Mega Man IV
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Minakuchi Engineering
  • Publishers:
    • JP Capcom
    • US Capcom
    • UK Laguna
  • Released:
    • JP 10/29/1993
    • US 12/25/1993
    • UK 12/31/1993
Score: 80%

This review was published on 08/25/2016.

Mega Man IV, known as Rockman World 4 in Japan, is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Minakuchi Engineering for the Game Boy. It was published by Capcom in Japan and North America and Laguna in Europe. The game was originally released in Japan on October 29, 1993, North America on December 25, 1993, and Europe on December 31, 1993. Mega Man games are normally developed by Capcom, but all the Game Boy titles in the classic series were outsourced, mostly to Minakuchi Engineering. Released after Mega Man 4 and 5 on the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Mega Man IV on the Game Boy is like a portable mixture of those two titles. Mixing elements from two of the mainline NES games is a tradition that started with the first Mega Man game on the Game Boy, and it continues here. This is a decent portable Mega Man game, though it's still bested by the NES titles. To avoid confusion, I'll refer to the Game Boy game using Roman numerals and Arabic numbers for the NES games.

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Transpiring after the events of Mega Man 4 and 5 on the NES, our story follows a blue robot that fights for what's right named Mega Man. His main nemesis is Dr. Wily, a mad scientist bent on world domination. Mega Man's never ending struggle against Wily continues in this game, where the mad doctor once again causes another crisis. The crisis begins when Wily interrupts the World Robot Expo to broadcast a radio signal that makes all the robots go on a violent rampage. To lead the destruction, Wily sends some of his old Robot Masters that he recently rebuilt. Having resisted the dangerous transmission, Mega Man goes on yet another daring mission to stop Wily. Basically, it's the usual. Also, this is the first Mega Man game on the Game Boy to contain cutscenes. Now it's possible to actually know what's going on without reading the instruction manual!

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The look and feel of this game is consistent with the previous Game Boy titles, which all attempt to recreate the graphics and sound of the Mega Man games on the NES. With the exception of the lack of color, tinier resolution, and overall slower pace, this game mostly succeeds at that. The vast majority of graphics and music are taken straight out of the NES versions of Mega Man 4 and 5. While obviously not exact recreations, the music does sound convincingly like the real deal. There's also some unique stuff here and there. For example, the title and password screens both have original music, and plenty of the background and foreground graphics are new. In fact, many of the new graphics have added detail, despite having fewer colors to work with. Aside from the monochromatic nature of the visuals, which is the Game Boy's fault, the game looks and sounds great.

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You control Mega Man by pressing buttons. If this isn't proof that magic exists, then I don't know what is. To actually control Mega Man, you use the A button to jump, B button to shoot, and d-pad to walk around. If you press down on the d-pad and the A button at the same time, Mega Man will do a cute slide that'll allow him to fit through tiny tunnels. Additionally, holding the B button for a few seconds will charge up the Mega Buster, and firing it when fully charged will result in a massive blast that'll wreck havoc on enemies. The Mega Buster blast in this game is similar to the one from Mega Man 5 on the NES, in that it's got some added thickness to it, giving it a wider radius. However, there's a major downside to the charged shot in this game: it's got knockback. This means you can fall to your doom if you use the charged shot while on a tiny platform. It's not bad enough to ruin the game, but it's annoying.

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As with the previous Mega Man games on the Game Boy, this game contains four stages from Mega Man 4 and four from Mega Man 5. You get to tackle the stages in any order, though you must do the first set of four before you gain access to the other set. The stage select screen in this game is real snazzy. Instead of simply being a static screen with portraits of the Robot Masters like in the original NES titles, this stage select has environmental previews, and there's a nice rotation effect whenever you change the selection. As for the stages themselves, they're fairly similar to the ones from the original NES games. While they contain many of the same set pieces as the originals, the actual layouts of the stages have been radically redesigned, some more than others. Some stages are almost completely different from the original incarnations, featuring brand new obstacles and multiple paths. There are some entirely new stages, too.

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All of the primary stages have a Robot Master at the end, which Mega Man must face in a boss battle. Like the stages, the first four Robot Masters are from Mega Man 4, and the second four are from Mega Man 5. As usual, defeating a Robot Master will allow Mega Man to steal its weapon. Mega Man can then switch to these special weapons at any time using the menu, but they have limited ammunition. The weapons are mostly identical to the ones in the NES games, but some have additional effects, like how Toad Man's weapon can put out fires. Every Robot Master is weak to a particular weapon, and you can exploit this fact to make the fights way easier. The Robot Masters have the same attack patterns as they did in the original games, though some of the weaknesses are different. This is also the first Mega Man game on the Game Boy to have a proper boss rush at the end. There are some unique bosses, too, the most notable being Ballade, another robot that's part of the Mega Man Killer gang, which all hail from the Game Boy games.

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Dr. Light, Mega Man's creator, has opened up a shop at his lab to sell you helpful items. You can access his shop by pressing the select button on the stage select screen. The currency used to purchase stuff at the store is known as a "P-Chip." P-Chips are found all throughout the game, most typically from being dropped by defeated enemies. As for the things you can buy at the shop, they include Energy Tanks that fully restore Mega Man's life, Weapon Tanks that fully replenish one of his special weapons, and a Special Tank that completely restores everything. There are also small Energy Tanks, which are useless by themselves, but four of them will make a full Energy Tank. On top of all that, you can buy the Energy Balancer, which was originally planned to be in Mega Man 5 on the NES, but never made the cut. It's quite handy, because it automatically refills the special weapon with the least ammo whenever you pick up weapon energy. This prevents you from having to switch weapons so much, upping the convenience.

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Rush, Mega Man's robotic dog, is back again to help his master. Not unlike the special weapons, you'll get new Rush abilities after beating select Robot Masters. These abilities are the same as the classic stuff from previous games, like the coil that gives Mega Man's jumps a boost, or the jet Rush transforms into that'll let his master ride him in the air for a brief period of time. Proto Man, Mega Man's brother, also makes a cameo appearance in this game, but he doesn't do much beyond giving away some free items. This is also the first Mega Man on the Game Boy to have Beat, the robotic bird that was first introduced in Mega Man 5 on the NES. In order to unlock Beat, Mega Man must collect the four letters in its name from four different stages. When summoned, Beat will automatically attack nearby enemies, though he has limited energy to do so. Speaking of letters, you have to collect the letters in Wily's name in the second set of stages to beat the game. While the Beat letters are optional, the Wily ones aren't. This is kind of dumb, but at least they're incredibly easy to find.

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Further refining the formula, Mega Man IV is a much bigger step forward for the series than many people realize. I mean, it's the first one to introduce a shop and the ever useful Energy Balancer. It's also very polished. The original NES games are still better due having color and a faster speed, but there are some things this game actually does better than the originals, like the aforementioned shop. However, in every other respect, it's basically more of the same. That pretty much sums up the Mega Man series as a whole. There's nothing wrong with that so long as the games are good, though, and this one most certainly is.

Word Count: 1,518

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