Ten Years of Battle Network: Questions Answered

May 18, 2011
2011 May 18
GregaMan

Hey, guys! Gregaman here, filling in for the recently departed jgonzo . I know we in the commUnity are all still reeling from the horrible, horrible depression of losing him, but I come to you with good news!

Remember that post he did awhile back about the anniversary of Mega Man Battle Network? THIS POST RIGHT HERE ? The one that asked fans to send in their questions and comments for former scenario planner Eguchi-san and character designer Ishihara-san (now both working on Mega Man Legends 3)?!

Yeah, THAT post!

Well, today I come to you with answers from the staff! Yay for stuff!

As a disclaimer, allow me to just note that since Eguchi-san and Ishihara-san are both very busy gentlemen, they were forced to narrow down the abundant selection of comments from you guys into something manageable for them. But I think they did pretty great!

Comments and responses after the jump.

Q:  (Tabby)  I have a question more directed at Ishihara-San. What was your favorite character design, and why? 

A:  (Ishihara) I love all the characters of Battle Network. My number one favorite tends to vary depending on when I’m asked, but right now Wind Man seems to come to mind. He’s graceful yet domineering—a true stud. In fact, this made me want to draw a picture of him, so I did!

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Q:  (RagingDemon015)  What was the sole source of influence for the entire series and what gave you guys the idea to even implement “Megaman” as the lead role?

What was the immediate response the team received after suggesting the idea? 

A:  (Eguchi) With the release of the Gameboy Advance, we had the initial idea to create a Mega Man game that targeted kids as its core audience and that was more suited to the current times. Combining the action of Mega Man with card game-based elements, which were very popular at the time, we added in a “internet society” theme, resulting in the evolved, modern Mega Man franchise known as “Battle Network”. 

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Q:  (Icy Wind)  Yellow is a fairly dominant colour in Rockman.EXE’s design, why is this? 

A: (Ishihara) I believe it was because yellow tends to coordinate well with just about any color. It also brings out a sort of florid or showy quality in otherwise simple designs.

We also used it at times to create the impression of gold.

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Q: (Napalman)  Why did you guys change the design style of the series at the fourth installment? It seemed aimed at a more younger audience, any reason for this?

A: (Ishihara) I wonder if you’re referring to the official illustrated art, or the in-game art design? Either way, it is true that things changed around the series’ fourth installment.

As far as illustrations, I don’t think the style changed, per se, so much as it became streamlined. Until that point in the series, there were often differences in Mega Man’s facial and body structure between the games’ cover art and his stand-alone illustrations (full-body art of just Mega Man with no backgrounds or anything). In order to minimize inconsistencies in people’s visual perception of the game’s visuals, however, I eventually decided to go with a unified look, basing my illustrations on concept art from the TV anime series.

Regarding changes in the in-game style, there were two motivating factors: the desire to generate a sort of “freshness” to the series, and the desire to conserve cartridge space.

We added solid borderlines to the field characters and backgrounds, creating a stronger, firmer impression than the “translucent” style of the previous games.

Also, with an increase in the number of characters and battle system additions, we were really pushing the limitations of what would fit on the cartridge, so we had to find ways to conserve space, such as making the character sprites smaller. However, I still wanted to make the facial features as large and detailed as possible, so the characters ended up a bit big-headed, as it were. 

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Q: (AkuKnives)  Ooooh, I have a question! The Battle Network Series was of course, highly focused on the internet, but the games themselves weren’t really capable of going online.

Now that wifi is something that is widely available as opposed to 10 years ago, even our handheld consoles can go online. Were there any directions you would’ve liked to take the series, but couldn’t due to the technology at the time, that you could perhaps do now?

With applications like FourSquare and Facebook check-ins using location data, an Online Battle System could also use location information in interesting ways to automatically generate some pretty interesting online battle environments. Any thoughts?

A: (Eguchi) We did have Wi-Fi battles in Mega Man Starforce, but it is something we had always wanted to do with Battle Network as well. We also had some other ideas, like an online MMO where people’s Navis could commune. I also used to dream of having a real-life Navi like Mega Man in Battle Network, that people could really communicate with. 

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Q: (LightEffexor)  What was your favorite Battle Network game to work on?

A: (Eguchi) They were all a delight to work on, but personally I enjoyed 3 the most. In terms of the game’s scenario, we were originally planning this game to be the final installment in the series. Once we finished 3, I remember thinking “That’s all she wrote, this series is over,” but then it wasn’t long at all before the prospect of “Battle Network 4” arose. I remember really racking my brain trying to figure out how we would proceed with the story from there.

Incidentally, the hardest game to work on was “Battle Network 5”. After 4 came out, it was decided that we would make a “Battle Network 4.5”, but “Battle Network 5” production also continued as planned, so I was working on the English version of “Battle Network 4”, “Battle Network 4.5”, and “Battle Network 5” scenarios all at the same time. That was a very rough time.  

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Q: (Suraida-chan)  Even with the ending at MMBN6, did you guys still wish you could continue on with the series? After all there’s still plenty of Robot Masters that have yet to have navi versions. 

A: (Eguchi) Of course I wish we could continue! Of course, if we ever do have the opportunity to make a sequel, technology and times have changed, so it would probably be more of a new, evolved property than a direct sequel. As for now, we’re hard at work on Legends 3!

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Q: (Antarctic)  Was it difficult, easy, exciting, or whatever to re-imagine such characters like Megaman, Protoman, and the Robot Masters artistically? How was the experience of “revisualizing” these characters? Just going off of BN1 for example you had Elecman were the resemblance was obvious but Stoneman was a huge departure.

A: (Ishihara)  The [boss] designs for Battle Network were such that each one would scream  a certain motif with its entire body, not just with one feature. For example, with Stone Man, I really wanted to up his “stoneness”, and before I knew it he looked like a giant castle.

As for Elecman. . . hmm. . . I guess I just sort of had a hunch that he should be sleek and slender. Not sure if that really explains things.

The other thing is, while it certainly wouldn’t have been a bad  thing to make all the bosses humanoid as they were in the original Mega Man games, we wanted the Battle Network series to have a lot of variety in the size and shape of the bosses, hoping that it would provide a little bit of surprise and excitement to even those who were already familiar with the bosses in their original forms.

Then there was the boss design contest thing, which was a lot of fun for me. I really enjoyed looking over those designs each year.

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Phew, that was a lot. Thanks, Ishihara-san and Eguchi-san! And thanks to all you Battle Network fans for your great questions and comments.

‘Til next time!