Speculation Train: Rockman EXE Operate Shooting Star part 2

exe_oss_logoMake sure your luggage is packed away well, and that you have your ticket ready to be checked by an attendant, because it's all aboard again. In my last segment, the primary argument in my speculation was that Rockman EXE: Operate Shooting Star would more likely be a brand new Battle Network game instead of a remake. Well, I was wrong! I must concede that. However, the reasoning I used to come to that conclusion has not been far off; in fact much of it still applies. The primary reason I argued that EXE:OSS would be an all new title is because ultimately people want new content, not recycled content. But at the same time, fans of a series will want content that also feels familiar. I know it sounds like I'm contradicting myself, but it makes sense, trust me. We'll cover this near the end.

For now, we must speculate how much of an influence Star Force is going to have on this Battle Network remake. Will it just be in the game's gameplay, or in the plot and characters as well? To me the gameplay makes a lot of sense, especially battling. While Battle Network and Star Force have fairly similar battle systems, Star Force's system allows for simpler, faster-paced battles. By removing Battle Network's alphabet system, you're assured to be able to select at least two cards at the start of a battle. Also, Star Force's Mega Attack lets yo get right in the enemy's face no matter how far back they are - no more area stealing just to slash an enemy with a sword attack.

The original Battle Network's battle system feels incredibly clunky in comparison, which is ironic because it's the simplest. Your HP refreshes at the end of battle, you can stuff up to ten of the same chips in your folder, and there's no standard/mega/giga limitations. And yet, it still feels slow somehow, especially in the beginning. While hardcore Battle Network fans might complain, adopting Star Force's battle system would be a big boon to the game.

I also suspect that the game will have some kind of transformation system, or at least an improved armor system (the original Battle Network did let you equip elemental armors). To what extent this system will go is anyone's guess, though, since it will likely be tied to the game's story. It would also be necessary for Capcom to release two versions of the game, if they're planning to go that route. Other features, such as wireless and wi-fi gameplay seem obvious, since it's on the DS. It may even have its own form of Brother Band system (maybe setup like more of a friends list, or an instant messenger program). And of course, the internet worlds will be much more distinct and easier to navigate. They were really a mess in the first Battle Network.

bnandsfBut what of the story? Will it be a faithful reproduction of the events in the first Battle Network? Is that picture of both Mega Mans shaking hands figurative, or a literal meeting? In my last speculation article, I reasoned that the story would somehow involve time travel, likely via the character Clock Genius, and let Star Force characters go back in time to the Battle Network era. However, I was also assuming then that EXE:OSS was going to be an original game. But... it still looks like it's going to have time travel. We have this enigmatic message from Japan's Ryuusei no Rockman 3 website: "Currently, it sounds like the Satella Police are secretly developing a new program to be included in Wizards. It’s rumored that if used one “can control time” but… is something like that really possible?"

This can't have anything to do with the Star Force series, that series isn't continuing right now. And the message came up th same day Capcom of Japan opened their EXE:OSS teaser site. Thus, we may be facing an "alternate reality" Battle Network, one where the same general events occur, but in a different manner than before. To be honest, I had actually pictured this possibility, but it was one of my least favorite ideas. I really don't like when stories are changed because of time travel. Of course, this is reasoning from my personal opinion on storyline, and not from logic. So, it's something we may be facing. Oh well, it worked pretty well for the new Star Trek movie (uhh, spoilers?), so maybe EXE:OSS will do it nicely.

I think the main reason this would hurt the game would be having two Mega Mans in the same game. It means either they'll both be vying for the spotlight, or one (the Star Force Mega Man, certainly) will take a back seat, and not have much to do with the gameplay. Granted, I do think Geo's and Omega-Xis's commentary on the times might be charming.

Geo: I don't know what's going on, but let's go, Mega! Omega-Xis: Yeah, time to get buck wild on the past! Geo: ...Ahh! There... There's no wave road! Omega-Xis: ...Geez, what kind of backwards caveman world did we end up in?

My main issue, however, is how much new content there will be, and how well that content will fit. As I said above, gamers always want new content. But fans of a running series will want that content to feel familiar. In my last article, I argued that this put a lot of importance on the Net Navis of the Battle Network series. These allowed older Mega Man fans to feel comfortable in a new type of game. And yet, each game always had a batch of new Navis. After Battle Network 4, however, the number of new Navis in each game decreased. After Battle Network 4, sales of the series also started to drop. While there may be many reasons for this, a lot of fans were disappointed with what 4 did to the series, and I have to think one of the main problems was a shortage of new Navis.

I argued that this would be a great chance to introduce new Navis, but since this is a remake I'm not sure how well that could be handled. The original Battle Network was pretty rounded on its amount of characters and content, and any new characters introduced here would likely be Star Force themed. This makes me think that Capcom still might not realize how important Navis based on classic characters really are to the series. Still, nostalgia for the Battle Network series might be enough to keep this game afloat.

For now I think I've considered enough. I may do one more speculation article in a month or so, but at that point CoroCoro will release its first major scoop on EXE:OSS and we ought to have a good idea by then what this game will try to do, and speculation will only be necessary for the smaller, more specific details. Until then, watch your step getting off the train.