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Game 15 of 52 - Mega Man 4 - 21/02/24


Ryannumber1gamer

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We're back to the Blue Bomber with Mega Man 4, even if it was a unintentionally early return! Upon finishing up the Wily Wars, I soon came to discover that the Legacy Collection had been updated with a new CPU speed option, which means you can finally play the classic series without dealing with the godawful slowdown that drags Mega Man 3 and 4 to near unplayable levels at points. With this information now in hand, I decided I would continue on the Mega Man series run with Mega Man 4!

So last time we left off, Mega Man 3 had just pushed the series further than it had ever gone before in terms of gameplay and story. Unfortunately, this series seemed to be cursed with bad luck, because Mega Man 3 had actually underwent a rushed development, leaving various aspects of it not nearly as complete as the development team wanted to do so, as well as leaving the weapon and boss balance pretty broken as a result.

Luckily, with Mega Man 4, it seems it's development was actually much more smooth, and it allowed the team to keep the ambition of Mega Man 3 that they were aiming to have, while getting the balancing down better, and extending the runtime in a unexpected way that works much better than the third game's attempt with the Doc Robot.

This time around, we have a brand new supposedly evil doctor who has risen up with his army of Robot Masters - the formerly good Dr. Cossack has caused a uprising with his eight robot masters in the same vain as Dr. Wily, forcing Dr. Light to ask Mega Man to go in and stop Cossack's attack. However - keeping in line with Mega Man 3's ambition with pushing the plot forward, we have a twist in this game where upon defeating the eight robot masters, and traversing Cossack's castle, we discover that Wily was behind the whole scheme - having kidnapped Cossack's daughter to force him to play the role of the villain. Break Man from the previous game finally betraying Wily once and for all, joining Mega Man's side.

With this, that means the game's length is effectively doubled this time around, as we have the eight Robot Masters, along with 4 Cossack stages, and 4 Wily stages, making a grand total of 16 levels for Mega Man to go through, possibly with the best sprite work we've seen from the series up to this point. Furthermore, we have an additional evolution of Mega Man's gameplay as the charge shot was added to this game, meaning you can charge up Mega Man's shots for more damage, something that would carry into later games and even the X series.

Mega_Man_4_gameplay.jpg

I would also say this is one of the outright best robot master lineups we have this time around, with some iconic ones like Pharaoh Man, Toad Man, and Skull Man, although I would say their weapons aren't super much to write home about. There is some good ones, like the Pharaoh Shot, Skull Shield, and Rain Flush, but I'd say there's quite a few more that feels a bit too situational to see use outside of the robot master weaknesses. This game also goes back to Mega Man 1's item system, along with 3's items. Rush Coil, Jet, and Marine is back (with Jet unfortunately nerfed), and are unlocked following certain bosses, but you can also find additional items like a balloon item that is hidden in stages like Pharaoh Man's stage, giving the game some minor 100% completion requirements too.

In a world where Mega Man 2 and 3 usually get much of the love, I personally think Mega Man 4 is kind of peak Mega Man. The level design, graphical design, level layout, and bosses all just feel great, without the usual issues that held back the previous games, especially compared to Mega Man 3's issues. I would argue Mega Man 4 is very much like Mega Man 3 if it wasn't rushed in the end, letting it really accomplish what it wanted to do, with a much better designed and balanced Wily Castle, and a good story twist that really justifies the extended run time, especially compared to Doc Robot.

The biggest issue I had with the game was easily the slowdown - Mega Man 4 having one of the worst cases of slowdown in the entire series right alongside Mega Man 3, but again - the Legacy Collection's new CPU speed option really fixes that up, making this a super easy recommendation for me. If you like Mega Man 2, or 3, definitely give this one a shot. It's easily one of the best the classic series has to offer.

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Cuz

Posted

Mega Man 4 ranks pretty average in classic megas for me. The weapon load out just isn't too interesting. I like the jank of 1 and 2 more. Good article.

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