You'd think that after five games in four years people would have had their fill of the Mega Man Battle Network series. Apparently not, because Capcom has just put out the sixth installment, chronicling the further adventures of the kid net- battler Lan and his cyberspace partner Mega Man. Longtime fans may be disappointed to discover that there's really nothing in Mega Man Battle Network 6 that wasn't in the previous games, but they'll likely feel compelled to finish this one anyway, since the story provides the payoff for events that have been building since the first game. On the flip side, this new game gives newcomers to Capcom's role-playing series the perfect opportunity to jump in, because it incorporates all of the key features from the five previous games, recaps a fair amount of Lan and Mega Man's past, and serves as the launching pad for future games that will star a new pair of heroes.
Once again, battles take place in real time on a 6x3 grid.
Like its five predecessors, Mega Man Battle Network 6 combines traditional role-playing with action-oriented combat. The central idea is that the real world and cyberspace exist as two separate-but-linked universes. A young boy named Lan wanders around and interacts with people and places in the real world, while his electronic counterpart, a Navi named Mega Man, explores cyber dungeons in the virtual world and partakes in random battles against evil Navis (called viruses). The things you do in cyberspace will unlock doors or activate machines in the real world, and vice versa.
Combat isn't turn based like it usually is in role-playing games. Instead, battles happen in real time on a 6x3 grid, which is split evenly into player and enemy areas. Naturally, you want to deplete their health meters before they obliterate yours. Mega Man can use his buster cannon in battle, but his better attacks are randomly decided by drawing tiny cards known as battle chips. Five chips are selected at the beginning of each battle, and when they're used, others are drawn to take their places. Some chips are better against certain types of enemies, and some can dole out damage to a whole swath of grid squares. Multiple attacks can be chained together by using chips with the same name or letter designation, and some chips can be combined to create stronger attacks. That's where most of the game's strategy comes from: collecting and organizing the battle chips in your active folder. In all, there are 250 unique chips to find and collect.
Previous games have let Mega Man transform into other Navis on a limited basis, but only when the appropriate chip was used. This new game eases up the Navi cross system to the extent that you can now transform Mega Man into any of 10 other Navis and gain their powers for as many turns as necessary, without the need to wait for any specific chip. For instance, to transform into Heat Man, the only thing you need to do is select him from the list. Once you do so, your flame attacks will gain an attack bonus and Mega Man will become strong against grass-type viruses and weak against water-type viruses.
Dark-attack chips and chaos unisons, which in previous games let Mega Man harness powerful dark attacks at the risk of losing health permanently, have been eliminated from Mega Man Battle Network 6. In their place is the new BeastOut system. Roughly four hours into the story mode, Mega Man conveniently absorbs a powerful cybeast creature, which he can unite with in battle. Uniting with a cybeast doesn't require any special conditions. All you need to do is select the BeastOut button, and Mega Man will transform, gaining a significant attack bonus and the ability to charge up most attacks in the process. The only limits on the use of cybeasts are that they're only active for three turns and Mega Man will run amok if you don't wait a few turns before using the BeastOut button again. As the game's subtitle suggests, there are two cybeasts, called Falzar and Gregar. Falzar lets Mega Man float above the battlefield, rendering him immune to broken and cracked panels, whereas Gregar outfits Mega Man with a beefy armor upgrade. You can even BeastOut after transforming into another Navi, which gives you the best of both worlds: a supercharged, elemental Navi.
This new game introduces legendary programs called cybeasts.