January 9th, 2009, 12:21 Posted By: skynes
Platform: Nintendo DS
Megaman Star Force is the spiritual successor to the Megaman: Battle Network series. There are three versions of the game: Leo, Pegasus and Dragon. Each version is almost identical except for a few changes in dialogue and what elemental form Megaman can take later in the game.
Star Force follows the Battle Network formula of gameplay. There is a real world and a digital world which you can explore relatively freely. Combat is real time in a grid and you use cards to fight your foes. One of the immediately noticeable differences is that unlike Battle Networks side camera view of combat, Star Force uses a third person view instead.
The main character of Star Force is a boy named Geo Stelar, the son of an astronaut. The story takes place three years after Geo lost his father to an accident on his space station. Since then he has retreated from any and all relationships so to avoid the pain of losing people. He later meets a digital alien entity named Omega-Xis and they team up to save the world from alien invaders by merging into a single entity known as Megaman. The story and game progress is linear and uses the terms days and weeks instead of chapters. Each chapter of the story generally begins with Geo getting out of bed, some trouble happens, an alien claims responsibility, Megaman beats the alien, goes to bed and the world is safe until the next digital disaster occurs.
One note which separates Star Force from the Battle Network series is the lack of the goody two shoes heroes. All the main characters have their own pains, loneliness and troubled pasts. This is used heavily to enforce the story's theme of friendship and relying upon others for help. Despite being a cheesy plot point you can't help but empathise with some of the characters and the situations they are in. This is a welcome change from the normal fresh faced sword wielding farm boy willing to give his life to rescue a girl he only met five minutes ago.
The Battle system has undergone a simplification from the Battle Network series. Megaman has three tiles to move in and dodge attacks, he is also given an energy shield to block attacks which cover all three tiles. The card system is also much simpler, with the Program Advance, a mechanic whereby you fuse three cards into a single more powerful card, being absent from the game, replaced with the difficult to activate and mostly unnecessary Card-Combo. This leads the combat to being very cut and dry, with most fights ending in less than 10 seconds, combat becomes a repetitive mild annoyance. Even the boss fights tend to last less than a minute and are much easier compared to Battle Network's bosses.
The game makes use of the stylus and touch screen to play little mini-games, such as shooting snakes which attack from four directions, controlling an RC Copter or tapping buttons to stay grappled to a mad digital bull. It adds a bit of variety to each boss zone which breaks out from the tedium of the random encounters.
The games biggest mechanic is the Brotherband. This is where you and another person register each other as brothers and confer on one another abilities and your favourite cards. You can only register a few story characters as brothers, the rest are intended to be real friends using the Wi-fi. It is possible to use the Wi-fi to trade, establish brothers, send emails and dual your friends. However this is all useless if you don't know anyone with this game.
Sounds: More like GBA music and effects than DS. After playing the game you'll put your DS down and forget what the music sounded like.
Graphics: Little improvement over the GBA's Battle Network series. Good use of the dual screen however.
Gameplay: Endless running around with repetitive so-so combat every few seconds.
Concluson: Very similar to the Battle Network games despite being a different franchise. Repetitive game play but a much better story than its predecessors. Much easier than previous games also. Too much emphasis and options for multiplay, rendering the card directory impossible to complete without buying all three games. Get this if you loved the Battle Networked games.
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