Stage 2 puts you in front of a gap with a Heli flying over it. Two more appear when you get to the edge, so it’s best to wait for the second one to come to you before jumping. Not bad, but the same pattern is repeated twice more, both with a platform under the ledge you jump from so they’re a little safer. Shouldn’t the one without a safety net be last?
Here’s the introduction of fake floors, complete with items to lure the player over them. The player has to fall into this one, as below is…
Cut Man! I avoided talking about the boss fights until the Wily stages so I could look at them all together (and have all the weapons available). Unlike the rest of the series, the first game spreads them out among the Wily stages, and you don’t get to pick the order.
If Cut Man is far away from you, he’ll run forward. When close, he’ll move only by jumping. He throws a blade now and then, which always moves toward you and returns to Cut Man like a boomerang. If Cut Man threw it from the ground, he’ll always jump afterwards, meaning you can jump over the blade and run under him to avoid it on the return. It’s trickier if he’s in the air, but you can usually jump between him and the blade.
This is a good example of a boss fight that feels intense without actually being that dangerous. Cut Man takes three bars of damage from a normal shot AND gets knocked back, so you can usually win the damage war with at least half health remaining by just standing in place and firing at him. However, his agility is daunting at first and can trick players into going on the defensive. His weakness is Guts Man’s weapon and we don’t have the opportunity to use it here, but it really isn’t necessary. Fire also deals 3 damage, but nothing else is useful.
The next section is kinda sad. It’s the same terrain as before, but these are the only two enemies in it. That really shouldn’t be a threat by now, though at least the last one has a good chance of pegging you in the tunnel. I do like the fake floor though. It’s placed so that if you remember where the last one was and jump over that spot, you’ll fall right into it.
Next up is Elec Man. Now, some have claimed that he’s easy, and I’m not seeing it. All he does is run around and make short hops while shooting electricity, but those shots come out fast, have huge hit boxes, and deal a third of Mega Man’s health in damage. There’s no pattern here, he just fires whenever he wants, including multiple times in succession.
Mega Man deals only one damage to him with a normal shot, so the only advantage you have is knock-back. It’s possible to stunlock him by timing your shots just so, but I’ve never done that consistently. Taking him out without a weapon or stunlocking him requires an incredible level of precision and reaction compared to the rest of the game. The high damage seems like the worst part and that could certainly have been nerfed to make him another scary boss without teeth, but there’s no need for more than one of those. He could be made to move in a set pattern, but that’d make him too much like Ice Man, who has an easy pattern but deals heavy damage.
No, I think the best option here would be to leave him unpredictable but give him a longer charge time on the shots. Slowing them down a little wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Still, he goes down in three hits from Cut Man’s weapon, so that and a little aggression on the player’s part will take him out safely.
Again, the following section has nothing we haven’t seen before and certainly nothing worthy of a Wily stage.
Can’t say much for this one either, though it is probably the one place in the game where bombs are helpful.
More of the same, though at least the last one forces you to drop into their path. Fire clears that up nicely.
These two aren’t bad. You can run across the first screen between volleys, but going for the energy is harder. The next drops you into the path of more Suzys with a Mambu waiting.
The next room pits you against a Mega Man copy, who will use whatever weapon you do. The copy walks around the room while shooting at you (he’ll only fire one shot at a time), and will jump to avoid your shots. I like this one, as the player has to pick a weapon to both fight with and evade. Normal shots give the player an advantage since you can shoot faster, but blades restrict his range and he tends to jump into yours often, electricity is easy to hit with for both, fire is dangerous but effective if he’s crowding you, and bombs… well, you can have a bomb fight with him if you want, I guess. Ice doesn’t damage him but he can hit you, so that’s out. Guts and Magnet Beam do nothing, but this allows you to take a breather since he won’t move into the corners unless you make him jump there. If you want, you can even switch to these and wait for him to walk away to put yourself in a better position between hits. Whatever weapon you pick, he will always deal more damage with it.
Though the last part did finally put Suzys in a position to hurt you, the rest of the stage didn’t do much of interest. They may have designed themselves into a corner with those pits, since making them harder to cross would have been frustrating to deal with along with the bosses. Less pits and more small enemies would have been the way to go for the first half, since it would feel more exciting and offer more chances to refill between fights. We did get to see the fake floors in a controlled environment, so there’s that.