Review by MKillBill
Reviewed: 02/18/05 | Updated: 06/08/09
Capcom churns out more mega fun
Mega Man IV holds a sentimental attachment with me for some reason. Maybe because it was the first game I ever read a review for in Nintendo Power back in the day. Maybe it was because I was the first person in my neighborhood to play through and beat it (I thought that was a big deal back then, don't ask why). But in any event, Mega Man IV takes the same classic gameplay we've come to know and love from the blue bomber, and develops it even further with the addition what has become a staple in all current MegaMan games: the Mega Buster. Now for the review...
You're probably confused now. I build up the game with a sappy introduction, then I bash the hell out of it's story score. Yes, I actually did rate the story that low, but here's why. The premise is that a new scientist, Dr. Cossack, has sent 8 robots after Mega Man to destroy him. Same thing Dr. Wily did, yada yada yada. We are made to believe that Dr. Wily is not the one behind this latest wave of attacks. There are some SERIOUS flaws with this story that I just didn't comprehend then, and still don't today. A brand new evil scientist comes out of nowhere without a single bit of information given about his past. No relevance to previous MegaMan games. Protoman plays a bit of a role in this game also, though I feel he should have been made the primary focus in this game (ala MM5) rather than a side-story. I would have rated the story even lower, if not for the great introductory cutscene which gave a little insight into how MegaMan came to be in the first place. Fortunately, this is one of the only things that I gripes about with the game.
As with each successive game in the NES series, the graphics just keep getting better. The same old sprites we've become familiar with for Mega Man are back and the level backgrounds continue to get better. MM4 delivers the most colorful stages of any in the NES series thus far. The creamy smoothness of the animation which began in MM3 has carried over to MM4 as well and everything flows perfectly. The robot masters and bosses in later stages of the game are also very, very well drawn and animated. The level design is also top notch. I have nothing to complain about in the visual department, yet again.
Sound (includes music and FX): 7/10
The sound effects which bothered me in MM3 have carried over to MM4 and will continue to carry over for the rest of the NES installments. There are some nice new additions with the expanding wire upgrade, but that's about it. As far as background music is concerned, overall I found it to be a notch below that of MM3. Some levels have the classic upbeat quality that I've come to enjoy from the games like MM1 and MM2, but others resemble MM3 and are just very mellow. It evens out in the end, so I can't really score it any higher or lower than the sound of, say, MM3. The later level music is a bit of a treat though (Cossack and beyond). You get the sense that you are reaching the climax and approaching the end of the game. Something new which was added was music specifically for the final battle, which I enjoyed a lot. And then the resolution afterward, ahhhhh. Some of the masterful music from MM2 has made a return in this game (robot intro screen and credits) which was a nice addition. A nice job overall. A shame that the sub-par sound effects had to drag the caption score down, though. (When you have to listen to sound effects for the entire game, they better be good)
Gameplay and Play Control: 10/10
Not much has changed here in terms of play control, WHICH IS GREAT. The perfection that was MM3 could not be topped and thus MM4(and beyond)have adopted the same control style as MM3. Everything is perfectly smooth and virtually flawless. In terms of gameplay, this game exceeds even that of MM3. The new addition of the Mega Buster allows for MegaMan to charge up a regular shot and fire it for up to three times damage of a normal blast. This is helpful taking out enemies with lesser HP and even some of the robot masters. In fact, the Mega Buster shot is the only way to take out a few particular enemies (bone tossers). Helpful in a pinch, but I would still stick to the special items acquired through defeating bosses when needed. Aside from the Mega Buster, Mega Man has several other new items and buddies at his disposal this time. Fliptop, a little red trash bin-type robot, will appear at certain points throughout the game to give MegaMan random energy capsules. The item Fliptop gives is completely random, similar to the mystery tanks found in MM3. Rush, MegaMan's canine companion, has returned and offers the exact same upgrades as in MM3 (coil, marine, and jet). Unlike in MM3 though, the Jet is not nearly as easy to control. It operates similar to the way Item-2 did in MM2. The Jet will fly straight out and you can only control the altitude, not the front to back motion. A bit of a disappointment, but bearable. Also included in the game are two additional items. First the balloon adaptor, which operates exactly like Item-1 from MM2. The other is the wire adaptor, which allows MegaMan to extend a grappling hook up to the ceiling and reach high places. I find it to be extremely effective and it kinda makes the Rush Coil obsolete. Of course, you have to find it first (and the balloon too).
The second half of the NES MegaMan installments take a bit of a decline in the difficulty department. MegaMan 4 still has its moments with particular robot masters and fortress bosses, but overall the stages in general and the robot masters are a bit easier than before. Some of the robot masters(Bright Man, maybe Ring Man)are rehashes of previous robot masters and so is the level design to an extent. The Mega Buster is a helpful addition for beating the robot masters and getting through the levels themselves, but I find it just as effective to use the robot master weapons in place of the buster. Personally, I hardly ever use the Mega Buster just because I've gotten so fast at mashing the shoot button that my firing speed equals that of a Mega Buster shot. You may find it to be the same way, too. The buster is really more of a help in MM5 and MM6, but that's for another time and another review.
Game length wise, this is up there with MM3 for the longest game thus far. After defeating the initial 8 robots, you go through the Cossack fortress and then another fortress afterwards. The save feature is back again and keeps track of bosses beaten and items acquired. Unfortunately, it does not let you start at the second fortress levels. The farthest you can start is at the beginning of Dr. Cossack's fortress, which is kind of frustrating if you've already beaten it and want to start further along than that. No difficulty option, ala MM2, but not necessary since the difficulty of the game isn't that bad to begin with.
Overall: 7.3...rounds to 7/10
As I've said previously, if you are new to the MegaMan series and looking for a good place to start your adventures, this would probably be one of the best places to start. The challenge is low enough to provide a nice entry, but high enough to make you think a little bit about strategy. The addition of the Mega Buster is enough to make the appeal of the game worthwhile, but the story is still a bit lackluster in my eyes. The soundtrack is vintage MegaMan and always a treat to listen to, though a tad mellow in some places. Overall, MM4 is still a very good game and definitely worth the time to play through. I highly recommend it.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Mega Man 4 (US, 01/31/92)
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