The first three Mega Man titles can be considered the best of the series. The foundation was laid out, aspects were refined with each release, and each game introduced a few new important elements to the gameplay. I still stand by my opinion of Mega Man 3 being the best Mega Man game ever, as the difficulty was not overbearing, and the gameplay was the most finely tuned of the series. The following game, Mega Man 4, began a somewhat downward trend for the series. The games after the third installment are not bad games at all, they just lack the luster and increased refinement over the previous titles.
MM3 began to scrape the bottom of the barrel when it came to names and powers of the eight bosses you faced. While they were passable, MM4 was just outright silly. Enemies like Skull Man, who has a barrier of skulls that circle him, or Dust Man, who sucks you in with his head and shoots out garbage that splits off into four directions when it comes near you. While the enemies are somewhat imaginative, they are the beginning of a downward trend when it came to unique and imaginative bosses. Unfortunately, this translates to each stage barely being memorable in any way, with a few inventive enemies here and there, but it just doesn’t feel as well thought out as the previous three titles.
While the visual changes between each Mega Man title is minute at best, you’ll notice a few similarities to the looks of a few of the stages you come across. Bright Man’s stage reminds me a lot of Spark Man’s stage in terms of color scheme. Even within the game, there are a few more enemies shared between stages, though its not that annoying. The game still looks great regardless. Sound effects are mostly stock, with a few new additions thrown in. Nothing special or memorable. Same could be said for the music, as there’s really nothing you’re going to be humming hours after you play it. They are not bad songs though. The boss fight themes are great, as well as the character select screen theme, but nothing sticks to you long after you pushed the power button.
Besides the addition of the Mega Buster, which is one of the more important additions to the series, Mega Man 4 really doesn’t push its self to make a lasting impression as much as the first three titles did. It’s a difficult game, and yes, it is entertaining as well, but it feels more like a “been there, done that” sequel, rather than a revolutionary sequel. Even with the early change up of having Dr. Cossak as the antagonist, you’ll come to realize that it’s more of the same regardless. Fun, but more of the same.