It's common knowledge that for the most part, a sequel is never as good as the original. There are a few cases where this is disproven, but a lot of the time the more installments there are, the lower the series sinks. This adage is proved all too well by Mega Man 4, arguably the worst MM game out of the 6 released for the NES. The game just feels generic the whole way through.
This time around, Dr. Wily isn't the man behind the overthrow of the world; or at least, not at the beginning. Now a new scientist named Dr. Cossack has manufactured eight new robots to challenge the blue bomber. After all eight of them are defeated and Dr. Cossack is reached, we find that there was a motive behind all this - Dr. C's daughter was kidnapped by the ubiquitous Dr. Wily, who forced Dr. C to attack. So, once again, it's back to Dr. W's hideout to destroy his machinery - at least, for another year. Surprisingly, the plot works. It isn't the same thing rehashed like the SMB or Castlevania series - this time there are actually characters besides MM, Dr. Light and Dr. Wily. Another big plus goes to including the origin of Mega Man at the beginning of the game. In fact, I'd say that this plot is the best part of this game.
As for the best technical aspect, it would have to be the graphics. The sprites are very colorful, although they use red a little too much for my taste in this game. The animation is superb, especially in the Dr. Cossack stages. The snow falling in trhe background is probably the most attention paid to detail the programmers had. The enemies have dropped some of their cutesy look, but there are still a number of foes that still look a bit too bubbly.
The first, second, and third installments have been praised for some excellent music. Mega Man 4's music is just plain banal. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if the music programmers had a week to compose every theme in the game, because virtually all of it is horribly generic. There was absolutely no inspiration in any of this music, with the exception of the Dr. Cossack's 3rd and 4th stage music. And the pieces to Dust Man and Drill Man are terrible. I mean, these are the same people who created the music in MM1, 2, and 3! Put some heart into it!
Ahem. Play Control isn't that bad - MM still has tight response. The Mega Buster is a welcome addition, and I'm very thankful that you don't lose your charge when you take a hit like you do in MM6. Alas, some of the weapons don't work very well. The Skull Barrier has no use whatsoever, and the Ring Boomerang is too short-range. And the Drill Bomb has to be timed perfectly. Other than that, you shouldn't have too much trouble controlling Mega Man.
The series does recover quite a bit of challenge from the elementary second and third games. It's probably the hardest MM game on the NES. In fact, it might be too hard - many of the later bosses require dead-eye accuracy to beat. And if you run out of weapon energy, you're sunk. Another problem is that the password fails to record how many Energy Tanks you've collected along the way. And with the length of this game making it more of a two-sitting game than one, this could pose a serious problem. Moreover, the most progress the password will allow is through the eight robots - roughly one half of the game. I understand they don't want you to start too close, but what's the deal with only being able to save halfway?
Is the game fun? Well, compared to other games in the series, MM4 couldn't be fun if it tried. On the other hand, it certainly has more worth than a few other games out there. The lack of a real worthwhile password, combined with high challenge, along with the soulless music amkes this gmae the worst of the MM series, but that doens't mean it's terrible. You just have to have the right stomach for it.
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site. Republished with permission.