VS Copy Robot!
Wily's Evil Device!
We've busted into Wily's secret (?) Pacific laboratory and already defeated one of the many horrors awaiting us inside. But this place is pretty huge, and we still have to seek out Dr Wily himself and stop his maniacal plot for world domination!
After defeating Yellow Devil, instead of returning to the stage select menu, we're immediately taken to the next area. For some reason we are outside again. The background is not detailed, though, so I think it's supposed to be like we're actually on platforms that are something like rafters placed along the outside of the building, and then we're going in and out of various interior areas between them. I guess. I don't really know.
The first set of rafters we travel across is guarded by a swarm of Bunby Helis, some swooping up from below the rafters themselves, making them pretty dangerous. Like any other Bunby Heli segment, though, the key here is just to be patient and stop before they reach Rock's horizontal position so you can fire at them during their seeking swoop attack. I shot one that I knew was coming, and it dropped a 1-Up item (the thing that looks like Mega Man's head) onto the spike-covered awning over the entrance to the interior segment. Not only is that area meant to be inaccessible because it goes nowhere, even if we were to use the Magnet Beam to climb up there, we'd die on the spikes instead of collecting the item.
Not that we actually need a 1-Up since we're not even taking damage, but enemies dropping 1-Ups is pretty rare, so to see one fall into such an unfortunate position is still amusingly ironic at the very least.
Once we get inside, there seems to be nothing but a dead end with two Weapon Energy Capsules at the end. These are there for two reasons -- one to encourage you to keep walking to the end of the hallway since it's not actually a dead end, and also because, well, you need them. Unlike when we were returned to the stage select screen before, we're not recovered between the stages of Wily's laboratory except for our Energy (as in, the health kind). So any weapon energy we expended in the first stage is still depleted at this point. We switch over to the ever-useful and overpowered Thunder Beam to refill a bit of the energy.
Part of the floor is actually a trick floor -- while it looks like normal solid ground and blends in with the rest of the corridor, you actually will pass right through it, so you have to know it's coming and jump over it if you're trying to get the Weapon Energy Capsules at the end. Of course, if it's your first time through, you'll go after the Capsules anyway and learn that the way to progress in the stage is to fall into this trap flooring and into the next room.
When we fall through the floor, we arrive in a big chamber and are met with... Cut Man yet again! Though we defeated Cut Man and returned his IC to Dr Right already, this seems to be a copy of him, at least of the battle-purposed version that Wily created. I don't know if it's actually possible or practical to copy a cognitive circuit completely, as they are essentially the unique identity of a robot, so I'm assuming this is just a battle pawn that Wily created based on the original Cut Man's designs.
And this is the beginning of a series-wide staple: rematches! Now we have to fight Cut Man yet again. The terrain is a little different this time since the room is wider and the two blocks we can pick up with the Super Arm aren't present like they were at the end of Cut Man's stage. This fight is actually a little easier, though, because I think those conditions get in the way of the battle, so having nothing but a big, open area is pretty convenient.
Cut Man acts identically as he did before. He'll jump when we get near him and otherwise run around and toss the scissors from his head at us. Now with more room and level ground, we can just hop as he's about to throw the scissors so that they seek Rock while he's in the air, passing over his head harmlessly after he lands. There's not much else to say about this fight, since we've already done it before, and now it's even easier. I like to do the rematch battles using the enemies' special weaknesses to the various weapons we have collected, but in Cut Man's case, his weakness is the Super Arm, taking extra damage from blocks we throw with it. But without any blocks, his weakness is non-existent for this fight.
After defeating Cut Man, we drop down to another set of rafters identical to the first set, but now instead of Bunby Helis, we're attacked by Screw Drivers that are placed along the lower rafters. Because there's no way to stand at their position and fire at them, the only thing to do is to wait out their bullets and jump over them and keep running, avoiding their next shots, or to approach them while they're firing, dodge the bullets, and take them out with the Thunder Beam from above.
With a boss battle between the two rafter segments, this stage is like a constant onslaught of different challenges. Even though the physical structure of the stage is pretty simple without a lot of platforming to be done, even repeating itself quickly, all the enemies with a boss as your "break" between makes for an exciting gauntlet-like stage. The music here is the same as the previous stage, though I didn't comment on it there, which makes it feel even more exciting and adventurous. It's the feeling of the stage alone that makes this one of my favorite stages in the game.
After getting past the Screw Drivers, we reach another short hallway like before. If you think you learned your lesson from last time and intend to jump over the trap floor to grab the Weapon Energy Capsules this time, you'll be surprised to learn that this time they moved the trap pit to a different part of the floor so you're likely to fall through again without being able to recharge your Weapon Energy. Gotcha!
Of course, I've done this plenty of times before, so I know where the holes are, and we fill up a little bit more of the Thunder Beam before dropping into the floor again to another room below.
And this time, we run into another copy of one of Rock's brothers! This time, it's Elec Man. This battle is extremely short, and I couldn't manage to get a screencap where you could actually see Elec Man during the fight, so uh, have this picture of him sparking from taking damage, lol.
And since we weren't able to use it throughout the stages since it was the last weapon we picked up, this is actually our first time using the weapon we got from Cut Man's IC, the Rolling Cutter!
The Rolling Cutter (sometimes called "Cut Blade" and other things, idk) is the scissors apparatus from Cut Man's head, only now we get to shoot it from our arm! The blade spins through the air, arcing upward slightly, and then loops back around and returns to Rock, making it have a sort of Boomerang effect. This allows it to hit things slightly above or below Rock's normal firing range, though its horizontal reach is somewhat small. It has a pretty good attack power and is useful for things like taking out Gabyoalls if you haven't obtained the Fire Storm or Thunder Beam yet. But because those weapons also cover the same vertical space, they make the Rolling Cutter obsolete once you have one of them.
So in our case, we just use it to lay quick waste to Elec Man. It only takes three hits from the cutter to defeat him, but since we don't appear in the same position in the room that we did in the first fight with him and there aren't some blocks to provide a little safety, this fight can be much more dangerous because Elec Man can also defeat Rock in only three hits from his Thunder Beams.
Basically the strategy I utilize here is just to hit him before he hits me. I just kind of keep firing and moving a little away, and at the end, I run away after hitting him with the projected blade and jump so that the blade just barely registers a second collision with Elec Man before returning to Rock. If I had just stood still, the Cutter would have despawned before Elec Man's invulnerability period ended from the first hit, and I'd have to fire again, giving Elec Man more opportunity to attack.
This actually isn't a foolproof strategy, and I don't know the exact mechanics of Elec Man's pattern. No matter how much I tried, though, I couldn't really figure it out. This does work most of the time though, to where times it doesn't are surprising, and even then, you just usually take damage once.
After defeating Elec Man, we drop through the floor to another section of rafters. The platforms are in the same layout again, but this time, the hazards are even more dangerous -- out of every hole, Bombombombs pop out and explode above us, scattering their little baby bombs every where. If you go fast and memorize exactly where to stand and jump and stuff, it's not too hard, but devising a safe way through can take a bit of effort.
And after this, instead of another trick floor with some Weapon Energy Capsules hidden behind it, we actually just arrive at a ladder. So we're going inside and down again, but now there's no trick, at least.
We continue climbing down ladders through a series of rooms with Suzys in them. These are pretty uneventful since the Thunder Beam makes them a non-issue, but it's good that we refilled our Weapon Energy for it prior to coming here. If you do fall through the floors before being able to grab the Capsules earlier in the stage, there is a room with a Large Weapon Energy Capsule in it that isn't too hard to grab, especially if you can use the Thunder Beam to take out the row of Blasters on the wall in one go, leaving nothing to harm you as you climb the ladder opposite them to pick it up.
After navigating through several of these rooms, continuing to climb downward with the epic music, we finally come to the end. Much like with Yellow Devil, though, there's no boss in the room we land in. This time, though the room is full of colored computer panels on the back wall, and when we enter, some kind of device lowers from the ceiling and seems to drag Rock toward it magnetically.
A beam of energy shoots through Rock's body while another beam shoots into the open space under the other identical device on the other side of the room. And soon, the computer panels light up, and...
We are faced with the boss of this stage -- ROCKMAN himself!
Or rather, a copy of him at least. This machine must be what Wily used to create copies of the rest of the DRN series! I think it's pretty cool after the gauntlet of trials we passed, that finally after digging deep into the lab, we find a bit of a "reveal" that Wily has been creating a machine that can quickly create weaponized duplicates of humanoid robots.
Copy Robot is, in my opinion, at least, the most difficult boss fight in the entire game. It took me a very long time to really understand his pattern. A hint if you're playing Mega Man games for the first time and want to discover patterns on your own: always try just observing, not trying to fight while figuring it out! A lot of bosses in these games respond to your controller inputs or your character's actions, so you may be making the fight much more chaotic and seemingly random when it's actually quite simple!
In this case, Copy Robot seems ridiculously difficult and random, but his pattern is actually quite easy if you just let him do his thing. There are three spots on the ground that I will refer as "shooting points," one on the left side of the arena, one near the middle, and one on the right. Copy will seek out these positions, running toward them in a set order, no matter which is closest to him (left-center-right-center). When he reaches the next point in his cycle, he will stop for only just a moment to fire a single shot in Rock's direction, and then start running to the next point.
That's it! If you observe where the three points are (they are not memorized, and you can easily memorize the positions by comparing them to the colored panels on the background -- in fact, I feel like part of the purpose of having this unique background was so you could identify these points!). The left one is about one "Rock's" width from the left wall, so if you just stand against the wall and do nothing, Copy will never walk into you (though of course, he'll still shoot you). The center and right ones are at the middle of the two spots where there are two same-colored squares in the final row of the panel pattern. This will make more sense if you just watch the video probably...
Anyway, Copy Robot has one more action, and it's this thing alone that makes his fight seem random and hectic, and if you don't know the pattern, extremely difficult! Whenever you press the fire button, Copy will jump. His jump direction is random and he can jump fast and far. The only times he won't jump when you press B are, obviously, when he's already in the air jumping, or during those few frames he's occupying himself with shooting.
So if you fire at him while he's running around on the ground, he'll jump right over your shot. You can combat this by jumping in the air and then firing, so he'll jump into your shot, but an even safer way to fight him is to memorize his "shooting points" and fire just as he arrives at one, so you both shoot at the same time. This will cause him to be stuck in his basic walking pattern, and he won't jump over your shots. There will be no randomness to worry about, and you can predict everything that will happen.
Another method I thought of that is much less safe (but more fun) is to wait until he's shot at the center shooting point and moving toward the 'left' point (you should be standing against the left wall for the entire fight lol) to jump and shoot at him repeatedly, either hitting him with your shot to knock him backward, or getting him to jump to the right. He'll constantly seek the left shooting point, meaning he won't actually fire until he reaches that far left position, so he's relatively harmless.
That's more dangerous, though, because it's easier to make mistakes and have him end up jumping into you or jump right into the left shooting point and firing as you're falling and unable to do anything to avoid the shot. Stuff like that. The slower method of firing when he fires is much safer, so that's what I ended up doing for my run.
And with that, we've completed one of the most exciting levels in the game! From our gauntlet of trials on the rafters, to having to rematch with weaponized copies of our brothers, to the final reveal of Wily's diabolical copying machine far below, resulting in a fight with none other than a copy of ourselves, all accompanied by an epic soundtrack, this stage is quite an adventure non-stop from beginning to end.
But we still haven't found Dr Wily so we can stop him, so we must venture further into the laboratory...