A Critical Look at Mega Man 7 Stages: Junk Man

A Tripropellan over a pit is our first obstacle, and is placed far enough forward that we have no need to worry about both together. The Metalls here are a greater problem, giving us little room to avoid their shots on the platforms, and threatening to fall on us if we walk below.

The jump to this screw is not only a hard one to make, but difficult to judge due to the extra pixels giving the edge a rounded look that we can fall through.

Gockroach S is a complex enemy; walking around, flying toward us in a long arc, climbing or flying to various walls, and falling on our heads. Two spawn normally in this room (one past the first Metall, one by the ladder) but the trash heap here also generates them, and they can be difficult to avoid if they're allowed to get all over the room.

They die in one hit, but require the extra width of a charge shot to destroy on the ground. They're best attacked mid-flight, and they cannot climb a ledge to reach us without flying. Destroying their home will cause more to leap out, if there aren't already too many on-screen.

The platforms here give them plenty of surfaces to fly to, and a long jump gives them some good distance from their raised spawn area.

The next Gockroach is more deliberately placed, walking along the ceiling as we climb into the room and falling on or near us as we move forward. If not destroyed by now, it will likely run forward, which is a problem if we don't have a charge shot ready. Spending time trying to avoid it will allow the bottom area to fill with more of them, so it is best destroyed quickly from the ladder or during the fall.

The next area locks us into an elevator with Heli Metalls descending from the ceiling. These fire two shots diagonally, then continue downward. I'm not attempting to screenshot all of them here, as the pattern is scattered but consistent, allowing us room to stand between each pair of shots as they come. It's just long enough for a new player to get used to the situation without overstaying its welcome.

Gockroachs are best destroyed as soon as possible, as their unpredictability makes them unsafe to jump over (though it looks tempting in this case), and can become a problem if given a chance to fly back from behind. Their homes are easy to deal with when directly in front of us, but the next room is more suited to their behavior.

One starts on the ceiling here, and more are likely to end up there if we don't take them out quickly. However, their movement paths don't allow them to reach the ledge we start on, allowing a player to clear them out and move down when it's safest to do so.

This is a rather poor use of Gabyoall. Three of them appear on small platforms, and we're meant to freeze them when close to us, jump over them, and jump again before they start moving again. They're fast enough that stopping them in the right place can be tedious, and while this isn't nearly the toughest execution challenge the game offers, it's annoying enough that this shouldn't have been asked of a player three times in a row, especially with a chance of falling and having to do it again.

At the top, we can see a large health item we can't reach at the moment.

The next screens are empty of threats, and include a ladder leading to something blocked by one of the platforms we just climbed. Clearly, something more is going on here.

As we enter the next room, we'll see a worm-like enemy called Dust Crusher swimming through the trash. As we get close, it raises a periscope, then lunges at our position. Attacking the head will damage it, but at eight hits, we still need to get out of the way first to avoid damage.

After a simple jump and a second Dust Crusher, we're shown that there was definitely another path available, but it's not one we could reach had we started here.

Properide moves back and forth between two points, stopping for a while at each. Junk blocks fall from holes in the ceiling at each interval, and will push Mega Man downward if he is caught under them.

Players need to jump to each Properide and wait for them to move before jumping to the next. Junk blocks can also fall on top of a Properide, and will begin shooting projectiles from the sides after a while. This takes a long time, enough that a player may never see it if they think to shoot the block right away.

Destroying the blocks allows us to reach the last two safely, and we can also get across by standing on the block covering the lowest one.

Frisk Cannon fires three arcing projectiles quickly, starting with the longest shot, presumably to pen us in as we run forward. It's slow enough to fire that we could be on the lower floor by then, where it's more likely to hit us.

Driver Cannon isn't much of a threat here unless we leave Frisk Cannon alive, but they combine for a nice trap. The second Frisk Cannon is paired with a Metall, which is another good pairing to catch players moving forward too quickly, and is a good note to end the stage on.

It's clear here, more than any other stage, that there are things to do that cannot be done with our starting tools. It's good to tip the player off that they should explore the stage again with other weapons.

The Gockroaches are an interesting enemy and are shown off in different situations, the elevator segment is a fun challenge that lasts no longer than it needs to, and Frisk Cannon is used well in the final area. Dust Crusher is a good set piece, but its long swim animation slows the action down, and the player is never held up by anything else to make the lunge more dangerous. It plays a better role as a lesser danger when falling from Properide.

Properide itself is a good way to solve the erratic movement of the first game's take on the idea, but it is far slower than it needs to be, the junk blocks are too slow to attack, and the area makes little use of the fact that Mega Man can stand on the blocks. On top of that, the falling block at the start can cause a bad surprise death, since it is timed to hit players walking forward and jumping, without prior warning that they exist.

The stage gimmicks requiring special weapons come at the cost of a bad first impression, and we'll find out soon if it was worth it. As we can see so far, the climb past the Gabyoalls is a bad area made worse by the lack of anything else happening, including two screens that might as well be empty. This also leaves the stage with no underlying gimmick or theme to explore, with each area presenting something different.