When it comes to a long running franchise, it goes without saying there are going to be moments of deja vu. Mega Man fans are especially aware of this, but even with games that don't truly evolve from sequel to sequel each one manages to contain a feel of its own. The first Mega Man was a rough sketch of a portrait that Mega Man 2 would quickly and famously streamline. Mega Man 3 would take some liberties with its game play and ultimately stifle the flow that would have greatly benefited the series. But what about Mega Man 4? Does it restore the flow of chi or only intensify an abstract case of mental blockage?
There are several things about Mega Man 4 that are more than welcome. The robot master crew is probably the most challenging out of the NES line-up and we see the introduction of some new characters like Dr. Cossack and his daughter. Okay, so these characters aren't exactly deep (like any of Mega Man's characters are deep) and only serve to fuel the "fake antagonist" scheme employed by the following two games, but they help hide the fact that Mega Man 4 is Mega Man 3's hangover. It's amazing how even the smallest thing would make me reflect on the last game in the series, not the one in front of me. Needless to say this is a losing proposition for any video game.
Because of this, Mega Man 4 lacks an identity. As laughable as that may sound given how many games there are in the series, it's this train of thought that makes it a very noticeable and extremely damaging problem. The silver lining to such a conundrum is that this indirectly gives Mega Man 5 and 6 a head start right out of the gate, something that is of the utmost importance for the titles that wrap up Mega Man's time on the NES.
Despite the fact the Mega Man 4 begins and ends on somewhat of a downer, fans of the blue bomber will find little reason not to add this to their ever growing collection if they haven't already. Mega Man's downs aren't usually as bad as those of another, beloved blue-colored character, but they can still end in disappointment. This is something Mega Man 4 proves to be true at the end of the day despite being more than adequate.