Review by Amniculus
"A big meteor is coming, and only a naive schoolboy and his big ugly alien stop it"
Mega Man Star Force 3, found in two delicious flavors Red Joker and Black Ace, marks the third and possibly final installment to the Mega Man RPG series on the Nintendo DS. Not surprisingly, little has changed all around in terms of story, gameplay, etc, but it does present the best of the Star Force series regardless. As a forewarning, I will be comparing this series (as a whole) to the Battle Network series, which I despised for several reasons (oddly enough), but I will try to be as original as possible, too, as I'm sure some of you have no idea what the Battle Network series is/was.
Mega Man Star Force is a nifty and light-hearted RPG series for the Nintendo DS, starring a pseudo version of our favorite blue bomber, Mega Man. In short, Mega Man Star Force is what the previous similar RPG series, Battle Network, should've been. Star Force (hereafter referred to as SF') does everything Battle Network does, only right. The story focuses on young Geo Stelar, a typical school boy who goes into a depression after the apparent loss of his father, the great scientist Kelvin, during a space station disaster. However, despite his loss, he grows to become a hero, partnering with the big, bossy alien cyber being Omega-Xis (nicknamed Megaheh, clever) to become the heroic Mega Man. Similar to Battle Network, Geo's world co-exists with a type of cyber-world known as the Waveworld. Only this time, the Waveworld exists in the REAL world, enabling exploration on, in my opinion, a more realistic level. (I mean in Battle Network, did you ever wonder what hero Lan was doing while his cyber-bro Mega Man was journeying into parallel universes to combat all the badguys?) Anyhow, the series, again, is very similar to BN, pitting you with inane little sidequests and a grid-like battlefield where you get to move around and use various chip cards you acquire to put the hurt on the badguys, known as viruses. More of this covered in the gameplay section.
Story: Wishing Upon a Star
No, I'm not out of cutesy parodies on the name title; but it's the best way to describe the story. Geo and his friends, including the bossy class president Luna, the celebrity sensation Sonia, and the rest, are all back and have become the target of a sinister card-themed organization out to collect the negative energy from Mega Man's battles and use it to control the mysterious red star in the sky, Meteor G; specifically, a phony teacher and her gothic little brother. Nothing new story-wise for Mega Man, but it has a large amount of plot twists, some pretty cool badguys, the return of old friends and foes you wouldn't expect unless you peeked at a FAQ, and a grand finale that seems to bring the entire series to an end. Honestly, while it's not presented much better than the first two, if you had to play one of these games, I'd suggest the last one, as it's probably the most complex and entertaining. Best of all, the silly sidequests are at a minimum, as most of the game is the actual story progression. (What I mean is, you don't have to run all over the Waveworlds to get various items to do various things JUST SO YOU COULD GET ONE DUMB SENTENCE OUT OF AN NPC TELLING YOU WHERE THAT KEY ITEM IS).
Sound: Catchy Tunes This Time Round
The Star Force series suffers from its musical score, much like the Battle Network series, but this game puts in a lot of tunes from the series' main title theme, which makes it kinda cool, and more importantly, memorable. It's nothing worth downloading or buying, but some of them are catchy. Also, the music no longer sounds like you're in Toy Land when there's an emergency going on. The voice acting needs some help, but hey, at least Geo sounds decently mature (even if his VA makes him sound more like a teenager when he's only a 5th grader). Unfortunately, Omega's voice still makes him sound like a preppy bully with a mouth full of food.
Gameplay: Nothing New Here Is that bad though?
The title sums it up; nothing has changed. You still explore the city as Geo with all the usual RPG elements, and explore the Waveworld as Mega Man, while engaging random battles against viruses that get progressively harder as the game moves forward, testing your reflexes with those little DS buttons. For those in the not-know (or however the saying goes), Star Force's battle system is nearly identical to Battle Network's except for one thingnow you're fighting vertical instead of horizontal. Mega Man will be at the bottom of the screen and have to move around and use battle chips to blow away his various enemies in a grid-like battlefield. Chips, which present all sorts of crazy power-ups, attacks and more, can be collected the quicker you delete the badguys (I don't know why this game doesn't use the word kill, but I guess delete sounds cool for a techno-age). At the beginning of each turn, you get to choose a number of randomly selected chips you've collected from your folder and use them against your foes. It really is the same as Battle Network, but the Mode 7 appeal to it makes things more intense in later boss battles. Outside of that, there's really nothing outside of a few extra additions, such as typing in invisible codes to get new chips and exploring the concept of Wizards, the EM beings that people have (think Net Navis).
The Biggest Downfall
I only put these in my reviews because sometimes when they get long and I don't realize it, it's easier just to see the bad points of the game. As mentioned in a few other reviews, this is, again, just another Star Force game. It just happens to be the best because it offers a lot of closure to a lot of story elements. It's not groundbreaking and it's really not too different from its predecessors. I find it to be more challenging than the previous two, but that's not necessarily a downfall.
Rent or Buy?
Isn't this paragraph cute? I mean, have you ever actually seen a DS game for rent? I just figured I'd put it in to keep up with some of my past reviews. Anyhow, if you're a fan of the series, this is a definite buy, as it's clearly the best of said series. If you found the previous two to be mediocre, than go on a whim; if you're looking for some game to play while you wait for your favorite one to come out, this is an entertaining time killer. Me personally, I usually trade in games I beat even if they are good, but this one, in my humble opinion, is a keeper.
I tried not to sound too biased or base it too much off of Battle Network, but I hope this review offered some help ^_^
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/31/09
Game Release: Mega Man Star Force 3: Black Ace (US, 06/30/09)
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