Megaman 4 Review (NES)

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 Super NES 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?

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!

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.

Audio

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.

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.

Holding down B for only 2 seconds results in a small round shot, which would later be a “mid-charge”. In Megaman 4 though, this move is only as powerful as the regular plasma pellets, so keep that in mind when on the offensive.

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.

Control

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

Frustration

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.

Availability & Price

Megaman 4 was only ever released for the Famicom and NES. It seems to be one of the more commonly seen Megaman titles as I’ve seen it a number of times used in various game stores that don’t often get in Megaman NES games. On average, expect to pay $15-30 cart only for both the NES and Famicom versions. Alterntively, it is also on the Wii Virtual Console for 500 points. It was released for the Playstation in Japan in 1999 as part of the Rcokman Complete Works series, and the PL1 version was ported with the rest to Megaman Anniversary Collection in 2004 in North America.

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? well, just watch this segment from Japanese gameshow Game Center CX.

Overall

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.

Data

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom, (ported to: Gamecube/PS2/Xbox/Wii)

Genre: Action Platformer

Release Date: January 1992

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Also from the developer: Megaman 2, Bionic Commando, Darkwing Duck, etc

Game Length: ~90 minutes

ESRB: N/A, but would be E

Buy/Skip: Buy

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6 Responses to “Megaman 4 Review (NES)”

  1. I heavily disagree with the “more useless” weapons.
    I can’t believe there are still people who still don’t realize how good the weapons in 4. It has the BEST arsenal on the NES, the weapons in MM3 are far worse, and the weapons are completely useless in 5.

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      I can see your point. I will have to revise my review to better express my opinions on the weapons. Some are fantastic; The Flash Stopper, Pharaoh Shot, Dive Missile, and Ring Boomerang are great, but the Skull Barrier, Junk Shot and Rain Flush are not. True, non are as worthless as the Top Spin, but still, the weapons from 4 in my view were somewhat weak compared to other Megaman games.

      • All of the shield weapons have share their problems, which is not Jewel Satellite, but calling Skull Barrier bad is strong. It have at least 8-10 use in the whole game: second and last section of Toadman stage, some sections of Drillman’s stage etc. Sure, you can live without it but it comes handy if you don’t want to stop.

        Dust Crusher:
        This weapon has 6 hitboxes, it actually damaging the enemies 2 times in a row: once when contact, and once when it split to four pieces. Also notable, if an enemy doesn’t die from one Dust Crusher hit (which is rarely happens), the game actually register 4! hits: once the pure contact, once the splitting time, PLUS the two pieces what should coming from it!

        Rain Flush:
        This is one of the best weapon ever created for a Megaman game. It does low damage to 2-3 enemies, yes, but it do an insane damage to most of the enemies in the game, pretty much. The wall shooters in Ringman’s stage, the Totempolens on Brightman’s stage are good examples. It affects everything on the screen, this weapon is self-explanatory, I will never understand how anyone can think this is a bad weapon. Send a missile, wait a moment, then when the rain come you can push it’s range by sliding.

        And if all of this is still not enough, here’s the extra ability of the Rain Flush: IT COMPLETELY IGNORES THE INVINCIBILITY!
        For example: If you have hard timing to hit the ring miniboss on Ringman’s stage and you don’t have the Flash Stopper, don’t worry, just use the R. Flush 3 times, and you don’t even have to timing because as I said, it ignores the invincibility of the enemies. People often overlook this ability of that weapon.

  2. Another stellar review. I would have to agree that the MM games after 3 are kind of redundant, but 4 is still most definitely worth a play-through if you’ve never had the pleasure or are a mega man fan.

  3. I find 4 is a lot more playable once you get over the mentality that the charged Mega Buster is essential and instead view it as more of a crutch for players who can’t fire off multiple shots while in a jump. Charging your shots is not as essential as it is in some of the later entries (not counting 7 where charging is terrible but 7 is weird in a lot of ways).

    I liked the weapons here though some are unimaginative. At the very least the weapons are useful and the Mega Buster hasn’t eliminated the need for them which is something I can’t say about the next game. My only real complaint is this is the game where we started seeing Robot Master weapon mechanics being recycled through minor tweaking.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one with an appreciation for Cossack 1-2, it’s one of my favorite tunes in the series. Overall it doesn’t stand up to Mega Man 2 and 3’s soundtracks in my mind but they were a tough act to follow, especially 3 which is overall the strongest soundtrack of just about any NES game in my opinion.

    Commonly this game gets panned as the game that started a downfall for Mega Man but I think that was just sequelitis setting in since most people I know say they were surprised that they really enjoyed the game when the give it a modern play-through because they remembered it as being mediocre.

    The new story elements were welcome and exciting at the time, and though the Cossack red herring seems trite in retrospect because the fake-out was pulled in the next two games as well, it was genuinely cool at the time and I remember being pumped up to take down Wily the first time I found out it was him all along and he had kidnapped the poor guy’s daughter!

    It has its flaws but I could say the same of all the Mega Man titles, it’s one of my personal favorites.

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      Persoanlly, 4 has my favorite set of robot master weapons in the entire series. Pharaoh Shot, Drill Bomb and Dive Missile are awesome, but Rain Flush is Megaman 3’s Top Spin. Even so, it can be used to KILL Wily. Hurray for that!

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