Hi everyone and welcome to my Mega Man Network Transmission Any% run! This run simply completes the game as fast as possible and is timed to 56:33 with community timing (first control at first textbox to loss of control at final hit).
So why this game to run? Well, doicm's 1:06:51 was one of the first speedruns I watched off SDA when I started getting into speedrunning back in 2013 and showed me what could be done on even a fairly notorious casual game. I didn't think I would ever run it but the 1:06:51 and later runs from Joka and mable kept piquing my interest on what was possible. Fast forward to late 2019: I was burned out from Doom 64 runs having done three marathon runs in the span of a few months and wanted to work on a new project. Ended up fishing my GameCube out of storage and rummaged through my library before settling on Network Transmission for the sake of getting revenge, haha. I loved playing NT as a kid and had finished it several times in the past but it always took quite a while to play through due to game's odd design and difficulty curve, so it was time to show it the business with some runs. After the last two months of hard practice and attempts, the run here is now not only ten minutes faster than the first run I watched, it's over a minute faster than the world record when I started!
Network Transmission is a both a fascinating and flawed game: The controls are solid, the soundtrack is top notch, and the enemies and chips picked for this game were overall well-selected from the first two Battle Network games. On the flip side, a lot of the level design is incredibly frustrating, the difficulty curve for bosses is hugely skewed to be too difficult for the first half of the game, and deaths are incredibly punishing due to chips not respawning on death. I think if it wasn't for all the things this game does well, I wouldn't run it because this game is a rough (yet still fun) experience for speedruns.
Before I dig into mechanics and stage breakdowns, a HUGE shoutout and thanks to mable: She held the record for several years before I started playing and taught me both the initial route and a bunch of optimizations. Big thanks to her as I was unsure how far I would go without her support. Other thanks go to doicm, Joka, Tterraj42, Risch, and the TeamBN crew for other runs to grab strats off of or just general support both in the Discord and on my stream, I definitely wouldn't have gotten my time to this point without everyone's help.
Movement, mechanics, and routing:
- Like classic Mega Man games, sliding is pretty much always the fast way of moving horizontally. I want to keep my jumps as short as possible so I can spend more time on the ground sliding unless I need a particular position or setup. Ladder climbing is INCREDIBLY slow in this game and I skip as much of it as possible by jumping up or dropping down as far as possible.
- It is possible to cancel some chip animations by attacking while in the air and landing on the ground. I get immediate control of Mega Man when I do this successfully so it saves a small bit of time everywhere I can do this and is incredibly helpful for optimizing the first half of the game when I'm reliant on chips.
- The buster is absolute junk at the beginning of the game and is only worthwhile once both the Attack and Charge stats are maxed out. Charged buster deals an excellent amount of damage (90-95, I haven't calc'ed the exact math but it's in that range) and charges ridiculously fast so the buster becomes the main source of damage in the second half once it's ready.
- On entering a stage, the game selects 5 of the 20 chips in your folder at random for you to pick from. Reg'ing (presetting one chip in my folder to always appear in the first slot of the custom screen) allows some nice manipulation to get exactly what we need in parts both for movement and for attacking. That being said, Reg'ing does take some time to edit the folder as needed so if I need other chips later in a stage and can get them in my first random draw, that's a pretty significant time save I have no real control over.
- The upgrade route is incredibly tight at this point:
-- I pick up as many MemUps as I reasonably can as not only do I get immediate upgrades to my MP for using chips, the game regens MP at a percentage-based rate and I will recover more when my max is higher; this is needed for a few stages where I just barely have enough MP to use every chip I need.
-- HP Memories are really tight: unlike classic MM games, damage from enemies scales up quite a bit as I progress so I need HP Memories to avoid getting one-shotted by later enemies and take some useful damage boosts. Even still, I only pick up some from Number Man's shop and those on the way of the direct stage route so I'm running pretty low the whole run and can't afford many mistakes (if any in some parts).
-- RegUps increase the default memory used for Reg'ing chips and I need several to preset some of the more costly chips I use. I pick up three so I have 24 and 32 MB at the points I need them most.
-- 8 of the 12 PowerUps are grabbed for powering up the buster, several of these come from a shopping trip at Number Man while the remaining ones I pick up on the way during the first half. Due to needing these PowerUps, some other upgrades, and other chips from Higsby's shop, the money route is tight and there's not much room for missing cash.
- Just like the normal Battle Network games, viruses have a rank system and can give item drops depending on your rank. Fast kills and not taking damage are the main contributors in getting drops (usually that virus's chip, sometimes health) so I approach enemies in ways where I can defeat them as fast and safely as possible to get chips I need later down the road.
- Speaking of tight money routing and enemy rank, bosses also drop different amounts of money based on their rank. This makes fighting bosses extra scary as I need good fights to have money for later or otherwise it can easily be a reset at the halfway point. Even worse is the money can land on the edges of the stage where Mega Man can't reach! I try and keep bosses as centered as possible to make sure this doesn't happen but it's still a tossup if things go out of bounds.
- Fire Man -
Right when I gain control, I open my folder and Reg Sword for this stage. 5 Swords is just the right amount of damage to deal with Fire Man efficiently and the opening tutorial forces Cannon and V-Gun in your chip draw, so I'm set for the level on chips. I grab as many Cannons as possible on the way as I need plenty for the next several stages and Cannons are fast and efficient in the earlygame. I also pick up a spare MemUp and equip Heat Armor when I get it as halving Fire damage is useful for Fire Man and a couple of other points (Color Man comes to mind). Fire Man himself is safe with the armor and the only real time difference comes from whether he gives Fire Arms or his body blaze, we want body blaze as much as possible as it's faster. Overall, this stage went fine with only some minor mishaps in Net on Fire and two Fire Arms slowing the boss fight a little.
- Guts Man -
Reg Cannon at the beginning as this is a pretty long stage with a lot of enemies to deal with. A few strats in the stage and boss also change depending on what other random chips I draw, the most useful of which would be Sword for Guts Man. Unfortunately, I don't get anything useful in my chip draw so I have to rely on standard strats and an extra damage boost to have enough Cannons for this segment. Precise platforming is needed to manipulate enemies and conserve MP so I'm glad overall things went very well for the stage. I also pick up an HPMem and MemUp from the shop and the PowerUp on the way back to Global 2. Guts Man himself is a little scary since he attacks fast and can interrupt your chips but he went down quickly with a 5 Cannon + 5 Sword strat.
- Quick Man -
This is where the game opens up a bit and we can pick the order of the next four stages, so we Reg Cannon again and go to the Bank first since we want money and other supplies for the other stages. The stage itself is not very difficult in a run aside from a precise jump for the RegUp and goes well, I even get a lucky health drop from the Ratty so I don't need to pick up the one by the boss portal! Quick Man is the most execution-heavy boss in the game and incredibly random, I want him to toss horizontal boomerangs as much as possible as that is the fastest attack and still reasonable to dodge while fighting back with Cannons. He gives me a slightly above-average pattern and I didn't take any damage so this was a great fight.
- Needle Man -
I head over to the shop and buy an Unlocker and enough Heat-Vs until I have 5; the Unlocker will be used to grab a PowerUp on the way and I got a lucky Heat-V drop from one of the Spikeys so I only needed to buy four. This is one of the more interesting stages as there is some tricky platforming to go fast and a scary damage boost near the end. I grab an HPMem on the way, a MemUp at the very end, as well as three TreeBomb1 chips from the KillPlants; I wasn't able to get a fourth chip from the first KillPlant but it's okay since I can get by with three using some slightly different strats. The stage goes well aside from missing a couple Cannons at the beginning, so I Reg Heat-V at the end to deal with Needle Man and get a perfect fight outside of a bit of bad luck getting his desperation attack.
- Ice Man -
Head back over to the shop and buy Elec Blades for Ice Man. I still have Heat-V Reg'd and use that for farming DoubleJumps (I REALLY want 10 for the remainder of the game), but this is one stage where I am reliant a bit on my random draw to deal with other enemies in the first section and have to improvise. The first draw was pretty great getting both WideSword and Shotgun and I even got Repair which saves time in area 2 on the Yoku blocks! I fudge the grind a bit by missing a shot but recover nicely and grab another HPMem on the way. After the Yoku blocks I make a significant folder edit by Reg'ing Shockwave for the mini-boss while adding in Elec Blade, DoubleJump, Bub-V, and TreeBomb1. I get another HPMem and my second RegUp right after, allowing me to preset 24 MB chips for the rest of the game (everything I added except Bub-V) which will be incredibly useful. The mini-boss is a giant Puffy and a big pain in the butt; I need to kill as many of the smaller ones with good ranks to farm more Bub-Vs for Color Man's fight so I try and position myself well for optimal Shockwave hits. After that and grabbing the key, I preset Elec Blade and take an intentional deathwarp since it's faster than climbing back up, I get a full HP and MP refill, and I get an instant custom draw to have Elec Blade for Ice Man. Ice Man fight is scary since he two-shots me but I knock him out just fine, overall a great stage.
- Bright Man -
Reg TreeBomb for Bright Man's fight, this stage is overall pretty short and simple with just a couple of HPMems and a PowerUp to collect. Unfortunately I make some mistakes trying to kill the Sparkys on the first screen with V-Gun and get damaged a couple of times, so I ended up playing the very end with the lasers fairly safe to avoid the risk of dying. Definitely can save a few seconds with better platforming there but overall not the worst thing that can happen. Bright Man is a tough fight casually: Trying to attack him puts him in a taunt animation and any hits during that time will be blocked with a forced counterattack. However, there is a little period of time towards the end of his taunt where he cannot do another, so I whiff a buster shot over him to force the taunt and hit with a Treebomb during that time, then chain my other two Treebombs to throw while he is in hitstun and can't taunt. He goes down quick with no problems so this mitigates some of the bad platforming during the stage.
- Color Man -
Reg DoubleJump finally, this beast of a chip can be used in midair as many times as you have MP for so I can break vertical climbing sections pretty hard. Arcade is a pretty straightforward stage with a couple of keys to collect and one MemUp in area 2 so nothing terribly interesting happens here. I Reg Bub-V for the Color Man fight as I usually have enough to deal with him from a distance and other chips can help supplement the damage if I'm short. This fight is really janky and easy to die in since he does a ton of contact damage and usually likes to just box me in the corner so I try and stay far away to handle him from a distance. The fight goes fairly well with a safe pattern that was still decent for speed so I'm satisified with level.
- Elec Man -
Reg DoubleJump again, this stage involves a LOT of vertical climbing and is the most difficult level to balance MP use on since I also need TreeBombs for Elec Man. I grab two PowerUps here and take a pretty precise shortcut in area 1 that skips a lot of horizontal backtracking, then use a few more DoubleJumps in area 2 to skip a bunch of ladder climbing. Unfortunately had a couple of small falls and hits, nothing major but still looks bad that I needed to grab the health by the boss for safety. Elec Man has very random counterattacks when hit and the lightning he summons can be anywhere in the room so I wait them out if I don't have plenty of room to get away. Fortunately, I can manipulate his pattern with a buster shot to cause a teleport and then counter in his face while his guard is down so unload with Treebombs and the Cannons I had (MP is tight so it's hard to improv). I was one buster shot short of not needing a third Cannon to finish the job so a couple of seconds could be saved there, but overall this stage still went okay even with mistakes.
- Shopping & Sword Man -
This marks the halfway point in the run, I make my way over to Global 3 to activate the shortcut and then backtrack to Outer Net to buy my remaining PowerUps and a MemUp. Finish upgrading the buster to maxed Attack and Charge and then jack out to refill my DoubleJumps for Sword Man's stage.
Sword's stage is probably the most difficult stage to do well on in the run as mistakes usually just involve dying from contact damage, running into spikes, or falling straight into a pit so it's a pretty nerve-wracking stage to get through. I skip all of area 1 with DoubleJumps and pick up another MemUp in area 2, then carefully weave my way around enemies and hazards using my charge shot and DoubleJumps. The stage goes well without major hiccups and Sword Man's fight is a complete joke since the buster does not trigger flinching and counterattacks on bosses. I get his invincible attack once which is a little bad luck but nothing I can do about that, the execution in this stage was terrific and I was relieved to get out of this split.
- Gravity Man -
I make another shopping trip over to Higsby's since I have access to Barriers now, so I buy 5 to help with the coming stage as well as a couple of parts later on. Strange Grav area is another execution-heavy stage with some very precise platforming but thankfully it goes pretty much perfect. I pick up an extra HPMem on the way as well as the final RegUp I will collect, I want this last RegUp to set StarArrow and M-Cannon later and it's right by the first area exit so easy to get. Speaking of M-Cannon, I pick four of them up from this stage; I need high ranks from all four Canodumbs on the route to ensure I get them so I take some pretty tricky charge shots to ensure they're knocked out asap. One more folder edit in area 2 after the DoubleJumps are used allows me to put in both HiCannon and M-Cannon as well as throw in and instantly Reg Barrier for the last stretch of the level. Gravity Man is generally not a threat in the run since I have two extra barriers for safety and can stand behind him for easy charge shots, really great segment overall!
- Star Man -
Reg DoubleJump for this stage since there's a pretty significant shortcut in area 1 that skips a long horizontal backtrack. Most of the stage is pretty uninteresting with the only highlights being a couple of HPMem pickups and the mini-boss fight: The giant Yort's hitbox is the exact center and threading the needle through the hole in the middle is miserable so I opt for Reg'ing Bub-V and using the diagonal splash to deal the damage. The fight was a bit sloppy and can be done with only five shots but I didn't get hit and could pass on the health refill at least. Star Man is a terrible fight to get through since his star rain becomes significantly more powerful and nearly impossible (or sometimes actually impossible) to dodge when below half HP and I don't really have the HP to survive much more than a single hit from him. I opt for full and half-charge shots to deal as much damage as I can and force Star Arrow as much as possible instead of stars, then use HiCannon to interrupt his summon animation and deal additional damage. He doesn't back off on the first HiCannon and still summons stars anyways, but thankfully I did not take any damage before then so I could quickly damage boost through the stars and finish him off for a nice fight.
- Zero -
Reg DoubleJump again to prep for this pretty short stage with only an HPMem pickup. Unfortunately, this was by far the worst stage in the run and I lost a lot of time: I missed sliding early on when entering Zero Account and this put the Megalians in terrible positions on their cycles, forcing me to wait and kill to get around them. Zero's fight also doesn't go well but mostly from bad luck: The only reasonable way to fight him fast is force a guard, then slide away and pelt with a charge shot and a couple of small shots. Zero can choose to block and simply not teleport behind you which wastes time, and when he gets down on HP low enough he can choose to use Phantom Zero: an unblockable 300 HP damage attack that he can't be damaged during and can chain as many times as he wants (for reference, I have 280 max HP as this point so I die instantly). I do have Barrier to protect against it but he gives Phantom Zero twice which is pretty bad luck, and combined with the guards that he didn't attack from it was a slow fight. An optimal stage and fight could be probably up to 20 seconds faster so this is the stage that can have the most improvement.
- Prep and Pharaoh Man -
Some minor story stuff happens where I need to go to the Undernet portal for plot progression, so I Reg DoubleJump and take care of that then head back to Outer Net to shop out Number Man and buy my last MemUps and HPMems. DoubleJump skips a bunch of very slow ladder climbs leading into Pharaoh's stage thankfully.
Pharaoh's stage is pretty long with a lot of platforming and enemy dodges, I get through everything really well despite a Spooky trying to block me a bit in area 1. Reg'd Barriers speed up the second part a lot and things are smooth up to Pharaoh Man. Pharaoh gives a bit of a bad pattern with giving two Anubis statues that I need to destroy or I constantly get hit and can't charge, but otherwise the fight and stage went super well and other only real thing that could speed it up would be getting Barrier in my first random draw.
- Shadow Man -
One last folder edit happens here: StarArrow is added and Reg'd as it functions like Super Arrow from Mega Man 5, meaning we'll use it ride across a long gap much faster than waiting and platforming. Everything in this stage goes pretty smooth, I get my fifth and final M-Cannon without any drop issues and manage to hit the early platform cycle at the end of area 2. Shadow Man is a tough fight casually, he's quite fast and hits really hard to the point where I'm probably two-shotted at my current max HP. M-Cannon didn't need to be Reg'd and all five are used to stunlock him in his downslash pattern, then a full charge and regular shot seal the deal nice and smooth so this was a really nice level!
- Endgame -
Coming up to the end is a terrifying thought in this run: The oldest routes used to just farm up to ten M-Cannons and use those for the endgame but it makes Firewall and LifeVirus a bit slow since they have a lot of HP and damaging attacks. Newer routes assemble the Z-Canon PA (Cannon, HiCannon, and M-Cannon in that order) before the boss rush which is much faster and safer for the fights (unlimited M-Cannon use and invincibility for a short time) but also is reliant on RNG to give good luck on the chip draws and can easily lose a ton of time or even make the run uncompleteable not getting what I need.
I prep for this segment by buying one FastGauge and five FullCusts from Higsby so I can manipulate my odds and dive straight in. My initial draw does not get any of the three Cannon series unfortunately so I take a bit of a backup plan later. FastGauge at the beginning of Undernet 1 allows the bar to fully fill by the time I get to the portal and careful DoubleJump usage and damage boosts are used to get around the enemies while also completely depleting my DoubleJump supply and removing it from my folder. Once I make it to the end, I take the time to Reg M-Cannon, open the custom screen, and leave without selecting anything: This allows the bottom 5 slots of the screen to fill with chips and helps avoid redundant cycling. I end up using three of my FullCusts which isn't terrific luck but it's still good and doesn't use up too much time so that's perfectly acceptable. I assemble Z-Canon and also grab Heat-V and TreeBomb from my draw to set up the final boss rush. HP and chips are restored in-between these next segments which is why keeping Z-Canon is quite important.
- Firewall goes down quick to Z-Canon, this fight was literally perfect.
- Refights are pretty standard, mostly using charge shots instead of chips on fights but with Z-Canon for Quick Man and a new damage loop for Elec Man.
- Both forms of LifeVirus are an absolute joke and I get to finish the run with TreeBomb swag.
Overall, this is a really great run that will be difficult to improve on but there are still places to pick up big time (Zero stage, Z-Canon draw) as well as minor optimizations here and there. I will push for lower but I figure this is a good run to showcase the improvements since an 8-year old run and obtaining the overall good luck needed to get a time this low again may take a while. I hope you enjoyed the run and comments as much as I did making them, until next time!