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CONSOLE: Nintendo DS DEVELOPER: Capcom PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): August 7, 2007 GENRE: RPG
// review by SoyBomb

Plagiarism gone awry.

NOTE: I own the Dragon version of this game, but there's very little difference between this and the Pegasus or Leo versions.

I really can't write a typical review for this game. I could have taken my usual route, outlining the story, talking about the game mechanics, saying how the graphics and the music are nice, yadda yadda yadda... But I'm not going to do that this time around. Why, you ask? Because I am pretty frustrated with this game, having finally completed it after many hours of... well, you'll find out.

In 2001, I was lucky enough to snag a copy of Megaman Battle Network for my birthday. I liked Megaman Battle Network -- it was original, charming, and provided a welcome change of pace for the aging Mega Man franchise. The new battle style was quite refreshing. However, Capcom decided to milk it for all it was worth, pumping out five more sequels (the majority of them split mercilessly and uselessly multiple versions à la Pokémon). By the time Megaman Battle Network 6 rolled around, Capcom announced it to be the final game in the series. And that's fine; at least they knew when to put down their prized racehorse. Immediately thereafter, a new side-series in the Mega Man franchise was revealed: Mega Man Star Force. Fans -- myself included -- wondered what direction this series would take. So, after eventually getting myself a DS, I picked up Mega Man Star Force: Dragon (and NOT either of the other two versions), expecting something fresh.

But it's the same game. They might as well have called it Megaman Battle Network 7. I'll bet that's what the initial project name was.

The only major difference is that it's far more boring and repelling. You play as Geo Stelar, and if there was ever any character I DIDN'T want to succeed, it's this stool-for-brains. You can't help but get pissed off at this kid. Yes, his father did not return from a space mission over three years ago, but he hasn't gone back to school this whole time, instead choosing to stay home. He starts out (and spends the majority of the game) not wanting to be friends with anybody, shying away from any social situations, no matter how hard other kids try. He basically wants to be a loner and wait for his father to come back... for three long freakin' years. He's so negative about life, you wish you could use your stylus and impale him in the sternum. And what's worse is that just when you think things are just fine, he relapses into a pissy whiner. So why the hell would the alien life form, Omega-Xis, want to take over this pile-of-woe's body? Who the hell knows... Must've been easy to sneak into. He makes Lan Hikari from the Battle Network games look like Superman.

Next thing is the dialogue. Not that the dialogue itself is bad, but there's so damn much of it! Geo can't get very far without suffering another attack of a cutscene. People in this game have a lot to say, and with very limited space in textboxes, you'll be scrolling through endless lifeless dialogue to get to the action. The game is, like, 50% talking (at least). Who buys a Mega Man game for the talking? This isn't The View: it's a video game.

Of course, once you GET to the action (eventually), you'll notice that it's pretty much just a retooling of what made Megaman Battle Network so popular, except that your perspective is now from behind and all the characters are in 3D (in battle only; otherwise, the game looks just like a Game Boy Advance game... aren't DS games supposed to look better?). But you can only move left and right, so in essence, your movement is more LIMITED in the arena. The battling is fun... but only the first few times. Once you discover that the encounter rate is quite high, especially when you're actually trying to GO somewhere, the game becomes less of an entertainment venue and more like a... well, a bad trip to the bathroom after another annual installment of Chilifest. Ah yes, and Battle Chips were also retained, but are now called Battle Cards. What a shift!


If it looks familiar in any way, that's because...

Other "changes" include the removal of the NetNavi system -- to be replaced with Transers for people to communicate. Same concept, different name. Geo (who, after joining with Omega-Xis, decides to call himself MegaMan for originality) no longer gets to travel in the cyberworld like MegaMan.EXE used to do; instead, he turns into "wave form" and wanders the "Wave Roads". What a stretch. This IS Battle Network. Hell, even MegaMan.EXE makes a cameo if you stick any Battle Network cartridge into the GBA slot of your DS (unless you have a DSi, in which case, you get nothing). I suppose one new thing is the ability to develop Brotherbands with some friends, allowing you to use some of their chips in battle and, well, to be very close friends. But again, who wants to be friends with gimpy Geo?

Because this is a DS game, you expect some form of touch-screen functionality. And yes, you get that, but it's hardly worth the effort. From the Wave Road, you can enter certain objects here and there through their waveholes. Sounds sexy, but it's not that exciting. It's just like how MegaMan.EXE used to jack into objects in Battle Network, just... with holes. You tap the hole (See? Sexy.) and transport in. You can also tap into a person's Transer and see their private messages about how distressed they are; Geo then makes it his mission to help these people in need. That's familiar -- I guess the job system from Battle Network 2 and beyond made its way here too. Other uses of the stylus include this absolutely heinous exercise in intolerability where you have to hold your stylus on the screen while a sonar beeps -- when it turns red, you have to dig up a lost program hidden underneath all the trash below your feet. But even when the thing turns red, you can't find any damn thing because the sonar system is impressively inaccurate and inept, and you have to be on practically one precise pixel-perfect spot to dig it up. I couldn't find anything without a walkthrough telling me exactly where to stand, and even then, it was a horrible trek. That just ruined the already dull experience for me, plus it was very uncomfortable to hold the DS with one hand like that. After that, I just didn't care anymore.

I'll bottom-line it for you: Mega Man Star Force is nothing more than a SLIGHTLY flashier version of a Megaman Battle Network game. Now I'll bet there are a few naysayers out there who believe that Mega Man X is a just a carbon copy of the original Mega Man series, and... yeah, they'd be right. But at least Capcom knew when to have their characters SHUT UP and keep all conversations brief, plus it's full of action, unlike this questionable excuse for a ripoff. Hell, I didn't even mention that much of the music sounds quite similar. Sweet Georgia Brown! I'm worried about how Mega Man Star Force 2 will turn out because I bought THAT the same day. So, instead of recommending Mega Man Star Force, I suggest checking out the older Mega Man Battle Network games. The original is definitely more fun.

Mega Man's 20th anniversary deserved better than a lifeless rehash. Bah.


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