Review: Mega Man IV (Game Boy)

In this review, we power up for another round of Mega Man. This time, we are playing Mega Man IV on the Game Boy to see how this one plays.

This game was released in 1993 and would continue the Game Boy version of the classic series. We’ve already reviewed Mega Man – Dr. Wiley’s Revenge and found it to be rather lackluster. We then reviewed Mega Man 2 and found that, unlike the NES version, discovered that the game just didn’t work. Interestingly enough, we also reviewed Mega Man 3 and found the gameplay to be half decent. With a seeming upward trend in quality, it was with interest that we tried the fourth in the series.

This game carries over a lot of elements found in previous Game Boy versions of Mega Man. You have a choice of four robot masters in the beginning, then a choice of four additional robot masters part way through the game. The first set of robot masters, as per the seeming tradition of the Game Boy versions of these games, comes from the NES version of Mega Man 4/ The second set comes from the NES version of Mega Man 5.

Like previous games in the Game Boy series, there is a 9th additional robot master that was introduced in this game in the midst of everything.

As per every other Mega Man game made to this time, each first encounter with a robot master contains the reward of taking its signature weapon if you manage to defeat them. Also, like most Mega Man games, each robot master also has their own level that the player must complete just to reach this robot master. What was interesting was that this game lightly breaks with this tradition by forcing you to face the 9th robot master twice before being able to take its signature weapon. Something that I found interesting.

Another interesting element in this game is the fact that it introduces destructible levels. To my knowledge, I haven’t encountered this in a Mega Man game that was made prior to this one, so I thought this was a rather interesting concept to add.

One of the things I’ve complained about in the past was the complete lack of innovation in these games. Most of them end up being the exact same thing over and over again. This game actually does some mild things to change things up. In this case, these changes were actually a breath of fresh air.

One positive change I saw was that this game broke with the grid system which was found in every NES Mega Man game and every Game Boy game up to this point. Even though this is a small change (you still get to select which of the four robot masters you want to take on in which order), I found the change to a sort of ring was quite welcome.

Another big change is the introduction of the “P” chips (Power?). These are additional items you can collect whether they are found lying around in the level or dropped by enemies. The more of these chips you collect, the better because they form a sort of currency that carries throughout the entire game. After you complete a level, you are given a choice between just diving into the next level or visiting Dr. Light’s lab. If you choose to visit the lab, you are given a choice of what to buy with those chips. You can buy free lives, energy containers, and a whole lot more.

While the shop feature was a great thing to see, it is clear that it is in its early stages of development. For instance, it would have been nice to see what you have in your inventory or, at the very least, have an indicator of what you have in your inventory before you buy something you don’t need. The store could also be a little more user friendly in that it was difficult at first to figure out how to exit the store (“B” while selecting an item). Still, this concept has a lot of promise in helping to re-invigorate the series.

One other somewhat novel concept in this game is the use of small energy containers. This sort of resembles what you would find in a Zelda game where you would collect for small containers to complete a large one. The difference here, obviously, is that you are merely creating extra energy tanks, not increasing the capacity of your health. Honestly, it’s a 50/50 thing for me. On the one hand, there are already a lot of collectibles and these energy containers wind up not really coming into play that much in the game. On the other hand, it is an interesting concept that could be worth investigating as there is potential in it.

For me, there was one rather cringe-worthy moment. The ending sequence does end up being a bit cliche. In addition, the ending backdrop has been used a few too many times already. It could have been different to keep things fresh.

Generally speaking, I was worried that this game would take the same trajectory as the NES series. By that, I mean using one concept that was rather novel and interesting and just beating it to death until no one was interested in the games anymore. This game was a pleasant surprise in that it finally showed that the sidescrolling classic series can be re-invigorated with new and refreshing concepts. This was accomplished by trashing the grid selection screen and introducing a currency concept. It is a risk to mess with a formula in a game series, but in this case, it was sorely needed and was a very nice thing to see. While these changes were far from perfect, it is still substantially better than just seeing the same concept get re-used in yet another game.

The graphics were nicely translated from the NES game to the Game Boy screen. The scenery was well conceived and the sprites were nicely realized. There is the issue of blurring in the hardware for the faster moving enemies though. This game does, however, feature some interesting cut-scenes in the middle of the game.

The audio was nicely brought over from the NES to the Game Boy system. The music was also surprisingly well done. The sound effects also worked quite well on this system even when it seems the limit to the number of voices get exceeded from time to time. This, of course, is barely noticeable.

Overall, I had worries that this series was starting to go down the tubes, but this game proved me wrong. This game features nice expansive levels, interesting new concepts (currency being the biggest one for me) which is very badly needed in this series at this point. The graphics were very solid, though some of the enemies blurred due to them moving too quickly for the hardware to keep up. The audio was also a very solid transition from the NES. As far as this series is concerned, this is certainly the best Game Boy Mega Man game yet.


Furthest point in game: Made Dr. Wiley surrender (beat the game).

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 78%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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