The Mega Man EXE series has become more of a hit than Capcom could have expected. Throughout four different games, players have only controlled Mega Man EXE and Netto. In Rockman EXE 4.5 Real Operation players not only get to choose their own net navi, but get to see what it is like to be a Net Battler. Capcom designed Rockman EXE with the goal of making it a simulation of what followers of the series have dreamed of doing. In a lot of ways the game works, but also in a lot of ways the original games are a lot more fun to play.
When you start the game for the first time you need to set the clock. The game has an internal clock, which works similar to the Pokemon series. Special events, like tournaments, only happen on select days. Just like in the other games and the anime, tournaments are the main thing to do. Since there is no way to speed the clock up you must actually wait for real time to pass just to enter a tournament. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem if there was other stuff to do. Besides tournaments there is an exploration mode where you can take your net navi to battle viruses. The adventure mode is where you will spend a lot of time acquiring new battle chips and gaining valuable experience points.
Capcom changed the battle system to make it more similar to the anime. At a glance the battle screen and the graphics look the same, but the differences are huge. First of all, you’re not directly in control of your net navi. It is free to move around on its own to dodge or in many cases not dodge enemy attacks. On the bottom of the screen are the three battle chips you have available to you. The chips are randomly selected from preset folders that you can create. Using chips takes energy from the top custom meter bar. When you select a chip, like cannon, your navi will automatically equip the chip and attack whatever they please. Battles continue until you clear all of the viruses or they take all of your HP. The main flaw with the battle system is that if you actually controlled your navi you could do a much better job. When you want your navi to dodge an attack all you can do is cross your fingers and hope it does it. Unfortunately, you’re navi’s AI is only slightly better than the AI of the average virus roaming around. With no manual override for players to actually move their navi around, battles become much more frustrating than fun.
If you do purchase the game make sure you get the package that has the "Battle Chip Gate". This nifty peripheral is about the two thirds the size of a Game Boy SP and it allows you to actually use in battle chips you own into the game. Having the ability to select from your own potentially enormous collection of battle chips gives you an edge in enemy encounters. Although, once you use a battle chip you can’t use the same chip until you leave the adventure battle or end the tournament you’re in. This little balance prevents players from constantly using Dream Aura or rapidly using Cannons. The Battle Chip Gate is the only way to do program advances in the game. You need to throw in the three chips you want to use as fast as you can to perform the ultimate combo move. If you’ve been collecting American battle chips or are thinking of importing Japanese chips I can tell you that the Japanese battle chip gate is universal. Yes, that’s right American chips work in the Japanese Battle Chip Gate.
I mentioned that you can select other Net Navis other than Mega Man, which is something that fans of the series will enjoy. By default you can play choose from Mega Man, Roll, Gutsman and Numberman. You can unlock other Net Navis by answering math questions that Numberman will give you. The difficulty of the questions is determined by the age you put in at the beginning of the game. So, if you want to quickly unlock all of the navis set your age really low. The other way of unlocking Net Navis is to use navi chips that you can find randomly packaged in sets of battle chip packages. You can unlock pretty much every navi you’ve seen including Torch Man, Star Man, and even Blues.
One of the other cool features of the game is that you can battle a friend’s net navi if you have two copies of the game and a GBA link cable. The two player battle mode is fun to play even though you can’t actually move your navi around to dodge attacks. The versus mode gets much more interesting when you have two GBA’s, two copies of Rockman EXE 4.5, a GBA cable, two battle chip gates and a stack of battle chips. If you actually have all of that equipment the battles are as close to the series as you’ll ever get.
Capcom has been reusing the same sprites and graphics from the first two EXE games over and over again. If you expected to see a brand new looking Mega Man EXE game you’re going to be let down. Even though they’re the same old graphics they still look decent, just not great. Much of the music has been reused too. Thankfully, the tunes, like the graphics, are decent.
Rockman EXE 4.5 Real Operation is a game that demands you play it on it’s time, not on yours. If you’re willing to wait for tournaments and put up with the frustration of not being able to directly control battles there is a lot to do. There are tons of tournaments waiting to be won and over twenty net navis to try out. On the other hand, for Rockman EXE 4.5 to be fun you really need to get the Battle Chip Gate and collect battle chips. Rockman EXE 4.5 offers less than other games in the series and is designed with fans of the series in mind. If you haven’t been following the series you should try before you buy.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 5
The game is full of Japanese menus and will be extremely challenging, just to play through unless you’re really good with Japanese.
There has been no announcement of an American release yet. Although, Capcom has begun selling the pocket PETs and battle chips here, which suggests a North American release is inevitable.
+ Pros: You’re in control of your own net navi in a virtual world!
– Cons: You’re not really in control of your net navi.
Overall: Rockman EXE 4.5 Real Operation has some interesting ideas in gameplay, but the implementation of these ideas aren’t great.
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