- This article is about the first Battle Network game. For information on the Battle Network series, see Mega Man Battle Network series
Mega Man Battle Network is a new spin-off of the Mega Man series. It is not related to the stories of the other games in any way and should be considered an alternate universe. The setting is much like a 'what if', and rather than Robotics prospering, Cyberspace prospers instead. The game borrows many of the same characters and enemies from the other series (mostly classic) and puts them into a new cyberspace setting, redesigned as well.
You play as both Lan Hikari and his NetNavi, MegaMan.EXE. NetNavi's are like sentient avatars, used to explore the internet and anything digital. For example, if a traffic light is broken, people jack in their NetNavi into the traffic light, where the NetNavi will enter a cyber-world and do battle with whatever is breaking the traffic light. Basically, the act of hacking has become Pokémon battles.
A cyber-terrorist group known as WWW led by Dr. Wily is up to some no good hacking and Lan, who wants to be an official Net Battler like his rival Chaud (who's NetNavi is the sword wielding ProtoMan.EXE), stops them at every turn.
The battles themselves are very unique. They blend RPG elements with classic Mega Man blasting action, alongside some Collectible card game elements. Battles are random, and only occur when you are in control of Mega Man.
When you enter a battle screen, you appear on a 3 x 6 grid. Half of that grid (9 panels) belongs to you, the other half belongs to the enemy. You can only move in the panels you own. Here, you and your enemy can attack each other in real time. Mega Man has his default buster that never runs out but is rather weak. At the top, there is a bar that quickly fills up in about 8 seconds. When it's full, you can hit L or R to open up a chip screen.
On the chip screen, You (as Lan) choose stronger, more advanced attacks to send to Mega Man. These chips range from bombs, to bigger blasts, to mines, to panel-stealing attacks, to summoning help from allies (Roll, Gutsman) or bosses you've beaten. You can only pick 5 chips at most at a time, and you can also only choose several chips in a row if 1) They're the same exact chip or 2) They have the same letter code. Every chip has a letter code, from A to Z, some rarer than others. Chips can only be used once in a battle. Once they are gone, you are left to use your default buster again until your next "turn" when the bar fills up in the next couple of seconds. This blends real-time elements of an Action RPG with the turn-based planning of a normal Console RPG. Your chips come back once the battle ends.
The collectible card game element comes from the chips. After defeating enemies, you sometimes get chips or money (Zenny). Soon enough, you'll have a whole lot of chips. Using these chips, you decide which ones go into your "folder", which is just a fancy Net-way of saying "Deck". Chips function like cards. Since they are drawn at random, multiple versions of the same chip are necessary if you want a good chance of getting it. It is also important to consider strategy when building your deck. Some chips can form special attacks if you use consecutive letter codes (A, B and C for example), which is why some letter codes are rarer.
Then, some people build combos out of chips. You could include chips to limit your opponents movement area, and then use a bomb that explodes the remaining panels, causing an unavoidable attack, for one. The possibilites are plentiful, and have only increased with the rest of the games.