[MEGA MAN 4 LOGO]

[WHO TURNED THE LIGHTS OUT? OH, THEY'RE BACK ON NOW!]


System: NES
Publisher & Designer: Capcom
Release Date: January 1992
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Save Feature? Yes

After getting the opportunity to experience two of the greatest games of all-time in Mega Man 2 and 3, I couldn't wait to see what Capcom would do next. Unfortunately for Mega Man 4, it had an impossible act to follow. While the fourth Mega Man adventure can't match its predecessors in terms of greatness, it is still an exceptional game. The graphics, play control, and gameplay are as solid as they come.

Overview: In terms of gameplay, Mega Man 4 plays just like Mega Man 3. As a matter of fact, you probably don't even need to glance at the manual if you've played another Mega Man game. However, there are a few new additions to the fourth Mega Man game that are worth noting.

When MM4 first came out back in 1992, everyone was raving about the new Mega Buster! No longer was Mega Man limited to firing normal shots; he could now charge up and fire a devastating blast! (think of the Atomic Fire weapon in Mega Man 2) Since the Mega Buster is three times as powerful as a normal shot, it quickly became second nature for Mega Man fans to charge up a shot while heading into a new area. And it all began with Mega Man 4!

Not only did the Mega Buster originate in MM4 but it was also the first Mega Man game to include Fliptop. Also known as Eddie in Japan, Fliptop is essentially Dr. Light's cybernetic suitcase who meets up with Mega Man in several stages to give the Blue Bomber valuable items such as energy tanks and extra lives. His added presence definitely makes life a whole lot easier for the Blue Bomber. And it was just fun to see such a helpful new character enter the fray as well.

[MEGA MAN VS PHARAOH MAN]
[WHERE'S THE HARTFORD WHALERS WHEN YOU NEED THEM? OOPS...SORRY, I WAS LIVING IN 1992 FOR A MINUTE THERE]

Graphics: Graphically, Mega Man 4 is right up there with previous Mega Man games (gotta love that MMC3 chip). Everything is colorful yet crisp and the attention to detail is outstanding as always. There are even some nifty parallax effects in both Pharaoh Man's stage and the game's impressive ending. The fact that Mega Man can move behind certain objects (e.g. the pipes in Toad Man's lair) was a nice touch as well. And speaking of Toad Man's domain, the rain pouring in various increments (which actually affects your ability to jump) along with the waterfalls/currents throughout his stage paint a nice picture of Mega Man 4 visually. And the game only gets better the further you go as well! Dr. Cossack's castle, particularly Stages 1 and 3, feature some really simple-yet-cool background graphics that give those levels a great atmosphere.

The animation was also very good in Mega Man 4. I really liked the aforementioned rain in Toad Man's stage along with some the burning trash in Dust Man's domain. The torches in Pharoah Man's lair along with the flashing lights of Bright Man's lab helped to create a neat atmosphere as well. Some of the enemies in MM4 really had personality as well. The menacing eyes of the ring mini-boss along with the snail's eyes literally popping out at you were nicely done. I got a kick out of the skull warriors (the Sniper Joes of MM4) falling into a pile of bones as well. In terms of sheer quality and heart, Capcom brought the goods big time in Mega Man 4!

Music: For some reason, I just couldn't really get into the Mega Man 4 soundtrack. With the exception of the superb music that plays during the two castles along with the Intro and Ending themes, nothing is really all that memorable. This is in sharp contrast to the previous two Mega Man games where the music just latched onto you and wouldn't let go. Perhaps the impossibly high expectations that I had for this game are part of the reason why I feel this way.

Don't get me wrong; overall, the music is still very good. It still feels and sounds like quality Mega Man music. The Pharaoh Man and Bright Man tracks are actually quite good and like I said, there are a few jaw-dropping themes late in the game that are sensational! The Dr. Cossack Stage 3 & 4 track is among my favorites in the entire series (it is so calm and soothing yet it works as a castle theme) and several other castle tunes are very memorable as well. However, if you're expecting another MM2/MM3 soundtrack, you're in for disappointment. Like Mandi Paugh (creator of The Mega Man Home Page website) said, there is just a certain "tinginess" in the music that comes across as somewhat bothersome.

Play Control: Even though the music was somewhat disappointing, the play control was as awesome as ever! Capcom really seemed to hit their sweet spot in terms of play control with the Mega Man series. The controls for jumping, shooting, sliding, and charging up the Mega Buster are absolutely flawless! The myriad of special weapons in this game were a lot of fun to use as well! The Pharaoh Shot has to be my personal favorite since you could charge it up to where it hovered above your head in addition to shooting it straight ahead. You could even shoot it diagonally which was a rarity for any special weapons in the classic Mega Man series. Some of the other weapons like the Ring Boomerang and Dust Crusher were fun to play with as well. Granted, the Skull Barrier has to rank as one of the worst special weapons ever and controlling the Rush Jet isn't nearly as fun as it was in Mega Man 3 but beyond that, I have no real qualms about the controls in this game.

[DR. COSSACK'S CASTLE BECKONS]
[ENTER FLIPTOP!]

Challenge: For some reason, I found Mega Man 4 as a whole to be slightly easier than MM2 and 3 (Doc Robot from MM3 would string me up if I said otherwise!). Some of the mini-bosses and robot battles in MM4 are still challenging though, Even if you know the enemy patterns, only blind jumps and lightning-quick reflexes will save you in certain situations. I'm not complaining though; you should know by now that I welcome a challenge! Besides, I was able to beat the game with one life a few years ago so who am I to complain? ;) Besides, the play control in this game is nearly perfect which helps immensely. Considering that Battletoads and The Addams Family (insanely difficult games) were released during this time, it's hard to find any problems with Mega Man 4's difficulty. In regards to replay value, the fact that MM4 is also a very long game with a few scattered secrets (the wire and balloon items) will surely keep you coming back for more.

Storyline: Mega Man 4 was unique in that Dr. Wily was completely out of the picture for once! Even though the mad doctor was given up for dead after the epic battle with Gamma, those who paid close attention to Mega Man 3's ending knew that the mad scientist was still alive and well after all (remember that mysterious pod by the tree?).

However, the game begins with Dr. Cossack, a mysterious scientist, proclaiming war with Mega Man. Apparently, this upstart scientist has become quite disgruntled with Mega Man receiving all of the glory for his victories over Dr. Wily while his (Dr. Cossack's) creations have been largely ignored. Wanting to prove to the world that his creations are indeed superior to Dr. Light's, Dr. Cossack decides to send eight of his most powerful minions to destroy the Blue Bomber.

What made Mega Man 4's plot intriguing was that Dr. Cossack was not the one behind the attack on Mega Man! Thanks to Protoman, the truth becomes known after a key battle between Mega Man and Dr. Cossack. Let's just say that an old foe comes out of the shadows for yet another battle with the Blue Bomber. It was a pretty good story at the time and I liked the fact that there were two castles to plow through instead of one.

Funfactor: The fabulous play control and superb gameplay are what make Mega Man 4 click. Even though the music was somewhat disappointing and the game doesn't quite have the same feel as the second and third games in the series, the overall gameplay is top notch! In terms of accessibility and simple fun, it is tough to top this game. After all, Mega Man 4 did destroy the rest of the 1992 field in the Nintendo Power Awards so it must have done something right! This game isn't perfect but it still has all the essentials.

Negatives: The music! While there are several incredible tunes that hold things together nicely, as a collective whole, it couldn't hold a candle to Mega Man 2 or 3 in this area. Nothing is really all that memorable and several of the tunes just seem to be there out of necessity.

It is hard to explain but for some odd reason, Mega Man 4 just seems to be missing that good strong Mega Man feel. There was a mystique about the second and third Mega Man games that is strangely missing in this game. I can't quite put my finger on why I feel this way, but I do feel like something is mysteriously missing.

[SKULL MAN LOOKS REALLY COOL AND IS NOT SUPER EASY TO BEAT...BUT HIS WEAPON ABSOLUTELY SUCKS!!]

Ratings: Graphics: 4.6 Music: 4.0 Play Control: 4.9 Challenge: 4.5 Storyline: 4.2 Funfactor: 4.5 Overall Score: 26.7 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Silver Stud!

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Last Updated: February 27, 2011
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