Ah Mega Man 4. This is truly the love it or hate game in the series. For various reasons opinions on this one are mixed. Some felt that four games on one platform is a bit too much (and they would have further cause to complain when two more sequels would follow) while others hate the addition of the Mega Buster. Despite all of the conflicting opinions it is still a seminal platformer, if a bit tinged with a feeling of been there done that.
In an effort to spruce things up a new villain named Dr. Cossack is introduced. Dr. Light receives a letter from Russian scientist Dr. Cossack asserting that he is the better engineer. He releases his eight robot creations to test Dr. Light and obviously Mega Man is called into action to deal with this new threat. Of course all is not what it seems but let’s give Capcom some credit for at least trying to come up with a new reason to unleash eight new bosses on the world.
8 new contestants ready to catch a beat down. Some of them just aren’t that interesting this time out.
Like the 3 previous games in the series you have your choice of any of the 8 robot masters to battle. You snatch the boss’s weapon from them upon their defeat and the same rock, paper, scissors style of figuring out each boss’s weakness is still here. You retain the use of Rush and the slide that were introduced in part 3. Besides Rush you can find a Wire Adapter and Balloon Adapter for accessing different areas within the levels, but both of these are completely ignorable and not even necessary. The only major addition to the game is the Mega Buster, a charged shot that is more powerful than your regular bullets. It is here where the “controversy” stems.
The Mega Man series has always been about fast action and quick reflexes as you wend your way through the levels. Now that you have the Mega Buster most enemies require more hits to kill. There are larger enemies that damn near border on being bosses themselves that block your path that I’m sure were created to highlight why the Mega Buster is needed. These elements slow down the pace of the game considerably. Your charged shot is very powerful; in fact more powerful than some of the boss weapons not to mention more useful. When your normal weapon is so powerful the boss weapons are devalued in my eyes.
The game is built on the same engine as the prior installments so it shares a similar look graphically. There are much larger enemies in the game this time and they all show off an increased level of detail. The levels are impressive yet unremarkable for the most part mainly owing to the bosses this go round not being as interesting. We knew it would happen eventually and Mega Man 4 finally does it; it recycles weapons from prior games under different names. The Skull Shield is basically the Leaf Shield, the Flash Stopper is the same as the Time Stopper, and the Ring Boomerang is more or less the same as Cutter Boomerang.
Bigger enemies abound. Shame that some of the boss weapons are almost exactly the same as previous ones.
The game is just as long as part 3, with Dr. Cossack’s castle followed up by Dr. Wily’s each with 4 levels. It’s a nice touch that I’m glad they continued with in the following installments. You get more opportunities to use the weapons you’ve picked up and a longer quest to boot, giving you your money’s worth.
It sounds like I’m harping on the game badly when in reality I like it. All of the Mega Man games are solid and even at their worst remain entertaining and better than the majority of their competition. The worst you can say about Mega Man 4 is that it doesn’t really do anything to differentiate itself from the other games in the series. Let’s face it by the time you reach 3 sequels on one platform the formula will start to get a little stale without enhancements. However as long as the core of the game is done well you can still have a good time Mega Man 4 definitely falls into that category.