Rock Man 4: Minus Infinity – Homebrew Game Review

Games like: Mega Man (Rock Man)

TL;DR

Download the patch here: http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/910/

As big as the rom hacking community is, there’s only two different types of rom hacks: those that use altered sprites to make the characters naked or the game full of racism and those that make the game so difficult it’s barely unplayable (this one goes to a YouTube video). Rock Man 4: Minus Infinity is a different breed altogether. This is a full overhaul of Rock Man 4 that brings new characters, weapons and level design that truly makes it a brand new game that is fun, challenging and worth your time regardless of your thoughts towards Mega Man games.

Whooo! Riding on Rush!

Whooo! Riding on Rush!

Rock Man 4: Minus Infinity was created by a talented rom hacker known as Puresabe and was 4 years in the making marking the latest version 0.0.1. Also known for a marvelous hack of Kirby’s Adventure, MI plays out like a traditional Rock Man 4 title, but with increased difficulty, branching paths and hidden bosses from Rock Man’s past.

Rom hacks are a different beast. With copyright infringement all over the place, there is a set number of qualifications you will need before proceeding to play MI. First you have the own a physical copy of the game you are patching (in this case: Rock Man 4 for the Famicom) in order to “legally” download a copy of the rom. Actually, that’s it really. Now I do not endorse pirating (OK, is the NSA not looking?) but you can find a copy of the rom in the usual places. After that you need to download the patch which you can find here and a patching program. I used IPS-win. Nice gui for windows and runs without installation. It’s just a couple of button clicks and you’re off to the races. Oh, also you’ll need an emulator to run the rom. Any emulator should work. There are definitely ones that are better than others. Use your best judgement.

Dr. Cossack's castle... again.

Dr. Cossack’s castle… again.

Within every emulator, there is a way to map the buttons of your controller. I can’t stress enough how important it is to use a game pad with a great directional pad. Like most Mega Man games, there are many spots where you need to be pixel perfect to make jumps or to attack an enemy that is hidden behind various walls. Sadly, the Xbox 360 controller just doesn’t cut it. If you have the chance to use a NES or Super NES controller, that will get you the feel that you need. Or if you are special like me (and I am very special) you can load it onto the NES Power Pak and run it on the original hardware. Nothing feels better than playing an NES game on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

Enemies from other Mega Man games make an appearance.

Enemies from other Mega Man games make an appearance.

Now, Rock Man 4 is all in Japanese and unless you can read it, you’ll have no idea what’s going on. Luckily, from my understanding, the story hasn’t changed from the Mega Man 4 we all have come to love. With that, you are pitted against 8 evil robot masters that you must journey through to obtain their weapons to make it to the mysterious Dr. Cossask’s castle to rid the world of this evil once and for all.

Homage to Super Metroid. This is always here you fight Wave Man and get the Balloon item.

Homage to Super Metroid. This is always here you fight Wave Man and get the Balloon item.

One thing to mention here is that there is no password screen. Instead, MI keeps a save game file like most modern games do regardless if you quit halfway through or die and have to start over at the select screen. This can be good and bad. Good because who wants to go through the hassle of writing down cryptic passwords only to have them lost in coffee spill or having to take a picture of it with your phone. Bad because most of the Mega Man password screens are hackable in themselves. Such as giving you nine energy tanks at the start of the game can give you an advantage while cruising through robot masters. Or maybe there’s one level you just can’t beat, giving you a password system to add this boss to your list of defeated is a nice addition. All and all, you can look at it either way. Luckily, the game genie codes for Rock Man 4 still work with this rom hack. Just putting it out there.

As the temperature in the room gets hotter, you start to lose health. Very cool idea.

As the temperature in the room gets hotter, you start to lose health. Very cool idea.

The boss order has changed from MM4 and like Mega Man Unlimited, where it might not be the best way to start, some of the items and weapons enhancements can prove for an easier ride through some of the levels. To help the player along with the increased difficulty, Rock Man starts off with some very helpful items at the beginning of his adventure. The items include Rush Search which drops Rush down to search the ground for some helpful items much like Mega Man 7, Energy Charger which will refill some of your weapons energy meters when you die and the Energy Balancer which will refill another weapon’s meter after the one you have selected is already at max. These are nice features that have had a place in other Mega Man games that will help you along your way.

My own personal hell.

My own personal hell.

Like many rom hacks, the level design is completely turned on it’s head. You’ll encounter enemies from past Mega Man titles such as the floating ball of death that shoots pellets in all directions from MM1. The levels don’t feel like they are out to get you. Sure you’ve got your deadly pitfalls, a couple of nearly unstoppable giant stomping robot guys and leaps of faith off your trusted canine companion Rush. Through some of the levels, you can find Beat; the bird friend who makes an appearance in many MM games. In MI, he is there to pull you up from the depths of hell when you fall in a pit giving you a second chance to make that jump. He stays with you for the entire level then is caged back up once you defeat the robot master. He will come in handy more often than you think. He’s usually caged up in a “hidden” part of the level. “Hidden” meaning, oh! there’s a ladder over there. I’ll go that way instead. Hey! Beat. A charged shot to the cage and Beat is set free and shows up in your inventory screen ready to assist.

Lolo? Lala? Hmm.... Kill it with Mega Buster!

Lolo? Lala? Hmm…. Kill it with Mega Buster!

Now, I’ve already mentioned that the levels are redesigned to make it feel like a new MM game. Included with that, the multiple paths, hidden areas etc., there are what I like to call “gimmicks” with some of the levels. In Pharaoh Man’s stage, Mega Man feels like he’s infested with a virus. Through the level, he is conflicted to be constantly jumping, sliding or have reversed controls. This adds an interesting twist of your common gameplay mechanics. All of the changes are timed at certain points in the level so you can anticipate them. Another is Bright Man’s stage. MM4 had the two robots that controlled the lightness and darkness of the stage. Shooting one will make the scene go dark forcing you to memorize the level so you don’t fall in a life ending pit and the other is destroyed allowing you to see again. MI uses this same concept but in a different manner. Now, Mega Man can only see a part of the screen. Shooting the same flying robot will decrease the portion of the screen you can see where destroying the other will increase the screen. A very cool idea indeed. Albeit frustrating in certain parts of the level.

What the hell am I doing?

What the hell am I doing?

There are also some neat game play mechanics that have never appeared (at least to my knowledge) in an official Mega Man title. At one point, you are riding on Rush in a horizontal shooter taking out enemies as they appear at all points on the screen. Another is an auto-scrolling level requiring you to have faster than normal reflexes to platform from one to another. This type of stage reminds me of the few you encounter in Super Mario Bros. 3. Allowing the screen to catch up with you will mean certain death. No time to breath just jump, jump, jump. Does Mega Man have to breath? I mean, he’s a robot? Do robots breath?

Brand new take on the Yellow Devil.

Brand new take on the Yellow Devil.

Along with the original set of robot masters from MM4, you also encounter some from other Mega Man games such as Wave Man and Crash Man. As a funny tribute to Shadow Man from Mega Man 3, he appears in almost every level and the first stage of Dr. Cossack’s castle as a miniboss. Sometimes he appears atop a giant green frog looking robot or with a cape allowing him to fly in Pharaoh Man’s stage. I feel like it was the intention of giving Shadow Man more screen time. He’s one of the coolest robot masters in MM3, but is simply defeated by probably the worst weapon enhancement ever: Top Man’s spin attack. Long live Shadow Man.

Oh, Shadow Man. You make me smile.

Oh, Shadow Man. You make me smile.

The final boss rush doesn’t give you any help either. Rather than fighting through the eight robot masters you’ve already defeated, now you get to attacked by holograms that mix certain masters abilities together such as Gemini Man and Needle Man. It’s a breath of fresh air to give the player something else to fight rather than the same eight bosses again. Much like the copies of MM2 bosses in Mega Man 3. Another great idea that should have been replicated in the original series.

Now, every robot master goes into supercharge mode where they are faster and more powerful.

Now, every robot master goes into supercharge mode where they are faster and more powerful.

With the addition of level redesign, the boss battles also bring new life to the party. Each boss’s room is redesigned to give the master an advantage over the player. Included are new movesets and weapon attacks. You don’t have your typical two or three move sets to memorize. Now there are multiple ways for them to kill you and keep you on your toes. Once the robot master gets lower in health, they change colors and become supercharged: moving faster and their weapons become more powerful. Another nice feature that stays away from the norm of MM titles. I’ll admit, I love Mega Man, but sometimes, once you beat the game, you don’t have much to come back for. Minus Infinity gives the players what they want in a “new” MM title without making you pull your hair out.

Very cool, Asteroids-esque miniboss in Dr. Cossack's castle.

Very cool, Asteroids-esque miniboss in Dr. Cossack’s castle.

With all the changes to the game, why not change the music as well? MI does this and sadly it falls short of what would be considered a Mega Man worthy soundtrack. Most of the tracks just feel confused and discombobulated while others feel like they should be in other games like the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awaking or Kirby’s Adventure. There are one or two really good tracks, but they still don’t measure up to the holy grail that is the Mega Man soundtrack.

Toad Man... turns you into a frog... Seems fitting. Why didn't Capcom think of this?!

Toad Man… turns you into a frog… Seems fitting. Why didn’t Capcom think of this?!

Rock Man 4: Minus Infinity is a masterpiece of rom hacking. It takes the traditional Mega Man concepts of gameplay, character design, and items and turns them on their head. Sure the music isn’t much to write home about, but the gameplay, new boss fights and the many cameos of enemies from other Mega Man titles breaths new life into the game. I wasn’t the biggest fan of MM4, but now after playing Minus Infinity, I couldn’t imagine playing 4 again. It just wouldn’t live up to this amazing display of indie gaming.

Download the patch here: http://www.romhacking.net/hacks/910/

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