Tag Archives: technology

FGC #410 Mega Man Battle Network 6 Cybeast Gregar & Falzar

GWARHere lies the Mega Man Battle Network series. May it soon return to us.

In a way, Mega Man is videogames. He was right there at the dawn of the NES, and starred in a new, great title every year. He was one of the chosen few to star in Captain N: The Gamemaster, and he had a few shows of his own over the years. But all of his media traced back to one videogame franchise, and as the decades and technology went by, Mega Man grew and changed with them. Mega Man X heralded the dawn of a new, super age, and Mega Man Legends introduced us to the glory of polygons. And when Mega Man seemingly faltered on the consoles, he sought shelter on the handheld systems of the day. Mega Man Zero and Z/X continued the action-based gameplay of Mega Man X, while Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force made an attempt at the new action JRPG genre that had cropped up around gamers’ unpleasant need for games with more and more words. By the time the DS’s popularity was winding down, it was time for Original Mega Man to make his retro return to consoles, and thus could the whole cycle begin anew.

Except… Mega Man’s adopted father, Keiji Inafune, left Capcom in 2010, and the franchise has been slow to restart since. Mega Man 11 is apparently on the way, complete with its own tie-in animated series, but, by and large, Mega Man has languished in cameos for the past decade. Poor little metal boy, left all alone with nary an e-tank to keep him company! Where will we find that amazing Mega Man gameplay now!?

Jackin' itBut that’s the joy of this glorious new future: we do not want for Mega Man games, because Mega Man so greatly influenced gaming, there are now modern successors to his legacy. Shovel Knight is totally its own thing and absolutely a Mega Man game occasionally starring Explosion Man trying to impress his fabulous girlfriend. Walking and gunning opponents until they give up their abilities seems to have become a staple of many 2-D games, and, even though the queen is dead, long live the queen. Mega Man may not have had a new official release in years, but the fan community has also kept the bot alive, and if you want to see the lil’ guy take out the Street Fighter cast, go ahead and download that exe. We’ve got Mega Man games oozing out of our arm cannons!

But we need a few more Mega Man Battle Networks.

Every (mainline) Mega Man Battle Network game is unquestionably a JRPG. What’s more, the entire franchise is basically Pokémon. You’ve got a shorts-clad protagonist that pals around with a bunch of random archetype kids, solves all of the world’s problems through pet (sorry, PET) battling, and, for some inexplicable reason, the villains that could potentially just kick over our rollerblading hero somehow lose to the power of friendship and teamwork. But all of that is just precursor for the best part of any MMBN/Pokémon game: futzing around in the world and becoming a Level 100 battle demigod. The post-game of this franchise is always amazing, and all that talky talk can get lost in the recycling bin for all anybody cares. Who doesn’t enjoy earning icons that forever signify your victory over the super, super, super hidden boss?

But Mega Man Battle Network has one thing that is completely missing from Pokémon: it’s actually fun to play.

WoofOkay, as someone that has sunk a legitimate 400 hours into the last three Pokémon titles, I know that’s absurd hyperbole. Pokémon games are fun to play, in their way, but they are, at their cores, little more than chess. It’s all about strategy and planning, but the game itself could technically be played by a thumb attached to a jar (the jar, like most jars, contains a brain, duh). Mega Man Battle Network still relies heavily on strategy and planning, but actual physical skill is required for every battle. It doesn’t matter if you have the best chip folder on the net, you need to actually move that MegaMan.exe around the screen, dodge incoming projectiles, and maybe score an all-important counter so you can attack a weak point for maximum damage. Mega Man Battle Network is an action JRPG that amazingly adapts Mega Man gameplay. That’s no small feat! Looking at you, Mega Man X Command Mission!

And, what’s more, MMBN doesn’t make “action JRPG” a scary phrase. There have been many titles that attempted to add action heroes to the JRPG formula, and failed miserably. Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood could have been an interesting adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog’s “gotta go fast” gameplay to the traditionally slow world of JRPGs (wait, this was always a terrible idea), but its constant need for timed hits every encounter quickly made battles a disappointing slog. There’s no such problem in MMBN, though, as, if you know what you’re doing, your average fight can be over in literally a second. And that’s not a glitch; you will receive all sorts of prizes for unleashing a 700 HP Program Advance at the starting bell. You’re encouraged to be as ruthless as possible, and that means snappy, fun gameplay. Just ask Kratos!

So it’s a bit of a pisser that this glorious action-JRPG gameplay from 2001 is apparently gone forever.

BY THE PITFull disclosure? At its core, the Mega Man Battle Network series is a card-based action JRPG. And I hate card-based games! I would sooner send the entire genre to the Shadow Realm than spend another moment of my life waiting to draw from my deck so I can actually do something. By my view, there are people that rave about the great gameplay of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and, on the other side of the aisle, there are sane people. Nine times out of ten, a card-based action JRPG just means you’re doing the same action you’d normally be performing, but maybe weaker, because you have the same luck as John McClane, and, by God, you’ll be walking barefoot over broken glass before you draw an actually useful card. I don’t care how dutifully you stack the deck beforehand, you’ll be wasting turn after turn waiting for the one card that completes your hand.

But Mega Man Battle Network doesn’t have that problem. Battles are snappy to the point of absurdity, and even if you’ve got a bad draw, you’re still essentially playing Mega Man (albeit one without jumping). It’s fun, exciting, and there isn’t the unending lingering found in its other card-based brethren. Mega Man Battle Network is wholly unique in its dedication to action and strategy!

And nothing else even comes close. So, please, Capcom, Inafune, or somebody, please bring back Mega Man Battle Network.

(But you can keep making regular Mega Man games, too.)

FGC #410 Mega Man Battle Network 6 Cybeast Gregar & Falzar

  • System: Gameboy Advance. It also made it to the WiiU virtual console in 2016, but fat lot of good that does us all now.
  • Scary!Number of players: Like Pokémon, MMBN also always had a robust “meta game” where you could fight your friends. I… don’t think I ever had a friend that was also playing this game… so… uh… I’m sad now.
  • Going to talk about the plot? Maybe if ROB chooses another MMBN game, and I’m not cripplingly nostalgic for the good ol’ days of its gameplay. Look, for MMBN6, just know that the internet was once inexplicably ravaged by a pair of magical monsters, and Dr. Wily wants to bring them into the real world because he’s mad at his adopted son (because his regular son has amnesia).
  • Which version is best? There’s a lot to unpack there, because, not only are there unique Navis between versions, but both versions are direct sequels to the separate versions of Mega Man Battle Network 5. Which story would you like to continue? Which navis would you like to fight? What unique forms would you like to utilize? I chose Gregar version, because it includes a choo-choo.
  • Favorite Navi (this game): EraseMan.exe is a play at featuring the grim reaper in a children’s game, and that’s always fun for everybody. He’s got guillotines for feet! He’s also known as KillerMan.exe in Japan, which is a little less subtle.
  • Did you know? Speaking of EraseMan.exe, if Killer Cross, the version of MegaMan.exe when he’s fused with EraseMan.exe, attacks a virus with a 4 in its HP, the virus will be instantly erased. This is because 4 is a number of death in Japan… which must really make counting in that country a real pain in the ass.
  • Would I play again: Cooooome on, Mega Man Battle Network Collection for Switch. You can do it, Capcom!

What’s next? Random Rob has chosen… Clayfighter 63⅓ for the N64! Is it just two thirds shy of being a good game? We’ll find out! Please look forward to it!

Slashy slashy

The Joy of Tck

Note about this article: I traditionally despise “rants” that are simply essays that complain about everything, but offer no solutions. Such works strike me as… unsavory. That said, every once in a while you need to vent… so here’s me venting.

As some of you may have guessed from reading this site, I am a professional computer geek. And, as someone in the computer sciences field, I feel I have to say this for everyone.

Technology Professionals are dicks.

It’s a funny thing, because I love technology… and I just realized how easily I can say that as opposed to admitting I love a family member or friend. Obvious emotional issues aside, I’m posting this a scant few days after the release of the Raspberry Pi Mk. 3, a device that, let’s not mince words here, I find sexy as hell. For the unfamiliar, it’s a fully functioning computer with a gig of RAM that fits in the palm of your hand and costs less than a pair of Jacksons. I want to… do things to it. Lewd things. Things that may or may not involve Ninja Turtles. I am anxiously awaiting my new Pi, because it can do things I can do with any other computer, but, oh man, it could fit in my mouth! Pi is delicious!

And, yes, as you’ve guessed, the bulk of this site is only possible thanks to an amazing number of daisy chained HDMI and AV cables that would make your average gamer’s head spin. No, I don’t care too much about resolution or pixel scaling, but I am confident that I can play and record three decades worth of consoles and their games with a few button presses. If I want to play and record some Xenosaga, I barely have to get off the couch. I’m basically living a dream that I first envisioned years ago when I got my dad to crawl behind the entertainment center and juggle wires until I could record Mario Paint to VHS. The Future is a wonderful place.

But all is not well in the 21st Century, and the chief source of this chagrin is what I privately refer to as the Apple Mentality.

Now, I want to be clear before we go any further: I’m not an Apple “hater”. Full disclosure, I have used Microsoft Operating Systems most of my life, and this post is being written in good ol’ Microsoft Word. I’ve also owned Apple computers, initially because I bought into the “the only computer for video/image editing” mentality of the late 20th Century, and then later because, as a tech geek, I wanted to see how the other half “works”. I was neither impressed nor annoyed by the world of Mac. I continue to use Windows primarily not because I prefer it, but because I grow more familiar with its various bugs and glitches every day, and it’s literally my job to know what to do when, say, a user profile service fails to load.

But the smart devices are about where things became… strained.

The iPhone is an amazing device, and it would be no exaggeration to claim that it changed the whole of how the world works within the last decade. Remember when you emailed someone, and you thought it could take 24 hours to reach the recipient? What’s considered the appropriate turnaround time on an email now? Ten minutes? Twenty? If you haven’t heard back from someone within a half hour, do you assume they’re dead? Ignoring you? And, geez, maybe my friends are just klutzes, but how many times have you seen your least popular buddy advertising on Facebook that they damaged their phone, so please contact me at any of these seventeen other services? Remember house phone lines? And horse drawn carriages? I’m still disappointed modern cars don’t poop all over the road.

Though the iPhone is a revolutionary piece of kit, it also has the issue of being locked down like crazy. This is, of course, by design. From a business standpoint, Apple wants to have a platform where only Apple can deliver new content, so new vendors or “app designers” must seek approval from Apple (which, incidentally gets cash from the app vending, and the designer signing up to be a developer in the first place). I don’t fault Apple for this process, because, frankly, it’s a genius way to make money off of practically every step in the process of something being sold on one of their devices. So, thanks to the popularity of the iPhone, the App Store itself likely prints more cash than the Mint.

But there’s another reason the App Store, and the iPhone, are built like that. A more protected environment, like one where apps must be approved by Apple, is a safer environment for users. There are not “iPhone viruses” like you encounter on Windows PCs, mostly because that kind of proliferation on the iPhone is practically impossible. This is good! This is a good thing, no question, and makes your ol’ granny surfing the net on her iPad a much less scary proposition than it could be.

But it’s also a giant problem.

Somewhere in there (and maybe this was always the case, but it seems to have gotten more pronounced in recent years) the technology industry got very… paternalistic. No, you can’t do that with your iPhone, it would be dangerous. No, you can’t use your iPad for that, it could hurt somebody. Yes, you want this U2 album, now enjoy it, and eat your potatoes, they’re good for you. It was always under the guise of “we know what’s best”, which, fair enough, you guys are making the technology, but, gawrsh, you don’t think a multi-billion dollar company could ever have an ulterior motive for doing business a certain way, do you? Apple cares about you and your family/data, and isn’t just making decisions so it can finally have enough money to buy its own island and hunt people for sport.

And I feel like two things happening right now are a direct result of this of this technological mollycoddling. First is the item that basically inspired this article, the fact that Apple said, “nah” to the FBI and then made an impassioned plea to its customers about how this was the only right thing to do. Seriously, I don’t say this very often, because I feel like, when writing and rewriting an article for this site, there’s always a better, more intellectual way to phrase this, but, to really sum up my feelings on this one…

Fuck you, Apple.

Apple, you can do whatever you want with your business, and it’s perfectly within your rights to dispute a court order. That kind of thing happens all the time, and it’s practically inevitable with government branches and agencies continually making grabs for more and more power. And, as the case currently stands, I agree with Apple, not because of their reasoning, but because of additional data that seems to paint this particular evidence’s necessity as extremely extraneous. But Apple went the extra mile and appealed to its millions of customers about the big bad government and they’re trying to take away our freedoms and oh man won’t someone please think of the children?! Which, I’m sorry, even typing that sentence makes me mad. It’s disingenuous, because, come on, Apple, you’re a freaking business. I’m not going to accuse Apple of anything, but if it thought that degrading its own encryption could make a buck, it would do it, and we already know the reverse is true: Blackberry let its backend get out in the wild, and the ever popular Chinese Hacker Community transformed Blackberry from an industry leader into smooshed jam. Apple knows damn well that its App Store Money Train would be derailed by this backdoor getting out in the world, and, after the security compromise compromised too many people, guess what would happen? No, it would not “undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect,” it would mean that an Apple alternative would smell blood in the water, and within a year or two, everyone would be towing around jPhones (or probably G-Phones), and the iPhone would be hanging out with the cassette tapes, Commodore 64, and Atari Lynx.

But, no, Apple goes out of its way to make a case to the public that they’re doing this for everyone’s best interest. Eat your vegetables, this is what’s best for you.

Which is pretty much why I think Donald Trump has gained so much traction.

I’m not going to say Donald Trump is a raving lunatic, because that man knows himself some libel laws, but I am going to say that, almost from the get-go, people have said that anyone that supports Trump is completely insane. If you agree with Trump, a certain segment of the population will instantly label you a racist, misogynist, and possible oompaloompaphiliac. And I’m not saying there aren’t Trump supporters that fit that criteria, but automatically labeling someone as a dangerous (we disparage racism [and other isms] because of the damage it can do to society and people, ie dangerous) “other” doesn’t help anyone any more than building an impassable wall would help immigration. You have to take a step back and say “What this man is saying is racist, misogynistic, and overtly disturbing. Why is it so effective?” And, to be clear, I don’t mean in the “why do good things happen to orange people?” rhetorical query, I mean, straight up, can we look at what’s being said here and find the why of it? We should discover what is really appealing to the masses, and not just write the whole thing off as, “Boy, there sure are a whole lot of racist people, right,” post yet another meme or video of an “epic takedown”, and call it a job well done.

And, when I think about it, I come back to my technology-focused brethren.

Even if the public doesn’t have a distinct, real way to vocalize this feeling, I believe that people, on an intrinsic level, understand that we are only being more and more babied in our society. According to our most popular entertainment (and their message boards), we want to be Walter White. We want to be Deadpool (we want to have cancer?). We want to be Rick Grimes, boldly tromping around the wastelands, and making life or death decisions about the fate of humanity. But we don’t get to make life or death decisions. We don’t even get to decide on custom icons. Technology is moving faster than ever in human history, and the average man is being treated like a Neanderthal with a chainsaw. Yes, something new and wonderful may be accomplished here, but it’s a lot more likely someone is going to lose an arm. But we’re not Neanderthals! We’re big boys, with millennia of experience of adapting to new things and deciding what’s right for our society. We’ve read the manual, we’re aiming it away from face, we can handle that chainsaw, we can handle having a choice, there’s no need for some faceless corporation to tell us what’s best. We can decide!

But it ain’t gonna happen.

So the next time your phone updates and drops every feature you’ve ever used, or you score a new computer and the Start Menu is only accessible after a trip to Best Buy, remember that a person made that decision for you, and you’re stuck with it. They know what’s best for you, without ever knowing you, and they will continue to make your decisions for you.

And, when you think about it, it’s kind of a dick move.