Completing the first four stages opens up the second segment of the game. Since we're certain to have fought each of these bosses at this point, we can now check out the weapons we've collected so far and what we can do with them. But first, the bosses.
The simplest of the four makes up for it with a hazardous room and some unique mechanics. His first attack creates three yellow bubbles in from of him, and larger blue bubbles periodically appear below. The yellow bubbles bounce us away when touched, and are destroyable.
We can stand on the blue bubbles, but these quickly rise toward the spikes above, and since the yellow ones move forward, the combination can make it difficult to escape being pushed upward.
For his second attack, Burst Man fires three Danger Wrap bubbles containing bombs. These float forward, and rise when Mega Man jumps over them. The bomb falls when they break against the ceiling, and explodes after a short time. More importantly, Mega Man will be trapped if he touches these, and the player must mash buttons (any buttons) to escape or be instantly killed when it reaches the ceiling.
Hitting Burst Man with a charge shot interrupts whatever he's doing at the moment, but also causes four bombs to fall out.
The walls here will bounce Mega Man away, and while this can add further confusion when attempting to escape his first attack, jumping against the side can launch Mega Man clear across the middle of the arena.
Burst Man's weakness is the Freeze Cracker, which deals four damage with a direct hit or three with a broken piece, and causes the same bomb drop animation as a charge shot.
Despite having only two attacks, there's always a lot to deal with in this fight. The constant threat of instant loss makes it difficult to focus on dealing damage, and as the fight progresses, Burst Man will keep jumping forward to take away what little room you have to move. While previous boss rooms have contained spikes, allowing a boss to deliberately attempt to push you into them with every move was a bold design choice, and makes this a tough one to critique.
His first attack is fair, given that the yellow bubbles are destroyable and Mega Man can easily slide away from the others, but his second is a problem. The bomb bubbles are tough to avoid, and mashing to escape is something that will vary a lot in difficulty for different players. An important piece of information players might not guess is that every button affects how quickly Mega Man can break out, including the D-Pad. Knowing this makes escape easy, but I expect most players to assume they have to shoot, and getting caught halfway up the screen would likely be certain death, in that case.
Still, I appreciate Burst's ability to keep the player away from him, and the different ways his projectiles mess with Mega Man, along with his reaction to charged shots, give every action an interesting consequence.
With that fancy intro, Cloud Man may be trying to distract the player from the missing platform behind them, which falls as he enters.
Cloud Man's attacks are fueled by Thunder Bolt lighting strikes, and his first is a very fast shot that splits into four sparks, which spread along the ground. This is easily the toughest of his attacks, but the danger is in trying to time a slide or jump to avoid the lighting. Simply walking to the side is enough, allowing a player to focus on the secondary projectiles.
The next strike allows Cloud Man to create rain, which quickly pushes Mega Man in the direction it's moving. While the player focuses on not falling off, Cloud Man fires the four ground sparks twice more.
After the rain stops, he hovers above the ground and moves toward Mega Man, then starts the pattern over and sticks to it. His weakness is the Danger Wrap, which causes him to float upward and fall to the ground after it pops. He'll always try his first attack after this, but it's possible to hit him again before he starts it.
This is the easiest of this group of bosses, but his pattern is still long and complex enough to be interesting. There are many opportunities to attack him safely after his initial lightning attack, and new players should be fine as long as they can avoid being pushed off the side.
These bosses are doing a great job of showing off for the new system.
Junk Man moves only with jumps, and starts off by slamming the ground hard enough to stun Mega Man while junk blocks fall from the ceiling. While this ends, he begins pulling pieces of junk into a larger block.
After punching this at the wall, Junk Man stomps on it to create his Junk Shield.
Perhaps misunderstanding the point of a shield, he jumps once and immediately throws it at us, trapping Mega Man long enough that it can only barely be escaped by mashing before taking a hit.
His last attack is to mix normal jumps up with a higher leap that includes throwing a junk block at us, which he'll do a few times before restarting the whole process. Attacking with Thunder Bolt causes him to jump and throw a block, allowing us to easily slide under and repeat.
This is complicated, and unlike Cloud Man, we're always under attack. The only breather we get is when Junk Man creates the large block, and he can't be hurt in that state. Activating his shield gives him one safe attempt to jump on us, and the thrown shield is very difficult to avoid.
Our best chance at damaging him is during the period where he's jumping around and throwing things at us, and this part alone would have rivaled the difficulty of some NES bosses. It's a great fight, but in a game that splits its bosses between two parts, this one probably should have been saved for the second half.
If we stand still at the start, Freeze Man will do the same, gesturing for us to make the first move. If we jump or move, he'll run forward, and if we shoot, he'll jump to avoid it.
After the higher jump, he'll start charging a shot mid-fall, launching a Freeze Cracker ice block that breaks against the wall, sending smaller projectiles a short distance away. Getting hit by either freezes Mega Man, leaving him trapped for roughly the same duration as the Junk Shield.
Freeze Man can do a second jumping attack, this time throwing a projectile downward and sending some sort of freezing shockwave across the ground which sticks Mega Man to the floor, though the player can still shoot. Freeze Man wastes no time starting his next attack.
This projectile causes the small spikes on the ceiling to grow and fall, starting where the projectile hit and moving outward. Before the spikes have finished falling, Freeze Man is ready to shoot at us again.
Any time Freeze Man is running, we can shoot to make him do a small jump forward. While jumping over him is safer, sliding under is often necessary to gain some distance or to avoid him when trying to get hits in. The Junk Shield won't protect us form his shots, but it stops him in place and can continue to dish out damage even while we're frozen.
Did I say Junk Man was tough? Freeze Man has a ton of attacks, no obvious pattern, and no downtime to speak of. The closest he gets to not doing anything is running, and we have to be ready for his short hop anytime we want to attack him.
This is one of the roughest bosses in the series so far that can still be called fair. While quick, everything he does is easy to avoid individually, and players needs to be able to time their shots so that his hops don't force them into a bad position. Now that I've sat down and figured him out, he's a definite favorite of mine, but he has no place in the first half of this game.