(Game Boy)

Mega Man IV (Game Boy)

Game Review

Mega Man IV Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Great things in small packages

With one exception, which is also making its way to the 3DS Virtual Console, all of the Game Boy Mega Man games take two of the NES titles and rework them a bit. Some old faces in new places, so to speak. A sprinkling of unique bosses and weapons help to carve out identities for these portable experiences but, by and large, the handheld games have been content to stay within the structural confines of the NES originals.

That's not so with Mega Man IV. Though two games are being mined for their resources (Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 5, naturally) this is the first of the Blue Bomber's portable adventures that attempts to evolve the classic series as a whole.

The surprising part is how well this works.

As with the previous Game Boy Games, the stages are split into two main groups. In the first group you'll find Pharaoh Man, Bright Man, Toad Man, and Ring Man from Mega Man 4, and in the second you'll find Crystal Man, Charge Man, Stone Man, and Napalm Man from Mega Man 5. It's worth noting that the remaining bosses from Mega Man 5 never made a Game Boy appearance, leaving us without a chance to see great evolutions of the original Gravity Man, Wave Man, Star Man, and Gyro Man stages. It's also worth noting, probably surprisingly, that it's the bosses from Mega Man 4 that end up receiving the best treatment in the entire portable series, thanks to their appearances here and in the also excellent Mega Man III.

You'll have to guide Mega Man through all eight of these stages, navigating obstacles, defeating bosses, and mastering the use of their special weapons. So far, so similar. The real delights to be found in Mega Man IV, though, are the things it does differently.

For instance, this was the first game in the classic series to introduce a shop feature. It's completely optional, but it will serve as an unquestionable boon to those who struggle with the game. While the levels are almost never unfair, it's certainly nice to have a chance to stock up on E-tanks and extra lives to make it through trouble spots. The currency here is P-chips, which enemies drop, and which would eventually be superseded by screws.

This is also the game that introduced intermission battles to the series, giving you a chance to square off against a powerful and unique enemy before moving on to the next set of Robot Masters. It serves as a nice breather, and helps to flesh out an already impressive experience.

On top of that, Mega Man IV introduces weapons demonstrations. In previous games you'd be granted a new weapon, and then left to your own devices. This certainly encouraged experimentation, but it also led to many players ignoring weapons that they couldn't figure out how to use properly. Here, every weapon and utility you collect is complemented by a short animation that gives some idea of how it's used. That prevents players from being hopelessly confused, while also allowing plenty of room for experimentation to discover the nuances.

Those are the most obvious evolutions to the classic series, and every one of them is welcome. As far as the main experience of the game goes, every one of these levels is at least as good as its NES counterpart, and a good argument could be put forward for every one of them being better.

Ring Man's stage, for instance, is no longer the home to an oppressive amount of mini-bosses. Bright Man's stage gains a few new platform types to figure out. Crystal Man's stage builds to an unexpected sprint through collapsing corridors. Napalm Man's stage finds a use for the completely unused quirk of the burrowing machines on the NES that allows them to serve as platform. Mega Man III took a lot of welcome liberties with the original stages, but Mega Man IV contains so many extreme improvements that apart from the soundtrack and level elements, these hardly resemble the original stages at all.

Other improvements include a massive amount of optional rooms and alternative routes to find, as well as a collectible letter in every stage. The Mega Man 4 robot masters all hide letters that spell BEAT, and collecting them will allow you to call upon the assistance of Mega Man's personal avian aggressor. Beat, however, is optional. The Mega Man 5 robot masters aren't so easy going, and you'll need to hunt down and find their letters to spell WILY in order to play the final level.

Additionally, while Rush Jet and Rush Coil both feature, the most useful utility comes in an unexpected form: the Ring Boomerang. A decent enough weapon already, Mega Man IV grants it the ability to collect items from a distance. It's an extraordinarily handy evolution of the weapon, and one that demonstrates just how much care was put into crafting an experience that could be remembered and appreciated on its own merits.

The Wily stages here are also the most interesting in the portable series yet, and they include not one but two encounters with the Mega Man Killer for this game: Ballade. The first fight with him isn't much to worry about, but by the time you encounter a beefed up version late in the game, you'd better hope you've honed your marksmanship. His weapon is the Ballade Cracker, which works something like an exploding Metal Blade. If that description doesn't make your mouth water, you have no soul.

Mega Man IV is a front-to-back excellent experience. Its difficulty might not be as high as Mega Man III's, but it's a more fair kind of difficulty, and it certainly puts up a good fight if you're willing to forgo shopping sprees. Best of all, it lays the groundwork for the crowning achievement of the Game Boy series...but that's a story for another time.

Conclusion

Mega Man IV represents improvement on its source material to an almost unbelievable degree. Alternate routes, optional pickups, a store system, completely redesigned levels and the meatiest Wily experience yet in the handheld series make this an unfairly overlooked outing for the Blue Bomber. This is the last of the Mega Man handheld games to remix NES titles, but it's certainly not the least, and it's a brilliant end to the tradition.

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User Comments (20)

Giygas_95

#3

Giygas_95 said:

@Philip_J_Reed I'm kind of surprised you didn't mention anything about Toad Man. Is he still a joke? Anyway, based on the end of this review, it sounds to me like you're going to give V a 10/10! Ah, I wish my 3DS would hurry up and get back from being repaired, I want to play these!

I'll be getting this one. I do plan to get the other games that have come out though. My only Game Boy Mega Man game right now is Xtreme, but I'm going to try out Wily's Revenge, MMII (Yes I know it's not well liked, but I want to try it anyway), MMIII, MMIV, and definitely MMV and Xtreme 2.

It's a shame that half of the Mega Man 5 bosses never made it to the Game Boy, as they were pretty good ones...especially Gravity Man.

Also, dat trailer music.

Magrane

#6

Magrane said:

Owned this one as a young gamer lad, and still have the small paper with my passcode written down, smudged inside my game and clear game case. Never made it past the first four bosses back then (didn't spend that much time on it) but now with this download, I can retrace those steps and bring my quest to a close!

So far this game is just another notch up from Mega Man III as the reviewer indicated. Much detail to this game - loving the Mega Man nostalgia this month!

Now excuse me while I sic Beat on to Ballade :)

Esiwlwo

#7

Esiwlwo said:

What a great review! Excited for this one. :) never got around to playing it growin up.

Fandabidozi

#8

Fandabidozi said:

Been playing MMIV on and off since it's release, way back when. Still have my cart. Love, love, love this game, tho I am terrible at it!

Luffymcduck

#10

Luffymcduck said:

Is this the one that had that awesome Wily level where you had to blast your way trough a level that was made of explosives?

EpicMegaman64

#12

EpicMegaman64 said:

I completely agree with this review: fantastic game. My only real problem with the game is that occasional screen transition HEY LOOK SPIKE you're dead. It was only really a problem in Crystal Man's stage, though, and it was very rare.

SparkOfSpirit

#15

SparkOfSpirit said:

I'll say it if no one else will. This is better than NES 4, 5, and 6 by leaps and bounds.

It's one of the best classic Mega Man games.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#16

Philip_J_Reed said:

@Giygas_95 haha, Toad Man is still a joke. I think the only place he's not a joke is in the Game Gear release. But that's mainly because it's so terribly coded.

I did actually get hit by his Rain Flush in this game, but that was because I wasn't immediately used to the timing. Beyond that he's no more difficult than usual.

@Luffymcduck
I almost mentioned that in the review, but I try not to spoil specifics of the later parts of the game. But, hey, now that it's out in the open, YES AND SERIOUSLY THAT PART IS SO AWESOME

@SparkOfSpirit
Agreed on all counts.

Pixel-Perfect

#17

Pixel-Perfect said:

Thanks for making me aware of these. Even as a big Mega Man fan, I would have never guessed that these were anything more than shoddy ports.

OnionOverlord

#18

OnionOverlord said:

Aside from Mega Man V, I consider IV to be the best game in the Mega Man Gameboy library, as it goes the extra mile to distinguish itself from its NES versions.

schizor

#19

schizor said:

I had this game as a child. It is by far the best portable megaman game ever. I remember this game like I played it yesterday and when it comes to europe vc. Job one for me will be to buy and complete it in one Sitting. :)

F3lsworn

#20

F3lsworn said:

So when can we expect this in the EU? Plenty of countries who don't need the whole game translated into their native language. This diamond is the only one I still need to have all my most favorite GB games digital on my 3DS for ever.

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