Boss: Coal Man has one of the simplest yet most effectively ridiculous Robot Master designs I have ever seen in a Mega Man game. As a coal furnace with arms and legs attached to it, Coal Man doesn’t do much other than hop around and shoot out fire and burning coal. His fire attacks consist of a two fireball spread or an aimed line of three fireballs. As to his coal attack, he will jump to the center of the arena and become invincible as he shoots a giant fireball at the ceiling, which breaks upon impact and rains down fiery pieces of coal. Dodging the coal is just a matter of knowing where to stand because it falls in the same locations every time, though when he gets down to half health Coal Man will add in a second barrage with a slightly different trajectory. The main danger from the coal actually comes in the form of the flames which it leaves behind as these flames will severely limit Mega Man’s safe movement options and I found myself sometimes running into them because I would forget that they are more than just a visual effect. Coal Man’s large hitbox and the raised platform in the center of his arena make it difficult to move around quickly even without the flames, making this one of the harder fights with just the buster. However, Coal Man spends plenty of time standing still, especially when he moves to the center of the arena to use Coal Barrage, and a well-aimed Soak Rain can hit him two or three times with a single use to take off a massive chunk of his health.
Stage: Coal Man’s stage is another one which relies more upon its mechanic than its enemies. As the fire stage of the game, pits filled with fire are everywhere and immobile floating flames are scattered around. Most of these flames are located in spots which make it harder for Mega Man to jump across gaps without getting hit and others require Mega Man to slide under them, often with yet more flames to their right which Mega Man will need to jump over mid-slide in order to avoid. Though Soak Rain makes the Coal Man fight much easier, it is also useful in the stage too as it can put out the small flames, making it the only weapon in the game which directly interacts with a specific element of the environment. Bomb platforms from other Mega Man games are also featured here and are put to good use in a few platforming puzzles and careful timing is needed in order to avoid taking a large amount of damage from their explosions. Enemies here exist almost entirely to make it harder to avoid the flames or to put pressure on you while crossing bomb platforms. Suzies (the red one-eyes square enemies which move vertically or horizontally) are all over the place and Battons are also common, especially around bomb platforms, and need to be taken care of immediately to avoid getting knocked into fire and explosions. There are a handful of Pyro Joe’s in the stage too and they shoot out a bullet-blocking short stream of fire; I found them to be more tedious than threatening since Mega Man can easily fight them from outside of their attack range. Ceiling-mounted cannons also exist which shoot fireballs straight down and these can be dangerous if you don’t have an attack which can reach them as they are often placed directly above fire pits.
Weapon: Coal Barrage is a decent weapon, though other weapons are generally more effective. Mega Man shoots out several pieces of coal in a downward arc and, like in the fight with Coal Man, these pieces leave behind damaging flames. The sheer number of projectiles (flames included) which this attack creates makes it effective against large groups of small enemies or against foes which may be hard to hit and the coals spread out enough that it covers a wide range. There isn’t anything wrong with Coal Barrage, but I didn’t use it as much as most of the other weapons (though certainly still more than Flash Dagger). Giant Axe hits roughly the same area with more control, Trash Attack and Soak Rain are both better for covering a large area in general, and Magic Missile takes care of anything difficult to reach. In the end, Coal Barrage can be handy if you get it near the beginning of the game, but it gradually becomes outclassed by most of the other weapons.