Review by fekkot

Reviewed: 11/26/00 | Updated: 11/26/00

It's not the Mega Buster, the secret items OR or the new villian that pulled this one out from the gutter.

Mega Man 4 (3 to me) was released in September of 1991 by Capcom. I was very excited when I saw the preview on EGM. Especially since I heard about a new villain. I'm reviewing this one before the rest because this is the 9th anniversary of my illegally renting it on a school night and finishing it two days later on this Thanksgiving Sunday. To me, that's a sign of a very good game if you can remember when you rented it and what you rented it with (which was Bucky O' Hare and Spot, by the way).

Anyway, after a full year of equanimity, the unnamed city Mega Man and co. live in has been the recipient of yet another malevolent assail, but this time it's not done by Dr. Wily, but by a Siberian scientist named Dr. Cossack that has curiously abstruse methods and objectives. He created eight robot masters that are (according to the box) ''bigger and badder than anything Dr. Wily has ever dreamed of''. He soon wrote Dr. Light a letter telling him that his robots were going to annihilate Mega Man and display his remains to the world so he would be credited as the world's greatest robot constructor. Fortunately, shortly before Mega Man set out for battle, Dr. Light created two new items: one is a helpful little robot named Fliptop that delivers Mega Man items (energy tanks, extra lives, etcetera), and the other is a powerful new upgrade for Mega Man's arm called the Mega Buster. So with these new helpers, Mega Man set out to face Ring Man, Pharaoh Man, Dive Man, and the rest of Dr. Cossack's gang.

On to the moves: they are the exact same as what you have on MM 3- the same old walking, jumping and sliding. But there's one new move; the Mega Buster. The Mega Buster is a new normal shot that you charge up by holding down the B button for three seconds to fire (pay no attention to the shot you charge for one second, because there is absolutely NO difference). A fully powered Mega Buster shot is three times as powerful as a normal shot, and it can also go right through any amount of enemies that take less than three shots to destroy.

OVERVIEW I

GAMEPLAY: 10!

Outstanding as usual. But nothing really different in the control aside from a few minor things like not being able to stop or turn Rush Jet while he's flying. The addition of the Mega Buster is a definite plus and Mega Man still controls better than ANY other NES character. But there's one minor quibble with the Mega Buster; if you charge it while getting hit, it won't power and it takes a while to realize that, while in the meantime, an enemy clobbers you again.

The most distinguished thing about the gameplay to me is how I've noticed that the gameplay is by far the most timing-based Mega Man game in the whole series on any system. Unlike the opinions of the majority of reviewers of this game, I don't think it's really a bad thing concerning the gameplay, because I think that's actually making a BIGGER change than adding a new dog or gun or something.

I've also noticed that this one has one of the more effective arsenals of weaponry for a MM game. There's a use for every weapon and accessory on the game on at least a couple of stages and bosses (except for that useless Skull Shield). You can fire cool weapons like the mighty Pharaoh Shot (the only weapon on any MM game that you can charge up), the homing Dive missile, and the Acid Rain (which covers the whole screen with um- acid rain) after you beat the respective robot masters that own them.

GRAPHICS: 8

Mega Man games have always been known for their great graphics, but this one is lagging behind the others.. When there are backgrounds, they look decent, with a lot of simple one-color (usually brown or blue) brick and block patterns on the walls. they all have very specific and unvarying designs on them save for a couple of windows and pipes. They're not as distinctive or individual on this one. Most of them look quite basic. They just don't have the visual variety like on most of the others. Also, a third of the game's stages have absolutely NO backgrounds. The entire background on the some stages like Dust Man's are completely blank. But it's nothing to really complain about- in fact, it's cool in a couple of cases, but it gets old after a while. The foregrounds are much better, consisting of snow filled plains, laser platforms, waterfalls and other well animated and colorful things.

The characters are better in some ways and worse in others. The mid-bosses and base level bosses can be quite large sometimes, and original, ranging from giant snail robots to a drilling bot that resembles an old man's face. The effects are cool at times, like the flashing blue meteor-shaped Mega Buster blast, and the acid rain that covers the entire screen. Nothing really special though.

SOUND: 7+

Of course, there's hardly anything new here. The only important new sound is that of the Mega Buster powering, which is a glowing type sound that gets a bit louder on each phase of blaster power. The are a few other new sounds, like the ring weapon that sounds like an unsheathing sword, and the Bright Flash that inappropriately has a beeping sound. Overall the sounds are slightly above average, but like a few things on this game, just more of the same.

MUSIC: 8

The music went way downhill on this one, but it's still some of the best on the system. It's still the same basic setup, but it seems to try too hard to combine the mellow music of MM 2 and the more upbeat techno style of MM 3. The result ends up in some pretty weird tracks. Some will take a lot of getting used to, like Ring Man's stage, which sounds like a jazz-style song done on a keyboard, which is quite unconventional. There's also the over-synthesized sound of Dust Man's stage that will please some with it's experimentation but will turn of others with the bizarreness. Other tracks are just plain weak, to a point that you wouldn't recognize it as a Mega Man game if you hear it by itself. The music for stages like Skull Man's stage and Cossack's first two levels are far to basic for a MM game. And some of them even seem like they were made to annoy, like the third Cossack base stage music- they try to make it sound like one of those cheesy crossover duet songs translated into game music.

However, a chosen few tracks sustain the blissful aura of the prior games, like Toad Man's piano-sounding theme and the Spy style melody of Dive Man's stage. I shouldn't really be complaining about the music that much, because it's some of the best on the NES, but it didn't reach the standard I was expecting. But neither did 1 or 6.

DESIGN: 9

Not bad at all. Most of the stages are at least a bit innovative- like on Drill Man's stage where you have to push (in other words, touch) switches to make platforms appear, while other stages have been seen before like Dive Man's. it's nice how each boss has an appropriate domain, like Drill Man's cave and Pharaoh man's pyramid. There are two hidden items too. But forget all of that- There's a base stage that only has those cute little walking cap robots! Even the boss is one of them- but a big one that releases more at you. The stage really amused me the first few times I played through it.

Back to the enemies, on this game, they're even sillier than usual! They range from a few returning favorites like the wombats to gumball machines that eject exploding gumballs at you to giant purple missile firing hippos. The bosses also look goofier than ever; like Bright Man, who has a light bulb connected to his head, Dust Man, who has a vacuum cleaner in his head, and Toad Man (need I say more?). Not that I really mind the goofiness or anything. You get completely used to it after a while. But it is quite questionable on how many bosses are just rehash from MM 2 with one or two different attacks (Bright Man/Flash Man, Skull Man/Wood Man, Drill Man/Crash Man.....). Finally, there is an amount of mid-bosses that's quite unusual for a Mega Man game. Probably the highest amount of any.

The very first thing I noticed about the game's plot was how this one actually has an intro- and a cool one at that. There's also some nice dialogue at Cossack's base that leads to a pretty unpredictable twist. And the explosion at the ending left me in stitches!

CHALLENGE: 6+/COOLNESS IN CHALLENGE: 8

The most challenging thing about this game is finding the patterns to most of the bosses and mid-bosses. The majority of the bosses have patterns that are way too consistent. Dive Man seems hard at first, but you soon learn that it's just ''missile, missile, missile, charge, charge, charge, restart cycle''. There are quite a few bosses on this one that suffer from that problem. True, Mega Man 2 had that too, but the patterns on there were often hard to avoid even after you learn them. Although a few of the bosses go madcap, they're usually easy to avoid. Even the last bosses.

The game was pretty hard when I was 7, but I still managed to finish it in one rental (albeit it was a day late). Then again, I had all weekend to joyfully waste on it. But I only used three continues this time around. But if you're REALLY bad at Mega Man games (which means you're probably bad at games, period), you can always keep the charged Pharaoh shot, the Dive missile, and the Bright Stopper for tight or simple predicaments. And you've always got passwords.

REPLAY VALUE: 6

It's probably best to play it once a year like I do. Although after you beat it the first time you may want to try beating it without using any special weapons (except at the very end) like on the other Mega Man games. Avoid using Rush over trivial matters, and ban the use of energy tanks! I just wish there was a way to stop enemies from leaving items altogether, especially for this one.

OVERVIEW II

VERY WILY

*the distinctive form of fighting (for a Mega Man game)
*the abundance of mid bosses
*the addition of the mega buster
*nice selection of special weapons
*interesting level design
*decent graphics
*decent music
*good plot (for a Nintendo game)

VERY LIGHT

*most of the patterns are far too simple
*many bosses are copied from Mega Man 2 too much
*the graphics don't meet the MM standards
*and neither does the music
*a few minor inconveniences with the Mega Buster and items

KEY MOMENTS

The cap robot level and the ending.

WORD TO THE WISE

ALWAYS watch for patterns and openings. No matter how hard a boss may seem to be on this one, it really isn't- except for Bright Man with his unavoidable attack.

SAY WHAT?

From this sequel on up (including the X series), Capcom held contests exclusively to Japan (*sob*) where fans sent original designs for bosses before the release of every Mega Man game after 3. the prize of course, is having your creation and your name put in the game- thereby having eight winners every time.

OVERALL: 8+

Despite the slight plummet in the graphics and music, this is still a very exceptional game. I like it mainly because it put a short change on how I finish Mega Man games. But the Mega Buster and the plot are cool too. This is certainly worth buying.

HOW DOES IT RATE IN THE SERIES?

It's slightly better than Mega Man 1 and a lot better than 6, but it doesn't have anything on the rest.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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