A Critical Look at Mega Man Stages: Volt Man

So... been a while, as is becoming usual with these. I can't say I'm any less busy, but now's as good a time as any for a new post.

Volt Man's looking pretty sure of himself for a guy with no on-hit invulnerability.

The first thing we'll notice here is the small sparks moving across these power lines. Also, the local parrot population doesn't seem too fond of Mega Man.

Getting hit by either not only deals damage, but knocks Mega Man down a line, leading to a pit death on the bottom one. This is a fairly creative mechanic, and the sort of thing that makes digging through these odd games worth it. However, the clouds here hide one of the parrots, leading to an unfair hit.

Tiny sparks rain down as we reach the ground, and just beyond are a group of mosquitoes. Despite the high number of enemies in this game that really shouldn't be able to hurt Mega Man (unless Dr. Wily just got a lot better at making realistic robots), these are some of the most troublesome, following Mega Man while moving up and down sporadically, and even turning around to chase you. We need to place a lot of accurate shots quickly to avoid these, but it gets worse.

The large machine in the middle image pushes Mega Man away from it, so we need to deal with being slowed down while running from mosquitoes and sparks, and there's two of these along the way. Make it through all that, and we reach another odd moment in the level design where it looks like we have a split path, or secret route, but we can't get up there at all.

These... not quite lightning bugs, but we'll go with that -- shoot a spread of bullets that require running back and jumping to avoid. Not too tough, but the next hazard is a machine with two timed electric traps and something in the middle pulling us toward it.

Dealing with both together is tricky, as we need to hit the bugs before they shoot, then start running toward the electricity early, as we'll be pulled back toward the center. After two of these, we reach the next level down.

As before, we have to jump over a small crawling enemy in a low corridor, but at least there's a chance to run back to the ladder or use the occasional higher parts to avoid them. I decide to try the new weapon here, which fires a small cartoonish dynamite bundle...

...that lands in the spider web and doesn't appear to do anything. After moving forward and grabbing the health here, I give it another shot. It bounces over the spider, and quite some time later, long after the spiders have left, it explodes.

I finally manage to confirm that it'll kill them if you're able to hit with it, losing a bunch of health in the process. Next section is mosquitoes in narrow spaces, but the extra height can make them easier, and the machines here aren't messing with Mega Man's movement.

After two mosquito sections with spiders in between, we reach this E Tank. Jumping down here means we can't get it anymore, with no Rush or similar items available.

I died on the next segment, so I try jumping off the ladder to reach it. Surely, an explosive weapon would be the correct choice for a wall like this. I later verified that it is, but the result of this particular shot was the dynamite getting stuck in the wall, exploding without breaking the wall, and damaging me instead, knocking Mega Man off the platform.

So yes, Mega Man's reward for the previous boss was an item that's more of a danger to himself than anything else.

Moving on, we have a vanishing block segment. The first set is straightforward, with each appearing in front of the other. The next is similar, except for this first jump. The platform is just high enough to cause some collision issues, and Mega Man can appear to fall through it or not quite reach if the jump isn't just right.

Completing this area takes us below the spikes.

The water down here includes frogs and electric eels swimming backwards way faster than anything should be.

The path splits here, with a series of platforms above and more lighting bugs, or pools of water below. Moving back to the right leads to a 1UP and weapon energy, and another health refill appears halfway across the platforms.

The lower route is simply two large pools and this small one, but we'll likely have to deal with at least one lightning bug on the way up to the ladder. After that, we have a straight, safe run to the boss door.

Volt Man's pattern is a little more complex than Dyna Man's. He'll start with a jump up to the ceiling, where he activates a shield. On landing, he'll bounce a few times, then stops and fire the shield's pieces outward along with two horizontal shots, then repeats. As before, this fight will be an easy damage race as long as you take advantage of the time after his attack.

So, things got pretty rough here. The mosquitoes are a decent enemy by themselves, but first appear with small projectiles raining down from no particular source and objects that mess with your movement. Getting knocked off of the power lines is a neat idea, but in a game with no other mechanic like it, dying this way comes as a nasty surprise.

The stage has an interesting flow to it though, and getting through the first lighting bug/electric trap area was fun to figure out. At the least, it looks like more thought went into this one, and Volt Man's pattern could easily fit in with the main series bosses.