine homes to school rooms. After all, that makes every little thing a simple goal for cybercriminals and terrorist organizations just like the World Three (WWW). Gamers take management of Lan, a younger child who’s in a position to jack into any machine linked to the net and filter viruses with the assistance of Mega Man.

So far as ports go, there’s not a lot to complain about in Mega Man Battle Community Legacy Assortment. All 10 mainline video games are faithfully preserved right here and Capcom has even gone so far as to incorporate particular bonus playing cards that had been solely out there in Japan by the Sport Boy Advance e-Reader. There’s a somewhat hideous filter that smooths out the entire crunchy GBA pixels, however luckily, that may be toggled off. The closest factor I’ve to a critique is that dialogue fonts have been changed with a a lot smoother one which’s misplaced with the visuals and may’t be modified.

The video games themselves maintain up terribly nicely, one thing that’s been true of a whole lot of current GBA re-releases. The core fight feels as recent as a contemporary indie recreation in 2023, smashing genres collectively in a method that also feels ingenious. It’s a deck-builder the place gamers put collectively a set of chips that can be utilized in real-time tactical battles that unfold on a grid. Every time Mega Man’s power bar fills up, gamers can pause the battle and choose a handful of chips, although they’ll largely solely equip ones which have the identical letter code. The thought is to create a synergistic set of chips that create extra alternatives for combos every time the bar refills and a brand new hand is dealt.

I used to be rapidly hooked on that system the second I started testing out the primary recreation. It’s an attractive fight loop that continuously rewards good builds. Although its glut of random encounters may be tiring, every one gave me an opportunity to tweak my chips en path to a bigger boss battle and see how briskly I might wipe out a display stuffed with enemies. Any time a battle resulted in mere seconds, I felt like an engineering genius.

Mega Man blasts an enemy in Mega Man Battle Network.

There’s loads that hasn’t aged as gracefully, from obtuse aims to repetitive world design, however all of that’s anticipated from a collection that’s 20 years outdated. The gathering a minimum of tries to assist mitigate a few of that with an non-compulsory mode that buffs Mega Man’s harm output, permitting him to bypass a whole lot of random battles rapidly. It’s not as helpful as a fast-forward software that we’ve seen in current RPG remasters like Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamer Version, however it’s a great way to get new gamers by some surprisingly enjoyable tales about techno-terrorists. The one function I want it had was one thing to counteract its reliance on guide saves, a system that set me again for half-hours at a time after forgetting to save lots of for lengthy stretches and dying on a random battle.

Nitpicks apart, I’m having loads of enjoyable diving right into a strong assortment of kid-friendly RPGs that decision again to a golden period of handheld innovation. I’m at my most engaged, although, once I’m piecing collectively why the collection got here to such an abrupt finish.

Sign off

What’s instantly noticeable when leaping between video games is how practically an identical they really feel. After I go from Mega Man Battle Community to its sixth recreation, it seems like I’m diving right into a full sequel as Lan travels to a brand new college. All the things in between these two tales feels extra like an incremental replace. When Mega Man Battle Community 2 begins, I’m instantly dropped into the very same classroom from the primary recreation and given the identical primary tutorial. The identical factor occurs once I flip over to the third recreation as if I’m taking part in one steady 120-hour RPG that stops to reset gamers’ progress each 20 hours.

Any adjustments between video games are refined. Later iterations of the battle system would enable Mega Man to counter enemy assaults with the right timing or change how one can add extra chips throughout a flip, however the core thought by no means actually adjustments. I’m at all times strolling round acquainted overworlds with Lan, jacking into objects to ship Mega Man into digital areas that steadily enhance in design every recreation, and doing a complete lot of tactical battles. Even a few of the bigger adjustments to 4 and 5 don’t really feel as drastic now as they did on the time.

Characters fight on a grid in Mega Man Battle Network Legacy Collection.

I don’t say that to disparage the collection; the formulation is enjoyable every time and the tales are completely different sufficient to inspire me by them. It does, nevertheless, make me perceive why the collection wanted to finish at that second. It’s very obvious that these video games had been churned out on an annual schedule with Capcom recycling belongings, UI, and techniques time and again. No recreation seems like a real evolution a lot as one other chapter. Think about if mainline Pokémon installments had been solely spaced one yr aside as a substitute of 4 and you can begin to think about how diminishing the thrill could be every time.

You’ll be able to see that in motion when trying again by opinions of the collection on the time. Critics had been excessive on the primary two video games, however the consensus started to drop with every entry. You get a way of fatigue studying these outdated opinions because it turns into clear that writers merely had nothing new to say with every passing yr. Taking part in by every recreation now, I can really feel how Capcom was maybe over-eager to capitalize on a lightning-in-a-bottle thought and create its personal handheld sensation that needlessly mimicked Pokémon’s dual-release construction (collection like Bomberman would strive the identical technique on the GBA). The collection’ destiny might need been completely different if these six video games had been unfold throughout the GBA, DS, and 3DS, however rapid-fire annualization weakened its energy every time and that’s felt when taking part in all of them again to again right here. For those who don’t care a lot for the story, you may roughly simply play Mega Man Battle Community 3 right here and go away fulfilled.

Even when that’s the way you select to interact with it, Mega Man Battle Community Legacy Assortment is one thing of a must-own historic doc for followers of the collection and transportable gaming buffs alike. It’s a simple technique to carry out an post-mortem of a once-great franchise — one which makes me really feel at peace with Capcom’s choice to place a pin in it when it did. Why preserve churning out video games when there’s nothing new to say? The six nonetheless nice video games featured listed below are greater than sufficient to maintain the collection’ legacy alive.

Mega Man Battle Community Legacy Assortment launches on April 14 for Nintendo Change, PS4, and PC.

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