Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mega Man 4 (NES, 1991)

Mega Mania continues! This one is very good, and gets my personal vote as perhaps the best of the six on NES. It doesn't get the same kind of hype that the two before it get, though.

This game begins with waaaay more story background than the earlier installments. Mega Man's real name is... Rock. No relation to Hollywood sensation The Rock. It'd be awesome if Mega Man WERE The Rock.

"Dr. Wily, it's time you take a drive down KNOW YOUR ROLE BOULEVARD and check into THE SMACK-DOWN HO-TEL!"

No, on the contrary, Dr Light's greatest creation began as a Thai ladyboy with supple breasts. However, beneath them beat the heart of a champion.

He volunteered to be converted into a battle robot once the Wily threat began. So... he was a self-aware household chore-robot before? I don't know, this whole thing just got really creepy.

...counting. There are going to be a lot more.

As usual, there are eight stages of varying difficulty; the big boss this time is commie bastard Dr. Cossack. This is one of my less-liked sets of Robot Masters in the Mega Man canon. Some of them are GREAT (Pharaoh Man, Toad Man) but for the most part I found this group a little bit uninspired. Three out of eight being awesome while the rest are "eh" isn't really a good record considering that the three games before this had roundly compelling groups.

Toad Man is the easiest of the bunch, and looks like Gerudo from Dragonball Z. Not many of these games have a clear-cut "easiest boss", but this one does. If Toad Man were any easier, he'd be every woman in Boston on St. Paddy's Day. OHHHHH! YEAH I WENT THERE!

His stage is a bit tricky. Have to deal with rainfall that pushes you a bit when you jump. For something like this, with the wind pushing you towards the left, you need to jump from the very edge of the platform. It also helps if Mega Man passes gas really hard just as you leap.

Damn, the year is only four months old and I've already used up my one fart joke for the year.

Like most games in this series, this one has some appealing miniboss designs. As usual, you target the Angry-Looking Eyes. Why does every Mega Man boss have the same eyes?

Toad Man has an unavoidable special attack. Luckily for the player, Toad Man feels the need to shake his bum-bum before he uses the attack. While he gyrates, hit him. He'll cancel the attack and jump towards you instead. As a result, you can alternately shoot him and slide under his jumps until the fight is over, never even taking a hit.

"W! W! E! Tag! Team! Champion!"

This is one of the more useful special weapons, as it can clear the screen of weaker foes.

..."flush", huh huh

This guy is cool. One of my favorite Robot Masters. Now, Bright Man technically falls between Toad Man and Pharaoh Man in order. However, I'm skipping Bright Man because I want to fight Pharaoh Man straight-up for the first time ever. I always use Bright Man's time stopper to gimp the fight, and Pharaoh Man deserves better.

Oh, it's time I mention something new to this game: the charged shot.

Unlike the Game Boy Mega Man IV, this charged shot doesn't cause Mega Man to recoil backwards. I can only assume that on the NES, Mega Man is better at firing guns. He understands that you gotta relax your arm and be gentle about it. Treat the weapon like your pecker, as they say in the Army.

That said, even without recoil the charged shot isn't really powerful enough to use it over rapid fire, especially if you're using a turbo controller. Regular shots, when turbo-fired, absolutely chew through enemy health in this game. At least, this is the case with most enemies. At least the charged shot manages to retain some usefulness against Robot Masters that have brief invulnerability after being hit.

The battle with Pharaoh Man (without special weapons) is suitably epic. Pretty much the greatest battle in the game.

His attack consists of rad fire waves. Too bad his weapon doesn't look anywhere NEAR this cool once you have it. Much like Fire Man in the first game, you get a stripped-down version of the fire wave that looks more like a ball. What did Capcom have against fire weapons?

He has to charge up, just like our hero.

This isn't a boss fight... it's a DUEL.

After barely winning that pitched battle, it's on to Ring Man's stage. This one is a bit like Crash Man's stage two games ago. It's an ascent into the sky, getting darker as you go.

Hippopotamus miniboss. This shows up in the Game Boy version of the stage; it's more difficult there. Here it isn't too difficult since the pillar is one square wide. If all else fails, Rain Flush wins this fight quickly.

Heh... Flush. Ho ho...hee.

Ring Man is one of the more formidable opponents in this game, even with his weakness. Gotta make every charged Pharaoh Shot count.

Here's a quick shot of the Game Boy version of this fight. The screen has less area, but it's equally rad.

 Dust Man's stage is next. He's got a vacuum for a head. Because... dusting?

It's basically a junkyard, complete with trash compactors.

Not sure why Capcom has such a boner for stages like this. They show up in a lot of games in this series. Junk Man in Mega Man 7, Metal Shark Player in Mega Man X6, and numerous others...

...yes, there's a boss named Metal Shark Player. Let's just say Capcom turned some of the later X series games into jokes.

"Hey Rock," says Flip-Top. "Want some weed?"

Flip-Top is also known as Eddie. Yet another character in this series who has various names depending on what game you're playing. He's basically a supply 'bot, and comes bearing randomly-chosen gifts. You always want to make sure you get an E-Tank from this guy when he shows up. If you don't, you can back out of the room without taking whatever he gave you, and he'll show up again. However, take an item from him, and he poofs.

The Ring Boomerang makes short work of Dust Man.

I want to take a moment to say that I'm REALLY enjoying this game. It poses just the right amount of challenge. I think it's sadly underrated due to having to follow two other very good games.

Skull Man's stage is entirely bone-themed. Given that this is essentially an archaeological dig, Dust Man would have a lot of work to do here.

That skeleton in the background looks familiar. I could swear it shows up in the background in Mega Man 7 as well. These skeleton enemies fall apart if you shoot them, then re-animate moments later. Can only finish them off with a charged shot. They're like the Dry Bones in the Mario games.

Skull Man has a shield weapon, the latest variation of the Wood Shield. This one sticks to you as you move and can't be fired as a projectile. It's pretty useful, though all four skull-shields disappear if one of them blocks something and you have to use up weapon energy summoning it again.

Much like condoms, the price really adds up, let me tell ya... they say a kid costs $200,000 these days. Well I'd argue that'd be a DEAL given all the money I'd save on helmetting up. Fuck you, Trojan!

Dive Man's stage is next on the agenda. This is a water-themed stage, something notably missing from Mega Man 3's eight stages. least, I think so. My memory is about on par with that of a boulder.

This whale miniboss is RAD. I can't say enough how much I love the minibosses in these games. Why do they all have angry eyes, though? I want to see a happy miniboss who just wants to love.

This is the only real place where Rush Marine is particularly useful. Even still, I nearly forgot to use it. Nothing here is difficult without it. Rush Marine is just...meh. Always has been.

After falling down an extensive spike pit (harden your balls, Mega Man!) I find...

...the Wire, one of the side-powerups in this game. It lets you grapple to the ceiling, and is a fairly good substitute for Rush Coil in most situations... Further obsoleting Rush.

There's also a Balloon powerup that lets you create platforms. I didn't find it in this playthrough. Too bad, it's fun to play with.

Dive Man is weak against Skull Shield. He attacks with M. Bison's Psycho Crusher, and the key is to watch his charges and land right next to him after he does one (hitting him with the shield in the process).

Here's Drill Man, the requisite phallic-named boss for this game. I like the way the color schemes match the bosses in these intro shots.

His stage is full of spikes. It reminds me of Armored Armadillo's stage a bit. Wonder if they were working on Mega Man X yet by this time.

That can of Ecstasy tablets (I presume) is a bit out of reach, but nothing we can't handle with...

...the wire. It just occurred to me that this would have made a terrific GIF. Oh well, too late now. Need to start making more GIFs. They're where it's at in 2002 2016.

Drill Man is one of the tougher bosses. His attacks do a LOT of damage for some reason. He's weak to Dive Man's homing missiles, but said missiles fly in such crazy trajectories that they're difficult to hit him with. The solution is to attack from up close.

Usually, Drill Man would be the last boss I fight out of the eight. This time, I need to circle back and take out Bright Man, since I skipped him to have THE DUEL with Pharaoh Man.

Bright Man is easily dispatched with Toad Man's weapon, regardless of his ability to stop time. If Toad Man had been the one with the time stop, he would have been even more like Gerudo from Dragonball Z.

With the eight bosses down, the smarmy Dr. Cossack is revealed. THE SOVIET MENACE ENDS NOW, COSSACK! I remember what you red bastards did to Apollo Creed!

Apollo Creed: A Great American. Rest In Peace.

His castle is... very Russian. Since the Russians are behind everything, we need Jack Bauer.

 The fortress has a very Russian theme to it, right down to the visuals and the soundtrack. I haven't been linking music the way I usually do, and that's because the soundtrack isn't that great or memorable compared to the games before this. It's equally great in gameplay but the sound does take a step back.

The first Cossack stage boss is... a big metal beetle. Moth? What? The fight is pretty easy... actually, the Cossack fortress in general is underwhelming for a final boss castle. Perhaps that's a hint...

 The second Cossack stage looks more like a spaceship. "Megaman Megaman! Watch out for that skull!" said Alia when reached for comment.

Second fortress boss is...this thing. It breaks apart and re-forms, and you have to jump inside of it to shoot a core that momentarily appears. It's a unique fight, I'll give it that.

Next boss. Much like Barack Obama, this is a two-fer; half of the boss' life meter goes to a ceiling-walker that is easily dispatched. The other half goes to a floor-walker that isn't, mainly because it's difficult to hit. I used the homing missiles and tried not to get knocked off the platforms.

Cossack stage four starts our hero under the pale moonlight. Time for a showdown.

...Cossack's machine is basically a claw. Another easy fight, so much so that I forgot to get a mid-fight screengrab before it was over. Suffice to say, you jump n' shoot. Cossack's daughter shows up at the end to implore Mega Man to spare her dad.

You know what? Apollo Creed be damned, she's right. LISTEN TO THE GIRL, ROCKY! THE COLD WAR ENDED YEARS AGO!

How did the daughter get here? Protoman dropped her off. Oh yeah, and Dr. Wily was behind everything. Of course. So... what's with Wily's line here? Was Protoman supposed to be a bad guy at this point in the timeline? Because I know it's a big shock to everyone when he shows up in MM5 all evil, and in MM3 he was on your side... Ah, whatevs.

Wily takes off in his saucer, and Mega Man chases after. It'd be great if in one of these games, Mega Man just went "nope, not gonna do it" and went home. Then Wily would sit in his castle waiting... and waiting.

And waiting.

.....................and waiting.

In any case, it's Skull Castle, Mark IV. This time it has a satellite dish so that Wily can get all the porn channels for inspiration while he designs dong-named Robot Masters.

There's also Dive Man... for the ladies.

The only other water area in the game besides Dive Man's stage is this spike-filled hallway. Rush Marine could be useful here too. It's the least-useful version of Rush, regardless.

First Wily stage boss is this giant Metall. It's trickier than the Cossack stage bosses, but not by much. Overall, the difficulty of this game is lower than that of the previous three, and it doesn't really go back up again for the rest of the series. Though I will say that the Robot Masters in this game seem to do more damage by bumping into you than the ones in the earlier games, which can be a problem sometimes when heavy energy loss sneaks up on you.


If this were Mega Man X5, Alia would bust in to tell the player to watch out for the spikes. Also, her fading text window would cause the player to lose control just long enough to fall right onto the spikes. Mega Man X5 is a great game that gets ruined by popup messages. Once you reach the fortress stages and the popups cease, it's like a completely different game and a lot of fun. Well, they botched that one. One simple change would have made a huge difference. Mega Man X6 fixes this, but the level design and fun factor dive off a cliff, so...

Well, I'll get to those.

I know I've seen this boss in another NES game. Not sure if it was a pirated game or not. This fight is odd because you have to be super-precise with your shots. Hitting that green forehead dot doesn't work, and hitting the eyes head-on doesn't hurt. Need to hit the very top of the eyes, just below the green dot.

As is tradition, the game culminates with Mega Man meeting all eight bosses in a rematch for the ages.

Not much to write home about here, but one cool thing is that you now get to use the weakness against the first boss you fought. In my case, Drill Missiles make short work of Toad Man. It should be noted that he is still the...

"W! W! E! Tag! Team! Champion!"

Dr. Wily's skull ship has some formidable firepower, until you realize it can't hit you if you stand here. Oops.

But wait! It has a second form that CAN hit you there. This is a difficult fight because you can't really jump high enough to hit him back consistently. I'd go so far as to say that this is the toughest fight in the game... unless you know the trick. Drill Missiles can be detonated in midair by pressing the fire button again, and the explosion will damage Wily. So even if you can't reach him most of the time with your shots, a detonation next to him WILL reach.

After "defeating" Wily, there's a second, final final stage. Will there be an alien hologram this time? No, but Wily does play with the lights again.

The final boss is nearly impossible to get a good screenshot of, and I legitimately wasn't able to catch one. Wily's teleporting saucer makes its debut here, and it's only visible in split-second flashes. The Pharaoh Shot does a huge amount of damage to him, and the fight isn't too bad. At this point I had something like 6 E-Tanks in reserve, so victory stopped being in doubt a while ago.

Wily begs for mercy, much like the 2003 G-Unit CD Beg For Mercy. Featuring Eminem and Dr. Dre.

Skull Castle explodes, and Wily escapes. He'll be back.

Credits roll, and Mega Man rides on top of a train like The Predator. Moments after this picture was taken, he ripped out Bill Paxton's spine. Man, that guy has been killed by ALL of the awesome movie monsters. Except for The Thing from The Thing.

Wow, Roll is really young-looking in this shot. Nowhere near as grown-up as she looked in the TV show. Nice that Mega Man had the family to go home to. A true heart-warming ending.

Meanwhile, Wily had NOTHING to go home to! NOTHING! Mega Man killed all of his pets, and his wife ran off with Protoman. Now Wily gets to sit in front of the TV, watching reruns of The Weather Channel.

...The young people have no idea what I'm talking about.

Meanwhile, Protoman keeps leaving Wily messages about how wet Mrs. Wily gets.

"SHE NEVER DID WITH ME" says the downtrodden scientist. "DRY AS A BONE DOWN THERE, LET ME TELL YA!"

Dammit, Wily! Too much info!

As far as this game goes, it's great, and deserves more credit. It might not be as good as Mega Man 2 or Mega Man 3, but it isn't bad by any means. It's #3 behind those two as far as ranking the NES series goes. I don't have any major issues with it the way I do with several of the games after this, and it handles very well. The only real issue? The robot masters could be more inspired (aside from the couple of really good ones) and the music could be more memorable. This is definitely worth playing, but a little bit forgettable at the same time. The introduction of the charged shot is a huge game-changer.


  1. Your attacks on Dr. Wily are amazing. I lost it at the "dry as a bone" line

  2. After Mega Man 5 you won't say the NES Mega Man is better at firing guns anymore.

    The NES/Game Boy comparisons are sweet though.

    Mega Man 4 is the game where they got everything "just right" enough so that it was actually starting to get /too/ formulaic. I feel though that time has made the later NES Mega Man games shine brighter as that genre is no longer the dominant force it once was.

    MM3 has a small bit of water in Gemini Man's stage (and the redux) plus a slightly larger section in the Wily Fortress. It's totally fair to say that the Rush Marine didn't get much use then.

    Skipping Rocky 5 is fine, but don't forget to watch Rocky 6!

    "Mega Man just went "nope, not gonna do it" and went home. Then Wily would sit in his castle waiting... and waiting." - You just described years of my experience with a lot of these games until I finally went back to them.

  3. It'd be really depressing to think Mega Man always just wanted to do chores. His expressionlessness in these battles indicates that he doesn't necessarily take joy in killing...ok I'm taking this too seriously.

    "...counting. There are going to be a lot more." He has a South Park Kid facial expression here.

    "Damn, the year is two days old and I've already used up my one fart joke for the year." Hahahahaha

    This snail miniboss looks great. The minibosses need these eyes because otherwise they'd be too cute to fight.

    I respect you giving Pharoah Man the fair fight he deserves.

    Thanks for the Eddie tip. Sounds like the designers did things like that on purpose.

    Of course Capcom's gonna have junkyard levels! But for Mega Man and the other robots, they'd be graveyards...

    "I want to take a moment to say that I'm REALLY enjoying this game. It poses just the right amount of challenge." But it was mid-tier for you; interesting how that works. Maybe the endgame didn't live up to other games in the series?

    "They're like the Dry Bones in the Mario games." Zelda 3 has them too.

    I remember the whale miniboss!
    Mega Man looks dashing in light blue.

    I've never seen Mega Man look up the way he did to launch that wire.

    This game came out in Japan in 1991, so it really DID come out right when it was finally OK to be nice to Russians. Pretty slick on Capcom's part.

    ".....................and waiting." Brilliant.

    Even knowing Japanese, Machako Mamimu sounds like a fake name. ::Checks:: Ah, it's 2 people, Machako and Mamimu, and those are their nicknames.

    You did a really great job presenting the endgame. That image of Mega Man jumping off the train in sepia is sweet. The game really is classic enough to deserve that sepia now.

  4. I liked the first and second game better but overall this is my third favorite megaman game and it's objectively the best or second best after Megaman 2. It's not the case for you but for me the robot master case in megaman 4 is my favorite. I like all of them except for Ringman, he's pretty generic. Also if you haven't played it try Rockman 4 Minus Infinity. This is the best megaman romhack ever created period.

    1. Rockman 4 Minus Infinity? Thanks for the heads-up, I'll check that one out. I'm planning to take some time to cover interesting romhacks at some point in the near-ish future, and I'll do that one for sure.