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:
"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...