VS Wily Machine!
For Everlasting Peace!
Now that we've climbed out of the sewers or whatever, we have to be getting close to Dr Wily, right?
After two stages of climbing downward, we're finally starting to move upward again. I think this is kind of cool that the stage design is structured to actually represent an infiltration into Wily's lab -- we busted into the wall in the first one, climbed around rafters on the outside in the next, then climbed down into the sewers or something in the previous stage, and now we're climbing up what seems to be the actual laboratory part of the building.
The beginning, though, is not particularly exciting -- it's just some watchers near a ladder. Easily dispersed with half of our arsenal, posing no real threat.
At the top of the ladder, we reach a room with three breakable blocks and a Large Weapon Energy Capsule atop them. If we break the top block in the pillar, we can hop on top of the second one and jump up to grab the Capsule (which will continue floating where it is; it doesn't fall down) if we want, but we have plenty of energy, honestly, so we just bust out the middle and jump through because that is more fun!
When we start moving forward, we reach a corridor with uneven flooring and a bunch of Screw Drivers. These things can be a pain if you want to go quickly, but the Thunder Beam can take them out easily, especially if you know where they're going to be in advance.
But more importantly...
LOOK AT ALL THOSE GUTS MANS.
Seriously, there are so many. And this is our first glimpse at Wily's Guts Man fetish. Now, I don't blame him whatsoever, because I have a hard-on for the big boy myself, but like... wow. And this is going to continue throughout the series. Wily seems to really, really have a thing for Guts Man. Like, it's not like he's building all these copies to fight with or something. They're like... plastered on the walls or something?! They're more like some kind of weird ceiling statues. Like, he's just creating a Guts Man shrine.
Now, if I had an Evil Robot Copy Machine, I'd be using it to create a harem of hot bots, too. But I don't think I'd even make THIS many. I mean you can't even handle that many at once and it's not like they're going to get tired or something and--
Well, I think really we should just move on, because I could end up talking about Copy Guts Man orgies for like... 5 or 6 hours maybe.
Exiting the Guts Shrine, we get to a long passage with a platform lift that traverses over a spike pit. There's a segment where we need to hop up onto a small platform to avoid the large break in the conveyor so that we don't fall into the spikes. Or we can take the easy way out and just use the Magnet Beam to bypass the entire hazard altogether. The actual hazards throughout this stage are really no big deal, but I promise you, it's about to get a lot tougher...
If we were to continue to ride the platform under the exit transporter, we have the opportunity to grab a 1-Up as well as a Yashichi. This is the only place in the game where we can find this item, and it refills all of Rock's Energy and all of his Weapon Energy for all of his items! A complete restore for everything!
The Yashichi is a fun little piece of video game history and trivia. The little emblem itself is actually an enemy design from Capcom's very first video game Vulgus, a sci-fi shoot-em-up arcade game released in 1984. The Yashichi enemy would speed toward the middle of the screen from the top, slow down for a bit, and then seek-rush the player's position.
Even though it appeared as an enemy then, the design was reused in a lot of Capcom's games, especially earlier games, as a kind of special power-up item. After the first ROCKMAN title, though, we don't get to see the Yashichi again until ROCKMAN8 where it appears as a special rare drop from the Rush Charger, and then only again in ROCKMAN10, where it's strewn about stages in Easy Mode to allow newer players not have to worry as much about managing their Weapon Energy consumption or taking excessive damage.
While it was mostly used as power-ups in Capcom's other games in the 1980's, it's seen more modern uses, like in Resident Evil 6 and Bionic Commando Re:Armed 2, and probably more.
Anyway, we don't need any refills, because we have plenty of Weapon Energy and we're not taking any damage to our regular Energy, so we just head into the teleporter hatch above the Yashichi, getting equipped with Fire Storm before heading in.
The hatch takes us to an arena where Bomb Man (or, I guess, Copy Bomb Man) is waiting to attack us. The teleporter hatch deactivates, so there's no escape, and we must fight. Bomb Man's fight is basically the same with his weakness, the Fire Storm, except we have more room for error since our projectile is larger and the shield around our body can damage Bomb Man, too. And it shaves off tons of Energy from Bomb Man, so the battle is over very quickly before we have to worry much about getting hurt.
Once Bomb Man is defeated, the teleporter hatch reactivates, and we're able to teleport to the room above.
The next room is identical to the previous one where we fought Bomb Man, but now we're facing Copy Fire Man instead. This battle is very similar to the original Fire Man battle, though now we're equipped with the Ice Slasher, which makes things both easier and harder at the same time. With the Rock Buster, it's much easier to "trap" Fire Man in a pattern where we can easily hop over his shots without taking damage, but with the Ice Slasher, the mechanics of our weapon complicate things a bit.
Fire Man reactions to the player pressing the fire button, shooting out one of his fire waves toward Rock. It's important that we don't fire again until we're ready to hit him again, or else he'll shoot more fire waves, and we won't be able to easily hop over them. There's also some mechanic that I don't really understand to how long the little flame on the ground lasts, and if we don't keep him stuck in the pattern exactly, the flame will last longer for some reason and we'll fall on it, unable to avoid damage.
The "problem" here comes from the fact that Ice Slasher doesn't dissipate upon hitting an enemy like the Rock Buster shots do, but rather it continues through enemies, able to hit more than one obstacle in its path without stopping. The Ice Slasher is also limited to only one Slasher on the screen at one time, so if you try to fire another while one is still on the screen, nothing will happen. But Fire Man reacts not to Rock actually firing his weapon, but the player pressing the fire button, so even if there's already an Ice Slasher out and Rock ends up doing nothing when the player presses the button, Fire Man will still respond and move into his 'shooting' action, breaking the pattern, since the pattern we're relying on involves Fire Man getting hit by each shot one at a time, but we fired nothing.
With the Rock Buster, it's nearly impossible to make this mistake, as the bullet will disappear as soon as it hits Fire Man, long before you even need to shoot. But the Ice Slasher travels all the way to the other side of the screen, and can likely still be on the screen for a few frames when you're going to shoot again. It's critical to make sure the Ice Slasher you last shot fully leaves the screen and despawns before pressing the fire button again to trap Fire Man in his pattern.
In fact, I spend this entire battle ignoring the main action on the screen and just staring at the right side of the screen, shooting again and jumping once I see the Ice Slasher disappear. Since the only thing I need to do is shoot and jump as soon as the Ice Slasher goes away each time, there's no need to actually pay attention to what's going on with Rock and Fire Man. The only point of interest here is the distance the Ice Slashers have traveled. Of course, we could make the battle safer by just using the Buster again like we did when we first fought Fire Man, but I like to use the weapons during the rematches because it feels a lot more fun, and I just have certain things I "must" do when I play these games, heh.
Similarly to the Bomb Man room's teleporter hatch, Fire Man's reactivates after he is defeated, and leads us to yet another identical room where now we must fight Copy Ice Man. Again, the mechanics are the same, except now we're able to defeat Ice Man in only three shots with the Thunder Beam instead of having to endure a long volley of his nearly-impossible-to-dodge Ice Slashers. Of course, we still have to worry about the development oversight where the player is locked out of controlling Rock for a few seconds after defeating a boss, and can still be damaged by the enemy's projectiles. So we have to make sure our final Thunder Beam comes at a time when we're not going to get hit by any leftover Ice Slashers on the screen.
Other than that, this is pretty easy when we can utilize our special weapons.
And yet again, the reactivated teleporter hatch takes us to the only of the six Copy DRN bots that we have yet to fight, which obviously Wily wanted to keep the closest to him, Guts Man. This is actually a pretty difficult fight, because now we don't have the two boxes on the left side of the screen to stand on, keeping us a bit safer from oncoming debris. And it's actually easier to fight Guts Man with the Rock Buster compared to the Hyper Bomb, but because I'm set on using their technical weaknesses, we're going to use the Hyper Bomb.
The Hyper Bomb deals a ton of damage to Guts Man; it only takes three bombs to defeat him. The problem here is not that the bomb is weak, but that it's very unreliable due to the fact that it takes a while before it explodes, and Guts Man hops around in a random pattern, so we have no idea where he's actually going to be standing when the bomb actually does go off.
I just try to throw it in a place that covers a few of his possible positions and hope for the best. But in the end, this all comes down to pure RNG. It's even possible for Guts Man to continue to jump to the left for the entire fight, eventually smashing right into Rock's face, which is impossible to dodge, so even if you use the Buster or hit with every Hyper Bomb you can before he gets there, you still can't avoid damage in that situation.
I got tired of having to redo this part so many times that I ended up doing this stage in two recording segments, stitching them together after the Guts Man fight to make one coherent video as if I did it all in one take.
But after we defeat Wily's robot lover, we've now defeated all of the Copy Robots and we can head further up into the depths of the laboratory.
The only thing left is a long open space that looks like an airplane hangar or something, with nothing in it except a Large Weapon Energy Capsule before a big shutter leading to the boss. And this is the final stretch of the game here. Our Weapon Energy is doing pretty good, though we've used quite a bit of the Thunder Beam. But that's fine, since we're not going to need it any more. Just to be safe, we refill the Fire Storm, which we are about to use, and head through the shutter.
When we enter the room, that weird saucer object that picked Wily up four stages ago floats into the room and attaches itself to a wild-looking contraption floating on the right side of the screen.
And here we have our final boss, the Wily Machine! As soon as the battle starts, the machine starts shooting these weird plasma ball things out of the big red cannon at the front of it, which arc into the air and then fall, aimed for Rock's position. Because they hang in the air for a while, as long as you're moving around, you can dodge them, but you also eventually reach the end of the screen on the left, or risk bumping into the machine itself on the right. The machine itself is also floating left and right constantly, so you have to vigilantly pay attention to the relative locations of Rock, the Machine, and the plasma balls.
The Machine's weakness (and holy crap, what a design flaw, Wily!) is the big cannon on the front. Very easy to hit! It's weak to the Fire Storm, which is even better, because we don't even have to hit it, per se, we can just jump near it while the shield part of the Fire Storm is spinning around Rock and deal damage that way, too! The biggest threat here is getting "greedy" and trying to do too much damage up-close at once, and forgetting to mind the trajectory of the plasma balls or the Machine. You have to focus first on dodging, moving in and out constantly, and only attack when there's a good opportunity. As long as you do that, this fight is really no problem.
Of course, every proper final boss has multiple forms. After dealing enough damage to the plasma cannon, the large shielding on the front of the Machine breaks off, revealing Dr Wily himself is piloting it from inside!
The second form of the Wily Machine is possibly even easier than the first, although it requires a bit more precision. But there's a lot less to pay attention to. The Machine will still move left and right, but now the cannon will shoot larger plasma balls that spiral down and to the left. They cover a lot more area and seem harder to dodge, but they don't shoot relative to Rock's position or anything, so they're much more predictable, and once you find a way to dodge one, you can easily dodge them all.
The method I use here is to just make sure Rock is running to the right at the moment the cannon fires. It fires at regular intervals, so you just have to get used to the timing. If you're close enough to the machine and running right, you'll run right under the plasma ball safely without any trouble at all. If you're too far away from the Machine, of course, this won't work, but if you're that far away, you can probably just stay still and not get hit anyway. The main thing to do is just to keep track of where the Machine is and what direction it's moving, and make sure you're running right when it fires. It fires at regular intervals, too, so you can easily predict when the next shot will come.
Once you have the timing of dodging down, the only other thing you need to do is to damage the Machine. The weakness is yet again the cannon, and now we can use the Rolling Cutter to cause a lot of damage to it. This is probably one of the easiest final bosses in the entire ROCKMAN series, though when you first reach it, it can be quite scary. But once you know the patterns, it's very easy to defeat with minimal damage to Rock. Or in our case, none at all.
And with that we've finished the stage, and all that's left is the ending. If you want to see the no-damage run video, here you go!
Once the Machine's Energy is drained enough, the final Rolling Cutter causes the entire thing to explode, leaving behind the shading overlay sprite like how Yellow Devil did.
Dr Wily comes flying out of the explosion, falling onto the ground in front of Rock.
Now helpless, Wily has no choice but to grovel at the feet of ROCKMAN and beg for mercy. Rock, being a kind and merciful robot built by the altruistic Dr Right, shows him forgiveness and lets him go. Because, you know, it's totally reasonable to let the mad scientist who just tried to kill everyone and take over the whole world go just because he cried a little when he was in danger. This totally won't set up a sequel or anything!
Though I can't remember if I mentioned, in the English version of the games, Dr Wily is actually a friend of Dr Light's, and they worked on the new series of domestic humanoid robots together, meaning that Wily is also somewhat of a father to Rock in the same way Light is. But this plot element doesn't exist at all in the original version -- Wily is just a disgruntled old classmate of Right's who has no real connection to the DRN series. This is actually one point where I like the plot of the English version better, because I think it's a little more of an interesting story, and it makes Rock's forgiveness of Wily make a little more sense.
Plus it is more shipping fodder for Light/Wily, but that's another story.
After we get our points for defeating Wily (yeah lol), we're taken to a scene of a road in front of a large open field, with a forest and then mountains in the background. It's a nice nature scene which contrasts with the very mechanical/sci-fi setting we've seen thus far, which I think is neat. Some text appears on the bottom half of the screen:
ROCKMAN HAS ENDED
THE EVIL DOMINATION
THE WORLD TO PEACE
HOWEVER, THE NEVER ENDING
UNTIL ALL DESTRUCTIVE FORCES
FOR EVERLASTING PEACE!
I think it's amusing how it calls the battle "never-ending" just as it gives the condition for its ending (all destructive forces defeated). And if the battle never ends, how could peace be everlasting? OK, OK, it's actually a pretty nice little ending. And we get some peaceful music to go along with it, too.
After the "For Everlasting Peace!" line, Rock teleports onto the road in front of the screen and the music kicks into a more upbeat tune. Rock runs to the left as the background changes through the times of day, and the credits roll along the bottom half of the screen. This was still back when most game developers still used nicknames in their credits, so we get people like "Yuukichan's Papa" on Sound Design and stuff like that. Even the "father" of the series and original illustrator of the characters Keiji Inafune goes by his nickname "INAFKING" here.
Eventually, the sun sets behind the mountains, and we see only a shadow of Rock running for a bit...
And when he walks back into the light from behind the mountains, we see that he's removed his battle armor, and now is in his original "Rock" form, and not the fighting robot ROCKMAN anymore. This is the first time we see "domestic" Rock throughout the entire game, signifying that at least for now, his battle is over. And neverending. And able to end. And it's peaceful. While he's fighting. Or something.
Eventually night even falls and Rock continues to run and run. Away from the forest and mountains and grass and stuff, he now just runs in front of some blue for a while. I guess it's water.
Eventually he reaches a harbor, so it must have been water...
And he eventually ventures through the city to return to Right's laboratory, where Right and his sister Roll are waiting for him. He jumps in the air and the screen freezes mid-jump, with the message "Presented by Capcom" at the bottom. Our happy music ends on a high note, and the game is finally over!
If you want to see the entire playthrough stitched together in one cohesive playthrough video, the whole run is uploaded here on YouTube, and there's even a version with me blathering over top of the whole thing if you for some reason prefer to see that.
Though something I never really thought about until this time playing through... if Wily's lab is out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and Rock just ran past a bunch of water and eventually got to a harbor to return home... does that mean... he ran... across the ocean? But if that's the case, why did he teleport to some mountains and stuff first? Where even was that? Why not just teleport home? He's able to teleport all over the world (and as we'll see later in the series, even other planets) with ease, so... what was all the running for? I mean, other than to create a neat cinematic...
Anyway, that's the end of ROCKMAN! I think this is a great little title as the introduction to the series. It actually is far less polished than the following games, but I think for an NES title, it's still pretty solid. If you start with the later titles and move back (as most players do, as this was not one of the more popular games), then it will feel a bit rough around the edges. But over time, I've actually come to really like this entry, and it's one of my favorites to replay. Maybe its the simplicity and the brevity of the game, though, but after really learning it, a lot of the things I originally saw as flaws were more just my own lack of knowledge or skill, especially when I was expecting things to be like later games. There are still some problems with controls and stuff (like that terrible Foot Holder glitch), but overall, it's a fun game and holds up pretty well even today.
I was thinking about writing a lot here at the end analyzing stage design and arsenal design and stuff, but I think I covered it a bit as we went, though not in too much detail. And I think that may be better left for its own article, or to touch on it more in further entries when I can compare to later games in the series. Which game does what better is always a hot topic among fans, and, as always, it seems, I tend to have fairly differing views from most people, so it will be fun to talk about. And get death threats about. (Yeah, that's a thing that has actually happened to be more than once before simply because I've said something "controversial" like "Mega Man & Bass is one of the least polished games in the series" lol...)
Either way, I'm very happy to share this game, especially since it's not a game many people have ever gotten to see through to the end. If you want to try it out for yourself, there's like a million ways to purchase the game anymore, and I played through on the Mega Man Legacy Collection on PC (through Steam) for these entries, but I also own the game on my 3DS Virtual Console, on the PS2 per the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, and more.
I'm really looking forward to continuing with the series, especially now that Mega Man 11 has been announced as a new game coming out in a year! I was jumping around and about to fly away with excitement when I heard the news. We're also getting a Mega Man X collection in some form that will bring all eight of the main Mega Man X games to PC and modern consoles next year, too, which is amazing. I mean, I own the whole series, but I love having things conveniently on PC. And hopefully we'll get a lot of the nice extras that some of the PC versions have, since only one of them was ever released in the United States. Like the improved graphics in Mega Man X7 and the extra anime cutscenes for Mega Man X3 and more. Though sadly we'll probably lose all of the great cinematic opening themes like we did with Mega Man 8 on the Legacy Collection, which I'm assuming is due to some copyright issues or something.
But yeah, I've actually already started on the gameplay videos for ROCKMAN2, and I've even completed the eight boss stages already! So I hope to get into writing for those soon. Thanks for reading this far! And keep reading! For everlasting peace!!