Starting early in Chapter 7, there will be a strange new machine occupying the lower corner of the Virus Lab at SciLab. This is the Virus Breeder, the hub for a little feature exclusive to EXE3. "Breed" here refers to raising and training viruses you capture in the wild. So if you thought the Battle Network series was a Pokémon rip-off before, this should really put it in perspective. This page will go over how it all works.
The Virus Breeder appears after visiting Dr.Hikari in the hospital, but before you can start collecting viruses and using it, you have to talk to the old guy standing next to the machine once. He'll offer to list off the viruses you collect and hand over their chips. This conversation will trigger the appearances of the viruses in the Cyberworld you need to hunt down. When you jack into the machine, the prog at the entrance will give you the quick rundown about how you can find the viruses in the cyberworld, return there to get their summoning chips, and jack into the Breeder to feed and manage your new pets.
Collecting the Viruses
The viruses you're looking for are hidden at certain points across the net. They're invisible, so you'll only know you've found them when Megaman stops moving and the screen transitions to a battle. It's basically the exact same deal as when looking for Navi ghosts in their Alpha forms. There aren't a lot of hints about the locations. Some message board posts have vague suggestions but that's pretty much it.
The battle consists of the three basic members of the virus family you're collecting. It's treated as an event battle so you can't run and don't win anything at the end, but once back on the map you'll see a brief stock-cutscene where Lan and Megaman determine that the little creatures they just brutalized are actually friendly and harmless and now only wish to brutalize other enemies at their new masters' whim and volunteer to be held in captivity until such time they are needed. Disturbing implications aside, you now have another virus family in your collection.
When you return to the Virus Breeder, talk to the old guy and say yes to his offer to tell you more about it, and he'll list off the viruses you've collected so far. When he comes to a new addition, he'll give you that family's summon chip. The virus family can be found by jacking into the Breeder and finding their pen.
Here are each of the virus families that can be captured for the Breeder and where you can find them:
|Metool - ACDC1, behind WWW-ID door.
|Bunny - Reward for Request Board job 19: "Please adopt a virus!" This is the only family you don't need to fight for. You can also do the job as soon as the Breeder appears, before even talking to the old man that triggers the other families to become available.
|Spikey - Hades Gargoyle Comp, upper corner.
|Swordy - Undernet1, upper level, right arm.
|Jelly - Beach2, bottom corner.
|Mushy - Scilab2, behind desk.
|Momogra - End of ZooComp4.
|KillersEye - Principal's PC1, against the blackboard.
|Scuts (F,A,E) - Secret1, straight west from entrance.
|Scuts (W, N) - Secret3, northern corner past the Door of Love. Must capture the "Scuts (F,A,E)" group first.
At the entrance of Secret Area 3 is the Door of Love that will open once you capture at least 8 out of the 9 virus families. The Scutz family comes in two groups, the second of which lies beyond the Door of Love. You can get the Scuttlst summon chip after just finding the first group, and when you use it it'll only count those first three family members. Capturing all of these viruses is a big step towards game completion. The nine chips you gain are needed to complete your Standard Library, and the Door of Love seals off a good half of the last area.
That's not the end of virus-hunting though. Once you feed the maximum 100 BugFrags to a family, and you've already cleared the game, talk to the BF-redistribution prog in the family's pen and it'll congratulate you on raising the viruses fully and then give you a hint where to find their "boss". This is the trigger that causes that family's Omega version to become available. As before, you're looking for battles hidden at certain points in the Cyberworld, this time against three Omega-level versions of that virus. If you win (might be difficult - Omega viruses are tougher than they look, much less three of them at once), the Omega version will be added to the family's pen and you can redistribute BFs to it as you see fit. When you use the virus summon chip, the Omega version will be added to the mix, greatly increasing the potential of your attack. Note that while the initial capture-quest is necessary for completing your library and unlocking doors, none of the Omega version collecting will unlock anything extra besides the possible strong attack with the summon chip.
Here's where to find each of the Omega versions once you get to this point.
|MetoolΩ - Class 5A Blackboard Comp, south corner.
|BunnyΩ - Hospital Bed Comp, North corner.
|SpikeyΩ - ZooComp2, southwest corner.
|SwordyΩ - Zoo Broken Alarm Comp, west corner.
|JellyΩ - Bath Lion Spout Comp, center.
|MushyΩ - HospComp1, by the entrance.
|MomograΩ - Yoka1, where Bubbleman was fought.
|KillersEyeΩ - SciLab Door Panel Comp, northwest side.
Raising the Viruses
So you caught the viruses and received their chip, and you can use the chip in battle to call upon the viruses for an attack. Their attack power depends on how you raise them. Jack into the Breeder and find their pen.
You can inspect the individual viruses to get an indication of their personality. Inspect their food dishes for the option to feed them bugfrags. It's 5 BF per serving. You can feed up to 20 servings (100 BF) to each family, after which point that family will no longer accept your bugfrags. Since this is regulated per family, this means you could give 95 BF to your Mushy's dish, 5 to your Mashy, and 0 to your Moshy, not to mention the Omega version when it comes in after the 100 are all supplied. Does that seem unbalanced? Wish you could go back on those feeding proportions? Well don't worry, you can.
The prog in each pen is for redistributing the bugfrags you've fed to the family so far. Like "breeding", this "feeding" isn't exactly what it sounds like. If we're to understand Mushy ate those 95 bugfrags, then that prog is apparently forcing Mushy to regurgitate 50 of them to then feed to Moshy. Eugh. Okay, so the viruses don't eat the frags, the frags just sit in their dishes indefinitely and can be moved around easily. You can't take the frags back though, and the viruses presumably interact with them somehow to get the increased attack power, so who knows what's going on. Bottom line: the BFs correspond to additional attack points, and those points can be freely balanced among the family members by talking to the redistribution prog.
Summoning the Viruses
You can get one of each summon chip by capturing the family and talking to the old man by the Breeder. Additional virus summoning chips are hard to come by. They may as well be GigaChips in terms of rarity. Higsby's Chip Order will only have one in stock if your current stock is zero, and with no trace of these things in any of the Chip Traders or anywhere else, it seems you can only have one at a time. Dump your original into a Chip Trader to buy the Chip Order version, which might have a better code for you. Link Trades could account for more, but the Chip Order version is the only code that will be in steady supply. The virus summoning chips do have five codes just like any other battlechip, but for some reason only two appear to be obtainable.
When the chip is activated, time will stop and the panel in front of Megaman will begin to rapidly cycle through the members of the family in your possession. As the "press button" icon that appears above them indicates, you press A again to choose which one attacks. You have just five seconds to pick before your pets get restless and one of them picks themselves for you, usually the first-level version. This is where the distribution of bugfrags counts, because ideally you would want all 100 BF supporting the attack of the virus you choose, since any fed to the others would be wasted in the attack. Too bad the game as other ideas.
Picking the family member you want is mostly impossible at the speed they flash by. A virus could only be visible for two frames before switching to the next one, and the cycling may be random to boot, making the entire attack a gamble. Thankfully, there are a few families that not only cycle more slowly for you, but do so according to a consistent pattern. When one family member has a different attack range from another, then being able to choose which one attacks is pretty important. Nothing worse than trying to hit the enemy in front of you with KillerEye, but accidentally shooting upwards with DemonEye instead.
So even though the basic function is the same, each family involves slightly different strategies that determine their usefulness in battle. This table will cover each virus' base attack power and their max attack assuming you give all 100 bugfrags to that one member (5 BF serving always equals 5 extra attack points, so the max is always base+100. You could do the math in your head, but I figured it would help to have the range visible.) The right column describes the pattern the family members cycle through when the chip is activated, how fast the pattern goes, which virus gets chosen if you wait five seconds without picking any, additional notes about the differences between attacks, and the codes the virus chip features. For the chip codes, Red = Received at Virus Breeder after capturing family., Green = Bought from Higsby's Chip Order., Grey = Not legitimately obtainable.
Selection Pattern - F-A-E-(W-(Ω)-N)-
Default - Scutz (Scuttlest)
Codes - D,R,E,A,M
|The "misterious" Dream Bit family is the biggest, most powerful, and most diverse in the Breeder. They come in three groups instead of just two, and even have two defaults depending on how complete the family is when the chip is used. It's predictably the fire-elemental Scutz if you've only collected the first group, but once you get the second group, you'll attack with Scuttlest whenever you let the five seconds run out. Scuttlest is usually pretty powerful all things considered, but in this context the looks are a bit deceiving. Let's look at the family member attacks individually:
I would aim for the wood-elemental Scuttzer most of the time. It's basically a stronger verision of your Plantman chips, which are pretty badass by themselves. They flash by pretty quickly, so you need to rely on timing. The pattern is a little odd when the Omega version comes in. The Omega is usually at the end of the cycle, but in the Scuts' case, it comes before Scuttlest.