A solid follow-up
This game added...
-Fliptop (who would give you a random item and warp out)
-Megabuster (hold down your fire for a really strong blast)
-Better graphics than ever (Amazingly cartoonish and crisp)
-Can return to a beaten stage and leave when you want to (good for maximizing certain items)
Instead of the four sinister Mega Man 2 boss stages as in Mega Man 3, this game has you go to Dr. Cossack's castle and then to Dr. Wily's castle.
Everything that worked well in Megaman 3 is back again. The game returns to its more upbeat tone. The stages are much more colorful than in Megaman 3. In Toadman's stage, you fight in rain (which pushes you back when you jump) and the sewers (which the water pushes you the way it flows). In Bright Man's stage, you ride mechanical grasshoppers and shoot out the lights. In Pharoah Man's stage, you fight quicksand and robotic mummies inside a pyramid. The game stages work very well and are very nicely artistically done. Ring Man's stage 'light bridges' make it unique.
People say Mega Man 3 is the last 'real' NES Mega Man title but that isn't true. This game is a lot of fun, although it added very little to the design/gameplay. Graphically, this game is head and shoulders over Mega Man 3.
While the stages are unique, the boss weapons are not. Many of the weapons are very similiar to Mega Man 2. The Skull shield is like Wood Man's leaves. Pharoah Man's weapon is almost identical to Heat Man's.
The Mega-Buster, while a nice idea, made the game a bit more annoying. Before you moved to new enemies, you would always wait to recharge your mega-buster. This addition only served to slow gameplay down.
Fliptop is nice but he is unnecessary. If he appears in a room where you are on a ladder, just wait until he drops an item, then climb down (or up) to the last room you were in and go back. Fliptop will be back and gives you another item. He stops coming only once you pick up an item. With this, you could assure he would drop an energy pellet.
While the game returned to its happy upbeatness, it got annoying. The gameplay, while very good, seemed to start taking second place to the art.
The controls for this game were not as tight as Mega Man 3's but still good.
The Bottom Line
If you're a fan of Mega Man, play this game. This is a solid title. It doesn't improve on what Mega Man 2 and 3 brought to the table, but it doesn't take away. This is a very fun title but started the trend when Mega Man games would start to tilt 'cartoonish'.