A Critical Look at Mega Man 7 Stages: Dr. Wily Stage 4

Wily Stage 4

No twists, no extra castles, no Dark Man/Doc Robot. The third stage leads directly into the teleporter room and Dr. Wily fight, and as anyone who's played this before can tell you, it's a doozy.

The game offering bolts to us now is important. It's an invitation for players to visit the shop again if they have trouble, and anyone not walking into this with a full set of tanks almost certainly will.

The teleporter room looks a little different this time, with an elevator taking us to different rooms as we press up or down. The rematches give us the opportunity to check out some boss behaviors we might not have seen the first time around, now that we have all the weapons.

In a fantastic reversal of one boss being quickly destroyed by his own weapon, trying this on Freeze Man causes him to regain 4 health. He even pauses the action to smugly pose at you if you try it.

Spring Man also gains an advantage when hit with a certain weapon. Using Thunder Bolt magnetizes him, letting him pull Mega Man in for a grab attack.

The Super Adapter deals 3 damage to Cloud Man and 4 to Shade Man. While fighting Shade Man this way is viable and fun, we need to be more careful with Cloud Man, as it's easy to be pushed off the edge without a slide.

Only some basic refills here. If we wanted E-Tanks, we better have found or bought them earlier.

Dr. Wily's latest machine has two basic attacks. The easiest is a quick series of jumps across the screen. We can move through his feet, but we have to avoid the spikes on the skull's chin.

For his second, he throws out two smaller versions of the machine that walk toward us. They're slow to turn around, so fighting them isn't too hard on its own. Wily jumps off screen after each attack and lands on the side closest to us.

However, Wily isn't content to let us fight with them until we win. After a short time, he'll make a series of quick hops forward or a single long one to reach the other side, and we'll be in trouble if we haven't cleared a path to slide under him.

The smaller machines have a lot of health, and no particular weakness. One Junk Shield can barely finish them, and Slash Claw takes five hits. Noise Crush takes them down quickly, but you'll use a lot of energy for each. Wily shoots them far enough to either side of you that Wild Coil might had have a chance to do something, but its damage is too low to make a dent.

Wily himself takes two damage from Thunder Bolt, Scorch Wheel, or a charged shot, so we don't have an easy way out.

After enough hits to the open cockpit, he'll come back with the capsule, then vanish. Any Mega Man fan up to this point would know what sort of fight to expect next.

A nice detail for this one is that Wily isn't simply disappearing, he's using some sort of invisibility cloak that a robot hand has to put on and pull off each time.

Here it is: the end of the road for many players. Wily creates four projectiles with random effects which move out a bit from the corners of the capsule, move toward Mega Man for a set distance, then move toward him again.

We need to try to bait them into coming closer together for the first movement, then lure them away from Mega Man or jump over them for the second. This is already hard, and with Wily moving around the room, it's very difficult to find a consistent strategy.

These things are fast, deal serious damage, and end up all over the place. A valid strategy is to simply let the electric ones hit you, as they deal the least damage, and the temporary invincibility protects you from the rest.

For all the help Auto's shop is in mitigating the game's difficulty, this fight is meant to test whether we bothered to prepare ourselves. Even four normal energy tanks and a full refill might not be enough for some, and we still have to figure out how to damage him.

Wild Coil finally gets a chance to shine, dealing two damage to the capsule and allowing us to aim at his higher positions. We can also use Freeze Cracker and the Super Adapter to hit him more easily for one.

Once we've damaged him, Wily shows off his second trick. Anytime he's hurt, he'll follow the projectiles with a ball of electricity aimed straight down, which splits into four and moves very fast across the floor. If we've dodged the first attack, we'll have just enough time to jump over this. If we're unlucky enough to have been frozen, we'll have no way to avoid it.

We also have the option of hitting him with Thunder Bolt, which deals no damage, but shorts out his capsule and prevents his attack. This can be useful, as his projectiles are harder to avoid when he's low to the ground, so we can use this to make him move.

If we manage to win, the capsule explodes and Wily falls to the ground.

And then Mega Man did what he should have done.

...

No, of course Wily escapes yet again, but after that fight, I expect a lot of players would have preferred to watch him burn with his castle.


What more can I say? This Wily fight is infamous in the series for its difficulty. While it doesn't quite force players to take damage (you'll find plenty of videos out there of people doing this perfectly), anyone seeing this for the first time is going to be overwhelmed by the attacks.

In addition, they have to figure out what to hit him with, have one shot at using their E Tanks before having to go buy more, and the whole thing gives us no break between the boss rematches and both Wily forms. This was very deliberate, and is simply a matter of taste as to whether this was an awesome way to end the original series (as they might have thought this would be at the time) or a frustrating mess.

All I can add is that I would have liked to see Wild Coil destroy the smaller machines outright, both to give it something else to do, and to give players a choice between using some of it in the first form or saving it all for the second.