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June 29, 2004
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More in this Series
 Written by D'Marcus Beatty  on August 30, 2004

Review: The Blue Bomber is taking his sequel fetish to cyberspace.

Mega Man Battle Network 4: Blue Moon (alongside its sister title Red Moon) is the latest iteration of the Battle Network series, a side story that takes Mega Man into a world where humans can enter and explore cyberspace effortlessly.? In the game's beginning, the protagonist, a young boy named Lan, enters the world of one of his household appliances to banish a virus preventing it from working properly.? This is pretty much the purpose of the game, and although the premise is interesting, the game doesn't offer enough to actually draw players into the experience.?


Battle Network 4 once again follows the adventures of Lan and his Navi, Mega Man (A Navi is sort of PDA with AI) as they travel both the real world and cyberspace.? Lan can connect to cyberspace through any number of electronic devices, which range from computers to vending machines.? Cyberspace is where the majority of the action happens, and players control Mega Man as he talks to other Navis and fights viruses in RPG-style random battles.


The aforementioned battle system sets the Battle Network series apart from traditional RPG in that there is a unique mixture of real time fighting included with the turn-based fighting.? Mega Man maneuvers in real time on a grid as he attacks and dodges attacks from enemies on their on grid on the opposite side of the screen.? While Mega Man charges his attacks, he must move around his grid to dodge damage from his enemy's attacks.? When his meter is charged, Mega Man can use battle chips to attack, and each chip is assigned a letter designation.? Certain chips can be used in combination, such as an attack using all ?A? designated chips, which does allow for a bit of strategy and preparation in battle.? However, battle chips must be acquired, similar in this respect to a Pokemon-esque hunt to ?catch ?em all?.?


Battle is also affected by Mega Man's mood, which is dependant upon his battle performance.? If you attack your opponent at the right time and score a counter, Mega Man goes into Full Sychro mode which doubles the power of his next attack.? He can also become angry, evil, or worried, which all have their own positive or negative alterations to Mega Man's abilities.? Another battle innovation, and something new to the series is the Soul Unison, which is similar to Mega Man's acquiring of the boss ability in his original series.? While in battle, Mega Man can unite with the souls he's acquired, which include Fire Soul, Thunder Soul, and Roll Soul, which give him the abilities of fire, electricity, and recovery, respectively.? The majority of the game is spent running RPG-themed quests for NPCs, battling against viruses, and hunting for new battle chips to expand Mega Man's repertoire of attacks.


Unfortunately, this is where one of the game's major flaws appears.? The storyline for an RPG is one of its key features, and generally must be at least slightly interesting to keep the player involved.? However, in Battle Network, the story isn't very engrossing, and doesn't even really seem essential or expounded upon, and doesn't give players a reason to return to Lan and Mega's world.?


The graphics are largely unchanged from the previous game, and although there isn't much to complain about, there isn't much to applaud either.? Most of the action takes place from a three-quarters perspective, and the fighting takes place from a side view.? Although the graphics are more than functional, there isn't anything exemplary here.


The sound is also another area where the game is fairly lacking.? The sound is practical with the expected beeps and chimes for the sound effects and a largely forgettable background theme, but there is nothing here to base a soundtrack around.???


Battle Network also allows for linked play, allowing gamers to trade chips and programs with friends and to battle each other, which does add a great deal of replayability to the title.

Bottom Line
Mega Man Battle Network 4: Blue Moon will probably be an enjoyable experience to fans of the series, but its lighthearted and unessential storyline may alienate some more hardcore RPG players. Its battle system, with its innovative but sometimes uncomfortable mechanics, may also discourage some players. If you enjoy Pokemon based collecting or are already a fan of the series, you'll probably enjoy the experience. Others may want to try before they buy.

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