Jeremy Jastrzab
20 Dec, 2007

Mega Man Star Force Review

DS Review | The force is weakening with this one.
Despite being a staple gaming icon for a long time, Mega Man has been struggling to keep up with the times. Not unlike Sonic, most of the blue man’s recent ventures have resulted in failure, and some, such as the Legends series or the traditional format, having ceased to exist altogether. Apart from the Mega Man X/Z series, the only other Mega Man spin-off that has managed to stick around has been the Battle Network series. It's managed to spawn six individual games for the Game Boy Advance (though Battle Network 5 was released on the DS as well). After the first title, games starting coming in two versions, each with subtle differences.

Most of the followers of the series stated that the fourth title and onwards really began to wear a neat idea into the ground. To try and avoid this (even if you think it’s too late), Capcom have branched off and started a new series, in the form of Mega Man Starforce for the DS. And rather then the two versions, you’ve now got three to pick from: Dragon, Leo and Pegasus. Unfortunately, despite the addition of some conceptually good ideas, this really is just a repackaging of what players have been experiencing for some time now.

Mega Man Starforce takes a lot of the elements that were in the Battle Network games and repackages them. At its core, the game is an action-RPG with a few minor twists. Unfortunately, the story behind the game is rather dull. Set a few hundred years after the Battle Network games, players take charge of Geo Stelar, a dull youth that spends his days staring at the stars. He hopes that one day he see his father return, after he went missing in deep space a few years ago. Early in the game, Geo meets an extra-terrestrial being, known as Omega-Xis (or Mega) the FM-ian.

Red Mega Man. Blue Mega Man. What's the difference? They all end up the same colour.

Red Mega Man. Blue Mega Man. What's the difference? They all end up the same colour.
The story revolves around Geo and Mega getting together and solving problems around the small and confined town, as well as saving sad and miserable people from evil FM-ians. Eventually, you’ll save the world as well. The dialogue is very simple and the characters and plot are all very clichéd. It doesn’t help that Geo is quite miserable for a while. Still, it’s not as if the story is bad, it’s just that holds nothing new to anyone who has played the previous Mega Man Battle Network games or Japanese RPGs in general. If you’ve watched a lot of anime, you might get the same feeling as well.

Mega Man Starforce presents a rather complicated façade but it’s actually quite simple once you’ve figured it out. Basically, you’ll travel between the physical world and an electromagnetic world that exists alongside it. However, this world is invisible to the naked eye, and can only be seen when Geo pops on his special goggles. Furthermore, thanks to a device known as the ‘transer’, Geo and Mega are able to merge together and explore the otherwise inaccessible alternate world. In the process, they form ‘Mega Man’.

The transer is essentially a PDA. You organise your items and battle cards, you receive all your emails and you take care of any Wifi action through there as well. The main feature that comes across Wifi, is the ability to form Brotherbands. The advantage of this is that you’ll get access to your ‘brother’s’ cards, as well as bonuses that will help level up your character. The bonus material will relate to what version of the game players have, but otherwise, there really isn’t much difference between versions, other than a few of Mega Man’s characteristics. You can have up to six brothers at any one time.

Gaming dialogue at its best.

Gaming dialogue at its best.
As Geo in the physical world, you are subjected to a number of fetch quests and often menial tasks, though you spend too much time just finding whether you talked to all the people or looked at all the right items. To add to this, you’ll be require to phase in and out of the electromagnetic world regularly to perform a number of tasks and take out the bosses. Whenever Mega Man is travelling in the electromagnetic world, you can travel into electronic devices that often need fixing or into the transer of an NPC, to check out their profile or see if they are in need of assistance. Unfortunately, this is something that you’ll need to do a lot of, because the game won’t let you advance otherwise.

You’ll do all of your battling in the electromagnetic world. Battles are entirely random and arguably too common. They take place on a three by three grid and essentially in real time. You start off by picking from six cards that come up, though combinations can only be picked in a certain order. Each card represents an attack (or other move, such as heal) that you can use. Obviously, you need to take into account the grid positioning, as well as avoiding enemy attacks. The system works quite well, though it can take a while to get used to new enemies that appear. That, and random battles are a bit too common for our liking.

Unlike most RPGs, you don’t actually gain experience in battle, only money and sometimes an item. Instead, you have to find all your upgrades as items and as bonus items from Brotherbands. Adds a little irrelevance to the battles, though a decent sum of money does help in the long run. Otherwise, the rest of the game is really standard fare. This wouldn’t be so bad, if it didn’t drag on for as long as it does or at a ridiculously slow pace. Clocking at 30 hours, with extra hours for completing ALL of the tasks, you certainly can’t complain about the length. Unfortunately, with mundane tasks and arguably irrelevant battles, we can’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy it for any major strip of those lengthy hours. There are a couple of touch screen additions, including the occasional mini-game, but for the most part, you’ll get away with using the d-pad and face buttons.

Full House! Oops... Wrong game.

Full House! Oops... Wrong game.
The argument that Mega Man Starforce is really Mega Man Battle Network 7 could be further driven by the graphical and audio presentation. The game retains the look from the GBA titles and arguably a lot of the features as well. Retaining the isometric view, the graphics are colourful but very basic, what with the simple geometry and bubble headed characters. Battles are in 3D and are reasonably smooth, though they try to represent a cel-shaded look but you can never really tell. There is a reasonably good soundtrack, even if it is, again, rather basic. There is no voicing in the game, though that can be a good thing with the uninspiring dialogue. The length and quality of the conversations is a serious detractor from the presentation. Sound effects can be ignored, and that’s just as well, since they’re as simple as they get.

Mega Man Starforce is a reasonably decent RPG romp. However, the aspect that really holds it back is that it does nothing to really impress, nor does it even try to be anything other than the most basic of RPGs. Little quirks, twists and additions are all good and well, but the fact that you’re forced to wallow through long periods of mundane play take away from an otherwise solid experience. Fans of the Battle Network series may still be satisfied, so long as they weren’t looking for something to rejuvenate or revive the Mega Man RPG. Given the current wealth of RPGs on the DS though, there are much more compelling and engaging options available.
The Score
Mega Man Starforce is far from a bad RPG. It's just doesn't do anything that hasn't been done better before. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
It's sad, because I recently downloaded Mega Man 2 for the Virtual Console, and it's so awesome.
6 years ago
Looks like we'll agree to disagree on this one Jeremy, I really enjoyed the game, like the GBA ones but with a new perspective and improved graphics. It is a shame about the voicing though, especially since there's some on the menu.
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