Bunby Tank's placement here allows it to avoid our regular shots, but not charged shots, if we're standing on the left platform. It's area is also small enough to potentially give a player trouble when jumping past it, and to make it tougher to run if we let the head escape. It's a good spot for this guy to hang out.
We also see the return of bomb platforms here, with one introduced while we jump over spikes, and the next blocking the path forward, ensuring that we stick around long enough to see the explosion and learn how they work.
These bombs are a little more interesting. We want to avoid blowing up the middle one until we've activated the top, and while it's very easy to touch them both and leave, or only remove the top one, the potential for having to make an awkward jump with only the middle removed lightly introduces the player to making choices with these.
The next screen uses one as an actual trap, putting Mega Man on a small platform next to one that was likely set off in the fall, while a Driver Cannon pulls our attention from it.
Using Rush near the edge lets us grab an extra life, and we have a choice of falling normally or making a timed jump through a bomb. I like that we already had the opportunity to practice this once in a situation where it wasn't forced.
These bombs are set up to make us deal with Tripropellan for a few seconds, and its shots can interfere with our ability to dodge when a bomb is about to go off. The sideways bomb is safe, but it's easy to trigger accidentally if we fall on the main platform and need to escape Gabyoall.
One problem with this screen is that the E-Tank is close enough to the ceiling for a player to collect it on the way down without seeing what it was, so taking the right path may seem useless at first.
We're introduced to water here, and two new enemies. CFN-24 floats in place, bobbing up and down slightly, and dealing three damage causes it to explode. Kintot swims forward in a wave pattern, but has a nasty habit of suddenly turning around, which can catch players by surprise when we have bombs to pay attention to.
We're offered another extra life on the upper path, and the last CFN-24 has a pretty good position. Our shots bounce off bombs, so we can't easily hit it from the left side. When standing on top of the bomb, we can only hit it at the highest point of its movement, and if we get next to it, we run the risk of its explosion as well as the bomb behind us. The best solution is to jump and shoot from behind the bomb, but it's neat how easy it is to put ourselves in a dangerous situation with these two objects.
The last room seems to be trying to make us hurry to get the health item and run back, but the bombs aren't quite close enough to the wall to be a threat, and it's not much trouble to jump back without them. Still, they occupy a lot of space on the screen, and have a good chance of causing a player to panic and make this harder for themselves than it is.
Swim Metall DX jumps up and fires a shot. From there, its behavior is extremely random. It can jump straight up or to the side, make one or two large jumps, or sometimes jump repeatedly against the ceiling. A particularly dangerous aspect to these is that they immediately hide in their hat when they're done jumping, which means that a large, indestructible projectile can suddenly be falling toward you without warning.
After a few more of these, we reach a tighter spiked gap. If we've left any Metalls on the screen, taking the time to get through here carefully might let them catch up.
Kanigance is our mini-boss for the stage, and is complex enough that it could easily have filled the role of a late-game boss in the Nintendo Entertainment System series.
It can shoot a set of three fireballs, and aims upward if we try to jump too high. The shots are close enough together that jumping between them is a bad idea, so we really want to take a high jump to avoid the group, which means we'll frequently be making quick decisions based on where he aims.
His second attack is a spread of three bubbles. While we can destroy these, they will split once into smaller bubbles when shot or when the touch the wall.
His last attack is to dash forward, leaving us just enough room to slide, and bouncing back from the wall a bit so we can land if we jump straight up. After this, he'll jump back into position, so we need to be prepared to move again.
Like regular enemies, Kanigance has no on-hit invulnerability, so we're free to get as many shots in as we can. Upon defeat, the ceiling is destroyed and we start floating upward.
Mega Man can only move left or right in this state, and weaving through a handful of enemies and spikes would have been a great idea had the camera been centered. As it is, we have little time to react to obstacles, though the area at least doesn't try to fake us out. The spikes lead us in one direction, and the only really tight space to move through doesn't involve spikes.
Reaching the surface shows us another new mechanic in this stage. The water level is rising and falling dramatically, and we continue to float in it. We can jump out at any time, and jumping into it will cause us to sink based on our falling speed.
Kintot seems like it my be broken in this state, perpetually hopping at the surface, though I can understand the difficulty of allowing it to swim in these circumstances.
The next room offers a short introduction to vanishing blocks, with a rather nasty fall into Gabyoall's pit if we fail. Not only are we unable to jump out without the block or Rush, but the block can potentially trap us underneath.
This should be a familiar pattern by now, and all I'll say for it is that it at least puts a platform under the blocks arranged vertically.
Getting dumped into a room with enemies moving downward is a common trap, but Kerone has an unusual placement here, with the higher one being blocked by the terrain. We can kill the first or jump under it, but it's a shame we can't take them both out with a charge shot.
Now the moving water gets serious, with a longer segment full of enemies and spikes to navigate. Swim Metall can't move out of water, but it will still give us chances to hit it. There's a nice balance of danger here, as a higher water level means we can worry less about spikes, but the enemies have more room to move.
CFN-24 will float at the surface in this area, and walking off the platform in the third image gives us a good shot at it and the Metall. The R item is on the right side of the platform above, so we want to reach this while the water is rising.
Jumping here lets us dive under the platform and bypass these spikes safely. Next, we can wait for the water to carry us up or jump to the next screen, where we find a tight hole to get through with spikes above and below. There's a great placement of CFN-24 here, as the water can carry it into Mega Man's feet while we're waiting for a chance to cross.
If we had let the water carry us up during the previous screen, we could float through this whole second half of this area while hardly touching the floor.
There's another CFN-24 on the other side of the wall, and we'll want to quickly decide between jumping or attacking the last Metall before it gets room to move. After all that, the Petaforth by the door is a bit of an anticlimax.
Aside from the initial float upward, the individual pieces of this stage work well, and the water segments have a good progression toward a fun final area. Its fault lies in trying to do too many things, but it only needed to drop the vanishing blocks and follow through on the bomb platforms to nail the theme it was going for.
The moving water is a great new mechanic for this game, as the area allows the player to progress in multiple ways depending on the timing of the water, and their willingness to jump a few gaps instead of waiting for it. It may rely too much on spikes for its difficulty, but there's a nice variety of encounters and movement options to interact with.