A Critical Look at Mega Man Stages: Fire Man

After skirting the razor's edge in Cut Man's stage, we blaze forward to Fire Man's stage (with its music).

We start off going through a few corridors with Screwdrivers. There's not much to these when they're all level with you, but they at least make you walk over one of them. The next part is where things get interesting. Changkeys burst out of the lava and fly straight up off the screen, then slowly drift downward at an angle. In the meantime, you'll need to get past a timed fire trap that moves up and down. It's possible to freeze these and use them as platforms. I love it when Mega Man levels make the boss weakness extremely useful in the stage too, since you'll have to choose carefully whether it's worth using on (or kill enemies for refills at the end, whatever).

After a few more basic fire traps, you'll come to a different kind that works like Elec Man's traps, with the fire appearing instantly. Unfortunately, a small flame remains when the trap is off, and this deals damage. That would be fine if Mega Man didn't have so little room to jump over it on the very first one you see (unless you use the Magnet Beam to go over the top). You've only got a pixel or three of leeway here.

This screen is just weird to me. It really looks like they're encouraging me to jump down here, and if this was Mega Man 4 or 6 I'd have immediately assumed it was an alternate path. It isn't.

Unless you get lucky on the timing, there's no way to get through these without standing right here or freezing them. Once again, they're really hammering you on precision in this stage if you don't have the proper items. I took a bunch of damage playing with these, and randomly discovered that items regenerate when you leave the screen, so you can fill up here (I was going to show a full health bar in the next shot, but it flickers when too many enemies show up). Oh, and that last hole? It's not a hole.

These screens are just a mess of Changkeys and fire. Definitely my favorite screens so far, as they're hard but they don't punish you much for not having ice.

Nuts to this. There is absolutely no way to get through these without taking damage unless you head straight for the ladder with the Magnet Beam. Even ice doesn't help. I found out while messing with this that you can actually stand a good ways into the fire before taking damage, and I still couldn't get through the first one, though the second is barely possible with that trick.

Next up is a bunch of Gabyoalls with Killer Bombs flying around, which would be cool if it was possible to make it over the second Gabyoall without taking damage. As far as I can tell, it isn't. At this point the stage might as well just slap you in the face for not doing it last. The last bit is a few more jumps with Changkeys flying around, then (thankfully) only a couple fire traps in front of the boss door. The hallway has Screwdrivers.

I like the bits with Changkeys, fire traps, and difficult platforming, since not much else in the game combines all that. I'm more annoyed with forced damage than I am with the Foot Holders though, so I can't really forgive that. I'll admit it's one of the better ones if played last, though.

Graphics and music are average for this game.

So that's it for the main stages. I'd do a little compare and contrast here, but I'm out of time for now so I'll leave it for when we start the Wily stages.