mega man battle network (aka rockman.exe battle network in japan) is a tactical rpg series created by masahiro yasuma of capcom, originally for game boy advance (and a few games for ds.) recently, the legacy collection was released with all six main games in the series for playstation 4, nintendo switch and pc! you should play it if you get the chance!
the series is set in an ambiguous year in the 21st century (200X AD) in an alternate reality to the original mega man series. in this reality, the net has become humanity's primary means of communication, commerce, and even crime. operators are able to jack in to the net and many more devices, and explore their various aspects using digital AI beings called netnavis (network navigators) as if they were physical locations. the net and the inner workings of computers are displayed as a virtual world with which computer programs of all varieties, as personified in a humanoid form, can interact. operators often do so by accessing their netnavis via a PET (PErsonal Terminal) device.
the plot of mega man battle network follows a duo of an operator and his netnavi - lan hikari and megaman.exe. lan's father, dr. hikari, is one of the world's top netnavi researchers. the games follow the adventures of lan and megaman (and their friends, of course) as they fight net crime and save the world when the need arises!
the aesthetics of mega man battle network are EASILY my favorite thing about it. it's all in that niche of "what people thought the future would look like" and it's perfect for me. but that whole concept goes beyond just the aesthetics - the very core of the universe of battle network is built on what the internet was in the early 2000s, and how people thought it would evolve. sure, the netnavis are incredibly advanced AIs that can walk around through the net the way we traverse big cities, but they also need links given to them to access webrings and forums and they go back and forth sharing mail with each other for their operators. it's so charming it's hard not to crack a smile when the characters discuss their adventures in cyberspace. i think part of what makes it so charming is that a focal point of the series is the message that no one should be alone, and it's important to make connections. this is showcased multiple times in the story, although a lot of the time it's very subtle. my personal favorite use of this message is in the character arcs of protoman.exe and his operator enzan. while at first they both only think of protoman as a tool, after an encounter with megaman and lan they start coming to the conclusion that there's more to it than that, and their friendship can truly develop beyond just the one who gives orders and the one who follows them.
the story of the games is so full of heart. battle network builds on a concept from the original series - "when does a robot stop being a tool and start being a person?" - in a very interesting way... is a navi just a tool for their operator, or are they a person in their own right? is megaman.exe more of a person compared to other navis due to having been made with human DNA? and on that note, is it at all ethical to use him as a tool if he's a person? what about the other navis? do navis need their operators? is a good navi a navi who is truly friends with their operator, or is a good navi a mindless program that does as it's told? there's so many questions that are brought up on what is true and what isn't, what is ethically right and what isn't, and how that varies from person to person. it's all very interesting to follow as the games progress.
the series shares yet another theme with the classic mega man series: at what point does technological advancement become a burden rather than a blessing? while the classic series takes a more discreetly cynical approach to it, showing the world as a ravaged dystopia that its inhabitants have to work very hard to fix, battle network takes the opposite route: this world, this world overflowing with technology beyond anyone's understanding, is perfect the way it is. bad people will always exist and they'll always use technology to do bad things, but that will never mean technology itself is bad. battle network makes it very clear that the infinite net, the navis, the PETs, all of it, are all good. there is an inherent kindness in how the most groundbreaking technology in the battle network universe is a companion for humankind. it reminds me of how we, humanity, in our world, made a computer sing a love song. battle network, to me, really portrays the feeling of technology (and science in general) being products of love.
while it's not super common for video games to get toy lines based on them, it is significantly more common for tv shows to get that treatment. and would you look at that, battle network had an anime adaptation, tie-in toy line and all! we're currently still watching NT warrior (said adaptation) so it doesn't have its own section in this shrine, but once we're done with the show we'll add it here. for now, let's look at the toys!
the company behind the NT warrior/battle network toy line was takara toys, with mattel handling the international releases. the line was running during the 2000s, much like the show and the games, but the line ended before the show itself did. the toys featured in this line were your average action figures (released both in 5.5 inch and 10 inch sizes), but it also featured 2 inch figure dioramas, action toys, electronic toys and at least one board game.
the protoman vs. megaman diorama.
the bass 5.5 inch action figure, one of my personal favorites.
the protoman 10 inch action figure. i think he's kinda funny looking.
the mega buster toy. you were supposed to wear it on your arm and it could change from buster to sword. pretty cool!
the battle net board game. finding any information on what this game entails is a challenge and a half. i think it's very funny how they turned a game into a show and then back into a game, though.
the best (and most iconic) part of this toy line, though, is easily the Advanced PET electronic toy - a toy version of the PETs the characters used in the show (and, by extension, the games). the way the toy functioned is a bit comparable to a tamagotchi, with an LCD screen in the center displaying megaman.exe, who you could interact with in some ways. the main gimmick of the toy was its capacity to count steps (since you were encouraged to clip it onto a backpack or another bag or just carry it around in general) and, at a random number of steps, generate a virus for megaman to fight against. the toy had slots to insert battle chips, of which three came bundled with the PET and many, many more could be purchased separatedly through booster packs. this toy's main flaw was the same as many other electronic toys at the time: once the battery ran out, you lost all of your progress (since the battery itself served as a memory card) and this wasn't a toy you could charge. it didn't even have an off button! much like a tamagotchi indeed.
two models of the Advanced PET were released - the Advanced PET and the Advanced PET II. the PET II was never released outside of japan, though there were plans for an international release. each had various different versions released, but the only difference was the color and pattern on the outside. you could purchase the protoman.exe Advanced PET and it would still have megaman inside the toy! why they never bothered to change that bit will always be a mystery to me.
a holster for the PET was also released, further encouraging kids playing with the toy to carry it around with them to count steps and fight viruses. speaking of fighting, there was also a feature where you could fight against someone else who had one of these toys, but how effective that feature was is something i can't answer.
first Advanced PET (international release, megaman shell) shown with the three battle chips that came packaged with it.
the PET holster, with a megaman PET inside.
the Advanced PET II, shown with a collection of battle chips.
the protoman themed battle chip booster pack. it came with chips generally associated with protoman and his operator, which is a nice touch to make it unique beyond just the packaging.
early series concept art
concept art of megaman.exe
battle network 2: hub style
battle network 4: double soul
rockman.exe 4, 4.5 and 5: textless cover
megaman and hub hikari illustration
illustration for the 15th anniversary of the series
special illustration made for the release of the legacy collection and to celebrate the series' 22nd anniversary
here is a button, two blinkies and even a page doll for you as a gift for reading my shrine! you're free to use these on your site, but make sure to link back to this here shrine please! thank you for taking the time to read through this and i hope you've enjoyed!