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Mega Man Star Force Dragon Package Art
GENRE
Action/RPG
DEVELOPER
Capcom
PUBLISHER
Capcom
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
MICROPHONE
No
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Mega Man Star Force Dragon

Mega Man is one of the most the most recognizable characters in gaming. Following some major success from the Battle Network series on Game Boy Advance, it seemed inevitable that Capcom would bring its most blue of heroes back in a companion series for Nintendo DS.

visuals

The art style in Mega Man Star Force isn't earth shattering or shocking in any way, but does differentiate itself somewhat from its predecessor. Mega Man's character design is possibly the greatest deviation from the archetype seen to date with his animal-shaped gun on his left arm, red visor and spiky hair; although, the last of these is not particularly uncommon among traditional Saturday morning cartoon heroes.

Most impressive are the cel-shaded 3D graphics used to illustrate battles. While the battle grid is a bit sparse, the enemies, particularly the bosses, move fluidly in great detail and are without question the best-looking part of the game. Mega Man himself doesn't fare too shabbily in 3D, either. Unfortunately, this level of detail is not seen elsewhere in the game, as the game environments are displayed in familiar 2D sprites. Making 3D environments and NPCs would have been a good choice for Capcom, even if it had to be limited to the isometric viewpoint and less detailed models than seen in battle.

audio

The soundtrack here is sparse. Not necessarily unpleasant, but certainly small. When Mega Man pulses into the wave world, there are literally two possible songs: The Everything's Fine song and the Something's Wrong song. Likewise, there is only one background tune for each of the various computers Mega Man can enter; however, each real-world section of town gets its own theme.

gameplay

Don't be surprised if the gameplay seems similar to the games in the Battle Network series. It is. Much like how Mega Man X was an extension of the classic Mega Man formula, so is Star Force heavily reliant on the same concepts and mechanics. Battles work in a familiar way, but have been streamlined. Possibly in an attempt to make things easy for new players, the way the 3D battlefield is laid out means that Mega Man can only move from side to side, giving him three different positions as opposed to the nine different ones from Battle Network. The weapon cards used in Star Force provide a much more consistent system than Battle Network's battle chips and can be selected from the touch screen, which is a bit quicker than choosing them with buttons (this is also a customizable option).

While the basic gameplay is hardly changed from the predecessor series, seeing fresh characters and new situations is probably the biggest difference. Punningly named Geo Stelar serves as the game's protagonist. When Geo meets a wave-based alien named Omega-Xis, or Mega for short, he discovers a new world based on radio waves all around him. When the two join together and become Mega Man, they can explore the wave world together. Having a second world based on radio waves means that many of the game's quests happen in the same areas of the real world Geo had just explored, only slightly above or to the side. The interplay between the characters in the game feels a bit better than in previous Mega Man games. Geo and Mega Man often get in arguments before, or sometimes while, saving the world from evil alien monsters, and it provides a great deal of humor. Mega Man is also viewed as something of a super-hero by the kids of his hometown, meaning Geo needs to protect his secret identity in Peter Parker-like ways; although, nothing nearly as complicated as the wall-crawler faces.

The face buttons still serve as the main method of control, but Capcom did include some touch functionality, such as the previously mentioned card selection and various other tasks, including sifting through trash to find trapped AI's, launching rockets at evil ducks and unlocking doors with keypads. Since the action takes place on the lower screen while in the field, it's a little surprising full-on touch control wasn't implemented for non-combat sequences, as it would be very easy to use. Integrating touch control into battle would be far more difficult, but still a worthy option to consider.

multiplayer

Two players can battle wirelessly over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, using their accumulated abilities and battle chips. Battling, however, is not the focus of multiplayer this time around. Instead, players can communicate with one another, whether over long distances or short, and leave emails and messages. However, this also has an interesting use in combat.

Whichever version of the game the player has determines which of the three satellites Geo uses for communication, which in turn allows Mega Man to access one of three more powerful forms. Linking with other players and forming BrotherBands with them gives each player access to their abilities, favorite cards and satellite forms. In theory, someone could be able to use Leo, Pegasus and Dragon forms all on the same game cartridge, if the right BrotherBands are formed. This also works with NPCs, except for the satellite-based forms.

overall

Mega Man Star Force can be either good or bad, depending on how you approach it. If you want something that's completely different and pushes the envelope, you'll likely be disappointed with the end product. On the other hand, if you've grown accustomed to Capcom reinventing its franchise series by increments, you might just warm up to Star Force. New players will definitely be better off starting here than trying one of the GBA games. On the other hand, if you prefer 2D side-scrolling Mega Man action, Mega Man ZX Advent is coming out later this month.

final score 8.1/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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