A Critical Look at Mega Man 7 Stages: The First Four Weapons

Having gained access to four of the weapons, we can now review the arsenal we'll be bringing to the second half, and check out a few stage objects and areas we would have missed without them.

Danger Wrap encases small enemies in a bubble, and deals minor damage otherwise. When an enemy is in a bubble, we can push it into another, dealing damage with the explosion.

Weapons like this that only affect small enemies tend to be useless, but there are two excellent reasons to want this one. First, it can destroy Gabyoall. Considering how much of a pain it can be in these stages, this alone can be worth trying to get it first. Also, we can bubble Shirokumachine's ice projectiles and push them into it, destroying one in only four hits.

An odd secondary effect is the ability to place a bomb on the ground by holding down while firing, which has the occasional use. We can also make the bubble float upward by holding up.

Thunder Bolt fires forward, splitting in two when it hits an enemy. It's rare to find a use for the split, but the shot itself often does more damage than Mega Man's charge shots, destroying a variety of enemies in one hit. This is the simple firepower upgrade, and does a reasonable job at it.

In Junk Man's stage, we can use it to activate these machines, causing the platforms here to move and removing the Gabyoalls. Unfortunately, activating it in the obvious space can easily lead to a crushing death.

Though we could potentially grab the health item now, it's rarely worth it, as the downward platform we need rarely appears at the right time. Doing this allows us to collect the Rush Jet.

Activating the platforms makes the uppermost hallway dangerous, so it's important not to forget about them after getting up here.

The second machine in this stage activates magnets and small junk pieces that rise from below. We can stand on them, and the magnets can carry both us and the junk pieces. There is very little reason to do this unless a player is having a lot of problems with that jump, and Rush Coil would be a better choice anyway. The purpose may have been to help avoid Dust Crusher, but standing around trying to time a jump on the junk pieces doesn't make them any easier.

Freeze Cracker can be fired in multiple directions and splits into six pieces when fired, but it deals so little damage that it's tough to find enemies worth using it on. Its best use is for weak enemies that you want to attack with a bigger shot, like Gockroach, or enemies that would be out of reach without it. More importantly, it's our best weapon for finding secrets.

Using this on the second Tel Tel in Cloud Man's stage turns the rain to snow, giving us better visibility for the rest of the stage, and making all the platforms visible. This allows players to see the path to the U item.

After a rare chance to put the smaller projectiles to use, we can freeze this lava in Junk Man's stage for a secret path to the S item.

This area goes on for a while, with a new mechanic of jumping over sinking blocks. For the first pits we only need to avoid being pushed down by the blocks, but the last one requires jumping across them. However, we've just seen evidence that there's an easier way to do this, and players who remember that Freeze Cracker can be fired downward will be able to cross the floor safely. We're also rewarded with an easy extra life for finding this place.

The end of this area includes another elevator segment and two rooms of simple enemies. As an interesting note about this area, this is one of the rare chances we get to see Tripropellan drop bombs, as the game almost never gives us a reason to walk under one.

Surprisingly, Junk Shield does not block projectiles. It makes up for this by being the best offensive weapon we have, dealing up to 18 hits worth of damage, which is enough to carry us through many long segments full of small enemies in one use.

Even better, it destroys Shield Attackers from the front, and dishes out damage extremely fast to large, tough enemies. There's no need for stage secrets to make this an amazing boss reward.

With Thunder Bolt as our decent damage upgrade, Danger Wrap as the awkward but occasionally awesome situational weapon, Freeze Cracker taking the role of a secret-finder to make up for its weak combat potential, and Junk Shield being flat-out amazing, this is a decent loadout. This game is full of secrets and we have more to cover, including what those letter items do and why we're collecting bolts in this game, but we'll finally make some progress next time as well.