A neat little detail about the beginning of this stage is that the New Shotman here fires his upward shots in time with the music for the first three cycles. Though harmless at first, his positioning here is nice as it gives us another reason to use special weapons, and he can ambush players climbing back down to get the items on the other side.
This is a good place for weapon refills, as it gives players a choice to make between using one to refill the Hard Knuckle ammo they just spent or use both on something else, if they take them at all. We're also handed another E-Tank. This is a point between two difficult bosses, so it's sensible to be able to grab one here, but they could at least make us work for it.
This is another Hologran section, though this time they're stationary. It doesn't make much difference either way, as we can easily take them out with special weapons regardless. Scrolling them off the screen makes it dark for a moment and removes them. If we leave them alone, this section will be completely dark aside from a brief flash between Holograns.
The extra life here is in a interesting spot. A player sliding after pressing against the wall will go all the way through, but stopping in the middle gives us a good shot at the next Hologran. The lower path with items is also hidden well, since players are likely to miss it at first unless they're using snakes here.
I was about to call this Hammer Joe pointless and move on, but think about the mechanics for a moment. When a player scrolls to the next screen, only the stage is shown, with the sprites appearing after the scrolling ends (or, if the previous room was dark when the player fell, it will remain so until the sprites appear). Since players need to prepare their fall during this time, they're likely to aim left since the dangerous stuff would normally be at the bottom or near the edge. This time, they've set themselves up for a hammer to the face. Brilliant.
Bikky is the same as always, though the slide leaves us with a little less room to fight the second one.
Here's a cool new obstacle; broken rows of platforms moving in alternate directions. Unfortunately, these are the only two screens they'll appear in. The last screen gives us random items, and their placement allows us to check their contents before breaking the wall.
These are Holograph Mega Mans. They run in opposite directions while firing towards Mega Man's position, and periodically warp out and back in. Only one can be damaged, and each warp changes which one that is. Though they change colors to reflect Mega Man's chosen weapon, they'll always fire the normal pellets.
Their shots are absolutely ridiculous to dodge. If they all fired at once they could be avoided with a well-timed jump, but they tend to fall out of sync after the first shot, making them extremely difficult to react to.
Like previous Wily bosses they get no on-hit invulnerability, so it's best to just take the hits and wear them down fast. Normal shots or the Needle Cannon are decent for that, but Search Snakes kill them in four hits and the Top Spin explodes them immediately. Though Top Spin seems like the obvious choice, you'd best make sure of your target first, as Mega Man takes collision damage from all of them. Search Snakes are safer and work just as well, since you'll probably get all four hits right away when you find the right one to hit.
This is another breezy stage, but it does a few interesting things here and there. It's unfortunate that those moving platforms didn't get a chance to shine, as even one more screen would have been enough to expand on the idea of putting spikes in the player's path and actually make it difficult.
The boss seems like it could have been a great idea, but after the Mega Man copy in the first game, it falls flat. It's not using our weapons against us, it sticks to one simple pattern, and the shots are coming right at us. It may look like Mega Man, but it's not acting like him at all. I'd like to have at least seen it use the special weapons, possibly even give each a different one at random. The shots are also so difficult to deal with that any player is going to treat it as nothing more than a damage race.
As for the graphics, we get the same boring environment as before. The background in the boss room is serviceable, but the green on those things in the middle clashes horribly with the purple.