Part 7: Ring Man
Uuugh not really my favourite one. The first part is very, very annoying if you don't use special weapons; with those, it becomes a breeze, but most stages do really. Looking at it from a pure design point of view, I still insist that verticality and Mega Man don't mix very well; it should be better just getting knocked down to a lower level instead of plain dying, but it sure as hell doesn't feel like it. Falling down two screens, maybe hitting even more enemies on your course, fully knowing that they'll respawn again is just not fun. I had lots of trouble with the stage back when I first played the game, dunno, maybe that's where my hate is coming from.
The cannons are the biggest problem, because you can't well dodge them with all of those solid laser beams around; your best bet would be sliding, but that doesn't gel too well with timing the moving holes in the floor that start once you get on the beam emitters. Also, they fire too many shots to clear everything in one slide. It's a big mess and you'll be hard-pressed to find a route through it. Best cheese it with Rain Flush .
Following up is the first hippo. Those are annoying, too; barring trickery and special weapon abuse, you practically have to shoot down the missiles in order to not get hit constantly, just like against Dive Man, and we all know how much fun that guy is. Trying to keep the pillar low enough to be able to hit the thing while jumping frenetically to keep the shots off your back isn't too easy either, and they'll regenerate quite quickly. Best bet is to go in with charged Pharaoh Shot, unlike what I'm doing right now; wait for both missiles to be fired, then send the fully charged shot diagonally upward. Kills both missiles, hits the hippo, and you can get the charge ready again for the next round.
Then begins hopping over floor that goes away at the most inopportune of moments, harassed by the Saturn Seekers (God I love that name). First part isn't too bad, because you have plenty of time to move with the flow, and it's got a gentle floor below. Granted, with Spines, but I prefer that to death. Or a vertical part. I generally don't mind the laser beam sections at all.
The eyeball ring shooter thing can go fuck itself. It demands nothing but timing to take it down, seeing as it can't even hurt you; all it does is waste your time, because fuck getting the timing right, it's so annoying. You have to jump in advance, and sometimes it'll even close up for no reason before the shot can hit.
After a little breather with the Roaders that go invincible and ballistic if you take too long to kill them - better have that Buster shot ready, son - we're off to another section over a bottomless pit. Now the stage shows its teeth, because the reversed beams - a good idea to take alter the existing gimmick, unrelatedly - are very tough to stay on. The stage is designed so you can get on top again for every jump, so you'll have second chances, but falling down means you'll have to make the jump over the advancing gap, because it'll be triggered for sure. Very hectic, and combined with the enemies, a decent challenge. The best part of this stage. Closed off by something that could well take you by surprise, but it's leagues ahead of just putting spikes in a corner after a screen transition and calling it a day, so yeah. Funnily enough, in the Game Boy game, the beam is reversed, meaning that if you slide forward with your honed NES reflexes, you'll plant right into the spikes below. Beautiful!
Then the last obstacle: That fucking Ring Thing again. And now it can hit you. Great. Pharaoh Shot is great, but don't waste too much ammo, if you feel insecure against the boss, you will need the weapon; it might be best to tank a hit and slide through, will probably cost a life against the boss, though, as Ring Man is an asshole.
Ringo here easily competes with Dive Man for the spot of "most hated Robot Master" in this game. It all depends on how well you do in the respective stages, I guess. Seeing as I hate his...yeah. Still, Dive Man killed me more often, all things considered. It's a tie. Meanwhile, Bright Man is laughing with his saving grace of at least going down consistently to his weakness.
The biggest problem Ring Man has is his sheer damage output. His shots are quite powerful, but his body is even more so, and seeing as he runs around the room all the time...you will get hit if things get hectic, and that's damage you simply can't tank very long. Pharaoh Shot tears him apart as shown (my death and subsequent weapon usage weren't even planned, but will serve to help me far later, by the way), but trying to damage race is a crapshoot and most likely will get you killed.
So the only way to consistently get good at him is figuring out that his pattern is disgustingly repetitive, completely controlled by where Mega is standing and therefore, once you know what to do, the easiest thing in the world to abuse. He is a perfect poster child for MM4's shitty boss design...just as Dive Man is...notice a trend?
The way I do it is simple: Stay as far away from his as possible when he fires the low boomerang, so you can clear its coming and returning at the same time; if he's too far away, that won't work, as he'll jump too early and it'll hit Mega on the upswing, but that is plenty survivable. The he'll fire off a harmless high shot and run towards our position. Clearing him by jumping should be no problem, but waiting for too long to do so is, because then he'll fire a normal shot in front and most probably hit you. After getting over him, slide away into the corner, rinse repeat. Very basic, works all the time, boring as all hell. But this fight will always boil down to pure repetition...or agony. Fuck Ring Man.
- Garyoby: Apart from his already known weaknesses, it can also be destroyed by a fully charged Pharaoh Shot...like most enemies.
Kabatoncue: Today's assignment: Try to explain this enemy to someone who has never seen the game. Photograph their reactions when you say something along the lines of "it's a hippo resting on a platform that is suspended by a narrow pole with destructible segments, spewing out homing missiles". So goofy. Also so annoying. See level description for details. Another method people like to use is Rain Flushing them to death; it'll take out all missiles and kill it fairly quickly, but that seems wasteful to me. And not fun at all...oh wait we're talking about Ring Man's stage never mind.
Mono Roader: They'll trail along fairly quickly, until they see Mega, then it's hyper speed. Avoiding them in this state isn't easy, and they're invincible to everything but Rain Flush because Rain Flush is awesome. Fortunately, they're usually accompanied by sensible level design, making dodging them if you're too late to take them out quite possible (read: stairs) as opposed to awful. I just know there's a Romhack out there where those guys will follow you endlessly on a flat surface, and there's really no avoiding getting hit...
Ring Ring: That's actually an awesome name, too . They have that awful trailing AI, but are far more managable than Dive Missiles or those ladybugs, because they move far slower. Also, gone in one hit from everything. I'm not complaining. They cool.
Wall Blaster: Very annoyingly placed in this level. Compared to many other enemies, they have also a wide selection of directions to shoot in, making avoiding them in the cramped first part a real hassle.
Whopper: What is that even supposed to be seriously, I prefer space hippos to that, those are at least goofy! Nintendo Power apparently called them Spring Kings, which is kinda cool but no, fuck those guys.
- Ring Man - Eh. Similarily strange in composition to Toad Man, but I don't like it as much. Hasn't grown on me in the slightest. Maybe per association.