Capcom’s Mega Man 4 was released in the U.S. for the Nintendo Entertainment System in Jan 1992 (late 1991 in Japan). Mega Man IV kind of gets lost in the shuffle because of the popularity of the 16-bit Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo systems that were beginning to penetrate homes. That being said, when taken as a stand alone NES game, Mega Man 4 is simply outstanding. It is controversial to some vocal Mega Man fans because Mega Man can “charge up” his blaster for a few seconds to create a huge laser blast. Even Mega Man franchise artist Keiji Inafune has went on the record and said the addition of the charged Mega Buster signaled the end of good quality. In other words, there are a group of Mega Man fans out there that believe that Mega Man jumped the shark with Mega Man 4. I respectfully disagree, and so did the video game magazine critics at the time and mainstream Nintendo fans. Although Mega Man 4 did not outsell Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3, it was because of other video game system options that players had at the time.
Mega Man 4′s Robot Masters:
Bright Man (Light)
Toad Man (Like Bubble Man from MM2)
Drill Man (Drills)
Pharaoh Man (Totally unique- a pharaoh)
Ring Man (Rings, as in Quick Man boomerangs shaped like Saturn’s rings)
Dust Man (Dust, as in vacuum garbage)
Dive Man (Another water based robot in this game- faster than Toad Man)
Skull Man (Totally unique- a fossil/skeleton robot)
Mega Man 4 plot from the North American manual:
Good Evening, Dr. Light. Allow me to introduce myself – I am Dr. Cossack. You may not have heard of me, but soon the world will know my name.
Over the years, you have been hailed as the greatest robot designer in the world, while my robotic creations have been totally ignored. I cannot allow this to continue. The world must be made aware of my genius!
From my Siberian citadel, I’ve sent eight of my most powerful robots to destroy that titanium troublemaker, Mega Man. Once they have obliterated him, I will place his broken body on display for the entire world to see. Only then will I be allowed to take my place as the greatest robot designer of all time!
So we have a new villain by the name of Dr. Cossack. This was very fresh to me when I was young because I thought it really had expanded Mega Man’s enemy list from one (Dr. Wily) to two. Anyway, something that’s not really mentioned on other websites is the fact that Mega Man 4′s introduction story is his official in-game origin! Talk about years in the making. The way the game starts, you’d think the game should have been called Mega Man Zero, alas we’d have to wait until the next millennium for that.
Here is the paraphrased origin from Mega Man 4- which I treat as canon over everything else:
In 200X, Dr. Light had created two household helper robots named Rock and Roll [this officially recognizes what Mega Man is called in Japan, and merges both continuities]. They lived in peace until the industrial robots went crazy and the world was in chaos, thanks to Dr. Wily. Rock, who had a strong sense of justice in his programming, volunteered to be converted into a fighting robot (Mega Man).
The intro continues that Mega Man had defeated Dr. Wily 3 previous times [thus establishing that only the Mega Man NES series is in continuity as opposed to the Game Boy adventures, which occur in a different timeline). The intro ends by saying Dr. Cossack invented 8 new robots to go after Mega Man, who has a new Mega Buster. What an intro! For once the story was much better.
Mega Man 4 Music
The Mega Man 4 soundtrack is a step-up from Mega Man 3′s in my opinion. The Dr. Cossack and Dr. Wily levels have fantastic themes, which fit the stages. Cossack’s stages have an ominous old time Russian feel. Dr. Wily’s stages have a sense of finality to them. The boss stages are out of this world as well. Mega Man 4′s soundtrack is very underrated (as is the game itself) because the 8 Robot Masters stages aren’t as good as Mega Man 2′s music, but the boss levels and post-8 Robot Master levels are superior!
As far as the 8 Robot Master levels: they are all acceptable, but Drill Man, Dive Man, and Bright Man are probably my favorites in Mega Man 4.
Mega Man 4 Difficulty
Mega Man 4 is a lengthy game because Mega Man has to get through two castles this time: Dr. Cossack’s and Dr. Wily’s. However the bosses for each level aren’t super hard. Dr. Cossack and Dr. Wily aren’t that hard either, actually Ring Man is the hardest robot in the game. That being said, I still had to cheat one time to beat the game recently.
There is a lot of trial and error if you don’t use a Mega Man 4 guide, and there are secret weapons/applications hidden in some stages. The game is challenging, be prepared to die quite a few times in Nintendo’s old tradition. The main issue of debate, as I mentioned, is that a small percentage of Mega Man “purists” do not approve of the Mega Buster charge, but I thought it really helped Mega Man a lot and made things easier. I agree that sometimes the gameplay suffers slightly when I’m trying to jump while holding down on my controller button, and perhaps I was addicted to the charge, but I had no issues with it when I played it on my old NES controller back in the day. Ultimately, the Mega Buster was a good addition to the franchise and certainly not a valid reason for Mega Man’s quality decrease (which did not happen with this game!!).
Mega Man 4 Ending
After Mega Man beats Dr. Cossack, Proto Man (Mega Man’s brother, Robot Model #0) sweeps in with Cossack’s daughter Kalinka. (Proto Man apparently is still a loner, and just helps out occasionally). It is revealed that Dr. Wily had kidnapped Kalinka and forced Dr. Cossack to build the new Robot Masters. Mega Man must go through Dr. Wily’s new citadel (whole new levels) and defeat him. The actual end scene is a bit disappointing- we just see Mega Man (without helmet) stand on a train and go back home to Roll and Dr. Light once again. Dr. Wily had escaped in his UFO.
Mega Man 4 Trivia
- Mega Man 4 features the first appearance of the Mega Buster charge, Dr. Cossack, and Flip Top Eddie, a helper robot that gives Mega Man a random gift.
- The eight fan winners of the Robot Master character contest in Japan received a super rare golden copy of Rockman 4. Only 8 in existence…
- Yes, Dr. Cossack was a fake villain.
- Rush the dog is back and necessary for Mega Man to win.
I did not own Mega Man 4 back in early 1992, I had rented it twice and beat it. I was very impressed with the game. I had taped all the songs on my cassette recorder. The only true negative is that Capcom did not make the leap to Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis early enough with the franchise because Mega Man was still selling like hotcakes for the NES. An 8-bit game couldn’t really hang with the big boys of the era. Of course, I say that now in 2010, but back in 1992 I thought Mega Man 4 really pushed the limits of the NES and was able to compete with 16-bit games.
Mega Man 4 unfortunately has a forgotten legacy- it was highly regarded by critics and fans at the time, but now there is a loud minority opinion that points to a degradation in quality. It’s totally false, and a skewed opinion. Trust me. The bottom line is that Mega Man 4 delivered all the solid action and fun you could expect. Capcom created the blueprint with Mega Man 1 and refined and upgraded each game to match the NES’s technical specs. From the technical standpoint, Mega Man 4 is better than all of the previous games. However nostalgia and attachment to Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 tend to cloud people’s opinions in 2010. Perhaps the sad truth is these same fans were hooked on Genesis or SNES at the time, and never really got into Mega Man 4, and don’t have the found memories of it. Perhaps those gamers were a bit older in 1992 and didn’t want to be seen playing an 8-bit side-scroller.
Here’s a ranking of Mega Man 1-3:
Fun: Mega Man 2, Mega Man 3, Mega Man 4, Mega Man 1
Music: Mega Man 2, Mega Man 4, Mega Man 3, Mega Man 1
Difficulty: Mega Man 1, Mega Man 3, Mega Man 4, Mega Man 2
Graphics: Mega Man 4, Mega Man 3, Mega Man 2, Mega Man 1