Um, Napalm Man, I think it would be in your best interest
to get yourself looked at before you explode. You're belching fire.
Ironically, this might have been one of my first encounters with the Mega Man franchise. Not in the form of the game itself, but rather an ad for it:
I think I first saw this in an issue of Boys' Life
magazine maybe twenty years ago as of this post.
So after one little trip back to the console entries, we return to the Game Boy games. After the immense difficulty (real and fake) of Mega Man III, let's see if Capcom and Minakuchi were able to learn from their missteps.
So yeah, Dr. Wily survived crashing into the ocean and apparently stole from the other four Robot Masters of Dr. Cossack's from some robotics expo and reprogrammed them to go on a rampage. Mega Man, as always, goes out to stop them. Once that foursome's beaten, Wily unveils his giant mobile base that Rock immediately fights. Our hero infiltrates the big mecha and fights Wily's latest Mega Man Killer: Ballade. Round one goes to Rock, who goes on to fight four MM5 Robot Masters: Napalm Man, Stone Man, Crystal Man, and Charge Man. Once they're out of the way, Ballade comes back and transforms into what looks like a prototype of Turbo Man.
Rock manages to defeat him and copy his weapon. Then he and Wily escape the collapsing mecha. Wily flees to his starship; Rock pursues (after getting Rush modified for space, of course). He goes in, beats the eight Robot Masters once more and fights Wily's super robot. Of course, the bad doctor manages to escape while the ship enters a self-destruct cycle. Rock is saved by Ballade, who now regrets trying to fight him. He detonates himself in order to blast a hole in the hull so that the vacuum can suck Rock out into space.
END OF SPOILERS
I don't need to discuss the whole "A" to jump and "B" to shoot mechanics, so I won't.
One thing one might notice is that while the Mega Buster has returned, it comes with a recoil effect that knocks you back when a full shot is fired. I'm guessing Capcom threw that in to give the idea of how powerful it is, but I feel that it's a little unnecessary and slightly counter-productive... especially if fired near a ledge.
All that aside, it's great to see that they realized they got a bit carried away with the MMIII stage layout and tried to ease back a little. Still has its rough parts (latter third of Bright Man and second half of Crystal Man's stage, I'm looking at you two), but is a bit smoother.
There's also a new feature: the shop!
Yeah, those of you who stuck to console games and overlooked the Game Boy entries probably think MM7 was the first game in the series where you could buy items! Sorry, the correct answer is this game. The "money" here are P-chips (big ones are worth eight, small ones are worth two), which you can use to buy different types of tanks, E-cans (collect four to make an Energy Tank), 1-Ups, and the Energy Balancer.
The E-Balancer will refill the weapon with the least ammunition, regardless of the weapon you're armed with. For instance, if the Mega Buster is selected when you possess the E-Balancer and Charge Kick is empty and you come across a weapons capsule, it will refill Charge Kick's energy.
Yeah, with this baby, you can pretty much toss out
cycling though your weapons database when you need ammo!
Unfortunately, you can kiss refilling weapons energy between stages goodbye as well in this game. As it turns out, you have to purchase a refill for your ammo at the shop. Your health gets restored with each completed level though.
Ooooh! Letter panels are back!
You've got your B-E-A-T panels for the MM4 section, which you use to (of course) unlock Beat. Not only that you have W-I-L-Y panels for the MM5 section. Beat's panels are optional, but these are required if you want to beat the game. They unlock the second round with Ballade and ultimately Wily's starship.
...oh, and another thing... Rush Jet only travels in a straight, unalterable line now. Okay, that's it for the gameplay... I think.
Nothing really blew my mind in terms of music this time around... until I got to the bosses (the non-Robot Masters):
For some odd reason, its into makes me think of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man".
The stage music for the Robot Masters is decent as well: good remixes of their respective themes. Charge Man and Crystal Man's themes were the big standout for me.
The game begins with an excellent intro. It did its job so well that it saved me the trouble of making a trailer for this game... it's ALREADY a trailer for it!
Most of the sprites were reused from MM4 and MM5, not much to say there aside from the fact that the transition went well (as usual).
Moving backgrounds return as well, notably in Charge Man's stage and Wily's starship. Given that the former is a carbon-copy of his MM5 train, taking place INSIDE of Wily's mobile base, I couldn't help but crack a Flintstones joke.
As for Wily's space cruiser, when you get inside the layout can screw with your eyes:
I know it may not look that bad, but keep in mind: this is a still image. The background is animated and that raised platform on the right side kinda blends into the turning gears and stuff. The cylinders on that platform move, too. First time playing the level, I couldn't find the top of it and I died.
Other than that patch of illusion-based psyche-outs, the graphics are as good as the last game.
Also, they tossed in some pretty detailed cutscenes (by Game Boy standards, anyway), like Rock exchanging fire with the mobile base, Ballade's death, etc.
And that's not all! They also threw in visual shout-outs to classic anime. We already know about Mega Man being an expy of Astro from Astro Boy and Proto Man being influenced by Racer X from Speed Racer, but this entry delivers even more!
First we have Dr. Wily's starship... which reminds me of the Arcadia from Captain Harlock and the Yamato from the Space Battleship Yamato franchise:
L to R: the Arcadia, Wily's cruiser, the Yamato.
Doesn't stop there. Take a look at Wily's super robot! It has the Gundam's "V" antenna and Gigantor's pointy nose!
L to R: Gigantor/Tetsujin No. 28, the final boss for MMIV, RX-78-2 Gundam.
Consarned whippersnappers with yer Naruto 'n yer Bleach 'n yer Sword Art Online, this is the kinda of stuff that real anime strive to be!
So far, the best of the five Game Boy Mega Man games, taking the top spot from MMI, with MMII tied with MMIII for third. It recaptures the challenge that was lost in MMII, builds upon what worked in MMI, tempers out the rough parts MMIII had (mostly), and brings some new stuff to the table that would be a staple for the remainder of the Classic series. It may have some stupid and unneeded parts, but the good tends to trump the bad. Not a disappointment, but a storehouse of surprises!
I'm DLAbaoaqu! Full on!
Mega Man IV is owned by Capcom and Keiji Inafune
Columbo is owned by NBC and CBS
Gigantor/Tetsujin No. 28 is owned by Mitsuteru Yokohama
Mobile Suit Gundam is owned by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Sunrise
Space Battleship Yamato is owned by Leiji Matsumoto and Yoshinobu Nishizaki
Space Pirate Captain Harlock is owned by Leiji Matsumoto
I almost forgot: Proto Man's in the game.
You don't fight Blues or anything... he acts kinda like Eddie: giving you random items. He can even refill all your ammo and health if you're lucky enough.
...and that's it for real. Bye!