Part 14: Wily 1
Oh boy it was Wily all along LE TWEEEEST.
Shutting up about the abysmal story now (it's part of the charm anyway). So, the level is only Mets and shows off that you don't need tons of different gimmicky enemy types when exactly one with just a few variations is more than enough to create a varied, fun and challenging experience.
First section is just a gauntlet of spinning and jumping ones, and as said, they're beautifully placed. Especially the jumpers show great versatility, and one of my favourite ways to design good levels. Because, let's face it, making "just a level" is boring 90% of the time. You need a certain amount of uniqueness, what most might call a "gimmick". This can be done in a way that's just annoying, when the gimmick takes over the level and it's not really fun and after a while it's just going through the motions; see: Donkey Kong Country 3. In this stage, however (and all of DKC2, God I love that game), the gimmick isn't even noticeable. The Mets are just so well-designed that they are a completely different threat just depending on the level layout, if they're on even ground, above you, below you, after a sliding passage; each setup requires a different approach, even if it's the very same enemy, and I love it. It's simple, but shows great care and thought. Mega Man level design at it's finest.
Seguing off that little excursion, surprise spikes are still annoying as shit, though those at the beginning of the water section are plenty avoidable; even if you got hit, you would just respawn one screen above...it's the principle that counts, though; if you're going to make them as tame as possible, why include them at all?
The more standard "spike-filled water"-part than Dive Man's fantastic level was is really remniscient of Bubble Man's stage which started the trend; Mets here are again placed really cleverly. Every one of them requires, as before, a different way of killing it; it's rather surprising how many games don't GET the simple realization that having the same enemy three times in a row in the exact same situation is boring as shit. For comparison's sake, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is a recent game I've played that's especially guilty of that. Apart from being a design nightmare in almost every other aspect as well, but let's not go there.
As mentioned, this is the perfect place to use Rush Marine, but don't overdo it; it's far larger than Mega, and in a cruel twist (or a crucial oversight, who knows), trying to squeeze through the passage following the one tricky jump will get you killed in the vehicle. So get out.
And then there are block puzzles. Seriously, I do. not. get. the. obsession. Just about every Mega Man game (except the truly good ones, and yes, I do love you unconditionally Zero 2) has them, and they're either frustratingly bullshit (2), go on for far too long (3 and 9) or are completely pointless - which brings us to this game. There's one room, the second one, where they're present in their usual "figure out the pattern or die" form, but it's...really not hard to see what you have to do. There IS a trap, but only if you rush. Thing is, and I can't stress this enough, you want to rush in a Mega Man game. It's a fucking action game. Stopping for half a minute and assessing the situation is breaking the flow severely and not something you really should have to do. Proceeding carefully (which you should pretty much always do unless you can sleepwalk that shit) is just a major difference from having to stop all motion for a while and solve the game's equivalent of a crossword puzzle for nursery home inhabitants.
Rant over. The rest of the stage is just cute, and full of gifts. Which you'll need, because the boss is a kick in the pants; it's the first truly difficult one of the later ones, and even if you know what to do, he can screw you over pretty badly!
Weaknesses so far: Ring, Dust, Pharaoh, Dust; now Ring and Dust. Maybe they were realizing that weapons that just shoot forward are generic as hell and needed at least some purpose...on the other hand, giving a boss a weakness to Dive Missile or Flash Stopper would make it kind of hard to retain the challenge. Not impossible; I can think of tons of way. Capcom apparently not, though. Oh well.
On the guy himself, Metall Daddy is up there among the toughest bosses in this game. The weaknesses don't do much to him, so you're pretty much forced to learn his pattern. Which is deceptively easy. Hide a bit, the come up (easily hittable), after a certain time jump at Mega's position. Upon landing, will stun Mega if he's on the ground, then 4 Mets fall down, splitting themselves up in two pairs which run towards the sides of the room and offscreen. Then it restarts.
The tricky part comes in when you realize that dodging the jump is actually kind of hard, because the timing is really close; and God help you when you get cornered. Which will happen, because the of the cramped quarters! It's very, very hard to avoid a hit then. Count the seconds, or listen to the charging noise the buster makes or whatever, because you have to be sliding when he's jumping. But not too early or his just-a-bit-too-large hitbox will bump into Mega.
Best way in my opinion: Use every opportunity to hit him, do your best to not get hit by him, ignore the groundpound. It's far better to get hit by the small Mets than by big daddy. Don't hesistate to use an E-Tank, even early; he can deal a lot of damage in a short amount of time.
- Garyoby: Again used as a nonlethal way to punish you for failing the first block puzzle. Too bad that you can get rid of it in a million ways, eh?
Hey wait its presence means that there IS an enemy in the stage that's not a Met FUCK!
/ Metall EX [swim]: AWW SO ADOWABLE
In reality, those can be rather tough. Especially the jumpers. Great enemy design though, both behaviour and looks!
- Wily 1 - Damn, what a drop if quality after Cossack's second theme. This is just boring. I don't hate it or anything, but the almost painful mediocrity saddens me a bit, especially as such a memorable stage is attached to it.