Game Boy

Past 1MoreCastle Review a Great Game and Review a Bad Game Days I’ve reviewed Mega Man games that appeared on Nintendo’s Game Boy; Mega Man V, which has become tied with today’s Mega Man game as my favorite game in the Classic series and Mega Man III, which couldn’t be any farther from my favorite Mega Man Classic game if it tried. Both of these games were developed by Minakuchi Engineering and released by Capcom. Mega Man IV was also developed by the same company since Capcom was more impressed with how Minakuchi handled Mega Man than Mega Man II’s developer, Biox. I’m happy with Capcom’s decision since, even though I hate Mega Man III, it had a more coherent level design that Mega Man II. I even think Minakuchi Engineering understood how to make a Mega Man game more than Capcom themselves did, especially when it came to later Mega Man games.

Anyway, before getting into the review, perhaps I should provide my history with Mega Man IV. I didn’t end up playing the Game Boy Mega Man games until later, after I had picked up Mega Mans 1-10 with Mega Man: Wily’s Revenge and Mega Man II being my introduction to the Blue Bomber’s monochromatic adventures. While I thought both games were okay, it wasn’t until my third go at the portable line with Mega Man IV (or for me, Rockman World 4) where I really started to love GB Mega Man.

Story

Like any Mega Man game in the Classic series and to a slightly lesser extent, the X series, the story is basically unimportant. Dr. Wily is being a turd, go stop him and his Robot Masters and save the world; rinse and repeat sixteen or so times. The story in the Game Boy games are slightly more involved than just Dr. Wily making eight new Robot Masters to take over the world but nothing groundbreaking.

Dr. Light was attending the World Robot Exposition, where scientists from all over the world gathered to present their newest robots. Unbeknownst to the others, Dr. Wily also attended the function and released a special electrical pulse into the crowd. All of the robots present went out of control, and proceeded to scatter into different regions. Mega Man, who was able to retain his sense of self due to his Conscience of Justice circuitry, immediately headed out to make things right.

Gameplay

Mega Man IV starts off with and intro showing the latter half of the story where the robots are scattering across the city and causing destruction. You can tell from this intro that Minakuchi actually cared about making a new Mega Man game with new custom sprites, artwork, and music. The overall presentation of the game, minus the color, looked better than what Capcom was doing on the NES with later Mega Man games. However, visuals aren’t everything in a video game; gameplay is the most important part. Minakuchi Engineering took the well-known Mega Man formula from Mega Man 5 and expanded upon it. P-Chips and a shop system in the form of Dr. Light’s lab was added where you can spend chips dropped by defeated enemies on various items like E-Tanks, 1 ups, and an Energy Balancer to name a few. Also each Robot Master stage has a letter hidden somewhere, typically in plain sight, which spells out one of two words: BEAT or WILY. Collecting B, E, A, and T gives you Beat the bird who functions the same way as in Mega Man 5 and 6. Getting all the letters to spell Wily opens up the second half of Wily’s Station. While getting the Beat letters is optional, getting the Wily letters is mandatory, but as mentioned, they’re almost always in plain sight and easy to get.

Mega Man controls just as great as he does in the NES Mega Man games after Mega Man 2; I had no trouble moving around, jumping, or sliding. Speaking of sliding, the sliding mechanic that’s been around since Mega Man 3 is still present and unchanged; however the Mega Buster has been changed slightly. When you fire a fully charged buster shot there is a bit of push back. It’s nothing horrible; Mega just nudges back a few pixels and shouldn’t result in any accidental deaths unless you’re a pixel close to falling into a pit. I don’t recall losing a life due to this push back, so I don’t mind this change and don’t view it as a negative.

Like Mega Man 7, 8, and the previous Game Boy games, you’re open to four Robot Masters at a time rather than all eight. The Robot Masters you fight are: Ring Man, Toad Man, Pharaoh Man, Bright Man, from Mega Man 4 and Charge Man, Crystal Man, Napalm Man, and Stone Man from Mega Man 5. They behave the same as they did in their respective games and will give you the same weapons once defeated. Ring Man, Toad Man and Charge Man’s weapons received an upgrade in this game though. Ring Man’s Ring Boomerang can now grab items that are either out of reach or behind a wall. Toad Man’s Rain Flush can now douse fires which would normally be one-hit kills to Mega. Charge Man’s Charge Kick can now destroy certain blocks letting Mega Man get into rooms that usually contain goodies like large P-Chips.

Unlike the Robot Masters, the stages they are found in have been redesigned and you can see everything on screen unlike games like Sonic 2 and Mega Man on the Game Gear where there are so many leaps of faith, hoping you don’t jump into an enemy or pit of spikes. Some stages even have split paths you can take to get to the boss. The Wily stages are also unique to this game.

The game also has new bosses. Mega Man IV has you fighting the third Mega Man Killer: Ballade, new Wily stage bosses, and Dr. Wily’s giant Wily Golem. A handful of new enemies appear in this game as well that aren’t reused from Mega Man 4 or 5.

Difficulty

Overall, Mega Man IV provides a great challenge for new players and returning players. Enemies 99% of the time are placed in areas where they’re easy to see. The only exception are the Mizzile which jet out of pits when you get close and can lead to unfair deaths for first time players. Luckily, Mizziles only appear in two stages and even then, there are very few of them.

Most of, if not all of the bosses can be taken out with the Mega Buster with a little practice. If you’re having trouble with a boss you can try various weapons you’ve gotten from Robot Masters since most bosses have a secondary weakness. Also Dr. Light’s lab has items you can buy using P-Chips you’ve collected which can help you.

Progress through levels is smooth with very few long latter climbing sections unlike Elec Man and Crash Man’s stages. Stages have at the most, two mini-bosses to fight before the main boss, something I’m glad they did since Ring Man’s stage in MM4 had way to many mini-bosses. Unlike Mega Man III and Mega Man 9, Mega Man IV doesn’t overdo it on the spikes; the challenge comes from well-placed enemies, platforming challenges, and learning boss patterns.

Graphics

As mentioned earlier, Minakuchi Engineering did an excellent job with the game’s intro sequence. They also redesigned the stage select screen, showing not only the Robot Master but an image of their stage underneath. Many parts of the background or platforms are animated. For example, Bright Man’s stage has many flashing lights and Crystal Man’s stage has large gears spinning in the background. Mega Man IV has a few cutscenes which, like the intro, use newly drawn sprites which look excellent for the Game Boy. The game runs smoothly although there are areas with slowdown that have too many enemies on screen. Graphical flicker is kept to a minimum though.

Music

Like most of the enemies and bosses, most of the music is from Mega Man 4 and 5. The music still sounds great and I even prefer the Game Boy MM4 music used in this game to the NES versions since it doesn’t have a tinny sound to it. Mega Man IV’s original tracks sound great but can get repetitive if you’ve been listening to them for a while. The game has four boss themes and two stage select themes whereas most other Mega Man games have two boss themes and one stage select theme.

Replayability

I find myself going back to this game or Mega Man V the most when I’m in the mood to play Mega Man. Splitting the Robot Masters into two groups does cut your freedom of picking what order you want to tackle the stages, but compared to other video games, you’re still being given many options for the order you want to complete the stages. It’s also fun to experiment with the multiple weaknesses Robot Masters have.

Overall

To put it simply, I love this game. Minakuchi Engineering managed to add new elements to the growing stale Mega Man formula with the inclusion of a shop system; which would reappear in future entries in the Classic series. Pile that on with near perfect level design, excellent presentation, and a great soundtrack and you have one of, if not the best Mega Man game in the Classic series. While it may look and play like any other Mega Man game…and it does, I can feel the effort put into this game; the developers gave it all with Mega Man IV. They wanted to make sure players had a great time playing this game. Mega Man IV is tied with its successor, Mega Man V as my favorite game in the Classic line up and both games rank on my Top 20 games.

You can find this game for around $30 on eBay (I’d go with the Japanese version if you’re looking for a physical copy as it’s a bit cheaper) or, as of recently, you can find Mega Man IV on the 3DS eShop for just $3. I can’t recommend this game enough.

I give Mega Man IV a 9.5/10 (Excellent). Any issues I have with this game are negligible.

9s represent excellence. Any issues they may have are minor or easily forgiven for what is a fantastic experience.

Thank you for reading my review. Feel free to leave a comment and have a great day!