Here we go, the last group of special weapons on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Let's see how they hold up.
The Yamato Spear throws projectiles forward, alternating between a slight upward and downward angle. It's stronger than the Mega Buster and can damage some shielded enemies, like Shield Attack and the turret, but is useless against others. The fact that it alternates angles instead of being randomized is a good choice, as it allows novice players to fire quickly for a powerful spread, while experts can get a lot more use out of that energy bar with some careful shooting.
Flame Blast and Wind Storm
These are our two downward-angled weapons. Flame Blast travels through enemies it kills and creates a flame pillar when it contacts a surface, while Wind Storm travels along the ground and lifts enemies off the screen if it wouldn't do enough damage to destroy them. Aside from a few rare moments where the flame pillar is helpful, both have similar utility. At a cost of one energy unit, they're both great for covering angles the buster can't reach.
And here's our upward one. For one energy, Mega Man throws a large projectile that curves slightly downward before moving up, covering both the air and a wide area in front of himself.
Knight Crush moves forward and curves back toward Mega Man. With the ability to be aimed in three directions, this can hit almost anything the player needs it to after a bit of practice. As with the rest so far, it has a cost of one energy.
This creates four snowflakes behind Mega Man, with the outer two angled away and the inner two moving forward. Though slow, it covers a wide area and, surprisingly, is the only weapon that can damage this game's Gabyoall.
A simple barrier. Mega Man cannot throw it or otherwise attack while it's active, and at four cost, it's a bit expensive for how little utility it has. Its best use may be against Gabgyo, but we unfortunately pick it up in the stage they're most common in.
A basic four-cost screen wipe. As the game offers few areas where the player is swarmed with enemies, there's nothing else I can say for it.
Beat works roughly as he did before, with a slight change to his energy use. He now destroys any enemy he can attack, but uses energy equal to the damage it could take. He's also completely lost the ability to attack bosses. While he only needs four parts this time, the two Rush armors are necessary to acquire those, meaning he can be useful for two regular stages at best. Still, his ability to instantly destroy Squidon is nice. We'll have to see how he does in the remainder of the game.
This is a very simplistic weapon set, leaving me little to talk about individually. However, as a whole, this is by far the most useful set we've seen since Mega Man 2-- for a new player, at least.
We've got two downward weapons, one upward weapon, two that cover all directions, a forward one with a small spread effect, a basic shield, and a screen wipe. We have a lot of options to hit angles that Mega Man normally can't, without having to go to much extra effort to do so. Most of these could carry a player through a whole stage, and with few cases where an enemy is significantly weaker or stronger against one, there is more incentive to do so than in previous games, even when competing with the Rush armors and charge shot.
The only major complaint I have with this set is the Yamato Spear's inconsistent piercing effect. I've also seen a lot of hate for Plant Barrier, but I don't think the inability to throw it is any great loss. It serves its purpose as protection from shots and small enemies during difficult platforming segments, and my only problem with it is that the cost is so high, which goes for every other shield in the NES games as well.
This set fits the rest of this game's design by taking the simple and safe route, but in this case, that works heavily in its favor. While the other games offer more interesting things to do with the weapons, this is one of the few where a new player can rely on almost any of them as a significant power boost through the stages. It's just a shame that we got this in the easiest game of the series so far.