I have a new used GameBoy SP (thanks, Paws!) and a copy of Medabot Navi that I got out of my local Book Off a few days before the earthquake closed it indefinitely, so it seems like a good opportunity to see what it's like.
The game opens with a limo pulling up to a perfectly normal Japanese junior high school... that happens to be on the moon. This is the relatively advanced future of the series, where lunar travel is not only common (as it is in Medabots DS), but colonization and tourism are also very well advanced. The famous robattler Shiden Murasame and his little sister are visiting for unknown reasons, but that's not of any importance to our protagonist, Kasumi. He's more excited that he finally has is very own Medabot, nicknamed Far East.
Once he's got it together, he's immediately challenged by two school bullies, Gousetsu and Mizore. The battle against Gousetsu's Bugstink is ridiculously easy, because he apparently forgot to calculate his AP costs for both movement and attack, and now he can barely field his bot's laser attacks. He didn't attack once. Mizore's CutSickle was a different matter, but it wasn't too difficult to keep on the move away from him while using Far East's rifle.
(Should mention here that battles in this game are tactical. Every round, the bots renew their AP. Up, left, and right on the d-pad selects for different part skills, which have an AP cost. When one is selected, you can see the available move range plus the current attack zone for the skill. Any AP left over at the end of the turn gets added into the Medaforce bar.)
Unfortunately, Mizore is a very bad loser, and he steals Kasumi's Medal right after the fight. While he's running around trying to find the bullies, Kasumi hears a voice that calls him into the (normally locked) former school building behind the campus. Shiden sees him, and follows him in. Kasumi falls down a hole and finds a new Medal, just lying there on the ground. Shiden follows soon after, and they discover the source of the weird voice that Kasumi's been hearing: a strange Medabot that calls itself Mistral. For some reason, only Kasumi can hear it speak, though.
Skip forward a bit, and Kasumi is in the newspaper for his amazing discovery. To honor him, the RR Corporation has invited his entire class out to the Cluster, a sort of space station theme park, hotel, and research complex dedicated to the mysteries of the extraterrestrial Medabots. Niwaka, the class president, is rather put out by all the attention Kasumi is getting, and puts the poor boy through hell with a series of increasingly juvenile pranks. The worst one almost traps him in a storage area before the shuttle to the Cluster launches, but Kasumi's friend Hiyori lets him out.
Once they're finally up on the Cluster, Niwaka immediately goes up to the front desk and demands that he, as the class president, should be the first one in. Kasumi just walks through the door, clueless, and the rest of the class follows through, so Niwaka ends up being the last one in. That's one more thing he's going to hold against the protagonist, unfortunately.
Before everyone else arrives, Kasumi is greeted by Navi, the guidance computer for the Cluster. The conversation that follows is a little confused, because Kasumi is projecting a bit and the computer doesn't know squat about human emotions. I'm sure this won't be relevant later on... But then Hiyori arrives, and Kasumi hears Mistral calling him again. It's up in a display case in the Lobby Dome.
Shiden shows up and invites Kasumi into the next dome. He lets slip that he's somehow involved with the RR Corporation, but quickly moves on to the big deal: presenting Kasumi with the star Medabot of the game, Sonic Stag. This is Medabot Navi's version of the Kuwagata bot type. Yay. Then Shiden locks Kasumi in the room and activates the security measures. Uh-oh.
He only wants one thing from Kasumi, and it's not the Kuwagata Medal that got picked up near where they found Mistral. Shiden doesn't even know about that. Instead, he's demanding that Kasumi tell him exactly what Mistral said, because he doesn't believe that Kasumi told him everything already.
This battle is Sonic Stag vs. two Sea Otters, and it's remarkably difficult if you rush straight in to attack the leader. I lost twice before I hit upon what was either a winning strategy, or an exploit on the enemy AI. The two Sea Otters both went straight for these special squares in the corners of the map, so on my third try I just ran for one of the other squares like that and camped out. From then on, the enemy bots would take a turn to boost Medaforce, then rush over to my square, only by the time they got there, they had no AP left to attack. So I'd hit the nearest one with Sonic Stag's hammer attack, and the next turn it would retreat back to its base. Rinse, repeat. It was kind of odd, but at least they weren't hitting me with burning attacks or destroying my best armaments on the first turn, like with the previous attempts.
Shiden wasn't too happy that Kasumi beat the first set of security bots, so he left the poor kid with a bunch more while he returned to the Main Dome to schmooze a bit more. Hiyori is trying to get through the mob of girls to confront him when a loud BANG rocks the Cluster. The Kuwagata Medal in Kasumi's Sonic Stag had just activated its Medaforce transformation for the first time, and busted down a door, but that wasn't the source of the noise. Something - or someone - has deactivated Navi and manually enabled the Cluster's emergency separation protocols. The various Domes have just decoupled from the base station, and are now on their way to Zod knows where. Oh, and all the staff members with clearance to do overrides are currently in the Lobby, which is being left behind at ever increasing speeds. It's just us kids in the Domes.
Yes, the title of the review, when it finally comes, is going to be "Lord of the Beetles", because that's just about how this is looking to shape up. Class president Niwaka immediately tries to take charge, only to be turned down by the cool kids group as they exit. In frustration, he throws his class president's badge at Kasumi and storms out, with a few flunkies in tow. The bullies, Gousetsu and Mizore, leave soon after. Shiden and his little sister are nowhere to be seen, so it's just Kasumi and Hiyori for now.
And that's where I saved for the night. Trapped on a space station, headed into dangerous space, with at least five different groups of kids -- each commanding a My Little Panzer Medabot. This should be an interesting ride.