A Critical Look at Mega Man 7 Stages: Turbo Man

Three seconds into Turbo's stage, and we're already fighting a mini-boss. This is Truck Joe, and he'll be chasing us throughout the first section. The enemies along the way are Turbo Roader. These spin in place for a few seconds before dashing forward, but at two hits, we can easily clear them out by running and shooting.

Though he can only be harmed in the upper portion, Truck Joe takes 16 hits, so he's not difficult to take down before this wall. The problem is that every other large enemy chase like this includes an area to stop and fight at the end, so players are likely to just run forward until it's too late. At least King Gojulus had the courtesy to stop walking once his head reached the side of the screen.

The designers clearly knew this was a bad idea, as Joe only deals a single point of damage on contact. To end this even faster, we can destroy him in four hits with Thunder.

To make up for this, Joe gets an endearing bit of spritework if you move behind him, shifting into reverse and resting his arm on the seat.

Baccone is similar to a Met, firing a spread of three shots and being invulnerable on the ground. This is a good enemy introduction, as using two of them together on higher ground makes them feel dangerous, but since they hop to fire, their shots aren't a danger as long as we stay close.

We've seen the regular Sniper Joe enough by now, but I like the option to skip him by jumping on the edge of his platform and grabbing the ladder.

The next rooms introduce the gimmick for this area, as hanging tires move across the ceiling. Touching these from the side bounces us back, and having this obstacle mess with our movement makes Baccone's shots more dangerous. We get one safe pit to learn how it works...

And then it gets serious. We have a small window between tires, and touching the incoming one on the way over will send us into the spikes. However, jumping too early will cause us to touch the right side of the one passing overhead, launching us into the other tire and the spikes.

There are two spiked pits to avoid and an upper area for sliding under a tire, but there's a third pit here as well. We can fall into the middle of the stack of large tires, and while that makes logical sense, it's not something a new player is likely to expect in a platformer. The orange terrain helps define this as something unique, but most people are probably going to fall into this once.

This leads to an optional Truck Joe, and this one is much less forgiving. Still deals one damage, but with no other enemies and no room for a chase, he just doesn't feel like he belongs here. On the way out, we have to fight the Baccones from the other side with little room to dodge.

Adding injury to insult, Trio The Wheel introduces itself by smacking us with a tire as we complete the last jump. This fires three wheels in a row, leaving the head behind, which hops around afterward.

The next two won't hit us as long as we keep climbing. If we randomly decide to press against the wall here, we'll find a secret room where Proto Man tells us about the letter items.

Our next major obstacle is a series of timed flames. The lights on each change from blue to yellow before activating the fire on red. We're expected to step on each platform in turn and wait for the next, with the upper flame acting as the real trap, as we're offered a chance to step under it just before it activates.

We'll usually have a clean run to the next area here. The second bit is harder to anticipate, as the small gap prevents us from seeing as much of it before we commit to sliding in. Otherwise, this section is similar to the first.

Remember Quick Man? This is how not to do Quick Man. The slow vertical scroll on the Nintendo Entertainment System made it possible to plan a route before the lasers activate, but here we just have to fall and hope for the best.

We're offered an extra life for taking the wrong path at the start, but dying here means getting through the previous fire traps again, and it'd have been better to not kill the player for a blind fall at all. Since players had no reason to see this coming, they probably died to the first one as well.

The rest is straightforward, and we even have time to make it out alive if we land on the E-Tank at the end.

We're finally given a break, as Gobots is the only threat on this truck, until we reach its... face?

The Sisi Truck fires rockets in various arrangements that can be avoided. We can shoot these down, and standing all the way to the left and firing will keep us safe aside from the occasional higher rocket that can still hit Mega Man's head.

Sisi takes 24 hits, but each hit causes it to close its eyes for a few frames to block multiple shots fired in a row, and with the rockets absorbing shots as well, this lasts a bit longer than one might expect.

Junk Shield is potentially useful as protection when running forward to scoop up item drops.

And with that, only a few simple enemies stand between us and the door.

While full of neat ideas, this stage had some trouble implementing them. Truck Joe didn't need to trap us like that, and the designers seemed to agree, but fixed it with low damage rather than finding an interesting way to get us behind him. The second Truck Joe only highlighted this awkwardness, lacking the neat chase sequence of the first.

The tires could have been a little more forgiving, or simply not pushed us into deadly spikes, making the bouncing fun instead of irritating. The large tire hole was a cool idea in theory, but because it's not clear where the edge of the hole is, player's tricked by that are likely to attempt a longer jump than necessary and get knocked back in, and then we have Trio the Wheel attacking too early right after that.

The first flame trap is tough but fair, and would make a good climax to the stage if there weren't so many other things vying for that title. Speaking of which, this was a bad place to attempt recreating Quick Man's lasers, as not only was this messier to play without the occasional pause during a fall, but dying sends the player back through the previous difficult section, and the mechanic comes with no warning. Sisi is the best thing here, offering a choice between dodging well to get close and attack the eyes faster, or hanging back to shoot the rockets down and play it safe.

This feels like a stage made from a variety of unique and hard segments that could have capped off a stage on their own. While there's some good stuff in here, trying to do all this at once makes it a rough slog to play.