A Critical Look at Mega Man 4 Stages: Bright Man

Bright Man's Stage and Music mm4bright_01 mm4bright_02

Dompan and 100 Watton here have an interesting dynamic. Shooting Watton makes the room dark, but Dompan lets out a burst of fireworks when shot, lighting it again. Both can be destroyed in one hit, and Watton occasionally fires a bomb upward that falls and explodes at a random height, sending out a spread of five projectiles.

The enemy order is great here. Dompan appears first, showing the player what he does without revealing his connection to Watton just yet. Then Watton flies in at just the right spot to get in the player's way, encouraging them to shoot it, and is immediately followed by another Dompan. The lights will come back just as the player reaches a pit, revealing the true danger of this area.

Players should be wary of Watton now, so when the two appear together they'll likely try to walk under Watton, giving it a chance to attack. The next Watton appears at ground level, so the player has to either shoot it and be left in the dark or jump and risk getting hit with a bomb. Players who shot Watton will have had enough time to notice the lower ledge, and dropping down reveals a Dompan across the gap. It'll fall if it isn't shot right away, but the player can inch back and forth to make another appear (and possibly another Watton from the left).

The gap itself is fairly difficult as the ceiling prevents Rush Coil from assisting, and there's one last Dompan on the other side in case we missed the first and jumped anyway. With only three screens to work with (the starting screen is empty), this is an impressive use of space.

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Totem Polen and Battan are our next enemy pair. Totem Polen fires shots at random from one of his mouths and takes eight hits. We have to ride the Battans as they hop across the spikes, and they'll turn around when they reach the end of their paths, so we have to beat Totem on a time limit. Totem also hops if we try to jump over him, but it's still possible to make it if he's in the shooting animation at the time. A Gachappon guards the next room, and the ladder to the right leads to a health refill.

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Minoan hangs from the ceiling and falls when we get close, after which he'll slowly move across the floor. He takes two hits and can't be damaged when closed on the ceiling, though shooting the thing he's hanging from causes him to fall early. This only comes into play on the first one in the second image, as we can't reach the others. They're a pretty minor threat, but they're at least a little interesting and this is a good spot for a break anyway.

The next room gives us the choice of moving forward or climbing down a ladder. Going down leads to a side path full of platforms that move along a half-circle track when jumped on.

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Red platforms fall when they reach the end, while green platforms continue moving back and forth. There are four of these, and only the last is green, so we'll have to jump (or Rush Coil) across the gaps and Coil our way back up.

Unlike the rest of the stage, everything about this room seems like it wasn't thought through very well. There wasn't any reason to put four identical platforms in a row, we're stuck with awkward jumps on the way back, and they lost their one chance to make the green platforms worth anything since we'll be moving forward next time we see them. The large holes don't serve any purpose either, as they all appear in the middle of the platforms' paths instead of between them, so there's little chance of falling into one from above.

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The following Battan section builds on the last, with more gaps and platform switching. Things can get messy in the middle since two Battans can be active in the same space, but the player won't have to worry much as their collision is surprisingly forgiving, teleporting Mega Man on top whenever he clips into one. The Minoan waiting to drop on us in the next room is also a nice touch.

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In the last section we have to make a series of jumps with Wattons flying around. I like that they don't get in the way much, since it helps encourage players to avoid shooting them and gives them a chance to throw a few projectiles on the screen. There's little downside to attacking them here though, as everything we need to see remains visible and the room lights itself again just as we come back to solid ground.

This stage holds up remarkably well considering the number of gimmicks it includes. The first area is a fantastic introduction to the starting enemies and related stage mechanic, the Battans and moving platforms are fun and their arcing motions complement each other, Totem Polen could have been another button-mashing test but the designers showed restraint with his health, and the remaining enemies break up the main sections without overstaying their welcome. I also like that the placement of the Wattons in the last area make it seem more difficult than it is.

It's a shame the side path seems so sloppy in comparison, but we aren't forced to take it. Pink seems like an odd choice for an electricity stage (and boss, for that matter), but I like the flashing lights and machinery. I can't stop seeing those spikes as upside down teeth though.