A Critical Look at Mega Man 7 Stages: Cloud Man

The first things we'll notice here are the foreground elements that Mega Man can move behind, drawing an immediate comparison to Air Man.

Our first enemy is, fittingly, a flying one. Tsuranattori moves forward until it is close to Mega Man, moves down and back at an angle to match Mega Man's horizontal position, then flies forward again. Destroying the one in front will cause the rest to fly straight forward quickly, and shooting while standing still is the simplest way to avoid them.

It's also possible to slide under the whole group, or jump to make them move above you.

Kaminari Kogoro is our second enemy and this game's pit jumper. It moves straight up a bit slower than usual for this enemy type, then moves back down in a wave pattern, which could catch a player standing at the edge waiting for it to leave. Taking two damage instead of the usual one, it encourages attempts to jump over it while also giving us a use for the charge shot.

There's a nice moment here where we can jump a Kaminari while taking out a Tsuranattori group with a charge shot, followed by a bit more of the same. We can't jump the lowest Kaminari, but if we don't take out the Tsuranattori group immediately, they do a good job of preventing us from trying it.

This is also the point where I find the foreground elements excessive, as the large fan blades take up a lot of screen space without actually obscuring anything. That is, they're a visual annoyance with no significant effect on gameplay, at least so far.

The clouds here serve the same purpose they did with Air Man, obscuring parts of the floor to make us worry about hidden pits, without actually using one. Tel Tel here is a strange enemy, floating in place until we shoot it, then causing rain to appear and falling out of view.

In what appears to be an unfortunate programming oversight, the next screen will have rain whether we shoot the first Tel Tel or not. This feels like the rain should have been avoidable, especially with the second Tel Tel hovering suspiciously in our way. The clouds now serve to obscure a platform leading to an extra life, which we can find the edge of by bumping into it before using Rush.

Now, take a look at that gap to slide through. We won't see anything when we start the slide, and it looks like a good way to avoid Tel Tel. Once we're halfway through, a Petaforth walks into view, blocking our landing. More importantly, there's a pit right in front of us that it will probably knock Mega Man into. If the player notices this in the fraction of a second we have to see it, there's also a good chance they'll try to turn around a bit late, falling into the hole anyway. The only way to survive this is to continue pressing forward, taking the hit but moving just far enough to stay on the platform.

I don't have the best memory, but this may be the single meanest trap in the series thus far. We've dealt with a few nasty spike traps, but this happens in an area that doesn't look particularly dangerous, and is designed to kill a player who does the seemingly correct thing.

The next screen reveals some more nasty surprises. Sliding under the Tel Tel could potentially lead us onto the Petaforths platform, and if we don't fall, the Tsuranattori here block us in. This is fair, since we don't need dodging room to deal with Tsuranattori.

The Petaforth's habit of swinging his legs outside of his movement path will catch players who attempt to avoid him, which encourages us to keep moving under the Kaminari that floats invitingly high, only to find that it has gained a new move in the rain to prevent this. This leads to another death for doing what appears to be the smart thing.

We can jump over the next one, but are once again punished for trying to keep moving instead of waiting for them each time, as another Petaforth waits where we need to land after the second one. Following is another patch of clouds to make us nervous, and a few simple jumps to the ladder.

Tripropellan is more complex than it looks, firing shots in bursts of three at multiple angles, aiming to Mega Man's position. It can change angles mid-volley, making it tougher to jump over a diagonal burst and attack. I found that it can also drop bombs straight down, but as there is no reason to be underneath it here, this will need to be explored later.

The cloud platforms obscure Mega Man's feet, but are larger than their original incarnation and move slowly, making them easy enough to deal with. The large fan blades now serve some purpose, obscuring Tripropellan's projectiles.

Semi-invisible platforms are the main gimmick here, showing themselves only within a certain radius of Mega Man. We don't have to make any blind jumps yet, but the visible pieces of the next platforms can be tough to notice in this rain and color palette.

Gobots is another new flyer, and its pattern of moving up slightly and then swooping down makes it easy to avoid as long as we're moving forward. Delupipi is a rather unnecessary upgrade to Pipi, dropping massive eggs that release smaller birds in randomized patterns.

The problem with this is that they quickly spread out into formation before homing in on Mega Man, which can cause the player to take damage without warning, and the only safe option is to back away immediately. The egg is a large target at least, and can be destroyed in two hits or a charge shot, but the increasingly bad visibility in this stage can make dodging them awkward at best.

After a bit more of the same, we have a few opportunities to notice a large platform above. This can be reached from the left side with Rush.

This leads to an extra life, but the U item can be reached by exploring to the left. We can't see this path without taking a blind jump, but a weapon effect can solve this. These things will be covered when we get to the weapons, but for now, I'm just showing what would be encountered without them.

Moving on, we find some classic setups, with a choice of ladders leading to an item and an opportunity to fight from a ladder. These enemies are a breeze, but it's nice to be out of the rain at least. We also have another side path to explore.

After climbing into this room, Proto Man shows up to give us some advice a certain bear in a ranger's hat might find questionable.

I haven't mentioned these bolts yet. This game includes a shop, which uses bolts as currency. They can be found lying around or dropped from enemies. There are also special bolts, which we'll cover with the weapons, as they are related to a new Rush ability. There's little else happening here, and having dealt with Delupipi on small platforms with poor visibility, they're far less of a threat now.

Our last new enemy, Boufooh, is another callback to Air Man. This version of a humanoid fan can spin its body around to change direction. This takes some time, but while it's not too difficult to avoid being pulled off the platform, being moved around can cause new enemies to spawn. In this case, the Delupipi can appear from behind if we get too close to the edge here. It's also nice to see that we have a safe gap to stand in for the first one, giving us a chance to learn how Boufooh works.

This Delupipi can cause the opposite problem, spawning a new Boufooh if we retreat to the previous platform. This is fine, as it's a relatively safe area compared to some of what we saw earlier, and we have plenty of opportunities to fill up on health and energy for the boss.

While the first section and moving cloud area are decent, and the final stretch is acceptable but simple, the rest of this is a mess.

The first Petaforth and altered Kaminari behavior in the rain can lead to some nasty deaths, the invisible platforms are rough when paired with swarms of birds, and there are quite a few empty screens in between. The rain, foreground objects, and hidden platforms combined with the excess of dark green make this hard on the eyes for little gameplay benefit.

On the plus side, the enemies here give us more use for the charge shot, and I appreciate that the U item can be obtained without using the weapon gimmick if we know where it is.