Mega Man: Battle and Chase
  • Genre:
    • Racing
  • Platform:
    • PlayStation
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publishers:
    • JP Capcom
    • UK Infogrames
  • Released:
    • JP 03/20/1997
    • UK 12/17/1998
Score: 75%

This review was published on 09/12/2016.

Mega Man: Battle and Chase, titled Rockman: Battle and Chase in Japan, is a racing video game developed by Capcom for the Sony PlayStation. It was originally published by Capcom in Japan on March 20, 1997, and Infogrames in Europe on April 3, 1998. Capcom planned to release the game in North America, even going so far as advertising it in numerous magazines there. However, the game didn't pass the approval process from Sony, the cited reason being that there were too many mascot themed racing games in the market at the time. While the game was never released in North America individually, it did eventually make it there as part of the Mega Man X Collection, which exclusively came out in the region on January 10, 2006. Normally comprised of side-scrolling platformers, Battle and Chase is a spinoff that takes the Mega Man franchise into a totally different direction. Ever since the release of Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo in the early 1990s, it became popular for companies to place their mascots in racing games. It was only a matter of time before Mega Man joined the kart racing troupe. Battle and Chase is no Mario Kart killer, but it's pretty decent.

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As its title implies, this game is focused on a fictional event known as the Battle and Chase, where robots get behind the wheel to compete in a violent race. The "Battle" part is in reference to the fact that the robotic racers are allowed to attack each other while on the road. Whoever wins this extreme racing event will receive a large sum of money. Word of the event and its delicious prize money spread all across the globe, prompting many robots to enter the race for their own personal gain. Mega Man, the heroic robot who has saved the world from Dr. Wily more times than anyone can count, eventually caught wind of the racing event. Having a metaphorical heart of gold, Mega Man decides to enter the competition so that he can use the prize money to fix the computer of his creator, Dr. Light, as it was recently broken by a thunderstorm. Will the evil Wily interfere with this peaceful tournament? The answer won't shock you.

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There are some major differences between the Japanese and European versions of the game. The Japanese version has tons of voice acting all throughout the game, but most of this was totally omitted in the European release. The biggest omissions are the voice acted cutscenes prior to racing new opponents and the fully voice acted announcer that would eagerly commentate over the races. The absence of the announcer's commentary is particularly troubling, as he added a lot of excitement to the game. On the bright side, at least you're able to hear the music better without his voice drowning it out. Plenty more was removed, like some talkative background characters, but there's too much to completely enumerate here. Strangely, the voices of racers were left intact, so you'll still hear them shout out in Japanese every so often, usually when attacking. The likely reason for all of these omissions is that dubbing everything would have been a lengthy process, so Capcom decided to take the lazy route and outright remove it all instead. Either way, it does result in a lesser product.

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You begin the game with ten playable racers, each one sporting a different vehicle. Most of the racers are characters taken from the classic Mega Man games, like Mega Man, Roll, Proto Man, and Bass. Some of the Robot Masters from the classic series are also here, like Guts Man, Quick Man, Shadow Man, and Spring Man. After you pick a character, you can name his or her vehicle, and then off you go to compete in the Grand Prix. Each character starts with a different vehicle, which affects their performance on the road, as well as what special abilities they have access to. Unfortunately, you're stuck with the selected character for the whole game. If you want to pick another character, you have to start a new save file and play from the beginning. Additionally, each character has a unique ending, and if you want to see them all, then be prepared for a tedious journey.

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Racing is simple: you use the d-pad to steer, X button to accelerate, square button to hit the brakes, and circle button to use the currently held item. Unlike other racing games, you don't have to worry about drifting, as the game automatically does this for you. This makes driving around a lot easier, especially for beginners. Special abilities can be accessed via the R1 shoulder button. There's a meter at the top left of the screen that gradually fills over time, and the special ability changes depending on the controlled character's vehicle and whether the bar is full or not. For example, Mega Man shoots small pellet shots forward when the bar isn't full and fires a massive charged shot when it is, whereas Roll jumps over obstacles with an incomplete meter and does a spin attack when the bar's full. Aside from the bar, there's no limit to how often you can use these abilities, which is good fun.

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In addition to obstacles, most courses will also be littered with enemies. Most of these enemies come from the classic Mega Man games, like the robotic traffic cones from Mega Man 7 and those little hardhat robots. There are small baddies and big baddies; the small ones are harmless and can be destroyed by simply driving right through them, whereas crashing into the large foes will spin you out. To take out the bigger guys, you'll have to use your car's weapon, if it has one. Every time you destroy an enemy, a counter at the top right of the screen will decrease, and once it hits zero, you'll be awarded with a randomized item. These items function much like the ones in Mario Kart, giving you things like temporary invincibility and remote controlled bombs. Sadly, unlike Mario Kart, there aren't many items and they're almost all useless. The most common item changes all small enemies into landmines, which only benefits the user if their car is immune to mines, and most cars aren't. Another item simply triples the effect of your next item, meaning it's pointless on its own. Due to this, it's best to ignore items unless you're on a higher difficulty, where every little thing counts.

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Similar to how Mega Man steals weapons from his enemies in the main series, this game lets you steal car parts from other racers. Mega Man isn't the only one who can steal car parts, though, as the dirty deed can be done with any character. In order to actually steal a part, one must simply win races in the Grand Prix. Every race course has a main opponent, usually one of the other playable characters, and placing first on their course will give you the opportunity to take one of their parts. Repeatedly winning races against the same opponent will allow you to continue taking parts from them, and this can be done until you have all their parts. The body of an opponent's car can only be obtained after all its other parts have been acquired. However, the opponent will become tougher each time you face them. This gives the game a great sense of progression, but it can be highly repetitive, as collecting all the parts requires that you beat every racer multiple times.

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Each car is divided into four different parts: body, engine, wing, and tire. The body determines the vehicle's special ability, such as whether it has a weapon. Engines generally have an impact on your acceleration and top speed. Wings have various miscellaneous effects, like increasing the likelihood of getting items. Lastly, tires will usually affect how good your car is at driving over different surfaces, like pavement, gravel, and even ice. You're able to mix and match these parts to create a customized vehicle that can then be used in the Grand Prix. Certain combinations perform better on specific stages, like how the non-slip tires are great on the icy course, but bad elsewhere. Since you have total freedom over what parts your car has, it doesn't matter what character you started out with, as you can eventually construct any of the other racers' vehicles. Being able to steal parts from other racers and use them as your own is the main highlight of the game, and it's this feature that separates Battle and Chase from other racers like Mario Kart.

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Grand Prix Mode is where you'll spend the majority of the game. In this exclusively single player mode, courses are presented to you with a preview of their environments and map layout, plus they have a bar that shows you how hard they are. You also get to see which racers will show up on that course. Typically, there'll be one other racer from the playable cast, and a bunch of generic racers, like Yellow Devils and Track Joes. A few of the courses are interesting, like one that takes place in a toy factory where you change the terrain by driving over giant buttons. Other than that, though, most of the other courses are unremarkable. A majority of them merely consist of big circles, and they rarely contain slopes, making the course design fall flat. There aren't very many courses, either. If you beat the game a few times, you'll unlock a few extra courses, and there are some exclusive to the other modes, but it's still a paltry number.

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Besides Grand Prix Mode, there's also Versus Mode and Time Attack Mode. The Versus Mode in this game isn't all that great, mostly because it only goes up to two players. You can have other computer controlled opponents take part in the races, but only two humans may play at a time. As for Time Attack Mode, it lets you play any course solo to get the best times. All the playable racers are available for these modes, plus you can play as Dr. Wily if you beat the Grand Prix at least once. It's also possible to play as Duo. Originally, the Japanese version required people to mail secret symbols from the game's ending to Capcom for a chance to win a memory card with Duo on it. Thankfully, you won't have to do this if you have either the European version or the "PlayStation the Best for Family" reprint of the Japanese version. The latter starts with Duo already unlocked, while the former lets you unlock him by accomplishing certain tasks within the game.

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This is one of the few racing games out there that's more fun in single player than it is in multiplayer. However, outside of the innovative part stealing mechanic, there's not much else that stands out about this game. There's also far too much grinding for a racing game, what with all the parts and endings you can get. The game is still worth checking out if you're a fan of Mega Man and kart racers, but not if you're neither.

Word Count: 1,878

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