Bury the Shovelware: Mega Man Star Force 2 - Zerker X Saurian

Thanks for the feedback from last week! Reactions to the new format seem to be somewhere in the middle, so perhaps we'll alternate between the two styles, or possibly merge them. Continued feedback is always appreciated. With that said, here's another stab in the new format. This time, with Mega Man 9 fever still running rampant (made all the more frantic with this past Monday's release of Proto Man), we've decided to take a look at the blue bomber's non-ZX series on the DS: Mega Man Star Force.


Mega Man Star Force 2: Zerker X Saurian is -- hang on, I've gotta catch my breath after that title ... whew ... okay, I'm good -- a sequel to the Mega Man Star Force titles. I say "titles" because Capcom decided to split the title up into three "versions," similar to Nintendogs and most Pokemon games. When done right, this can be awesome. But as is the case with most things Capcom touches, it's a money-maker. That's the rub with Capcom: they produce some of the finest titles ever, but they certainly aren't shy about squeezing every penny from a game or franchise possible. Back to Star Force, once again Capcom has released multiple editions of the title. This time, only two were created: Ninja and Saurian, the latter of which we'll be using. The game is an indirect successor to the Mega Man Battle Network series. Like its predecessors, it involves light-action incorporated into RPG-styled battles. The root gameplay is enjoyable, but doesn't seem to have the lasting power to be re-packaged perpetually until the end of the time as does the primary franchise.

The Critics Said

The general consensus amongst critics ranges from mild indifference to contempt for its brazen and shameless profiteering. Gamer 2.0 felt the latter when expressing that "both versions of Mega Man Star Force 2, Zerker X Ninja and Zerker X Saurian are prime examples of milking a franchise for all its worth." 1up's Philip Kollar stated that unless the game is given more care and originality, he's "keeping Star Force off the air." Nintendo Power, however, noted that "series fans should have fun regardless." Perhaps.

Rap Sheet

  • The gameplay is ... exactly what you're expecting. But even if you've never dabbled in a Battle Network or Star Force title, it's difficult to fully recommend this game.
  • GEEZ, I know that RPGs are known for very long introductions, but this is really starting to grind my gears.
  • The first text you see after starting up the game: "In the days of old there was a tribe whose unparalleled strength allowed them to prosper in the land." Hmm, did GameStop give me the right game? This is Mega Man, correct?
  • I'm prompted to make a choice: Zerker or Saurian? I ask myself this question every day.
  • "It is the year 220X." We've come a long way since 20XX.
  • Omega-Xis says the following to the unsuspecting young boy protagonist: "I'll tell you about your father if you let me use your body, kid!" W, R, O, N, and don't forget G.

Silver Lining

Again, the battle system is unique -- if you're able to forget every previous entry in both series. And though I complained about the lengthy intro, there are a few moments where it allows you to skip tutorials if you're familiar with something (i.e. the battle system). The graphics aren't that bad though nearly directly ripped from the first Star Force. Yet I guess Capcom's been getting away with the same Mega Man sprites for over 20 years, so it'd be hypocritical to fault them for that. The 3D models aren't terrible, and the 2D looks clean and nice. But overall, it's nothing to write home about.

Our Deduction

It's harder to fully condemn Mega Man Star Force 2: Zerker X Saurian as a game than as a title. It's not that its association with the blue bomber grants it any sort of immunity from criticism. Rather, I'm reminded of recent play sessions with Mega Man 9, which is essentially Mega Man 2 ornamented with bells and whistles. But I loved every minute of it. Certainly there are some out there who enjoy the fighting system started in the Battle Network series enough to warrant multiple purchases of a repackaged concept. I'm not one of them and I'll assume you aren't either, but I could be wrong. Repackaging is a staple of this industry. Halo 3 was more or less the same as its predecessors plus a few new toys. Nearly every Castlevania game post-Symphony of the Night has been trying to achieve the beauty and near-perfection of that particular work of art. This statement can be applied across nearly every long-running franchise. Who's to say what deserves to see another iteration and what doesn't? Certainly, numbers don't lie and Capcom must be making decent money off of these titles in order to repeatedly milk them.

I think our conclusion is that while most can comfortably branding this as shovelware, a true fan can make a compelling case against that label. Such individuals will have to prepare a solid argument, but in the end, this boils down to another reoccurring theme in this series: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Like that little gem I just dropped on you, some of the most overused phrases are the truest. Similarly, perhaps some of the most overused gameplay types are the most enjoyed.

In gaming, the term shovelware refers to any game in which time and effort were eschewed in favor of turning a quick profit. Bury the Shovelware takes a closer look at these titles, typically those that inhabit the lower end of metascores. It attempts to: 1) find out where and how the developer went wrong 2) identify common traits present in most shovelware 3) measure how long the game can be suffered.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.