New additions to the Megaman Battle Network series are regularly popping up at a rate of about one per year. The newest entry (or entries) entitled Megaman Battle Network 4: Red Sun & Blue Moon comes as two seperate titles with similar gameplay but different enemies, powerups, and storylines.
For those not familiar with the Battle Network story, the series involves a boy named Lan who uses his personal information terminal (PET), Megaman.exe, to fight viruses and computer hackers in a futuristic setting where most objects in the real world are hooked up to the internet. Lan navigates the real world, searching for clues and places to jack in to the net, where his counterpart, Megaman.exe, takes over and starts zapping viruses. This time around, a giant asteroid is headed towards earth and conflicting forces attempt to destroy it or pull it towards the planet. Meanwhile, Megaman.exe is fighting for his soul as evil tempts him with powerful "Dark Chips", which play a pivotal role in the gameplay of Battle Network 4.
Not much else is known about the storyline for the newest Battle Network title, other than the fact that it is centered on three tournaments that must be completed to progress the story.
As in previous titles of the series, battles take place on a 3 x 6 grid, half of which is controlled by Megaman.exe and half of which is controlled by the enemy. Positioning on this grid is important, which gives the game a tactical element. During battle, Megaman.exe has access to five "battle chips", which are randomly chosen each turn from a folder that can hold up to 30 chips. Different enemies will be vulnerable to different kinds of battle chips, and chips can be combined to deal more powerful attacks. Battle chips range from attack abilities like Heat Shot and Wide Sword, to protection and healing abilities like Barrier and Recovery. Also returning to Battle Network 4 is the Navi Customizer system, which allows Megaman.exe to be customized by organizing program parts onto a grid called a memory map.
New to Battle Network 4 is the "Soul Unison" system. During battle, souls of defeated enemies can "synch up" with Megaman.exe, allowing him to transform into a new entity (i.e. Thunder Man, Wind Man, Metal Man, etc.) and use the soul's special abilities during battle. Red Sun and Blue Moon each have a set of 6 different souls that can be unlocked. In contrast to the Soul Unison system is the "Dark Soul" system. Similar to the Soul Unison system, powerful Dark Chips will tempt the player when they are in a tight situation. Using these Dark Chips will give Megaman.exe incredible power, but frequent abuse of this power will affect his ability to perform normal Soul Unisons, which could greatly hinder a player's progress in the long run.
Players will be able to interact with each other through a GameBoy Advance link cable. Programs, chips, and Navis can be traded, player records can be compared, and players can battle each other in their own tournament. By trading Navis, which are exclusive to either the Red Sun or Blue Moon title, players can unlock expanded storylines normally only available in each individual title.
The graphics in Megaman Battle Network 4 have been enhanced since the previous installments of the series. Character sprites are more detailed, enemy animations have been updated, and attack and effect animations also have a smoother, more polished feel. Maps are also more detailed and sleak looking while remaining extremely colorful. The number of character mugshots has also been increased, allowing for a larger variety of emotions to be displayed during conversations.
Megaman Battle Network 4: Red Sun & Blue Moon is sure to appease fans of the series and may even lure a few newcomers. Look for both games to be released on June 28th.