A Critical Look at Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge Stages: Fire Man

Sure, let's stand here and shoot some Suzys. We could walk through, but they're not timed to allow us to run through them all at once, and it's easier to kill one than wait for it to move.

I've said my piece on Suzy by now.

Changkey falls through these holes in a regular pattern with forgiving timing. After two jumps, Bunby shows up to complicate the situation. Changkey can block shots, so destroying Bunby can be a little harder than it looks.

Bunby continues to swarm us as we deal with two fire traps and a Sniper Joe. This area isn't necessarily bad, but the single block jumps across the whole thing feel a bit samey, even for the few screens it lasts. A larger, more solid platform for the Joe might have helped break that up.

This is a nice jump. It's not hard to do, but the proximity to the ceiling makes it worrying both for cutting Mega Man's jump short, and making the player get closer to the falling Changkey. It's a good way to make the environment exaggerate the difficulty of a simple task.

Changkey Maker is back, and is unfortunately another enemy harmed by the new format. Dodging his shots is much tougher on the smaller screen, and they're random enough that it's hard to find a good way to approach him. At ten hits, he takes a while to kill with Mega Man's slower shot rate, and there's so little room to move that it's easy to scroll him off the screen by accident and have to start over. His higher placement here at least gives us extra time to react as the Changkeys fall.

Fighting Changkey Maker on our level feels even more cramped, and adding more Joes turns this area into a long, tedious shootout.

This is a simple puzzle for Ice Man's weapon, which allows us to reach the health by freezing the fire trap. The Screwdrivers don't add much here. While the first can attack when we go back for the health, fighting them on the ground is simple, and the upper one can be shot without activating it.

Shooting Suzy still isn't hard, though making the player land next to this fire trap was a good choice.

They're really pushing Changkey Maker in this stage. This would be a good placement for it if it wasn't already so frustrating to fight, as we're now trapped in a smaller area, and jumping back to the previous platform causes it to respawn.

This is a better place for Screwdriver too. It's still easy to fight, but the stakes are higher if we screw up, with damage potentially pushing Mega Man into the lava.

We already fought Bunby while hopping across pits, and there's no fire traps in the way this time. Not much to see here.

This new hazard is a flame that continuously spawns from the left and moves to the right. We need to time a jump over it while being careful not to stand on the area it spawns from. It's fast enough that judging the spawn location isn't that tough, but some sort of visual indicator would have been nice. We deal with it once in both directions, then never see it again in this stage.

Alright, so... Changkey Maker is not a replacement for level design. It's tedious enough that I wouldn't have put more than two in a stage, and this makes nine of them.

With three Joes and a handful of Suzys, this stage requires some heavy mashing of the shoot button. The Changkeys and fire traps feel like a token effort to make the stage interesting, but the majority of the stage is a long set of similar jumps across individual blocks, a gauntlet of strong enemies, then both sections repeated with minor changes.

The new hazard was given no chance to do anything beyond its introduction, and Changkey Maker seems to have been thrown in to fit the fire theme with no regard for how it could add to the gameplay, especially since the lighting effect isn't present here. This one was disappointing, both for this game and the series as a whole.