Mega Man Star Force 3: Black Ace Mega Man Star Force 3: Red Joker
  • Genre:
    • Action RPG
  • Platform:
    • Nintendo DS
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 11/13/2008
    • US 06/30/2009
Score: 70%

This review was published on 12/01/2009.

When it comes to Mega Man, Capcom is still taking the old route of releasing as many games as they can in a given series. I'd hesitate to even call them yearly updates, because they're not updates at all; they're merely the same game re-arranged. What's worse, the Star Force series has been less than stellar. Barring anymore terrible puns, it's going to be hard for me to review every single one, considering there really isn't much to say. Well, I've got things to do, so let's get this over with, shall we?

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As you should know if you've played the last two games, Star Force takes place in a world where the internet or cyberspace has evolved into the EM (electromagnetic) wave variety. That is to say, wireless cyberspace. However, the Net Navis of the past were strangely absent in the last two games, having been replaced with EM aliens that fuse with a human to transform into a cyberspace warrior of sorts. Now, though, everyone has these Wizards all of sudden, robotic-looking programs that exist in the EM world, and they use them to make daily life more convenient. If you ask me, this feels exactly like the Net Navis from the Battle Network games. It doesn't make sense, then, that the denizens of this fictional world have forgotten all about the Net Navis of the past, only to be impressed by the same thing years later. Is this clever social commentary or bad writing? You be the judge.

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You know the drill; Star Force sports the same action-based battle system that the Battle Network games have, just with major modifications that make them terrible. I find it worrying that Capcom decided to keep this battle system for three games in a row, especially when taking into account Star Force's waning popularity in both Japan and the West. Of course, it's to a lesser extent in Japan; Mega Man will always be popular there, no matter the form. In any case, the differences in the combat mechanics are so miniscule that I am hesitant to list them here. They're by no means game-changing alterations; even most of the battle cards in the library are the same. The one compliment that I can give is that it's not a slow turn-based battle system like in most Japanese RPGs, but that hardly qualifies as a compliment. Not to mention that I'd have the very same compliment to give to pretty much any other game in the Battle Network/Star Force series. To summarize: you've seen it all before.

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It's cute how the excuse about advancements in technology is always used by the plot to denote any game play changes, because it feels like the developers have taken several steps back from the Battle Network days. The fact that they incorporated Wizards is very telling; they know Battle Network is more successful, so they're trying to recreate that success while making it look like intentional story progression. Perhaps we've progressed so far into the future that we're now in the past? Don't get your hopes up, though. We still have the inferior battle system and a lot of small annoyances. Here's an example: the pop-up mechanic. For some idiotic reason, you have to tap the touch-screen to open some doors or trigger certain scenes in the story. They actually go out of their way to introduce this as a viable new game mechanic, complete with its own tutorial. First of all, being forced to use the touch-screen in a button centric game is already a pain. This is compounded by the fact that this pop-up mechanic isn't at all necessary; the same outcome could have easily been achieved by pressing the confirm button.

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I have to admit that the thing I liked most about the Star Force series was the interesting super hero identity crisis plot they have going: a normal boy discovers a way to become a powerful cyber warrior, and essentially becomes the internet version of Batman. And like most super heroes, he hides his identity from the crowd. They still have that going here, and it's still kind of neat, but the plot is just as poorly written as it was in the first two games. So in the end, there's absolutely nothing to appreciate from the game's story. I'm not saying that I played a Mega Man game for its story, but the game play is so weak that you'd expect there to be some other incentive to play the game... alas, there is none.

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I may have been a little too harsh on this one, to be honest. As far as video games go, you could certainly do a lot worse than Mega Man Star Force 3. It's just that the Star Force games are so underwhelming, average, and... mediocre. And they make so many of them. We're talkin' multiple versions of each game; similar to Pokemon, the different versions have slight differences that could inspire a maniac to buy them all. That may very well be the intention. It's a good game to play if you're totally out of options and have nothing else better to do, but don't waste your time otherwise.

Word Count: 882

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