Not unlike a comet that flares up in the sky as it makes its approach towards the sun along its orbit, today marks the fifth anniversary of the Mega Man Star Force series, which first released in Japan on December 14th, 2006.
Truth be told, I don't expect too many to pay homage to this series. It was definitely an "out there" kind of production. Its theme and formula was very similar to the successful Battle Network series. But whereas Battle Network was set in a world recognizable to our own, and rife with characters and elements borrowed from classic Mega Man, Star Force was set in a future where people wore puffy space pants and made whatever they wanted out of radio waves. Furthermore, aside from the titular hero, the game felt like it had virtually no relation to previous Mega Man series, including the very Battle Network it piggybacked off of. Ultimately, I believe it was a series that many people had a hard time connecting with, besides devoted Battle Network fans and total newcomers.
That all being said, Mega Man Star Force did get off to a good start. Releasing in three varieties right off the bat, it seemed a little like overkill. But the game's sales would approach a million worldwide, nearly matching sales of Battle Network 4. It also had a very charming story about a boy coming out of his shell, both socially and as a hero. I also really liked the interactions between Geo and Omega-Xis. Whereas Lan and Hub of Battle Network were brothers and typically very chummy, the timid Geo and gruff Mega had more of a personality disparity, with Mega often pushing Geo into awkward situations. I would have liked to see more of this.
Star Force 2, however, was where things took a slip. The game did a little more than half as well as the first. I attribute this to how much the game seemed to toss away elements from the first. After having made new friends and strengthened relationships, Geo seldom interacts with those people this time. Sonia, who wanted to get away from the stress and burden of her musical career, became a commercial sell out. And what few Battle Network elements the first game had, such as Navis and going in machines, were stripped away too.
The last formal game in the series, Star Force 3, would go on to fix a lot of these issues, but it was too little too late. Rather unfortunate, because this was the game where the series finally pulled up its pants and got to work. A very fun and engaging story, interesting characters and villains, and lots of new features expanded the battle system. But with the amount of disinterest that would be allowed to settle, this title sold the weakest of the three entries.
Geo and Mega would make their last stand in the Japan exclusive Rockman EXE Operate Shooting Star. Advertised as an exciting crossover between Battle Network and Star Force, it was ultimately just a port of the original Battle Network with an additional Star Force themed scenario shoved near the end of the game.
Despite the efforts put into, Star Force fell away rather quietly. Nevertheless, there are still those who appreciate it. To this day I occasionally see banter on 2channel with people hoping for a Star Force 4. For myself, while I can see the demerits in Star Force, and the things that didn't allow the series to catch on, I still appreciate the fun I had with it.