A Critical Look at Mega Man 4 Stages: Dust Man

Dust Man's Stage and Music mm4dust_01

Here we've got three new enemies. Shield Attacker moves back and forth, and can only be hit from behind. Metall EX jumps now instead of walking after he fires, and Up'N'Down pops out of the holes in the floor, then drifts down slowly. They all appear by themselves and aren't much of a problem on their own, so this area's pretty simple. Up'N'Down can be a little hard to hit on the way up, but he moves high enough that jumping under him is also an option.

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There's a health refill on the way down if you make the jump or slide off the edge, though Rush Coil's there to get it for you anyway if you miss. Nest up we meet Jumbig. They're reverted back to the Big Eye design with this one, as he's got high and low jumps with no defenses. This one takes 16 hits, so it's a little more manageable than the Big Eye, plus we can lead with a charge shot to kill it faster. He's kind of disappointing, as I thought Bikky was a more interesting way handle this type of enemy, and of course Sniper Armor was memorable even if it was a bit overwhelming.

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The blocks here rise from the bottom of the screen in pieces before forming a large block. They're easy enough to jump over, but we've got Taketentos harassing us on the way. These fly forward, then ditch the propeller when they get close enough and start chasing Mega Man. They're faster than Tellys or Battons, take two hits, and the propeller can hit players trying to jump over them. They appear one at a time, but a player could easily end up being chased by two or three of them if he tries to avoid them. The small platforms and their erratic movement work well together here.

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Eddie is our newest helper, appearing in various places to give us a random item. He walks forward and won't toss an item unless we're close enough, which could have made for some interesting situations where we'd be rewarded for jumping to a side platform or getting past an enemy before he drops off the edge, but instead he gets a room to himself every time. Wasted opportunity there.

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These pistons move up and down, and there's junk blocking the path forward. Most of them don't reach the floor, so we can only be crushed if we let the junk blocks do it. The last screen is the only dangerous part, with two pistons touching the floor in front of a small junk wall, and a Metall behind those. We can either slide under the pistons as they move up and quickly blast through, or destroy a few blocks at a time and run back.

Unlike enemies, the blocks won't reappear if we walk back a few screens. This one trap is pretty good, but the rest of the area doesn't make much use of its traps. One "safe" area would have been enough to let players learn how the walls work before bringing the pistons lower. It's short and we don't have to wait around long for the traps to get out of the way though, so it's not that bad.

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Gachappon is our next new enemy. He takes 12 hits, and can fire straight shots from his mouth or arcing shots from the top. He's alright as a stationary damage wall sort of enemy, though he has enough downtime between shots that he probably won't get a chance to do much. The Metall in the next room doesn't seem to have it's own name, but it fires three shots horizontally like a Sniper Joe and takes three hits to kill. This is a good placement for it, giving it a chance to catch players by surprise and knock them into the spikes. Lastly, we have one more Jumbig before the boss door.

The Taketento section is fun, but the rest feels lacking. There isn't much wrong with what's there, but it needed a little more going on across the board. It constantly changes the scenery, but doesn't stick with one thing long enough to do something more dangerous with it except the piston section, which didn't use its screen space as effectively as it could have. It's a similar situation to Toad Man, but isn't as fun to run through. I think it's all that flat ground that makes it feel more empty. The visuals are quite good though, and manage to show a progression with animated machines breaking the trash down, pistons crushing it, and finally burning pools of it in the last area and boss room.