Rockman .EXE (WSC/Bandai)
The Rockman EXE series (better known as Mega Man Battle Network in the US) makes its first appearance on Bandai's handheld console with Rockman EXE WS. Rather than being an RPG, however, this game is a side-scrolling action game, much like the Mega Man games of old.
Instead of selecting bosses, you progress through levels in a linear fashion, blasting baddies along the way. About halfway through the level, the path will split, and take you to a new sublevel, where you face a boss at the end. For example, one path might take you to MagicMan.EXE, and the other would take you to PharaohMan.EXE. You have no way of knowing right away who you're going up against, but the levels aren't randomized, so if you come back later, you'll know exactly where to go.
Battle chips factor into the game as well. Various enemies in the levels will drop them, just like in games past. However, if you get a life recover battle chip, it won't immediately recover your life; you need to equip and activate it like any other chip (see "Control" below).
These shots definitely don't do the game justice. The graphics are clean and sharp, and look fantastic, especially on the SwanCrystal. The animation's pretty good, too. The WSC isn't as powerful as the GBA, but this game does animate very well indeed. Bosses and special effects are well done, too, and the overall art style matches the other Rockman EXE games perfectly.
For the love of God, spend the extra money and buy a Wonderswan headphone adapter! You'll want it for this game. The music is some of the best I've heard in a WSC game. Like other WSC games, the samples are somewhere between 8- and 16-bit, but in this case, the melodies are nice and clear, without the "clicks and pops" that are found in many other Wonderswan games.
This is the only fault the game has. The Wonderswan's separated D-pad (the "X" pad) takes some getting used to, but it gets the job done. The problem is the upper D-pad (the "Y" pad). You can assign battle chips to each of the four buttons, and active them on the fly. You can also swap them out on the pause/menu screen, just like you would with weapons in any other Rockman game. The problem is...you won't be able to move and jump when you use a chip! You have to take your thumb off the "X" pad, which moves your character, to hit the "Y" pad! I can see that since the Wonderswan doesn't have "L" and "R" buttons, there was really no other way to activate the chips quickly, but I would've rather had to select one on the menu screen, use it with the B button, then switch back, for no other reason than using chips in boss fights. More often than not, you'll find yourself just using your regular blaster in boss fights, and using battle chips in the levels themselves, when you have a little more leeway.
It has its flaws, but Rockman EXE WS is a fun platformer that belongs in any Wonderswan owner's library. If you're a Rockman freak, like me, then you definitely can't pass this one up!
Liquidcross says: don't have one? Go buy one eh?