VS Guts Man!
Big Daddy and the Pickelmen
We've rescued both Bomb Man and Ice Man now, and we're ready to head out to pursue another of Rock's brothers, now equipped with both the Ice Slasher and the Hyper Bomb. This time, we're going to go after Guts Man.
We teleport to a construction site in the mountains or something. Right from the start we encounter another new type of enemy. It's actually a bit surprising we haven't come across these at all yet.
Meet Metall! Or, Met for short! These guys are probably the most recognizable enemies from the entire ROCKMAN franchise, and some form of them appears in pretty much every last game that exists. They're simply a little hard hat that sits on the ground, and when Rock approaches them, the hard hat lifts up to reveal two lazy little eyeballs underneath. When this happens, they also shoot one little shot straight forward, and then go back into hiding, perhaps taking a nap. As the series goes on, we'll see countless models of these things with all kinds of new features, but in this game, we just got this little guy.
Mets are similar to the other shielded enemies we've seen so far like Blaster and Mambu (who kind of looks like a floating Met, now that I think about it) in that they can only be damaged while their shield is open, revealing their eyes inside. They don't stay open very long, so they can be a bit of a pain until you get used to their timing.
In our case, however, we can just freeze them with the Ice Slasher and hop over them. It's a little easier to jump over them since we're jumping to the ledges behind them instead of trying to clear their entire width and land back on the ground.
After climbing up the first little stairs at the beginning where the Mets hang out, we come to one of the most infamously frustrating parts of the entire game: the conveyor lifts! There are these green platforms that travel back and forth across a track, and the only way to clear the enormous gap ahead is to hop on them and ride them across. But the problem here is that there are little breaks in the tracks, and when the part that attaches to the track reaches those points, it falls sideways to dump its contents (in this scenario, Rock himself!) into the pit, and it doesn't return upright until it's gotten past the break in the track.
So you have to make sure to jump just before the dump so that you are safe to land just after it, and move Rock in the air to position him over where the platform will be when it turns back upright. And after you've mastered that, you then have to change to different lifts, making sure not to jump to the next one during a time it will be falling, either. It's not hard once you've done it successfully a few times, but the first time you encounter this, prepare to fall into the pit many times before you get the hang of it.
Similar to the Foot Holder section in Ice Man's stage (which is infinitely more infuriating than these lifts) there is a way we can clear this without having to mess with the actual hazard, but we don't have access to that yet. So for now, we're going to do things the 'hard' way and just hop across to the other side.
The lifts eventually take us to lower ground, where we walk forward to encounter another new enemy.
This little cutie is Bunby Heli. But don't let its adorable appearance mislead you -- these things are a huge pain in the ass. They float slowly to the left or right in the direction of Rock until they get near him, when they swoop down at his position extremely quickly. They will swoop to the position Rock is at vertically at the moment they begin their swoop, so it's possible to avoid them coming from above by jumping toward them so that they swoop toward his jump position as you fall downward and run under them quickly, trying to run away before they can reach you again.
That's a pretty difficult strategy when you don't have their timing and spacing memorized really well, and it doesn't work well when there are multiple Bunby Helis close together. So we take a similar approach and jump when we get near them so that they swoop down toward rock while he's at the peak of his jump, but we fire the Ice Slasher just before they smash into his face. Now that they're frozen, we don't have to worry about them swooping and chasing any more, and can just run under them after we've frozen the three of them one by one.
After escaping the three Bunby Helis, we pass over some hilly terrain where there's a free Large Energy Capsule waiting in case you damaged yourself learning how Bunby Helis work. Of course, we didn't take any damage, so we just hop right over it. After the free Energy, we jump from a very high platform down to low ground again, where we encounter yet another new enemy. I think one of the nice things about Rockman games is that each stage tends to have new enemies in it. While there are some enemies that show up in multiple stages, there are many stage-unique enemies, too, which makes every stage a new experience. A lot of games from this time reused the same few enemies throughout the entire game.
Pickelman is a pickaxe-wielding enemy, who fits in pretty well with the construction/mountain site theme of this stage. Like many enemies, it is shielded, so we can't simply shoot from afar. When Rock gets close to Pickelman, it will let down its shield, but at the same time, it starts tossing pickaxes at Rock, which arc toward his position at the time of the throw. While it is possible to continue firing on Pickelman while running back and forth carefully to dodge all the pickaxes, this is not only time-consuming, but a bit dangerous for a no-damage run.
Again, we use the Ice Slasher to freeze Pickelman instead. At this point, you may be thinking the Ice Slasher is a bit overpowered. I've planned this run to get the most use out of Ice Slasher because it's actually overshadowed by some even more powerful items later, plus since in the beginning of the game, you have very few special weapons, I planned the route to make the most of the few we have had, so we've mostly just been use Ice Slasher because it's been our only choice up until now.
And now we're going to switch away from it, because there will be a Pickelman on a small platform soon that we can't simply jump over, even if it is frozen. So let's pull out our new weapon that we got by defeating Bomb Man!
The Hyper Bomb is similar to the bombs that Bomb Man threw himself, but unlike his bombs, they don't explode on impact. Instead they... bounce around and sit for a while before exploding. In fact, their exact trajectory is a bit hard to predict until you're really comfortable using the Hyper Bomb, making it one of the least used weapons in the game. But while it is deemed worthless by many players, it actually can come in quite handy if you know how to use it. For the most part, instead of really trying to predict the physics of the unweildy bombs, I memorize certain points where throwing them is advantageous, which is a lot easier to do. It takes a bit of trial and error first, but it's kind of fun to figure out, and being able to blow stuff up with the Hyper Bomb is very satisfying.
Now that we've frozen the first Pickelman with the Ice Slasher, he's easy pickings for the Hyper Bomb. Although we shot it while its shield was up, it's still vulnerable from behind, since the shield only covers its front. Luckily Hyper Bomb won't bounce off of enemies, so when we throw it, it bounces right behind Pickelman, and a few moments later, kaboom!
For the next Pickelman, we're going to use a different strategy. When we climb up the stairs to the upper platform, we jump straight up and toss a Hyper Bomb, not moving forward yet. We let it finish bouncing until it is just about to settle into the ground...
Then start running forward at that moment, which spawns the next Pickelman onto the screen, who jumps onto the steel beam from the side of the screen...
And then our Hyper Bomb explodes as soon as the Pickelman lands, destroying it and allowing us to simply keep running forward, completely out of harm's way!
We're able to use this tactic to clear out another Pickelman in our way, and could have used it against the first one, too. But there's one which doesn't work so well, because it's on a tiny platform, and to approach the place where you need to toss the Hyper Bomb, you need to spawn it onto the screen.
Actually, there's probably a place you could throw it from, but I never found it. Also, looking at the screenshot, it looks like we could have frozen him and jumped over, but it would have been pretty difficult, because we'd have to land by our toes on each side of the platform the Pickelman is standing on, kind of how the Hyper Bomb is barely hanging on to the platform.
In fact, the screenshot illustrates another difficulty with the Hyper Bomb here -- because of its weird and bouncy nature, it's pretty easy to just miss the platform all together and have the bomb fall down uselessly into the pit.
But if you know where to stand from to throw it successfully, that actually makes this a little easier than using the Rock Buster. Since we don't have to concentrate on shooting at all, we can give our full attention to simply dodging the pickaxes while we wait for the Hyper Bomb to explode, clearing our path.
After the Pickelman section, our only choice to move forward is to fall into a pit at the end of the area. This begins a little segment where you just fall through screens. It's possible to grab some of the items on the screen by pushing yourself between the breaks in the steel beams and hopping to them, but with the way the falling mechanics work, this is unreliable at best. If you happen to stay to the far right through these screens, you'll end up crashing into spikes in the last room and die. There's no way to react to this once you see the final room, so if you're in the wrong place, you just die. Kinda bad design, but I think the developers didn't expect the falling mechanic to make you fall that fast or something so that you could react? This type of hazard appears throughout the series, but you always have ample reaction time in the other titles.
After falling through all of the weird steel beam screens, we're taken to the final stretch of land before the boss shutter. Here we encounter another Big Eye, but we're a bit more prepared than we were in Ice Man's stage. Instead of trying to hope we can make it under Big Eye in time, we're able to wait til it hops up onto our level, freeze it with the Ice Slasher, and then whittle away at its large Energy with the Rock Buster and defeat it before it unfreezes.
Before getting to the big boss himself, our boss shutter corridor is infested with Mets. If you know their timing, though, it's pretty easy to just run through while shooting them. The low ceiling makes it impossible to hop over them after freezing them, and the Hyper Bomb's timing is so difficult to master that it would be way more of a hassle than just shooting them with the Buster.
And finally, we reach Big Daddy Guts. I don't remember what other diary I mentioned it in, but I think I've said before that if you can describe a character as "bulky" there's a high chance I'll have a crush on it. And that is indeed true in Guts Man's case. I mean, I crush on like half the robots from this series, but Guts Man is always a nice one to look at.
Guts Man (DRN-004) was originally built as a construction robot, as you've probably guessed by now. He possesses superhuman strength, so he can pick up heavy stuff and build stuff a lot better than a human can, and he doesn't need the help of additional machinery. He often worked together with Bomb Man and Cut Man on land reclamation tasks.
In Battle, Guts Man is basically just a big brute force guy, also as you would expect. He only has two actions: jumping, and throwing a rock.
When he lands from his jumps, however, the entire room quakes, and if Rock is touching the ground during the quake, he will fall onto his butt and be stunned for a bit. What's dangerous about this is that he always jumps before throwing rocks, so it's possible to get 'stuck' on the ground and have a rock crash into Rock. What's worse about this is that Rock's stun time is the same length regardless of when the room stops quaking -- so if you jump into the air to try to avoid the quake, but land just at the end of it, you'll continue to be stunned well after the quake is over, whereas if you had not even jumped at all, Rock would only be stunned until about the end of the quake. So a failed attempt to dodge the quake is actually even more dangerous than to not even bother at all.
When Guts Man throws his large rock, it will crash into the two boulders on the left side of the screen and break into four smaller rocks, which spray outward. If Guts Man throws the rock from far enough to the right side of the screen, you have enough time to recover from the quake and still jump over the flying debris. If he's too close to the left, though, you won't have this extra time.
Guts Man's pattern is completely random. Though he has so few actions you can easily keep track of what he's doing, it's possible for him to continue jumping right and pin Rock against the wall, or even just stay on top of the left rocks himself, making dodging him near impossible. So this took a few attempts because I got unlucky a few times, and I'm really, really bad at dodging the quake. The recorded run I ended up going with ended up being pretty sloppy, as you can see for yourself:
After defeating the undeniably sexy Guts Man, we recover his IC to return to Dr Right, and we get a new ability from Guts Man, too. The weapon we acquire here is near useless, but we'll at least make a little use of it in the next episode... so stay tuned!