Megaman Battle Network is a spinoff of the Megaman series for the GBA and DS. I’ve never played any of the mainline Megaman games and am only vaguely familiar with them, but I played the third Battle Network game as a kid and greatly enjoyed it. Recently, a remastered port was released on Steam, so I decided to pick it up and give the whole series a whirl.
The premise is that this is an alternate universe where Megaman is a computer program instead of a robot, and the technology focus is similarly shifted: Everything is online, everything is a smart device, and everyone needs the help of sapient programs to navigate it all. This was wild science fiction when the first game was released in the early 2000s, yet in the present day it doesn’t sound too far off from our everyday lives. Surreal, and kind of eerie.
Gameplay-wise, MMBN made the interesting decision to switch from the platformer/shooter focus of the main games to an action RPG with deckbuilding elements. I like its gameplay a lot, and I find it demonstrates how adding even a small spatial component to RPGs greatly improves their complexity and engagement. (It does, however, retain the worst of grindy jRPG mechanics in spades.)