Mega Man 4 is a 2D run and gun platformer developed by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System. This is the fourth installment in the series so if you’re not up to speed then be sure to check out the previous reviews. The game starts with an opening cinematic recapping the events of the previous three games. This time the plot is quite simple. Mega Man seeks to keep the peace, but a new villain, Dr. Cossack, decides to build his own robots to take out Mega Man. It’s up to you to fight for your life and stop them. Then the game starts and you play like the previous games, fighting the eight robot masters in whatever order you choose and then continuing to a set of more difficult linear stages. You know the drill. The biggest change to this game is Mega Man’s new mega buster which allows you to hold the fire button in order to charge up a more powerful shot. On top of having Rush Coil, Rush Jet, and Rush Marine you can also find two additional items to help your abilities. One is a wire that lets you hang on ceilings and the other lets you create balloons as platforms to stand on. I had to look these up later as they are hidden on branching paths in some stages, another fairly new feature, and I didn’t find before getting to the set of ending stages with no way to go back. Oops. I wish I had more to tell you, but if you’re at all familiar with the series then you’re pretty much up to speed.
I liked the art in the game. It seemed a bit more vibrant and cartoony then before, which I found as a plus at least. The gameplay is as solid as the previous title and the addition of the charged shot makes for some good risk vs reward scenarios. You can charge it up to do more damage but you might miss or get hit and have your charging reset, losing all that damage you could do in the meantime from standard shots. Sometimes you’ll need charged shots to take out tougher enemies quickly from a limited vantage point whereas other times spamming the standard fire will do more damage in less time than solely using the charged shots. I also liked the pause screen better. It looks very clean and displays information in a clearer manner than before. Not to mention it’s nice to have all of your items appear on a single screen for a change. The password system has been changed back to only marking off numbered and lettered grid boxes with one color of dots instead of two, which I do slightly prefer. The opening recap is pretty cool and I like that it explains the premise of the series for the first time in-game. Plus, it’s kind of nice to have new villain for a change.
However, this game is largely unimpressive. I mean, it’s fun and all, but it doesn’t really do a whole lot for the series. Outside of the charged shot and having new bosses, it’s pretty much same shit different game. That new villain… I guess this is a bit of a spoiler but… that new villain is succeeded by Dr. Wily in the end anyway. The Rush abilities are all returning ones. Even the balloon item is similar to one of the items from the second game. Yet they didn’t take a note from Mega Man 3’s book and add in some old robot masters to face. I also was not much of a fan of the music in this one. Do you remember the cliffhanger of finding out about Proto Man at the end of Mega Man 3? Seemed like a cool thing, right? Well it appears to have not a damn thing to do with this one. Proto Man does show up for a few seconds in a scene though… with no lines himself if I’m recalling this correctly. Also, despite having a screen dedicated to telling you what new weapons you’ve obtained, the game still refuses to give you tips on certain special functionality of said weapons. And why doesn’t the game have charged up versions of ALL the weapons? Why is it just the Mega Buster and Pharaoh Man’s projectile? Oh, and why hasn’t the minor glitch of falling off of a ladder when you unpause been fixed by now? Plus, it seems inconsistent as to when your charged shots get halted or not upon taking damage. I guess it’s not so much that this game is bad, but it does feel like it could’ve been better or at least more different.
Overall, Mega Man 4 is more like filler content in the series. It’s fun and has more stuff for you to do if you like Mega Man, but it’s not really a standout title. If you’re interested in the evolution of the series it can be interesting to check out. You might also want to look at it as a Mega Man fan if you skipped it or dismissed it too quickly in the past. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to newcomers over some of the others. It’s maybe worth 10 or 15 bucks or less if you can swing it. Hopefully Mega Man 5 makes more strides and picks up that dangling cliffhanger from 3. Fingers crossed.