A Critical Look at Mega Man 6 Stages: Tomahawk Man

Tomahawk Man's stage begins with a new enemy by the name of Colton. While he can't move and only fires one slow shot now and then, he gets a nice advantage over many other turret enemies by firing the moment he enters the screen. He's also somewhat beefy at six hits, giving the Power armor some purpose here.

The ground is littered with destructible barrels, the last of which grants us an E Tank. Breaking the barrels in front of the last two Coltons also allows the Power armor to safely walk within range, and while normal Mega Man would have no trouble taking them out at a distance, it's nice to see some tactical purpose to destroying objects.

The gap over this Shield Attacker is one of those little moments that is easy to ignore, but very well designed on a closer look. It's just the right distance for Mega Man to jump it, but because the far ground is lower, the player also has to avoid touching the enemy on the way down. This distance also happens to be just far enough for Mega Man to jump down and fight (or hop over it), but close enough to be uncomfortable.

Metall Potton is the giant machine spitting out Metalls. It can only be harmed in the lower section (everything below the pipe on the right) which encourages using short hops here to destroy it. The Mets themselves come in two forms, walking and hopping.

The walkers fire twice on the way over, can hop to the upper ledge, and will even chase Mega Man if they get past him. This might be threatening if we had any reason to move from the left side, but in this case we can just shoot them when they get to the ledge.

The hoppers are a little more troublesome, as their shots are just high enough to hit Mega Man's feet, a fact which the player might not notice right away. They also end up right against the ledge if they get that far, and the next jump carries them away from it while letting them shoot a spread close enough that the player would have to jump forward to avoid it.

Little of this matters, unfortunately, as neither the machine nor Mets are likely to survive long enough to do much.

While Molier is only an annoyance in the tunnel, retreating from the following Mets can cause one to spawn and attack from behind, which is far more interesting than anything it does in this game normally.

It's a real shame that Skull Walker only takes two hits. These jump after taking a few steps forward, and are all positioned to allow Mega Man to easily walk under except for the last, which can be safely jumped over while it moves into the corner. However, any hesitation will give them a chance to turn and chase the player.

This situation would feel like a less forced version of the jumping birds at the end of Wood Man's stage if they only had a couple more hit points to discourage blasting through them immediately. The ladder here leads to an alternate route, this time requiring the Jet armor.

On this path, the player must cross a series of vertically-moving platforms that Mega Man would not be able to jump to normally. While it's good to finally see a Jet-requiring route that fully enforces its use, very little is asked of the player, as each gap can be crossed with fuel to spare regardless of the platforms' positions when the player jumps, and nothing attacks Mega Man in this segment. The rewards are more for bringing the Jet armor and noticing the ladder than for the work involved in getting there.

The gap in the second image is wide enough for this to be a blind jump from the stationary platform, but this is a good place for one since it makes the area feels more dangerous than it is, and the player can easily look ahead and return to the platform before committing to the jump. I'm not sure if I should call this a good use of a blind jump, or if I'm essentially saying that blind jumps are fine when they're not actually blind.

After the paths meet, Twin Roader and Power Slam do their thing, and Metall Potton is back for round two. Its position is a little better this time, as Mega Man can only hit with a normal shot in a small window at the top of his jump. Both Met types now fire in the area the player will be jumping into, but are also more vulnerable. I can't say this one is any harder, but the extra height at least encourages the player to try walking under it. As mini-bosses that create more enemies go, we've seen much better examples in Mega Man 2 and 3.

The second split path shows the best use of a Jet-required area so far, with Shield Attacker and Teck pairing up to make the lower corridor awkward to navigate. This ends in a room with a platform that rotates when stepped on, in a position that is unlikely to give the player trouble. This would be an acceptable introduction to it near the beginning of a stage, but its sudden appearance in an optional room just before a boss door is odd.

The upper path leads to another fun area with Skull Walkers, this time backed up by Hotchkiss'n. The Walkers can still be peacefully avoided, but doing so now requires jumping under and over them alternately, with tight squeezes beneath Hotch. The height of the last Hotch also helps it avoid being shot down immediately.

This stage is also the hiding place of one more new item to the series. In the room behind this block, Proto Man gives his usual silent treatment before leaving behind the Energy Balancer, which causes all energy items to refill the weapon with the least energy if Mega Man is not currently using one. This can save a lot of pointless menu navigation, so much so that the feature became a standard in later series.

Like Yamato Man, this stage suffered for spreading an already small amount of content among multiple paths, made worse with a lackluster mini-boss, and some wasted screens with the last Colton and another Twin Roader in what seems to be the only situation it was allowed to appear in. It sadly feels short and forgettable overall, but I can give it a lot of credit for making great use of some simple enemies, and it at least put some effort into making the armor-required areas feel designed for that armor.