Part 2: zlicense ZLicense ZLICENSEAllllllright then! Where were we...?
Oh that's right. We just finished up mandatory tutorial time, so here we are, finally,
That's right the Internet!! And we've found our first, uh, netizen, this random Mr. Prog that's just outside Lan's PC. He is a pretty cool guy! Which is a good contrast to the first program of the game, who was in Lan's PC and not worth talking to.
So, now we're on the internet, there's random encounters! Good thing we didn't skip over the tutorial, because the random encounters around here are intense.
Well, it is the start of the game. At least defeating these guys will score you new chips or money, or if you really screw up the game will take pity on you and restore some HP at the end of battle instead. I HAVE CERTAINLY NEVER HAD THAT HAPPEN TO ME IN THE BEGINNING AREAS OF THE GAME AND I WILL NOT TOLERATE SUCH SLURS, A-HEM.
Anyway. You can run away from random encounters in MMBN games, but in the early ones
You can in fact run away in MMBN2 by pressing 'L', but it's not a guaranteed escape, hence the never-fail escape chip. Thanks BlitzBlast! Then again, you probably don't want to be skipping battles because even on low-level fodder like this you're still getting either a)chips, which is a good reward even for shitty chips for reasons we shall see later or b)money, which I shouldn't need to explain the benefits of.
That being said, MegaMan Battle Network really isn't your typical RPG, because there is absolutely no need to grind. Battles are pretty fun though, so you know, do as you must.
Now as for the internet itself, it's much, much easier to navigate than in the original MMBN. It's divided into separate areas, which generally have obvious landmarks and wide main paths. So we're starting in Den Area, because ACDCTown is part of the Den Cityarea. Den Area is divided up into area 1, 2 and 3, and then there's different parts of the Internet ... that we shall see! For instance right now we're headed to the square. We should get on that.
There's security cubes like this blocking various parts of the net. Passing various parts of the storyline or doing a few little side-missions (read: fighting other navis) will give us keys to open them up for us, but for now we get to meander around them and follow the only open paths.
Aaaand also collect treasure. These crystals are 'mystery data', so they're like the internet version of treasure chests. The blue ones like this you can only grab once and are set to have specific things in 'em, but there's also green which is randomly generated (and in this version of MMBN, it's set on-the-fly so you can savescum it!), and purple ones which require 4000z 'Unlocker' items to get them and are set like blues. They usually have awesome treasure. 4000z is kind of lot of internet money! I usually forget to carry Unlockers.
In fact, there's a big purple crystal right by Lan's PC.
It's in a blocked off-area at the moment, but I'm sure we'll get to it soon! I mean it is right at the start of the game.
The net has paths that overlap each other, and the devs love to hide mystery data under them. So you know, button-mash. This one had a bug frag! Currently this is meaningless to me, but I'm sure if we collect a lot of them good things will happen.
Den Area 2 has this guy, who further reinforces just how rad Mr. Progs are. And how hand-holdy the start of this game is, but really that just gives me excuses to slack off so I am OK with that. The original MMBN had HP heal between fights, but this one only heals you when you jack out of the net and jack back in, which is less convenient but more balanced.
There are plenty of signs around the net that tell you where things are. This one says 'Left: Dex's PC, Right: The Square'- Oh wait weren't we meant to be going to a The Square?
Yup, looks like I walked right into a cutscene.
Uniquely-sprited navis are always important. In this case-
GutsMan is Dex's navi, and Roll is Mayl's. So we're all ~BFFS~
Except that Dex is giving me the dirty eye and that's kind of offputting.
Well we're here now, that's probably the important thing.
: You're totally late! What were you doing? I jacked in as soon as I got home and waited, and waited...
: Sorrysorrysorry! Mom got hold of me too quick...
: Hmph! Figures!
: You too, Mega!
: Sorry, Roll...
: Well, they sure are mad...
: Hey! It's your fault for getting such bad grades, Lan!
: You, guys! You can chat later! Let's get going! GutsMan! Let's go ask about becoming "city NetBattlers!"
: Yeehaw! Lessgo!
: Roll! Let's go along, too!
: Sure thing, Mayl! ...Later, Mega!
So they're off, I guess we should follow them. After checking out this new area!
Actually, there's nothing really going on here at the moment. This area is just the entrance to the square, it's a big ol' platform with four coridors coming off the corners, only two of which lead anywhere at the moment. And you know, one of those is the way we came in.
But the place appears to be some sort of teleport hub, so looks like it could be useful later.
This guy is up in the top corner, telling us about how 5 chips are pulled from our folder at the start of each battle. Hopefully you'd know this before finding him though. If the engine for MMBN2 is anything like MMBN1, it's not exactly as random as this navi implies.
You know how the order you receive chips from your folder is supposed to be random? Well, we saw for ourselves what folder slots the game had chosen, an array with the numbers 0-29. Unfortunately we couldn't find where in memory the game decided the order ahead of time, but being able to backtrack out of the next battle after seeing the order is helpful enough. By starting a boss battle after progressively longer delays I was even able to notice a pattern and figure out what the game is doing behind the scenes: There appear to be two possible orders the game keeps track of, one that it selects if the battle starts on an even frame, and one for if it starts on an odd frame. And every frame, it swaps a random pair of the slots in both orders. (I'm guessing this because each time the order appears, two pairs have been swapped since last time.) So there tend to be only a few unique orders of chips in the moments immediately before a battle.
How do you take advantage of this? Well, the fact that all this random stuff freezes while looking at any of the submenus helps. What I would do is open the Folder, save state, immediately close the folder, and see what chip orders I would get next. Then I would load back to editing the folder, and whichever chips I needed for that next battle, I would move them into the slots that were to come up first.
Interesting, but yeah fairly unfeasible unless you are doing a TAS.
So, the square it is! The nice thing about this game is that there are a number of tilesets and scrolling backgrounds they use for the different parts of the net, which help to break it up.
There are a few things to do in the square. Down the bottom there's two netdealers. The purple guy sells subchips - items that can be used outside of battle like Unlockers and healing items. The green guy sells chips and upgrades.
And neither of them will sell you anything unless you're on the right side of the counter. Seeing as I'm internet-poor anyway, I'll pass them over.
OK I was wrong there's really not much to do in the square. I guess we'd better get on with whatever it was we were doing!
Oh man, nobody said anything about tests. We've done waaay too much work today already. May as well ask what the hell this about, anyway.
Wait nevermind. Free things are things I cannot refuse.
: The ZLicense exam will now begin! Surf the Net without losing to a virus, and you pass!
: Okay! "HeroData" and "HopeData" are hidden on the Net! Find them both and bring them here to get your ZLicense!
: Let's go, MegaMan!
: Right on!
This seems straightforward enough. We're stuck on three Areas of the net at the moment, and Capcom design dictates there will only be one puzzle piece per area, so I think we'll manage.
During the game you can press 'L' to talk to Lan/Mega, depending on who you are at the time. They'll either remind you what you're doing, or say something monumentally stupid (or both). This time it's moderately helpful!
So this is where my thing about the net having landmarks comes in. Den Area 3 is easy to spot, because it has a long-ass walk with internet trees on the side. It's just behind the sign I was eyeballing earlier, so it's a ridiculously short distance from the square.
And at the end of all these trees...
Aw yeah. Also there's some SecurityCubes that we can't open yet just beyond, making this a dead end for now.
That sign probably says 'Left: FOREIGNERS, Right: MORE FOREIGNERS'. Somehow I don't think that foreign nets are the most dangerous part of the net. What with there being a specifically criminal section of the net.
Then again, they're slightly more dangerous than the lurking horrors of Den Area.
Aw, poor GutsMan isn't having quite as much luck as us.
And up on an upper path in Den Area 2 accessible by teleporter, That looks suspiciously like another friend.
She seems to be doing marginally better, at least. Also right on that same platform is a net dealer, score!
Oh right. Still poor.
Anyway, it's actually quicker to jack out and jack back in to grab the HopeData, if you care about speed, because it's right back at the start of Den Area 1, in this dead-end path just up from Lan's PC.
This dead-end path is kind of easy to run into if you run around with fastforward on. I'm sure that won't come back to bite me later on.
Nevermind! We're done! Yaay we passed the supremely difficult exam, it can only get easier from here.
I know, right? We should probably get a medal or something.
No wait, this is fine too.
: The Center will contact you about the license test.
I-... oh, it's not a real license? Then I retract my excited dancing.
Well... I guess that makes it up.
: Here's yours. Let me install it on your PET for you...
PET installed with: "chip selection system!!"
: You'll find the "chip selection system" very useful. If you have any questions, ask the girl next to me! That's all! Good luck and happy busting!
Wait, that's a girl navi? ...What am I saying of course it is, she's pink. Gendered imagery! I'd ask her about the chip selection system, but I already know that is a magical device that lets you set one chip from your folder to always appear first in battle. It sounds great, but if works off MegaMan's 'Regular Memory' stat. Chips have a certain MB requirement, and anything higher than Mega's stat can't be used. This being the start of the game, it's too low to be much use. Later it'll be crazy handy though, we just need to pick up more RegUPs.
And I guess having genuinely good chips wouldn't hurt either.
Anyway! No time for griping, Mayl sent us an email! People send us lots of emails over the course of the game, but like emails in real life, most of them can be ignored. Not this one though, passcodes are pretty handy, they open those SecurityCubes we've seen lying around the net.
I forget what the point of getting a ZLicense was. But we've got one, and that makes us totally elite and skilled. I mean we did beat Dr Wily last game, but sack that, we've got a ZLicense, now we're really special!
Oh boy! Our friends got ZLicenses to, I would say they must be at least as skilled as us. I'm sure we can all put our licenses to good use together.
But that's probably enough internet for today, so we should probably call it a-
: Lan, looks like a phone call for you. Wait, it's Yai's Navi Glide! Glide! Is something wrong?
: What's up with Yai?
: She went into the bath and hasn't come out yet!
: So? She's probably just relaxing!
: Miss Yai never takes long baths! It's bad for the skin! That, and the gas-powered water heater is acting funny!
: What, is it a bug? Or is it...
: I can't say for sure but the water heater alarm is ringing! I'll go and check the water heater program for bugs. Lan, please go help Yai! Please!
Oh no! Not our rich best friend Yai! We should save her!