A Critical Look at Mega Man Stages: Dr. Wily Stage 1

With the fall of Fire Man ending the threat of the Robot Masters, all that is left is to find Dr. Wily in his four-level fortress. The Wily stages have two pieces of music for all four, so here's a link to both, plus the boss music. Wily Stage 1

Now, Wily stages should have a different mentality behind them. Before, each stage could be taken in any order, so it's better to design each with different challenges in mind instead of a steady progression of difficulty. Despite its problems, the first game did do a reasonable job at that. Now the game can assume that you have all of the weapons and have been through the first six stages, so it's free to throw harder things at you and force you to make full use of the weapons.

Wily's not messing around. We immediately have to get past three Big Eyes here, two on your level and one above. Since you're not falling into the screen here, it's harder to kill them with normal bullets without backing far enough away to make it respawn. You do get plenty of room to go under them though, and if that doesn't work you can always freeze one and switch to another weapon or walk under it. Unfortunately, special weapons take forever to kill them. They take 20 shots with your standard weapon, if you were wondering.

Do You Have Super Arm? Yes/No (The answer is always yes.) The first two fire traps have to be frozen through the walls or with a very good shot, since if they're not level with the floor or lower you won't get past them. Not a bad section though, since it forces you to use Ice and you're not likely to run out even if you've used it to get past the Big Eyes.

The next screen has a large health that requires jumping from a 2-block-wide space. Even the Magnet Beam won't help there. Going to the top of the ladder, dropping down, and continuing is very easy, but going back after missing the health or trying to get across the bottom from the start is hard. Doesn't seem like much, but it's more complex than usual for a single room with no enemies or moving traps. Again, even tiny choices offered to the player are good things in my book.

As soon as you climb up, Blasters jump toward the ladder and there's a 50% chance one will fall down it, leading to an immediate spike death below if you don't grab the ladder again. Fire or electricity will take care of that easily. Both weapons are dominating this game for how much coverage they give at so little cost.

Speaking of which, Elec Man's weapon can break blocks too. A few shots of that and one use of the Magnet Beam can be traded for some health here.

This room is simple, but I like it. You have to jump across some spikes while killing or avoiding Killer Bombs, without letting them explode in your face.


Even getting across with the Magnet Beam is tricky, since they'll be shooting at you and deal collision damage from below. I'd say it's a pretty fair challenge when you're expected to have the beam, and they even give you a little refill at the end. The problem is...

The next room requires a great deal of Magnet Beam energy to get through, which you probably just ran low on. However, since this game doesn't keep track of power-ups like the rest of the series, you can keep refilling by moving between screens and collecting them again. The pit here will lead to the room below if you get caught in the middle.

Beyond this is one empty screen before the boss. You all know what's coming, because we've all died to this jerk countless times.

Gee, I wonder where the boss i-*smack*

These screens sum up the whole fight. Rocks fly in from the side to form the boss, he takes a shot at you while you try to shoot his eye (which appears in random places) in the second or so window you have, then he breaks apart and moves to the other side.

The first time is actually the hardest, since you get no warning of what's about to happen and those rocks move fast. After that, you can see them break off and have a little more time to react. Elec Man's weapon knocks off four health, all others deal two. Even so, it's a long fight since you're only allowed to get one hit in each time. Honestly, I like it. It's hard, but this fight seems to go much quicker than many of his later incarnations throughout the series. The rock pattern is the same each time, so it doesn't take that long to figure out.

I'd say this was a pretty good try for the first Wily stage ever. The only problem is the room that requires the Magnet Beam, but it's a HUGE problem. The room before is begging you to use some of it, and a lot of players might not have experimented with it much before getting here, so they ran out just from trying to get up the first hole*.

The Guts Blocks don't really serve any purpose besides giving you something to use the power on, which is more a failing of the weapon itself than the blocks. Still, they could at least have given you something to throw them at. Otherwise, it does a good job of forcing you to use the weapons effectively and offers a decent challenge for the few screens it has. I don't like it as much as some of the normal stages, but it serves its purpose. Graphics are pretty standard when you get inside, but the floor outside looks weird. Why is grass growing on Tetris pieces?

*I just went back to look at that room again, and I noticed that the hole there doesn't kill you, but instead drops you to the screen below. While the refills are back, if you dropped down there because you ran out, they won't even give you enough to get over the first wall again, and there's no enemies to go back and grind more out of, so it's just a slow death anyway. I'd call it a fair section only if there was enough energy down there to refill most or all of your beam.

You can at least climb up and down the ladder a bunch of times to get more energy refills. It's bad design since it basically requires you to take advantage of a programming limitation that was fixed for the rest of the series (I think), but at least that option prevents you from having to restart.