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Mega Man Star Force 2: Zerker X Ninja Package Art

Mega Man Star Force 2: Zerker X Ninja

The basic progression for any given Mega Man series or sub-series is fairly straightforward. The first game will establish a formula, possibly based on an earlier one, while the following games will perfect or tweak features. And, with the exception of one particularly outstanding series, these sequels will be fruitful and multiply, at times coming out more frequently than other games. For Mega Man fans, this is fantastic, but for players who aren't necessarily enamored with the games simply because of the Blue Bomber's inclusion or their specific play style, this may or may not be a good thing.


Things haven't changed visually since Mega Man Star Force in any major way. The 2D backgrounds and characters will seem familiar to those who've played the first game, with space age suburban landscapes and Jetsons-style cities. All game areas outside of battle are presented with sprites, but once Mega Man is in combat, the action shifts to a 3D battleground which still features some of the better cel-shaded models on the DS. Again, it's a shame that the developers couldn't find a way to utilize 3D models throughout the regular game, even if the same resolution wasn't possible.


Just like a lot of Mega Man Star Force 2 looks the same, much of it will sound familiar as well. While new areas never explored before will feature different music, at least half of the soundtrack is taken from the first game. Since most of the music was fairly decent, this isn't a huge problem. Most of the newer tunes are based upon specific regions in the game's world, and therefore have different moods they are meant to evoke, such as the bustle of the Wilshire Hills shopping district or the southwestern flair of the cactus-laden nation of Whazzap, where there is only one way to properly greet someone. The sound effects are really in need of an update, as a great deal of them are taken directly from the Mega Man Battle Network GBA games and are starting to sound dated.


The story of Mega Man Star Force 2 picks up where the first game left off. Student Geo Stelar and his alien friend Omega-Xis are trying to resume their normal life when mysterious man named Hyde starts causing trouble for the peaceful citizens of Electopia. Fortunately, Geo and Omega-Xis can EM Wave Change into Mega Man to save the day. While Mega Man was limited to running on the Wave Roads that hover over the regular world in the first game, in Mega Man Star Force 2, he can now traverse both on ground level and the Wave Roads above it, effectively doubling the area that can be explored.

Battles take place against both electromagnetic viruses and other Wave Changed humanoids. Mega Man uses Battle Cards, collected from enemies and other characters, to attack as well as the Mega Buster. As with the first game, this is a variation of the Battle Network system, but is streamlined for ease of use and quickness of play. With the right combos, players can take out groups of viruses in mere seconds, which will lead to better bonuses after combat. While there is no experience point system in play, Mega Man can be upgraded with better weapons, abilities, and hit-point bonuses by completing certain objectives or finding items. The game is available in two separate versions (Zerker X Saurian and Zerker X Ninja), each designating an ancient tribe that Mega Man can channel. These tribes have elemental properties, such as Wood Ninja or Thunder Zerker, and can give Mega Man their strengths and weaknesses in battle. They can also be shared with other players via Brother Band, in theory, granting a player access to all three versions and the different fused versions of two or all three tribes.

While the game does feature a fairly linear, episodic structure, where Mega Man reacts to and defeats challenges presented to him, it also has an impressive amount of sub-quests and optional bosses that can keep a player busy for quite a while. Running errands for NPCs can give Geo anything from extra cash to rare Mega Cards, and of course rogue Wave Changed humans are waiting in certain areas of the map as well, like crab-boy Cancer Bubble, who's too busy hanging around thinking how cool he is to help Mega Man save the day. Pursuing some of these side quests can take several hours, and re-facing defeated bosses can also earn Mega Man some nifty Mega Cards.


Link Power, the connection between people, is key to success in the game, and this can be shared both with in-game NPCs and other players. Players can connect locally or through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to form "Brother Bands" with each other, which increases Link Power between them each time it occurs. Higher Link power grants access to certain items and side quests, and can also result in discounts on purchasable items. In addition, Mega Man will be able to use his Brothers' four favorite Battle Cards while in combat and to "Double Tribe," which fuses two of the different tribes together. The game will also create an Auto Brother that can be accessed in-game so that anyone living in the middle of northern Alaska without a wireless Internet connection won't be left out. Players can also Wave Battle against one another, with certain Battle Cards created specifically for that purpose.


Really, the most remarkable aspect of Mega Man Star Force 2 is the brilliant localization, which includes oodles of tongue-in-cheek humor. From the pun names of characters like Geo, Rich Dotcom, who runs a successful Internet company, Luz Stufalot, who loses things a whole bunch, and Alec Tribec, who subjects Geo to a punishing quiz game, to Omega-Xis's abrasive, Rip Torn-like attitude -- constantly calling Geo a "wuss" and telling him to "man up" -- the game oozes an attitude similar to something like Working Designs might have put out in the late nineties. In fact, Omega-Xis gets the best line of the game when Geo confronts him about being cursed by the Zerker/Saurian/Ninja tribe: "Hey! It's my curse, and I'm cool with it!"

Despite the decently high production value and excellent localization, however, the fact is that Mega Man Star Force 2 really isn't much different from its predecessor, or even its predecessor series. Anyone who loves it will continue to love it, and for anyone who's sick of the formula, this isn't the game to change your mind. Even a poor Mega Man game is still pretty decent, and while this one isn't poorly made by any means, it still shows that the basic groundwork is probably in need of a reinvention. With Mega Man Star Force 3 already in development, players can hope that Capcom is ready to refresh the series and help give it more of its own identity.

final score 7.6/10

Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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