Monday, November 1, 2021

A New Look at Rockman EXE's First "Test Build"

We've seen bits and pieces of the original Rockman EXE's famous test build over the years. You know; the one where WoodMan.EXE is a bad guy trying to steal the "homework program" from the school's network...
...And now, thanks to a freshly preserved issue of Dengeki Nintendo 64 magazine (November 2000), we have even more new-old screenshots to admire!

If you've previously ventured through The Mechanical Maniacs' test build coverage, you might recognize one or two images. But there's certainly a few new interesting things here. For instance, we have our best look yet at the early Custom Screen. Check it out:

Interesting, right? 
At a glance, you'd think this was WoodMan's chip (#161 in the final version). But it's not! It's simply called "Bomb" and the description indicates it can be thrown three panels ahead, dealing 120 damage. The "PP 4" attribute is anyone's guess. It may have something to do with the numbers underneath the early Custom Gauge. 
Beneath WoodMan's portrait, you can see a small water icon next to a mysterious "- 4". I can only speculate, but maybe this chip is less effective against Water-type foes? It loses 4 points of damage? Who knows!

Here's an excellent shot of Enzan/Chaud's early profile (back when he was planned to be a classmate). Compared to the final version, he's a bit more straight-faced here. He says, "Someone must have sent the virus into the network." 
This line goes hand-in-hand with the test build's scenario, which was recounted by series planner Masahiro Yasuma several years ago:

"When the game started you were already in school for some reason. Yai and Dex were wandering about, and strangely Chaud was there, too. (Which reminds me, I believe Chaud was originally planned to attend the same school.) Once you talked to everyone, a sort of “Oh no, someone broke into the network!” event occurred.

So, when you jacked into the school blackboard, you’d be in the school cyber world. The viruses that appeared were nothing but Mettaurs. And when you reached the end of the cyber world…

Err, isn’t that WoodMan standing there? And when you talk to him, this sort of conversation would unfold.

WoodMan: Huhuhu, I see you made it.
MegaMan: Why are you doing this!?
WoodMan: I’ve come to steal the homework program!
MegaMan: I won’t let you do that! Let’s Net Battle!

What the… the one behind the incident is WoodMan! And moreover, this WoodMan is a totally evil character! And besides that, it’s a rather petty goal, no? In contrast to that WoodMan is MegaMan who stands in opposition with a strong sense of justice; certainly a lovable hero indeed. And, upon beating WoodMan, the game was over!"

Now, for anyone wondering if the "test build" still exists today... well, I've got no news there. 

The earliest known, publicly playable version of Rockman EXE appeared at Spaceworld 2000. Dengeki Nintendo 64's coverage seems to hail from that very show. However, the test build screenshots on that page don't reflect the version of the game they played. 

Dengeki Nintendo 64's preview references the "oven cyber network". FireMan.EXE's scenario, in other words. That means the Spaceworld 2000 version was a bit further along in development from the test build. 

I dunno. I think we have a better (but very unlikely) shot at coming across the Spaceworld demo over the test build. The latter is *hopefully* archived in some fashion at Capcom HQ. It'd be a shame if this important piece of Rockman development history were lost to time...


  1. Replies
    1. Lan has always looked derpy to me. Ever seen his mugshot in the first 3 battle networks? It was the inspiration for the picture "Boat Lan". It's Lan's mugshot as the head of a flesh colored boat.

  2. PP was maybe used as Power Points available for each turn with regular chips requiring less PP and the stronger/Navi chips more. That I suppose would be to limit the amount of chips you could use to not spam out your entire folder from the beginning.

    It could had worked, especially if you get PP expansions (ha) but I think I prefer the Letter Coded chips.


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