VS Cut Man!
We've now rescued five out of six of Rock's brothers and returned their circuits to Dr Right so he can repair them, leaving us only one stage to choose from. Well, technically, we actually can choose to go to any of the six stages right now, but there's no real purpose to revisit them in a no-damage run like this. If you wanted to farm up extra lives, or if you didn't have the Super Arm when you first cleared Elec Man's stage and still need to pick up the Magnet Beam, or maybe if you just want to practice stages for fun or to try out new weapons, you can utilize this feature. But for us, we're just going to go ahead and go rescue Cut Man.
When we first arrive in this new area, there are blocks. Many, many blocks! These are those blocks that you can pick up with the Super Arm, so I'm guessing they're encouraging you to try out the Super Arm here, or hinting that you should bring the Super Arm here or something. The problem with this, however, is that the Super Arm is pretty terrible to use here.
The first section is infested with Bunby Helis, which have notoriously quick diving attacks. To hit them with a block, you have to master the speed of the debris leaving Rock's hand after he throws a block, the speed and height of Rock's jumps depending on how long you hold the jump button down, the somewhat awkward trajectory of the block debris when thrown, and the reaction distance and speed of Bunby Heli (which is different depending on how far away Rock is vertically from its position)... and then hope you don't make a mistake when trying to account for all of these factors when you try to jump and toss a block so that the debris happens to hit a Heli. Oh, and when you go back to pick up another block after you use your first, even if you were successful, you'll probably end up causing the Bunby Helis to respawn anyway, so even successful usage of the blocks is near-pointless.
Instead, we're just going to jump over them while carrying a block. The safest way to get past Bunby Heli as we talked about in Guts Man's chapter is to wait a bit for them to start diving and hop up and shoot them, not trying to move forward until you've taken care of them. But the fastest way in this section, as long as you take the high road, is to run close enough to them horizontally so that they begin their swooping action toward Rock, then jump over the position that they chose to seek. Once a Heli starts a swoop up or down toward Rock, it seeks the position he was at at the moment it started swooping, so you can avoid it by making sure they start swooping before you jump. All of the Helis in this area can be passed this way, and once you memorize the timing (it's pretty easy to just remember at which point on each platform you must get to before jumping) it's actually quite easy to do consistently.
Though we do chuck a rock at the first one just for the sake of using the Super Arm. Because really there is no other place in the game where we're really going to be able to make use of it...
The entire "purpose" of carrying the block all this way is that at the end of the Bunby Heli section, there's a small section where you must climb a ladder, and there's a Blaster on the wall that wants to shoot at you while you're doing this. As we hop up to get to the platform at the foot of the ladder, we toss the block at it just as it opens. We easily could have just taken this out with the Thunder Beam or simply waited for it to stop shooting to climb the ladder. But we really are not going to have anywhere to use the Super Arm for the rest of the game, so I wanted to make a little use of it now.
After climbing the ladder to the next area, we're taken to a series of Blaster rooms. The first one is actually the most difficult of all of them. If you walk to the ladder on the left as soon as you enter and climb up, you can wait for the top two Blasters' fire to just pass under you, then quickly hop across the platforms to the exit before the highest Blaster opens again and is able to shoot you. You also have to make sure to be careful not to accidentally bump the blasters as you're jumping onto the platforms just in front of them. To be on the safe side, we freeze the final Blaster with the Ice Slasher so we have a little more room for error here.
You can of course get through by waiting in a safe spot for opportune moments to shoot each blaster, but that takes forever.
The second room is very easy if you just keep moving. If you just walk to the first ladder on your left when you end, climb up, and then hop up to the exit, you'll never get hit by any of the Blaster fire. The main things to watch out for here is that you can't hesitate, which will mess up the timing, and you can't jump into the ladder to begin climbing it, or you'll get "ahead" too quickly and get shot by the bottom Blaster's shot.
In our case, though, since we have the Ice Slasher equipped from the last room, we shoot the lowest Blaster immediately as we start moving, not allowing it to fire any shots, so we can jump to the ladder and save less than a second of time. But it feels cool to go fast!! This also changes the timing in the pattern with which we arrive at the top of the ladder, so simply jumping up to the exit will also get us hit by the upper Blaster's fire. So we just have to make sure to do one of those change-directions-mid-air jumps, pre-empting where and when the Blaster is going to fire.
And then the final Blaster room is by far the easiest. Like the previous room, all you have to do to get through here is just keep moving. This time, you're required to jump to the ladder, which is the more "natural-feeling" thing to do anyway, so as long as you just run and jump straight to the exit as soon as you enter the room, you'll never get hit once. And now we've cleared all three Blaster rooms with no trouble at all.
After finishing the Blaster rooms, we encounter our final unique enemy. I mentioned it before, but I think it's cool that each stage has unique enemies so each one feels different as you go through. This one, though, is probably the least interesting enemy in the game. These little things that look like a white Pac-Man with a butt piercing are called Hyper Cutter.
There are like these Hyper Cutter structures that look like incinerators or something, and Hyper Cutters will fly out of them and then fall toward Rock. As long as you keep moving, they'll never hit you at all. And they only appear in two places, and both have no other obstacles around, so you can just walk right past them. I don't really think they thought this design through very well...
In fact, Hyper Cutter doesn't even have an official art in the enemy database like all the others do. Maybe it was jut thrown in last-minute?
After running under the Hyper Cutters, we reach some steps with a few Kamadomas. Because Kamadomas are Kamadomas, this is probably the most "dangerous" spot in the stage where avoiding damage is the most difficult. Thankfully, though, we at least have the help of our newest weapon that we got from interacting with Fire Man's IC!
The Fire Storm is one of the more powerful weapons in the original ROCKMAN. The basic form of its attack hurls a fireball straight forward, which has massive strength, and continues through enemies so it can hit multiples in a row. Basically it's like the Rock Buster, but way more powerful, similar to the strength of the Thunder Beam.
But unlike the Thunder Beam, it doesn't fire additional shots upward and downward. Instead, a series of smaller fireballs spin around Rock quickly, able to damage incoming enemies, functioning as a shield. They don't last very long typically (the length varies and is difficult to predict because the game has a cap of how many 'bullet-type' sprites can be on the screen at once, among other limitations) but they give you a unique range of attack. As long as you use the Fire Storm when an enemy is just next to Rock, they'll at least last long enough to hit it, and because they circle him, this means they can destroy enemies slightly above or below Rock or even behind him.
This is helpful in a variety of scenarios; if you look in the Kamadoma screenshot above, you can see I actually shoot the Fire Storm underneath the hopping Kamadoma as I jump toward it. But the Kamadoma will run into the "shield" part of the Fire Storm spinning around Rock's head before it can damage him, destroying the Kamadoma and allowing us to proceed more quickly than having to wait for a good opportunity to strike.
The sprites flicker wildly, so it's hard enough to see the fireballs spinning around Rock in the game, and impossible to capture them all in a single screenshot. But I promise you, there are multiple fireballs and there are even big and small ones!
After getting past the Kamadomas, there's a small section that's the same shape as the first little ladder area where the two Blasters were at the beginning of the stage where we threw a block at one. This time, though, there are some Suzys protecting the ladders instead. It's pretty easy to get past because most of the area is safe and you can easily take out the Suzys if you need to.
After that, though, climbing the ladder takes us to the first of a few Suzy rooms. The Suzy gauntlet is a little more annoying than our Blaster adventure we had earlier in the stage. It's actually possible to clear all of the rooms only having to destroy one Suzy to get through without getting hit, and it's kind of fun to do so, but because each Suzy rests for a random amount of time before its next charge across the screen, you could end up bumping one purely by luck or spend an incredibly long time waiting for an opening to hop through some if they don't happen to want to cooperate.
Though there's a sense of smug satisfaction to hopping through without getting hit, especially if they happen to line up in a way that allows it from the start so that you don't have to spend time waiting around. I do use the Fire Storm to take out the final Suzy in this first room just in case, even though the chance of getting hit by it wasn't terribly high. But I did lose a run to it here, and it was annoying to have to start all over, so I shot it from there on out.
The next Suzy room is much easier. In fact, only the first Suzy even provides any danger at all, and it is obviously blocking your path where you would not attempt to try to run under it or jump over it because the corridor is far too small. If you wait until you're right on top of it to use the Fire Storm, you can hit it and then manage to jump up and hit the next one with the shield, too, without having to fire again, which is pretty satisfying to do.
The other two glide across the entire screen, which takes quite a long time, so it's really easy to just climb the ladder when they're away. If they're annoyingly stubborn and stick to the left side, you can just climb up under them on the ladder and use the Fire Storm to destroy them with the shield. And if you didn't have the Fire Storm here, you could just easily wait for them to move away and then climb up the ladder.
The last room isn't difficult, but it can be obnoxious if you don't have the Fire Storm or Thunder Beam to take them out more easily. The Suzy that appears just above Rock when you enter the room is just outside the reach of the Fire Storm's shield, and if you try to fire it and then jump into it, sometimes you will take damage because you started moving from too close to it and it registers you as colliding with it as soon as you move or something. Instead, we switch over to the Thunder Beam since we're going to use it for the rest of the stage now. Once the Suzy just above Rock's head moves to the right, you can fire a Thunder Beam to the right and destroy the first two Suzys easily.
Another fun thing we can do with the Thunder Beam here is destroy the block in the room, causing it to turn into debris and spray forward (with the same trajectory as if you had picked it up and thrown it with the Super Arm). The Suzys often happen to line up perfectly so that the blast destroys all of them in one go, which is also very satisfying.
After getting back the Suzy gauntlet, we run under the other Hyper Cutter thing, which requires no effort. Next there's a little area with a couple Bunby Helis that are easy to get past, and a free Large Energy Capsule if you need to restore your Energy. Nothing really special here.
After that, we drop down some ladders where there are Mambus that go across the screen. The goal is to get to the next ladder and continue downward. Similar to the Blaster rooms, as long as you keep moving (making sure to 'drop' from ladders as soon as you start climbing down them by pressing the jump button) then you'll dodge both the bullets and the Mambu itself, getting past this area safely.
The second of these two rooms actually has a giant pit of spikes across the right side of the screen, so if you thought you could speed things up by just jumping off the right side of the above room instead of walking to the ladder, or if the Mambu somehow knocks you into the pit, you'll end up with an instant death here.
After getting past the two Mambu rooms, there's only the final stretch before the boss shutter, and the only enemy left standing in our way is Big Eye.
There are four blocks here, and Big Eye's weakness is actually listed as the Super Arm in the enemy database, which actually just means it's weak to the damage of the debris. So it's easier to just shoot the Thunder Beam here, which always fires downward, hitting the blocks out from under our feet and sending debris flying toward Big Eye. You could switch over to the Super Arm here and try to run forward, fall down in front of the first block, and try to grab it and throw it, so you have the opportunity to grab more blocks, but you're likely to get hit by Big Eye before you can finish doing this, and what's worse is that you never really know how many blocks you need to throw because the damage is a little glitchy.
I don't really understand why it's like this myself, but I noticed that after freezing a Big Eye with the Ice Slasher and then trying to destroy it with the Rock Buster, it takes much, much longer to defeat it if I use the autofire feature from Legacy Collection rather than if I just rapidly tapped the fire button with my thumb.
What I'm guessing happens is that despite it not blinking or anything, that Big Eye, like Rock himself, has an invulnerability period after being shot, and can't be hurt again until that period is over. It's probably quite short, though, so the time between two shots firing at him (from pressing with thumb) is enough to "wait out" that period and damage him again. But when the shots are so close together, perhaps they continue to hit him during that invulnerability period, triggering it to start again, extending the time he is invulnerable, but not dealing additional damage.
This seems to be the way the block debris damages Big Eye, too. I'm guessing that the intention was for each piece of debris to damage Big Eye separately, dealing lots of damage with each hit. But instead, as the debris passes through Big Eye, it seems to just rapidly hit him over and over, meaning it probably only registers one actual count of damage.
This is all just a personal theory, though. I don't actually know the mechanics to why it doesn't seem to work, but it's pretty rare you'll actually take out Big Eye, even hitting him with all of the debris from all of the rocks.
Instead, I just fired at the blocks while standing on them with the Thunder Beam, letting them fall out from under Rock, and hoping that Big Eye might get destroyed. When it came down to the last block, it actually provided an interesting scenario, as Big Eye can only jump on top of it with its high jump, and the low jump will just cause it to hop there in front of the block, unable to reach Rock. And if it does high jump, it doesn't just far enough to jump over the block.
If it happens to jump on top of the block, you can fire the Thunder Beam just as it jumps off, running under Big Eye. The extra height from it jumping from on top of the block allows Rock to run under Big Eye whether it jumps high or low, which is fun. But if you get unlucky, it can just sit there and hop low a ton of times in front of the block, making it take forever before you can do this "trick." So I just kept moving in the no-damage run recording, and if he didn't immediately high jump atop the block, I would shoot the block, then switch over to the Ice Slasher to freeze the Big Eye, and then pull out the Magnet Beam to make a couple platforms above it to jump over it. It's still a slightly different method than we've used before so each time dealing with a Big Eye is different, but sadly that's the method that got into the final take, so we didn't get one where the debris for some reason actually happened to destroy Big Eye nor one where we got to knock out the block from under him just as he jumped.
After getting past Big Eye, we reach the shutter. It's another shutter corridor just full of Screw Drivers, which easily fall to the Fire Storm or Thunder Beam.
Behind the shutter is the last of our brothers we need to rescue. Cut Man (DRN-003) was originally designed as a timber-felling robot, equipped with a giant pair of blades on his head that he can use directly from his head (like bending forward and cutting a tree with his hair lol) or detach and throw like a boomerang that cuts stuff up. The powerful scissor-like blades are able to chop down a tree in a single snip, making him much faster than humans at deforesting, and teamed up with Guts Man to catch and carry all the fallen trees and pull up stumps, and Bomb Man who could blow up any boulders or whatever were in the way, they made a team of land reclamation robots.
The battle with Cut Man is probably one of the more interesting ones in the game. Unlike most of the others which allow you to pretty much just stand where you start while hopping and shooting to a pattern, you'll have to move around a bit and actually pay attention to fight Cut Man. There is a way that you can keep him at bay pretty easily from the two rocks you start on by knocking him backward whenever he tries to jump up, but I've never learned the timing for it, so I don't know how to do it. So I guess maybe the required interesting battle is something unique to me lol.
Cut Man's only offensive abilities are to jump high in the air and land on Rock, or to take the blades off of his head and throw them like a boomerang at him. I actually didn't fully understand the mechanics of this fight until the rematch later in the game, so I'll talk more about it specifically then.
For now, I'll just talk about the strategy that I used here and that I always used against Cut Man before attempting this run. Whenever you shoot Cut Man, he gets knocked back and stunned for a bit, and whenever he throws his scissors, he pauses for a bit to do that, too. If you can get to the right side of the arena, you can just rapidly shoot at him, pinning him against the blocks on the left side, hopping over the scissors as they near you. Getting there without damage was hard for me because I thought his jumps were pretty unpredictable. But usually I'd be able to get there well enough, so I didn't waste too many runs on this.
You can pick up the blocks on the side of the stage and throw them at Cut Man, which will deal half of his Energy worth of damage in a single hit, so you can defeat him just by tossing the two blocks with the Super Arm if you want. I actually don't know if it works with the Thunder Beam. I never tried it. Maybe the game actually can tell the difference between the debris caused by Thunder Beam and Super Arm, and that's why I wasn't able to defeat Big Eye very easily. But I did try many times with the Super Arm on Big Eye and it didn't really work there, either.
After defeating Cut Man, we're able to collect his IC so he can be repaired by Right. And now we've finally saved all six of Rock's brothers that were kidnapped and reprogrammed by Dr Wily! But our adventure doesn't end here -- Dr Wily himself is still operating from his Pacific fortress, creating more destructive robots, and we must go after him to stop him. But with the ability we've gained from Cut Man's circuit, we now have seven special items in addition to our Rock Buster in our arsenal to help us in our fight.