I realize I have been doing articles on Megaman Battle Network at lot lately, but this will be the last time I go back to this well for a while, I assure you. Unless you want this, I guess. If any of you guys have ideas, let me know! Anyway, this time I’m looking at the fourth game in the series, often seen as sort of the black sheep of the series. I can see why; the 3rd game seemed very much like a finale, and the fourth, by comparison, I really must admit, wasn’t made with quite the same quality.
        The gameplay is fine, nothing wrong there, but the story… well, it’s a bit sad. Basically, there is a meteor heading towards Earth. The world’s leading scientists are trying to avert it. None of this, at least at first, has anything to do with our protagonists, or even the boss we’re discussing today. In fact, most of the game has nothing to do with the plot itself. But anyway, let’s dig into the important stuff. Lan is simply out in Dentown with his friends and father, and jacks Megaman into a radio along with said friends. There’s a suspicious hovering bat-like Navi in there- not a good sign. However, he simply floats there casually, and will not respond if you talk to him, just making a strange hiss.
        After that his father says he has to go to another country, hinting at the larger trouble brewing, and Lan leaves the area to hear an announcement that a tournament is going to be held soon. Lan recalls that his friends are heading home, and decides to go too. However, as he is heading back, the people around the radio seem horrorstruck by something, and their Navis aren’t responding. Worried, Lan and Megaman check it out.
        Once inside, Megaman finds that all the Navis are lying on the ground, and inspecting them shows they are dead, drained of their energy. Naturally, the vampire Navi we saw earlier is responsible. Shademan.EXE here opts not to fight Megaman, but instead to go look for dessert, a ‘lady Navi’, which of course means Roll. I guess girls taste sweeter or something.
        Shademan vanishes, and Lan races to where his friends are going to meet up. Megaman arrives at the net location just a hair too late, after Shademan has beaten the rest of their friends and flies off with Roll. Megaman gives chase, eventually ending up in the network of a radio tower. For whatever reason, there is a large gap between the Cyberworld entrance and the rest of the tower, which means Megaman can’t reach Shademan, who would have just floated across.
        Regardless, Lan makes it to the tower in the real world and jacks Megaman in, allowing him to arrive just in the nick of time. So starts the first “battle” with Shademan. I’m putting that in quotes because you actually cannot defeat him. If you strike Shademan, he’ll fade into a shadow and reappear, no harm done to his five hundred health. However, much like with Bass, this lets us see what he can do offensively.
        His first attack is to appear on your side of the field and attack with a large sound wave. Sadly, I don’t think you can hit him in this attack, and it would be best to get out of the way since it stuns you. He strikes in a T pattern; hitting one panel ahead of him, and the entire column behind that. His second attack is to spawn bats that try and run into you. They fly slowly and more or less serve as diversion to keep you from hitting him, but will turn when on your column to try and hit you.
        In any case, hitting Shademan five times will trigger the end of the fight. Protoman arrives, having tracked down the murders to here, and Shademan wisely decides to flee, dropping something in his haste. Protoman gives chase, and Megaman saves Roll, noticing whatever Shademan dropped afterwards. It appears to be some sort of chip, so he and Lan take it to Mr. Higsby the chip salesman.
        Mr. Higsby quickly informs them that what they found is a Darkchip, a battle chip that is full of evil energy, and the use of it, while extraordinarily powerful, will have terrible side effects, not the least of which is making you evil. Lan, however, opts to hold onto it, even though Higsby warns even being close to the thing is probably a bad idea. I’ll chalk that up to bad writing.
        Sure enough, bad things do happen, because Shademan is in fact part of the criminal organization Nebula, and they want their chip back. They attack Lan’s home, knocking out his mother, and leaving a note saying they could easily do worse. They tell him to go to a certain place to give it back. Megaman ends up beating the Navi they sent to collect, who Shademan destroys when he returns to report his failure. He later comes after Megaman himself, threatening him. Megaman acts like he will hand it over… then tosses it into the air and blasts it to bits. About time.
        Shademan of course isn’t happy about this, and we have another ‘battle’. No, you can’t fight him for real here either. He will still vanish with every blow, but after a while, a new chip will appear for you to use, a ’Darksword’ chip that conveniently and amazingly enough, will do exactly enough damage to kill Shademan. Well, nothing else is working… but sure enough, the Darkchip does the trick. Shademan laughs at Megaman with his last words, saying that he can see the darkness growing inside him, before the vampire is deleted.
        And as he said, Megaman’s inner darkness will produce Darkchips for you to use in battle. I suppose I can explain. Megaman in this game has emotional states in battle. If he takes too much damage, he will become ‘worried’ and Darkchips will appear on the screen. Which ones appear is random, but all of them are very useful, such as high damage chips or one thousand health recovery. Very useful, in the short term.
        However, every battle where one is used will lower Megaman’s health by one permanently, and will sometimes produce glitches in battle. They will also change his emotional state to ‘evil’, preventing any other changes. If you use Darkchips repeatedly for several battles, Megaman will become completely evil, able to use special ‘DS’ chips, and be able to use Darkchips from the start of the battle. If they aren’t used for a while, he will begin to lighten in color. If they aren’t used long enough, Megaman can eventually become able to use ‘light’ chips which in general are much more useful and have no repercussions.
        Anyway, getting back to Shademan, he actually does return later in the game, at least if you look deep enough. In Undernet Area 3, tucked in the back corner is a coffin, and a strange looking boy there beside it. Megaman and fans of the Boktai series would recognize him as Django, main character of that series and a vampire hunter.(I’ll cover that some other time.)
        He explains that Shademan revived himself but Django managed to fight him off, forcing him into this coffin. He is planning to use his Piledriver device to finish him off, but there’s no light in the Undernet to power it. Lan offers that his PET, the device Megaman is stored in, can be used to send light there, which ultimately works, and the Piledriver fries Shademan. Dajango leaves, and now that Shademan is finally and truly deleted, his ‘ghost data’ can be found around the area as a random encounter.
        Thus, he can be really be fought. Also of note is there is some mystery data sitting in a corner of the battle field when you do find him- it contains a powerful chip, albeit one I don’t know how to use, if you manage to beat Shademan without either of you hitting the data. Anyway, as for the battle itself, now he cannot vanish like he did before. Normal Megabuster shots effect him normally, while any other attack will turn him into a swarm of four bats that fly off his end of the screen. Three of these are illusions, and the fourth is really him, so strike that one to do damage. This is a bit frustrating, but perseverance will prevail. He also has one new move to use, summoning a black hand behind you to slash you.
        And that’s the end of Shademan- at least in this game. He makes one last appearance in the Megaman Battle Network 5, where he seems to be a bit stronger and weaker- on the other hand, he has one hundred more health. On the other hand, he can be harmed normally, removing that gimmick. He seems to be aware of it too, replacing the slow acting black hand from before with a claw slash that covers your front column, as well as a swift sneak attack where he appears behind you to bite you and suck out your energy, draining you and healing himself. Now that he can be hurt like any other enemy, he’s using faster attacks and more pragmatic ones, such as healing himself via his bites and using his large claws. But of course, he is defeated yet again, and as the organization Nebula is finally put to an end, it is the last anyone would see of Shademan, his cohorts, or the Darkchips.


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