Flameman.EXE

        Personally, I have played plenty of Megaman games, and while I did enjoy them, once they were beaten they didn’t have much to draw me back. However, the Battle Network series has a lot more longevity in my eyes. I suppose it could be personal preference, plus a difference in genre. The original series games are side-scrollers, reaching the end of a level and fighting a boss, whereas Battle Network games are RPGs, which are inherently more attuned to strategy and planning instead of action and speed.
        I think another reason is the story. Both of course have plots, but Battle Network is far more story-heavy, with a bigger focus on dialogue and plot. Of course, when the competition’s plot usually boils down to ‘Dr. Wily has sent out eight robots to conquer the world, go stop them’ there isn’t much comparison. Regardless, I prefer Battle Network for all of these reasons.
        The combat is also interesting- Megaman himself only has his Mega Buster to attack with, and it does just one damage, or, if charged, ten. Not much, especially since even the weakest enemies have one hundred health. However, his operator, Lan, sends him battle data in the form of collectable chips that grant him new attacks, health, and so on, allowing him to not only stand up to stronger foes, but completely destroy them. There is also a heavy focus on dodging, as the battle field is divided into 6×3 grid, allowing you to move back, forward, up or down to dodge attacks.
        Today we’ll be looking at a boss from Megaman Battle Network 3, Flameman.EXE. In this series, rather than robots, the bosses and Megaman are all computer programs called Net Navis, designed to help their human operators and delete viruses that infest the internet. Flameman in particular is owned by Mr. Match, a villain working for a group called World Three, or WWW. The group is trying to enact Dr. Wily’s latest scheme to destroy society, and Megaman ends up fighting Flameman.
        Flameman, as the name implies, uses fire to battle. He has few abilities, but he uses them especially well. Or perhaps that’s his operator’s doing; the Navi himself never seemed very bright, and he has an odd speech pattern, roaring rather than using words, but his roars get translated. Little can be gleaned about his personality, but it‘s clear he is devoted to Mr. Match‘s orders, and looks down on Megaman, calling him ‘boy’.
        As for his abilities, he actually only has one attack at first- breathing fire down the middle lane, which is easily dodged by moving to the top or bottom one. When he gets low on health, he uses a stronger version of this that starts out normally, but on the second column it covers two squares, and on the third it grows to cover all three squares, leaving no chance of avoiding it. The answer, therefore, is to stay on the left or right in front column.
        Sadly for the player, what Flameman lacks in creative attacks he more than makes up in defense. The top and bottom squares in his back column have candles on them which have different effects depending on the colors of the flames, which is also reflected in Flameman’s fiery aura. The only way to stop the effect is to damage the candle. They’re invincible themselves, but enough damage will put them out.
        If the flame is red, Flameman will regenerate his health, making it harder to actually do any lasting damage. If they are green, he’ll be invincible himself, and if they are orange, then two fireballs will appear on your side of the field, moving in a square pattern endlessly, making the middle square the only safe spot. And of course, that’s exactly where Flameman wants you to be, to hit you with his real attacks.
        And to make matters worse, the candle effects stack. If both are green, then both will have to be put out to make him vulnerable again. If both are red, he will heal even faster at an absolutely absurd rate. Yellow, luckily, doesn’t stack. However, it’s also likely that the candles can have different colors, which means you have to deal with, say, Flameman healing and being invincible. While that is certain to push things tremendously in Flameman’s favor, yellow with either other color is also trouble, since you have to get in the path of his minions to shoot the candles. And on top of all this, Flameman has a thousand health, a very impressive amount that means you certainly won’t be finishing off quickly.
        However, there are ways of making this easier. For instance, any chip that cracks the squares is useful, since after a cracked square is stepped on, it breaks, making it impossible to use until it fixes itself. This can be used to limit Flameman’s movement, and if you break a square in front of his attack, it will stop there, since the flames travel along the ground.
        So it would be possible to confine him to one row, and make it impossible for him to attack. Further, being a fire Navi, he has a weakness to water attacks, which will do double damage. If you give Megaman the Aqua Style, then his charge shot will become a water blast that will not only do more damage, but strike behind his target as well, which may be useful if Flameman is on the second column. Ultimately, if you know how to deal with him, Flameman is persistent and very annoying, but certainly not impossible.
        After the battle, interestingly, it seems that both Navis are worn out, but Megaman much more so, and both Mr. Match and Lan know it. Match tells Flameman to hit him again, knowing they wouldn’t be able to take another hit from his flame breath, and Lan orders Megaman to dodge… but before either can do anything, they both feel an immense presence, a power they can feel just by it being near them. Both Navis turn to see what it is.
        Mr. Match, naturally, cannot feel this, and asks why he’s looking off and not deleting Megaman, but soon realizes Flameman is worried about what’s coming. The screen shakes as a levitating cloaked figure hovers to the two, facing Flameman. Fans of the original series would instantly recognize him as Bass, but in my opinion, Bass.EXE is much more impressive in every way. But his story is something for another day.
        For now, we see Bass say that he wants to battle the one who ‘emits the power of the strong’, meaning it is some one he can sense too, and they’re strong enough to actually impress him. Mr. Match assumes he means Flameman and tells his Navi to take Bass out first. Bass tells him that weak people should stand aside, and charges up energy in his hand, before striking at Flameman, producing a blinding light. When the light is gone, Flameman is gone, completely deleted, and the only sign of his ever being there is the crater the attack left behind.
        Given all the trouble Flameman gives the player, and his tenacity being easily his best feature in battle, it really says a lot that Bass can destroy him in one blow. Of course, he may have hit him when none of the candles are lit, but either, that still must have been one hell of an attack.
        Mr. Match freaks out, horrified that anyone has such power, saying that he created Flameman himself, customized him to be essentially unbeatable, and he’s gone, just like that. He makes a ‘strategic retreat’, not that he can intervene in the situation without his Navi, and Bass turns his attention to Megaman, wanting to battle now that the ‘peon’ is gone. And so ends poor Flameman. We didn’t get a lot of time to get to know him, but he certainly put up a good fight.

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