Graphics! We got robot trees, trees behind those trees, grass, wood patterns in the ground and…whatever is covering the top of it! Not bad at all.
Anyway, this is Batton and Robbit. Battons wake up after a couple seconds and can’t be damaged until they do. After that, they’ll move toward you like a slightly faster Telly, and they take two hits to kill. Robbit alternates between taking one hop forward and shooting three carrots in your general direction. They take ten hits, and work well as a roadblock allowing any nearby Battons to catch up with you. This whole section is much more combat intensive than usual, with Battons filling the trees and three Robbits evenly spaced throughout. The enemies work very well together along with the minor terrain variations.
The next screen below has three more Battons, this time in a more confined space. An interesting tidbit about this one is that by starting in the top corner, leading them upward and running under is a valid alternate strategy.
And then a giant robot dog teleports in and starts spitting fire at you. This is Friender (he’s not your friend), and he takes twenty hits. This is the first example we’ve seen of a mini-boss, which becomes a staple of the series. He’s also much more animated than anything we’ve seen before. He paws at the ground, wags his tail, and opens his mouth wider when shooting, which was pretty impressive back then. We have to shoot at him while jumping over the fire, and the terrain works to our advantage this time.
Not so for the next ones. The second forces you to fight him while he’s above you, allowing him to cover your whole standing area with fire. The third also includes a piece of the ceiling that makes jumping forward more difficult. It’s a good progression of difficulty and keeps fighting three of them in a row from getting too boring. It’s also possible to take down the third by jumping up from farther back and sneaking pot shots in, assuming you can jump out of a two-block high space.
The next room just has two more Battons. We’ve dealt with more than that in every previous encounter with them already. They’re great as a place to heal after what we just dealt with though.
Along with a nice change of scenery (we’re above the trees now), we meet a new enemy. Monking jumps up to grab the platform as you approach, then jumps on top of it if you get closer or enough time passes. He’ll continue jumping toward you until you kill him. He’s easy enough to deal with once you know what he does, but then…
Pipi’s back! They fly overhead frequently, and we have to shoot the eggs as they fall or things get messy fast.
The next three screens are individual fights with Robbits under different terrain conditions. This is really just a breather between the good stuff, but you’ll have to get right up in the second one’s face if you don’t have a special weapon.
The last set of screens introduced Kukku, who runs forward and jumps every few steps. They move too fast to kill with normal shots before they reach you, but they’re timed to jump just as they get near Mega Man if you stop moving when they appear.
This is easily the most combat intensive stage we’ve seen so far. The Batton/Robbit combo, Frienders, and Monking/Pipi combo are all solid challenges, and the last couple sections can still be problematic. The scenery is well designed and changes throughout, and the music is great. As an action-focused stage, I can’t find fault with it at all.