Mega Man Battle Network 4 Updated Impressions

We check out the two versions of Capcom's latest addition to its Game Boy Advance Mega Man series.

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Mega Man Battle Network 4 is the fourth entry in Capcom's Game Boy Advance Mega Man Battle Network series, and it offers a new spin on the series' veteran mascot Mega Man. The game puts a new twist on the blue bomber's adventures by casting him in the role of a cyberspace avatar under the control of a boy named Lan. The latest entry in the series will be shipping in two distinct versions--Red Sun and Blue Moon--and each will contain a number of unique gameplay elements. Each game will have its own separate storyline, six unique souls (with a total of 12 you can use in soul unisons if you have both games), unique battle chips, and unique enemies.

The core gameplay in Mega Man Battle Network 4 will differ a bit from its predecessors in that the main focus will be tournament battles, wherein you'll face a series of enemies you'll have to defeat. The new twist to combat is the "soul unison" system, which lets Mega Man sync up with the souls of previous allies and transform into distinctly different forms with unique abilities depending on which of the versions you have. The catch to the new system is that there is a counter balance to it called the "dark soul" system. While it functions in much the same way as the soul unison system, the souls you'll combine with are powerful and are housed in dark chips. As you'd imagine, the souls aren't the most upstanding. While dark souls will certainly help you out of a tight spot, relying on them too often will affect Mega Man and make him unable to perform normal soul unisons, which could be a fatal problem as you try to progress through the game.

By using the Game Boy Advance link cable, you'll be able to interact with a friend's version of either game. When linked you can trade programs and chips, compare records and battle your friends, and trade navis.

The graphics in the game sport a much improved look over those in the previous game, thanks to large, detailed sprites that animate well. Mega Man and the rogue's gallery of foes he faces have been slightly tweaked since their previous appearances on the GBA and look more polished overall. You'll also notice some nice effects used for the various attacks in the game, as well as the process of jacking in to the cyberworld where you'll be dueling.

From what we've seen so far, the Red Sun and Blue Moon installments of Mega Man Battle Network 4 are poised to be yet another solid pair of entries in the inventive series. The new gameplay focus on tournaments and soul unison systems adds a modest but solid bit of depth that keeps the experience interesting. Both the Red Sun and Blue Moon installments of Mega Man Battle Network 4 are slated to ship this summer.

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