Space World 2001: Hands-On: Battle Network Mega Man EXE 2

The sequel to Mega Man EXE on the Game Boy Advance is expected at the end of the year.

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The Mega Man franchise has continued to expand with the latest spin-off, Battle Network Mega Man EXE, being first introduced on the Game Boy Advance as one of the launch titles in Japan. The sequel, Battle Network Mega Man EXE 2, takes place three months after the end of the first series, and the young hero Net Hikari and his navi Mega Man EXE are back once again. The maps used during the early portions of the game, such as Net's home, school campus, and even his town, remain the same as the first game's. Graphically, the game does not show significant differences, except variations in some of the special effects in battles.

The basics of the game have not changed. You control Net in the game's real world, while Mega Man is used in the virtual world. You will be switching from one character to the other depending on in-game circumstances--battles occur only when controlling Mega Man. The battle takes place on a three-by-six grid. Mega Man occupies half, while the opponents are on the other half. You can move from one square to another and fire your weapon at any time. When the time bar (located at the top of the screen) is filled, you press the L or R button, and five cards from your deck appear in a pop-up window. You can then select one or a series of cards (if you have more than one of the same card or if the card has the same alphabet letter). You can also decide not to choose any cards, and another five will be drawn when the time bar is filled again. These cards can act as more powerful weapons or healing agents, can acquire a row of your opponent's grid, or can summon Mega Man's friends. The battle finishes when you have "deleted" your opponents.

In Mega Man EXE 2, there will be more of a variety of cards, as well as chipsets for Mega Man's power-ups--increasing hit points give him the ability to charge weapons and even perform so-called style changes. The first series had elements such as fire, ice, and lightning in some of the cards, but this style change will now let Mega Man turn into a red-colored Mega Man with a fire element, for example. There are no details right now about whether the style change also affects other aspects in battle.

Currently 50 percent complete, Battle Network Mega Man EXE 2 is slated for a December release in Japan.

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