ROCKMAN EXE WS
ROCKMAN EXE WS
SYSTEM YEAR GENRE RATING WSC 2003 Traditional 74% DEVELOPER Bandai
As with Battle Network games, you play as MegaMan.EXE, assisted by Lan, to pursue and destroy viruses belonging to the WWW.
This is a side-scrolling platformer game based on the Battle Network series, similar to Network Transmission (although in all honesty, it resembles the original series games even more than Network Transmission does).
This game is only available in Japanese to the best of my knowledge.
Almost everything on this page comes courtesy of Sean. Most of the opinions on the game are his as well, as I’ve only sampled a small portion of it so far.
Notes and Features
- Unlike all other Battle Network games, in this one, once you use a Battle Chip, it is gone forever. Kaput. (There are, however, a few infinite-use chips.)
- Unlike classic Mega Man games, you cannot choose your stage order. You are sent through a fixed sequence of stages. However, most stages have alternate paths. Also, the game has a New Game + mechanic to allow you to replay the game multiple times exploring alternate paths and gaining items you missed before.
- Unlike Network Transmission, you have 9 lives per stage, every stage, without having to pick up Backup items first.
- Making a break from all of the other Battle Network games, this game seems to have only three elements instead of the usual four. The sequence appears to be: Elec -> Aqua -> Fire -> Elec.
- You gain Style Changes, but they really behave more like the armors from the first Battle Network game. You can’t choose or otherwise customize what combination of Style/Element you get; they are predetermined.
- The game has a meter indicating your connection to Lan. The weaker the connection, the less aid you can get from him. (A couple of the other Battle Network games made use of this in minor ways, but here it is a full-fledged game mechanic.)
- Why can’t I pause or open the subscreen or fire my weapons?
See the Lan indicator in the upper right? When it’s at 3 or 2 units, everything will work fine. When it’s at 1 unit, you can use equipped chips, but can’t contact Lan to change chips or Styles. At 0 units, you don’t even have access to your Battle Chips. The indicator may vary throughout a stage, or seemingly at random. Plan accordingly. If you die, the indicator is usually back in an operational range when you restart.
- I see an item but I can’t get to it, what gives?
Many chips aren’t accessible at first. You’ll need to wait until you complete the game at least once and replay it. Additionally, the Styles are linked to particular bosses. You’ll need to play their branches at least once to obtain everything.
- How do I replay the game?
The developers generously offer no indication of which files have been cleared, but if you remember which file has your clear-game save, you can just continue it to restart the game with all your old chips and Styles. If you obtained the game secondhand and there’s a yellow and/or green star by the second option (Continue) on the title screen, somebody has already completed the game for you.
Most of this review was contributed by Sean.
- Play Control:
It gets the job done, but even once you’re accustomed to the uncomfortable WonderSwan controls, there are still some issues. Grabbing ladders is frustratingly flaky if you’re moving at all, touching ceilings may randomly halt your forward momentum, and you can’t release charged shots for a fraction of a second after being hit (if you release the button, you just lose your charge). Fortunately, the single-use combat Battle Chips aren’t particularly useful; otherwise their placement on the buttons would be utterly crippling.
- Good amounts of detail, and consistent color usage, but nothing that particularly challenges the hardware. Occasionally display ghosting and contrast become issues, but that may be due to playing on a WonderSwan Color rather than a SwanCrystal.
- Clean and smooth (although personally I think some of the sprites look a little goofy). Unlike the WonderSwan’s take on Rockman & Forte, it appears this team got access to all the appropriate character and enemy art. The enemy deletion animation (breaking up into tile-sized squares) takes some getting used to, but the Navis all have a full compliment of useful frames. MegaMan.EXE even has an idle animation that persists for a couple seconds after an action until he realizes you aren’t about to do anything.
- There are a couple good tunes, but the soundtrack generally fades from catchy to space-filling after the title. At least the instrument samples are an order of magnitude better than Rockman & Forte, even if the arrangement isn’t as laudable.
- Sound Effects:
- Nothing that markedly doesn’t fit, nothing that steps on the toes of anything else, but nothing outstanding either.
- It wouldn’t be fair to rate the plot until I can understand it.
- The thought process behind the level and boss design seems to be: “The player has 9 lives; he can afford to figure things out by trial and error.” This means many blind pits, hidden enemies, and pathological jumping puzzles in the stages, and bosses which will kill you if you don’t have the right equipment or strategy. As a consolation, you do get 9 lives, refreshed every stage, and a good number of the stages have continue points after the ugliest sections.
- Replay Value:
You need to play the game twice to get the “real” ending and a complete set of Styles, more if you want to collect all the Battle Chips, and it does get easier each time, both due to retaining your old chips and Styles and the fact that half the difficulty lies in simply learning the stage and boss strategies. But there are still enough frustrating elements to keep the game from being a casual replay even once you’ve unlocked everything you care to.
Screen shot from Sean.
- Between the sadistic stage design, vague use of elemental properties, no chip graphics (just a text description), cluttered chip list, and aforementioned control glitches, there’s a lot that could have been done to make this game more accessible and playable. On the other hand, there’s enough that the developers did right that we can’t claim a complete lack of effort.
- A definite collector’s item, with a number of very intriguing features. The game’s cumulative drawbacks, however, sadly keep us from recommending it as playable to someone without at least moderate experience with the classic Mega Man games and passing interest in the Battle Network series.
- + Plus:
- Innovative “Lan gauge,” and some infinite-use weapons.
- - Minus:
- Stages designed to test a player’s memorization skills rather than to provide an engaging experience.
You cannot select your stage order; therefore, this section merely outlines the stages and bosses.
- Stage 1: (There is no split on this stage.)
- Boss: FireMan (Use Buster)
- Stage 2: (ColorMan has an easier attack pattern, so he is good to take on first. The second game has an accessible chip only on the upper path.)
- Upper: ElecMan (Use Buster or a Sword-class chip)
- Lower: ColorMan (Use Buster)
- Stage 3: (Take the upper path first, then the lower path on a replay.)
- Upper: MagicMan (Use Buster)
- Lower: PharaohMan (Use BurningBody)
- Stage 4: (Take the lower path first to get your Style Change, then the upper one later.)
- Upper: BombMan (Use WideSword or another type of sword)
- Lower: SnakeMan (Use ElecSword or WideSword)
- Stage 5: (Wily 1) (Take the lower path first.)
- Upper: FireMan (Use Buster or ColdPunch or AquaSword)
- Lower: ElecMan (Use Buster, and WoodShield if you have it)
- Stage 6: (Wily 2) (There is no split on this stage.)
- First Boss: Blues (Use Buster or GutsPunch, preferably with WoodShield or HeatGuts)
- Second Boss: DreamVirus (Use LongSword, WideSword, or in a pinch, GutsPunch)
- Stage 7: (Second game or later.)
- Boss: Gospel (Use Buster and WoodShield)
- The most obnoxious regular boss in the game, so much so that he earns his own section. PharaohMan’s pattern is to throw up a giant coffin which reflects your shots and fires some of its own while protecting him. After the coffin is destroyed, he delays briefly before teleporting into a corner of the room and dropping a series of huge stones on you, stopping after a fixed time or when damaged. The pattern then repeats. The MegaBuster is absolutely useless due to the coffin in the first phase and the midair damage in the second phase (remember you can’t release charged shots after taking damage). BurningBody, however, drives through the coffin, destroying it and leaving you in the corner behind PharaohMan, from whence you can turn around and burn back through him for moderate damage. You can land another hit by burning at him in midair to break his second phase. Rinse and repeat.
Screen shot from Sean.
- The second most obnoxious regular boss in the game, and also worthy of a side note. SnakeMan camps out in his invulnerable snake basket most of the time, and has three basic attacks. He can pop up to launch a series of energy balls at you, giving you time to damage him. He can create a hole under you to release three snakes which crawl back and forth on the ground until destroyed, and can’t be hit by any Buster shot short of a full charge (and remember you can’t release a charged shot after taking damage). Lastly, usually when he reaches half strength, he can shoot out along the floor, which does leave him briefly vulnerable, but only if you were already in the middle of an attack. The most successful strategy I’ve found is to use a sword-type chip (try ElecSword if you have it; it seems SnakeMan is an Aqua type here even though he gives you WoodShield) which can take out the baby snakes and does decent damage to SnakeMan himself. Hack away while he’s up and try to deplete his HP before he gets all of yours.
- Blues: (ProtoMan)
- Blues is fast and mobile. Seemingly at random, he jumps around a lot, dashes with a sword swipe, and releases tall energy waves. All of his attacks are avoidable if you can react quickly. You can also break his charge by hitting him with a charged shot first. WoodShield may help a little, but is not necessary. And remember—you can’t release a charged shot right after taking damage, and he’ll jump over it if you release it at an “easy” opportunity. If you’re feeling brazen, try GutsPunch for this battle. You’ll need to be in close and take some damage yourself, but you’ll deal damage in spades. In some ways, this is actually the most enjoyable battle of the game—tricky, but not patently broken.
- DreamVirus: (LifeVirus)
- You’ll want heavy weapons here. Break its shield (three slashes of WideSword work; three GutsPunches is a smidgen slower), get in as much damage as possible, and get out of the way as it starts charging, before the shield reforms. Unlike PharaohMan, you can’t just use Burning Body: the shield hurts you too much, and the boss behind it is invulnerable.
Screen shot from Sean.
WoodShield gives you a little more leeway around its otherwise two-hit-kill beam attack and one-hit-kill shield, but if you absolutely must have a flawless battle, here’s your best bet: Equip your best sword-class chip. You should at least have WideSword by now; LongSword is ideal. Run in, break the shield, slash the boss a few times as it starts to charge, then slide to the left end of the screen and jump to avoid its blast. Repeat immediately so you can destroy the shield before it starts attacking you. And hope the boss doesn’t pull out its long-energy-slash-from-mid-screen attack.
Alternatively, if you have some Recovery chips, get right in close and hack away with a sword while taking contact damage and reaping the invincibility period. As soon as the boss fires its beam, back off so you don’t get caught in the shield. With WoodShield, you can probably take this approach safely enough as long as you avoid the boss’s shield. Without, you may need to spend Recovery or Invisible chips.
- Very easy first phase. Just keep right, fire whatever you’ve got (Buster is fine), jump the shockwaves, and slide right constantly as he inhales to avoid the flames he spits next. When he starts tossing arrays of blocks, charge up but don’t release. As soon as the blocks start moving, they become destructible, and you can release a full-charge shot that will clear most of them out and continue on into Gospel. The remaining one or two can be jumped simultaneously with the shockwave he throws next; just be sure to get back to the right side of the screen as soon as possible.
Fully-charged Buster shots are the most reliable way to damage Gospel if you aren’t comfortable working without WoodShield (which provides substantial damage reduction here). If you can afford to use Site Style, you can release half-charged shots pretty much whenever you’re facing Gospel during your regular evasion pattern and take him down slightly more quickly.
This game does not have passwords, and uses saved games instead. When you beat the game, you will be asked to save. Loading this clear-game save behaves like a “New Game +” in that you start the game from the beginning but you keep all of your items.
Screen shot from Sean.
This game also features the Title Menu Star system; the color of the star that appears when you point at the “Continue” option on the title screen denotes what you have unlocked.
Noteworthy Battle Chips
All of these chips have infinite uses, except where noted.
- Recovery60: Stage 1, at the end of a slide passage. Single-use chip.
- AreaSteal: Stage 2. Use GutsPunch to break the obvious wall.
- ColdPunch: Stage 2, upper path. Fall down the left side of the big shaft to enter a side corridor. Use WideSword to break the wall.
- DashAttack: Stage 2, lower path. Use LongSword to break the wall.
Screen shot from Sean.
- Sword: Stage 3. Stay on top of the upper block path until you reach the shelf with the chip. Getting this seems to trigger a scene with ProtoMan.EXE and Chaud in the post-stage dialogue.
- GutsPunch: Stage 3, upper path. In plain sight on a small ledge on the right side of a pit.
- BurningBody: Stage 3, lower path. In plain sight, but thanks to the rotating spike blocks, you probably can’t get it without taking damage.
- WideSword: Stage 4. On a block over the big pit, toward the bottom of the room. Easy to get to, but you’ll need to kill yourself or equip AirShoes to get out.
- LongSword: Stage 4, upper path. Use AirShoes—or perhaps AreaSteal or ElecBrother—to jump out to the obvious ladder.
- AirShoes: Stage 4, lower path. In plain sight. If you stand on the front of the snake platform’s head, you don’t even need to jump off to get it.
- ElecSword: Stage 4, lower path. When Lan gets your attention below the ladder, break the wall with BurningBody.
- FlameSword: Stage 5. Climb the obvious ladder, break the wall with ColdPunch.
- DynaWave: Stage 5, upper path. In plain sight.
- Recovery60: Stage 5, upper path. In plain sight. Single-use chip.
- AquaSword: Stage 5, lower path. In plain sight. Use ElecBrother and/or AreaSteal with AirShoes to jump the pit. BurningBody might also let you cross.
Screen shot from Sean.
- Invisible1: Stage 6, first half. On a ledge in plain sight, but you’ll have to redo some block-jumping to get out if you don’t have AirShoes. Single-use chip.
- Undershirt: Stage 6. In the final run up to the Blues battle (horizontal screen with treadmills over pits), Lan will ping you. Take a step of faith into the pit in front of you and hold left against the wall as you fall to land in a small alcove. Break the wall with a Sword+WideSword+LongSword Program Advance (if not certain others). Hop across a couple of narrow pillars (one long jump may require ElecBrother, AreaSteal, and/or a dash chip). To the best of our knowledge, the only way back out is suicide.
- In SnakeMan’s branch of stage 4, there’s a vertical room with a vertical stack of teleporting blocks. Their timing is sadistically irregular. Notably, after the block that appears for the longest time, the next one just above it off-screen is only around just long enough to land on and jump off to the final block in the sequence, about half way to the shaft opening screen-right.
- In FireMan’s branch of stage 5, you have to traverse platforms that thread along screws. Jump off of them and they spin along the screw, but stand on them more than a split second and you fall through. The first room, with multiple platforms, is a toss-up, and AirShoes, AreaSteal and ElecBrother may help or hinder you. For the second room, with the one long screw over fireballs, jump onto the platform as the first fireball is coming up, so that you land on the platform as the fireball falls. Make a series of quick hops without AirShoes to give the platform some good speed and hopefully clear the first fireball before it comes back up. Make larger jumps to slow the platform down some as you gauge the second fireball, then go back to short hops as you approach, and be prepared to leap for the far shore as soon as the second fireball returns.
- In stage 6, there’s a jump from a block to a vertically-moving platform under spikes to a high ledge just a little over a body-height below the spikes. Jump onto the platform as soon as it is safe to do so as the platform falls. Jump off to the ledge just after it starts to rise, so you land on the ledge at the peak of your jump. I don’t care what the sprite spacing looks like, at pretty much any other angle you’ll clip into the spikes. For an easier time, be sure to have AirShoes unequipped. This goes for any time small, precise jumping is critical.
Screen shot from Sean.
- After the screen transition in stage 6 that leaves you standing on a block at the left side of a vertical shaft, walk off the block and fall just to its right to avoid all of the spikes.
- After Blues (ProtoMan) in stage 6, there is a back-to-back teleporting block series. The first one is simple enough to get through by observation. Once you reach the hand-bomb and subsequent slide passage, your goal is to land on the block at the end of the passage when it’s solid. When it disappears, you’ll drop onto a second block, which is around just long enough for you to jump what I can only describe as the instinctive distance right to the third and final block before reaching solid ground.
- In stage 7, there’s an extended room full of teleporting block chains over spikes. The timing is regular, but if you start jumping on autopilot, you’ll get caught on the ceiling, which lowers by a few blocks part way through the room. This will, of course, drop you onto spikes. As will watching the ceiling and missing the one-block-wide safety posts between spike pits. The best strategy I have found for this room is to use the Invisible chip from stage 6 (which you hopefully didn’t need for the boss) and just run across all the spikes. This should get you across most of the room, or all of it with ease if you stack ElecBrother or Site Styles with AreaSteal.
- This game does support Program Advances. When you equip certain sets of three chips, they become highlighted and chime whenever the screen is refreshed. These chips can be used in conjunction by tapping the down arrow repeatedly. Triggering a Program Advance releases a powerful attack, but unequips all equipped chips, even the fourth chip not used in the Program Advance.
- Beating the game once lets you replay with your old equipment and reach the second ending.
- Beating the game twice unlocks Extra Mode, a back-to-back boss fight at one of three levels, with access to your previously-obtained equipment.
- Beating the game with a 100% item collection unlocks Hard Mode and EX Hard Mode.
- Collecting certain items, such as the Sword in stage 3, seems to trigger additional plot events.
We have not translated the dialogue yet, so I can’t be specific about the particulars. It seems that MegaMan.EXE successfully rescues Roll.EXE (kidnapped or otherwise endangered at the outset of stage 6), leading Mayl to give Lan a flustered “thank you.” Lan proceeds to have celebratory dialog with MegaMan before the credits roll. After the credits, MegaMan makes a brief comment, likely predicating the availability of new play modes.
Screen shot from Sean.
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Last update: April 6, 2009