A Critical Look at Mega Man 2 Stages: Dr. Wily Stage 4

Map of Dr. Wily Stage 4.

We're given a few refills before beginning a long vertical climb. However, this section has a catch. We're introduced to fake floors, the first of which dumps us on a Met if we haven't killed it yet.

That hole continues upward, blocking off the extra life on the other side. The normal way to get it is to fall through the top and press to the left, but the first gap can also be jumped and items are always an option. If the player hasn't noticed these yet, the trip to the ladder above will fix that. While Item 2 or pure memorization can get players across, the real solution provides a nice secondary use for an otherwise neglected weapon.

There's a few more screens like this, followed by an empty hallway serving no purpose but to send the player back down again. The downward section offers a return of the Crash Man lifts in a more interesting form. The first seems long and boring, but a good portion of it can be skipped early.

The next three each provide something new. The first two require avoiding something in the path of the lift, while the third has the lift going in the opposite direction you want it to. Making it across that requires some careful timing, but Item 2 gives players an easy pass.

The last section is another Joe gauntlet, with one catch. There's one Joe in a spot that removes any hope of dodging his shots, and the only way I found to get past him without damage was an immediate blast of Atomic Fire. Though I've already made it clear that I'm not a fan of forced damage, we haven't had occasion to use that weapon in a while so players will be likely to have it, and it fits the puzzle theme for the stage.

This is the Boobeam Trap, and it is easily the most terrible thing this game has to offer. The idea is pretty neat though. The traps can only be killed with Crash Bombs, and occasionally shoot very fast projectiles at you from each trap at once. Mega Man can only fire 7 bombs from a full meter, there are more than 7 targets in the room, and the shots are nearly impossible to dodge until you've killed a few of these, so it's a puzzle with both limited resources and time.

Though it is possible to hit two targets with one well-placed bomb, the standard solution requires every shot you have, plus a few items and a difficult jump to avoid the non-essential walls. That's a very cool way to force a player to use items strategically and would have made a great stand-alone challenge in one of the newer games that have such things, but let me list off the problems it has here.

-Unlike the normal bosses, dying here will put you back at the stages midway point, which is right before the lifts, which are not fun to do repeatedly given all the waiting involved.

-Even if you could start at the boss again, you wouldn't want to because Mega Man does not get his energy refilled after a death.

-The only good spot to regain bomb energy is right at the end of the first lift.

-That spot only has two blocks of space to stand on, and one of those is a ladder, which items will fall through. You'll have to stand on the very edge of the platform and kill Tellys after they pass over the ladder.

-If the lift passes while you're doing this and Mega Man is on the ground, it will snag his foot and carry him off.

-Your only other available options are to head backward and kill the Mets, which are in a very awkward position to fight, or grind energy from Joes.

-Even if you did go for the Joes, the one on foot and not in the tunnel is the only sane option, but trying to kill him repeatedly will lure the nearby Sniper Armor over.

It's a pain in the ass is what I'm saying, and you're probably better off just killing yourself a few times on the spikes for the game over refill.

So, it's a nice puzzle stage and I appreciate that the walls aren't vomit-colored anymore, but a forced-weapon-use boss with no room for error really does not mesh at all well with this game's energy mechanics.