Part 1: Triple Tutorial Threat
Music: Shooting Star (v2)
I'd explain what the hell just happened, but I think being utterly confused is the best possible introduction to this game.
More importantly, the title screen. SF2 had an interesting twist on the multiple version gimmick: while there were three versions, they were crammed into only two games. Thus each game has two versions, and in this one I can choose between Saurian and Zerker. As with most multiple version games, though, the differences between the two are next to none. So for all intents and purposes, this is just two save files.
Now which version should I pick? Aside from the two here, I could always switch to the other game and play Ninja version instead.
But AstroNut is playing SF1 Leo,
and SSNeoman is doing SF3 Red Joker.
I'd rather not ruin the color coordination they've got going on, so I'll play Saurian.
Things start with a Hertz asking me to configure the Auto Brother system. What's that?
Auto Brother is a system where by inputting a friend or family member's data, you can have that person appear in the game and become Brothers with you!
It's a silly gimmick that'll pop up a third of the way into the game. I'll go over it then.
The game opens with an exposition dump on the in-game world. It does a pretty terrible job at it, so I'll step in.
In the future, Wave technology is everywhere. While the name calls to mind such cutting-edge technology as the radio, it's more advanced then that. Whenever the game says wave, they actually mean "electromagnetic wave".
While in the real world that term could be a lot of things, in the Star Force world it specifically refers to EM Waves. These things are basically magic; everything both runs on and emits these, and the complex interactions between these various waves
is represented by the Wave World, a convenient system of roads, ramps, and teleporters that link everything together. Anything that naturally lives here is referred to as an EM Body, with the most common kind being Hertzes (those small blue things).
The Wave World is invisible to the naked eye, and its existence is unknown to the vast majority of 220X's population. You don't need to know how something works to use it though, so it's all good.
As an aside, early in development it was the exact opposite. Apparently people could wear special suits and enter the Wave World whenever they wanted.
On to the next part of the exposition: a really short summary of Star Force 1's prologue.
Geo lost his father in an accident a few years ago. The shock he felt at the loss caused him to rarely leave his room. Then one day, something quite unexpected entered young Geo's life. That thing was... an alien wth an electromagnetic (EM) body.
"I'll tell you about your father if you let me use your body, kid!"
And then... the shy Geo and the agressive alien merged together, and a new hero was born! Known as... MegaMan!
As fate would have it, the birth of MegaMan coincided with a dangerous threat to Earth.
With Earth's fate in the balance, MegaMan stood against the FM-ians! MegaMan risked his life and battled to save Earth from the FM-ians!
With that, the game begins.
I want you to think back to the opening of the last RPG you played. Perhaps it was a slow pan over the starting village ending with the main character waking up. Maybe it was a tense meeting of the future villains discussing their ~sinister plans~. It could have even been an action-packed battle scene that forced you to either learn how to play or die.
SF2 does something different from the norm.
Music: Home Town
It starts by boring you to sleep. I'm cutting a lot of the chaff so it won't seem that bad, but this opening sequence is just a slog of pointless exposition.
It's been two months since the end of SF1, and during that time Geo's been waiting for a new toy to arrive. Naturally, the first thing he does when it finally arrives is to take it to the local park and start talking to his invisible friend.
Okay not really. Geo's talking with Omega-Xis (Mega for short), and since he's an EM body nobody can see him.
Nobody but Geo that is; that visor he's wearing is called the Visualizer, and it lets him see the Wave World.
With that exposition dump over (SF2 really, really loves those by the way), Geo finally opens up the box. Inside is a shiny new Star Carrier, the newest kind of EM Terminal. It's an oversized smartphone.
Where most prologues would focus on getting you invested in the main characters, here you sit and watch Geo and Mega literally read a manual.
And the first thing it says is to input a name.
While Geo and Mega pore over the instructions,
I think now's a good time to glance at the top screen.
One of the two main features of the Star Carrier is the Air Display, a tactile holographic display screen that can be summoned by shouting "Browse!". This is entirely pointless, and I have no idea why the writers felt it needed to be explained.
There's also the Personal View, which is just your user profile. Its big thing is that if you talk to anyone else with a Star Carrier, you'll exchange Personal Views.
Mega wants to try this out with a nearby person, but Geo's not so eager. Mega tells him to stop being a wuss,
and with that I gain control. I'm supposed to go talk to that lady, but there are far more important things to do.
Like opening up the menu, my fast track to breaking this game. I can't access multiplayer features yet, but I can still select the top right button.
On this screen, I can adjust my equipment. I don't have any weapons or abilities yet, but if I press Select...
I get a prompt to input a Wave Command Card!
Confirming takes me here.
You can't see it, but that little picture of space is actually an alphabetic grid.
How Wave Commands work is that by inputting specific six letter sequences,
I can get powered up. This one (IOALCT) is pretty crappy, but if I were to override it with OHJDTR,
I can get something much better. This power up increases my maximum HP by 990, buffs my buster, increases the speed of the Custom Gauge, lets me equip more Mega and Giga cards, and gives me a free Super Armor. I'm sure most of that was nonsense to you, but suffice to say it's incredible.
There are a lot of different Wave Command cards, but there's no reason not to just use the best of the best. The real choice is what you want to max, and discussion on that front will have to hold until I get to the point where this all makes sense.
There's two more things I can do with Wave Commands, but I'll leave that for next update.
Now let's check out the power of e-mail. I may not have anything in my inbox yet,
but that won't stop me from sending this weird dude an e-mail! A Cipher Mail to be exact.
By inputting specific codes or phrases,
I can earn powerful rewards way before I'm supposed to get them normally. In fact, I'm normally not supposed to get this card until after I beat the game!
By now I'm sure you're wondering why the game lets me do this.
In the case of Wave Command Cards, it's because I'm supposed to buy this book first in order to learn all the codes.
These are for SF3.
As for Cipher Mail, I'm either supposed to learn the codes in-game or purchase/watch supplementary material. Unfortunately for both of those intended methods, the internet exists.
I spent a while inputting all of the useful codes,
then went back to the "plot". Geo's little experiment goes off without a hitch, and afterwards he's pretty confident he knows how to use the Star Carrier.
So it's time for a different flavor of exposition. Geo answers that it's an Advert Ship, which are exactly what you think they are.
It says, "The latest, greatest horror film. Ghost Crisis! In theaters now!"
Just thinking about ghosts makes Geo nervous,
though he denies it when Mega laughs about it. This scene serves to characterize Geo as being more nervous than your average kid hero, but considering Geo literally met a ghost in SF1 it's rather clumsily done.
Expect a lot more of that, by the way. SF2 has a really big problem with telling instead of showing character traits.
The moment is interrupted by the Advert Ship going balls out insane.
Seriously, look at that thing go.
When it finally stops bouncing around, the ship almost crushes Geo.
While he catches his breath, a crowd forms.
This isn't "excitement".
Don't tell me you're not interested. You love tinkering with machines and gadgets whenever you can.
Yeah... I'm kinda interested. It's not every day you get to see an Advert Ship up close.
While you'd think I'd have to inspect the ship to progress, I actually have to talk to everyone. I'm not sure why, since they say nothing of worth.
The next cutscene starts with Geo looking over the ship. This would have been a much better time to bring up his interest in engineering.
Geo observes that there's nothing wrong with the ship (which is going to sound really silly later), and wonders if he should do anything. Mega tells him to just drop it.
Music: Incident Occurrence!
So of course the ship immediately starts wacking out again. The NPCs flee, and Geo is about to follow them when Mega yells at him to put on the Visualizer.
Turns out a couple of EM Viruses are to blame, which makes it really weird that Mega didn't sense anything earlier.
This game simulates transparency with flickering sprites, so expect a lot of shots where things have just vanished.
Mega's pumped for a fight, but Geo's not so thrilled. Lecturing the viruses isn't going to help anyone though, so he agrees to fuse.
The game now gives a quick tutorial on Pulsing In. It's simple enough: stand on one of these things and press R.
Waveholes are visible with the Visualizer on, but even without it they're easy to spot. Just look for odd terrain.
EM Wave Change! Geo Stelar, On The Air!
The Pulse In animation in this game has Geo's Star Carrier spin really fast, engulfing the protagonists in a bubble of light.
They are then fused together.
Music: Warning Bell!
The Wave and Real worlds have different crisis themes. It's a nice touch, even if they're both annoying.
Right next to the Wave Hole is this Hertz, who will helpfully give you all the exposition you could ever want. The most important thing is:
THERE HAVE BEEN CASES WHERE HUMANS WERE ABLE TO SEE EM BODIES. IT'S RARE, BUT IT HAPPENS. THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED THE "VISIBLE ZONE".
EM WAVES THAT ENTER THAT ZONE UNDERGO A CHANGE IN FREQUENCY, AND THEN EVEN HUMANS CAN SEE THEM. UNFORTUNATELY THERE'S NO WAY TO PREDICT WHEN OR WHERE IT WILL APPEAR.
ACCORDING TO CERTAIN RUMORS, WHEN EM BODIES GO CRAZY OR START FIGHTING EACH OTHER, IT MAKES IT EASY FOR THE VISIBLE ZONE TO APPEAR.
Alright, who's ready for a tutorial battle?
......I should probably sit this one out.
Aw, c'mon, kid! I'm all pumped up for this fight! And we're going even if I have to drag you!
While merged, Mega actually is capable of dragging Geo around. I'm not sure how that works.
Hmph! if I had known you were thinking of running away, I would have told you how to battle. What d'ya think?
This is one of the things I will outright say SF2 got right. More games should let you skip the tutorial from the get-go.
Wave Battle! Ride On!!
(If you're already familiar with the SF battle system, skip to the next dotted line.)
Music: Ride On!
Battles in Star Force take place on a 5 x 3 grid on the top screen. Of these 15 panels, MegaMan can only move on three: the row of panels closest to the camera.
A quick note: when I say "row" I mean a horizontal strip of panels. When I say "column" I mean a vertical strip.
Right now, I'm in the Custom screen. Here I can select Battle Cards, MegaMan's main weapons.
I won't be doing that just yet.
Selecting OK throws me right into the battle. I've labeled the important stuff.
1. The Custom Gauge. It'll fill up at a set rate, and when it's full I can press L or R to go back to the Custom screen.
2. MegaMan's HP.
3. Available cards; if I had selected any cards, I'd see them all here in the order I picked them.
Enemies will constantly be attacking. I can either sidestep their attacks like so,
or press Y to throw up a shield. The shield will block almost any attack, but it's a bit hamstrung by design: there's a tiny bit of startup lag, it'll only last for a set amount of time, and MegaMan can't move for a bit after using it. This doesn't matter most of the time, but on the times it does the shield can become a hassle.
Having so much HP I don't even need to dodge doesn't do it any favors either.
Normally when MegaMan is damaged, he'll flinch (which will interrupt anything else he was doing) and flicker for a few seconds. While he's flickering, he'll both vanish from screenshots and become immune to most types of attacks.
Thanks to that Wave Command card from earlier, I have Super Armor. This is normally an ability you don't get for a good chunk of the game, because while it's on MegaMan does not flinch. He'll still take damage and flicker, but as long as he isn't being paralyzed or something he can attack with impunity.
This meshes very well with the buster. Pressing B will make MegaMan shoot down the column, holding it will have him rapid fire, and not doing anything but moving for a while will charge it up. This early in the game the buster's supposed to be worthless, but my Wave Command has buffed it to a force to be reckoned with.
Let's actually use my cards now. There are three main kinds: Attack, Support, and Time Freezing. They're all activated by pressing A.
Attack cards like Sword have MegaMan perform some kind of animation. If any enemy is in range of the attack, they'll get hit.
There are a variety of Support cards, but in general they'll either buff/heal MegaMan or have to be attached to another card to work. If I selected this Paralyze Plus after Sword, the sword slash would gain the ability to paralyze enemies.
Finally, Time Freezing cards do exactly what they say. The screen will darken to indicate time has frozen, and once the card's effect is finished time will resume. A lot of the really good cards are Time Freezing.
Now let's talk about selecting cards. Normally I can either select cards in vertical rows, as pictured, or select all duplicates of the same card.
But white cards are special: they can be selected with anything! Most natural white cards don't do damage to make up for that, but notice I said natural.
The last things to talk about are Mega Attacks and Counters. Pressing down at any moment causes these arrows to appear. If any enemy lines up with one, a reticule will appear on them.
As long as that reticule is there, whenever MegaMan uses an Attack card he'll jump to the appropriate range for a guaranteed hit. This lets him get around the fact he has so little movement space, though be careful not to jump into an attack.
Now then, see that big COUNTER HIT that popped up? If MegaMan hits an enemy with an Attack card during certain frames of an animation, he'll both paralyze them and draw a new card (without actually depleting his total supply). Well planned out attacks can extend your maximum number of attacks per turn, though not to the extent that you should focus entirely on it.
Star Force's battle system is both its main selling point and its biggest flaw: it purposefully eschews the strategic elements of predecessor series Battle Network in favor of emphasizing the action and reflex-testing aspects. I'm not the biggest fan, since in the process they also sucked out all of the depth, but I will admit that battles are much more dynamic now. Dodging enemy attacks becomes much more intense in first person, reading enemy movements is much more rewarding when a correct guess lets you smack something right in the face, and the massively inflated HP/damage totals lead to much more impressive fights. Even the hundred and one ways to break the game turns into a benefit, since you'll feel like an unstoppable god of battle as opposed to some guy with a couple really powerful attacks.
With that said, Star Force 2 has probably the worst battle system in the entire trilogy simply because it's nigh-identical to SF1. The main flaw with the system is its lack of depth, and I think there are a lot of things Capcom could have added in this game to address that. But instead they waited until SF3 to really tinker with it, and by then it was too late.
Once the tutorial's over, Mega compliments Geo for his skill.
If I had my way, I'd try to avoid any fighting. That's better, I think.
Geo's not as happy to stretch his muscles. Mega groans then tells him to pulse out and inspect the situation again.
Music: Wave World
After the cutscene, MegaMan gets some mail. It's a bunch of battle tutorials in case you ever need a refresher.
There are two ways to pulse out: either press R or walk into a wavehole. The difference between them is that pressing R will return you to the wavehole you pulsed in from, while walking into a wavehole will take you to that spot in the real world.
Back at the scene of the crime, Geo's reinspection is interrupted.
Music: My Friends
His friends have arrived.
Luna Platz is the Class Representative of Geo's 5th grade class. She's the heir to a fortune and kind of a snob.
It's not often we get to see you out and about. I guess that means it's going to rain tomorrow.
What d'ya mean? I go outside. Sometimes.
Oh really? You'd stay inside all day if you could. You like playing with machines and gazing at the stars, right? And as your Class President, I worry that you are forgetting to go outside once in a while.
You don't have to worry. I'm OK. And I do go outside, so I can see the stars.
You should listen to the Prez, Geo. Going outside is good, especially for getting some good eats!
Bud is Luna's first flunky. Tough, dumb, and likes to eat. His character design says it all.
There goes Bud again. He's always talking about food... Isn't he, Geo?
And Zack is the other flunky. His design is similarily revealing: smart and insufferable.
With the introductions done, let's get back to summarizing. Luna's pissed since the screeching from earlier interrupted her piano practice. Bud and Zack swear vengeance on the noise.
And then Zack's brain kicks in. Geo explains he already saved the day, and Luna asks if he turned into MegaMan.
I see... You can always count on him! ...Hm?
MegaMan! He's the one you can count on!
Prez, your face is red.
Luna is just a lump of anime cliches. She had something beneath that in SF1, but not here. This is true of most characters returning from SF1, by the way.
Geo tries to get the trio to stop screaming about his secret identity, since he doesn't like being the center of attention. So they all start loudly talking about how of course they wouldn't reveal that. Geo's friends are kind of jerks.
Then somebody else crashes the party.
Music: Happy Company
And promptly begins to start wail about the advert ship. The group decides to stick their noses in.
And by that I mean they make Geo do it.
The man turns out to be the producer of Ghost Crisis.
Geo finds this really interesting I guess? Anyways, Gredy explains that when the Advert Ship fell, with it went all the money he blew on advertisement.
He starts to melt down, and makes more sound than the broken ship! Geo wants the noise to stop, so he asks why Gredy can't just get the ship back in the air.
I don't know how Geo missed this earlier.
Oh well, fetch quest time.
The propeller's not very far away, but it's too high for Geo to grab.
Good thing the Wave Road leads to it!
One of the few things SF2 shows instead of expositing is the increasing use of EM technology. In SF1, the Wave world was entirely separate from the Real world. But in SF2, the worlds are now interconnected. By SF3, they'll be so intertwined that Geo can pulse in from anywhere.
OK, I guess I should take this to the man who wouldn't shut up!
Gredy's absolutely overjoyed, and after a quick fade to black the Advert Ship's back in the sky. He wants to do something in return for the help,
but Geo doesn't care. Probably just happy Gredy stopped wailing.
Gredy insists though, and gives the group some free tickets to the first airing of Ghost Crisis before taking off.
Geo doesn't know what to do with the tickets, so Luna has Bud and Zack snatch them out of his hand.
Geo has no idea where this is, and neither should the player since it didn't exist in SF1. Wilshire Hills is apparently the city to be in.
So Luna takes action and mandates a field trip. Geo protests, but Luna growls him into submission. They all agree to meet at the bus stop the next day, but before the guys can go
Luna takes the time to show off her last character trait: mother hen.
I have control again, but there's not much I can do in Echo Ridge on the first day.
So off to the next tutorial. It's in Geo's house.
Music: Familiar Indoors
Inside, Hope Stelar (Geo's mom) is grousing about how the TV broke just when a really important show was about to go on.
Geo decides to take a look, and Hope hopes he can fix it. Just like with the Advert Ship, Geo can't find anything out of place, so he ponders if it's a problem with the reception.
Mega tells Geo to put on the Visualizer.
This reveals the TV's EM Wave Space (ES for short). Anything that emits waves can have one of these, and they're all marked by that giant thing in the top screen.
Mega recommends pulsing in to the ES to see what's up.
Hope somehow missed the entire conversation her son had with his Star Carrier. Like a real hero, Geo's keeping his mother in the dark about his secret identity so he stammers that it was nothing.
Entering ES's is simple enough; just go next to one while pulsed in and press A. This will make MegaMan follow the waves all the way up to the ES.
Music: Wave Square
And it's very high up; probably either in the ionosphere (80-550 km above the ground) or the exosphere (550+ km). EM waves like to congregate at this altitude, but MegaMan (who is suddenly afraid of heights) doesn't.
After some exposition about how there are many more ES's in the world, Mega declares it's time to get to work. MegaMan agrees, as long as they don't look at the ground.
But first I'll pick up this Blue Mystery Wave. There are usually two in every area, and they're essentially treasure chests. Each one can hold either some money, a battle card, or, like this one, a sub card. Sub cards are consumable items that can only be used outside of battle.
The other BMW held an Attack +10, a Support battle card that does exactly what it says to any card it's attached to.
The reception problem turns out to be because this Hertz is sleeping on the job. The Hertz sheepishly explains that he had to travel all the way from some place called the IFL Tower to get up here, so he's a bit tuckered out.
MegaMan and Mega keep bringing the subject back to how he was slacking though, and eventually he apologizes and promises to do his job right.
Before he can do that, the Hertz falls asleep again. MegaMan still leaves, but not very confidently.
As a note, if you pulse out of a ES you'll just be returned to the Wave world, not the real world.
Geo claims to have gone to the bathroom, then immediately changes the subject to the TV. It's working now!
Today we take a look at that marvel of man, space station Peace.
Mom, is this about...
Yes, Peace is the space station your father was on when... Anyway, this is a special program about it.
The hopes and dreams of humanity were with the Peace. But those dreams were cut short by an accident of an unknown nature. The whereabouts of the Peace remain unknown.
Unfortunately, experts say that current technology is not up to the task of being able to locate the Peace.
Do you think Dad is still alive out there?
Sure he is, honey. I believe your father is still alive. But without him here, it's up to me to take care of you and this house by myself.
When he comes back, I want to greet him with a smile and say, "Welcome home, dear!"
There's still a lot of BMWs I can collect right now, but this update's long enough.
See you guys next time.
At the end of every update, I'll be throwing in some official art from the Complete Works art book. I'm scannng these myself, so they're not super high quality, but they should still be readable. If they're not, tell me and I'll transcribe them.
Star Carrier concept art.
Legendary Master Shin's design notes.