Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Megaman 4

A new ambition?

By 1991, the Super Nintendo was already out and many people were eagerly switching over to the new console and abandoning the NES. Yet, the NES would still endure into its golden years thanks in large part to due to continued support from Capcom. One of Capcom’s major titles for 1991 was Megaman 4, which they announced would not be on the SNES as many had suspected, but still for the regular Nintendo instead. (bet it’s been a while since you last heard that term!). This choice kept sales figures for Megaman 4 to never hope to reach those of Megaman 2 and 3, but nevertheless, Megaman 4 did sell fairly well. Looking back on it now though, is Megaman 4 worth a look or were the masses right that it should have been made for the SNES?

THE STORY: It is the year 2011. Megaman has been fully repaired following the injuries he sustained in the collapse of Dr. Wily’s fortress following Gamma’s destruction in his third battle against Dr. Wily. Even though they were adveresies, it is a somber time for Megaman following the presumed death of the tyrannical scientist in the collapse. Although he had sworn to defend justice, he never intended Wily to parish.
After the chaos ended and peace was restored, Dr. Light received a message from a mysterious Russian scientist named Dr. Cossack, claiming to be the greatest scientific genius in the world and having been far too long overlooked by Dr. Light. Angered and jealous, Dr. Cassock has sent his eight most powerful robots to destroy Megaman to prove his robots are better than Light’s.
As Megaman prepares to face off against the soviet robot threat, there is but one thing he is sure of - IN SOVIET RUSSIA, ROBOT MASTERS YOU!

THE GRAPHICS:  Megaman 4 is a great looking NES game, but it adds very little that Megaman 3 didn’t do. Sprites are just as well animated as ever, mid-bosses look great and there’s now environmental effects such as rain and running water. Megaman 4 taps into everything the NES could do and produces some really great effects. You won’t be disappointed with the way it looks. In fact, had Megaman 4 been on the SNES, I’m not sure it would’ve looked as good as what was done on the NES. It isn’t the best the NES could do, but it’s aged very nicely.
THE SOUND: New composer Minae Fuji (Ojalin) joins Megaman 3 composer Yasuaki Fujita (Bun Bun) to pump out more incredible tracks. You will find that you’ll hum many of these tracks and possibly want to seek out remixes to put on your ipod. Megaman music on your ipod? It’s more likely than you think! Here’s a remix of my favorite track in the game, The Cassock Citadel stage 1-2 theme.

THE GAMEPLAY: Everything from Megaman 3 is here – the jumping, shooting, even the sliding. Megaman 4 adds one new element that has since been a staple of Megaman: the Mega Buster charge shot. By holding the B button for several seconds, Megaman will charge up his standard Mega Buster up to three stages, unleashing a powerful bolt of energy equal to three of his standard plasma shots in a row.
The weapons for Megaman 4 are somewhat of a mixed bag. While none are as absolutely worthless as 3′s Top Spin, you’ll find a few of them are pretty poor and rarely used. The Skull Barrier is more a lot like the Woodman’s Leaf Shield from 2, except that it vanishes when it hits anything. The other fairly useless weapon is the Rain Flush, which pelts the screen with a weak acid rain damaging everything other than Megaman. As the Rain Flush does very little damage, you’ll hardly ever use it.

On the other hand, Megaman 4 also includes some of the best weapons in the series including the Ring Boomerang, Dive Missiles, and Pharaoh Shot. The Ring Boomerang travels through enemies, can grab items through walls, and is a rather powerful attack. Dive Missiles automatically home in on the closest enemy, making them extremely useful. The Pharaoh Shot is a combination of the multi-directional  Metal Blade and the charge ability of the Atomic Fire. Hold down B to amass a large ball of energy that can be thrown from 50 to 90 degree arches. Some of the weapons suck, but the awesome ones more than make up for it.

Megaman 4 controls literally identically to Megaman 3. That is as good as it gets. You will never fight with the controls.
d-pad: Movement
B: Fire
A: Jump
Start: Pause
Select: No fucntion

Megaman 4 includes the embarrassingly easy to defeat Toadman, but also the quite difficult Ringman, Pharaohman and Drillman. The difficulty of Megaman 4 is perhaps slightly more challenging than Megaman 3, but Megaman 4 is by no means an overly tough game, especially for NES standards. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the hardest, I’d give Megaman 4 is a 6.

HISTORY: Megaman 4 pioneered many concepts that would become staples of Megaman platforming for decades to follow. It is the first game to feature the Mega Buster, the basic ability for Megaman to charge his arm cannon. It marked the first game where Wily framed someone, a reoccurring theme in nearly every sequel to follow. It was the first Megaman game to make use of many cutscenes, allowed players to revisit stages of defeated robots, and marked the first to have hidden items and alternative paths through some of the stages. There is a extremely rare gold variation of the the Japanese version that was given out to the finalist winners of the Robot Master Creation Contest held in Japan. These eight cartridges are considered to be one of the Famicom’s holy grails. The only non-privately owned copy is for sale in Akiharaba’s legendary Super Potato retro game store. The price?

GOOD: Continues the Megaman terdition of excellent play control, graphics, audio and gameplay. Password system is streamlined from Megaman 3′s. Some original concepts such as falling ceilings introduced here that make the game more exciting. More legendary Megaman music. Megaman 4 has some of my favorite chiptunes of all time, particularly the Cassock Citadel theme. Relatively common and cheap to find in the wild.
BAD: The balancing of the Mega Buster isn’t quite right just yet. Some of the robot masters this time are incredibly dumb. Dustman anyone? Rush Jet isn’t nearly as useful here as it was in Megaman 3. More useless Megaman weapons: Skull Barrier and Rain Flush. By and large the most forgettable of the six games on the NES. The game can be beaten easily by seasoned Megaman players, but has the least replay value of all six NES titles.

CONCLUSION: Megaman 3 is where many stopped playing Megaman games, and it’s a true shame. Megaman 4 features everything that made the third game so excellent yet it starts a deja vu feeling a little too strong for its own good. The game is worth playing on its own merits, but as a Megaman game on the NES, it is perhaps the weakest of the bunch.



1 comment:

    wait... did i won something?