Boss: Wizard Man is apparently a fan of World of Warcraft. He casts a purple version of Arcane Intelligence when you select him and all of his attacks are fire, ice, or arcane in nature. Wizard Man is another Robot Master who never actually jumps and his arena is completely flat so it is easy to quickly chip away at his health. In fact, he might even be the easiest of the eight Robot Masters. He shoots out two homing Magic Missiles at a time, but they are surprisingly easy to dodge and don’t deal too much damage even when they connect. Wizard Man’s main gimmick is he’ll make a fake mirror image of himself in one corner while standing in the other as a way of potentially avoiding damage. After making the mirror image, he either shoots out an ice bolt or a fireball alongside some more Magic Missiles and moves across the room. As he doesn’t constantly have the mirror image up and only the ‘real’ Wizard Man charges up attacks, the illusion doesn’t make it all that much harder to land charged hits; Trash Attack is Wizard Man’ weakness (I guess it probably has iron in it so it’s good at repelling magic?) and its area of effect allows it to hit Wizard Man from just about anywhere, making an easy fight even easier. Both the ice bolt and the fireball are relatively easy to dodge, they both just move in a straight line, but getting hit by them can be dangerous. The fireball takes him a bit longer to charge up and it moves slower than the ice bolt, but it leaves behind a few small flames in its path and getting hit by either the fireball itself or its flames will cause Mega Man to continuously take burning damage for a short period of time. The ice bolt moves faster than the fireball and Wizard Man takes less time to charge it up, but its real danger lies in the fact that Mega Man gets frozen by it after getting hit; on top of the damage from the ice bolt itself, getting hit is dangerous because Mega Man can remain frozen long enough for Wizard Man to deal significantly more damage simply by running into him as he moves across the screen. True to his class, Wizard Man can deal high damage, but goes down quickly.
Stage: Wizard Man may be easy, but his stage is hard enough that I like to go into it with at least a few weapons. Stage mechanics include glowing pentagrams which hurt on contact, though you can still pass through them, a wrapping screen mechanic where Mega Man will fall out of a hole in the ceiling after jumping into certain pits, and yoku blocks, the infamous disappearing and reappearing blocks in just about every one of Mega Man’s games. This is actually the only stage in the entire game which even has yoku blocks and they are only used in three relatively nonthreatening sections. The pentagrams and wrapping mechanic are usually used together in sections where you need to maneuver Mega Man in midair while he is endlessly falling across the screen, but this is another case of a mechanic which isn’t utilized in any particularly creative or challenging ways. Other than serving as midair obstacles, pentagrams also occasionally block off large bolts or health refills, which is where Leaf Cutter comes in handy if you have it and want to get these items without taking damage. If there is one thing I don’t like about this stage, it’s that the letter you need to access Beat is on a screen after a split path; the top path is completely hazard-free and has plenty of large bolts while the bottom path has some easy platforming and a handful of mostly nonthreatening enemies, but you must take the bottom path and miss out of the bolts if you want both the letter and one of the few E-tanks outside of the shop.
The enemies in this stage are what make it so difficult and they are also amongst my favorites in the entire game. Mage mets have wizard caps instead of hardhats and they don’t attack on their own, but they will fire a large, fast-moving wave of energy if Mega Man attacks while anywhere near them; a point-blank charge shot can kill them before they get their attack off, but it’s usually best to just ignore them or destroy them with a different weapon from outside of their attack range. Instead of Sniper Joe’s, you now have to deal with Wizard Joe’s, who call down two fast-moving bolts of lightning over Mega Man’s head and are invulnerable while charging up their spell. Frostaffs are another weird enemy in the form of floating, robotic wizard staffs which create long horizontal rows of icicles near them. Frostaffs are the easiest of the enemies in Wizard Man’s stage and I like their design a great deal, but I don’t particularly like the fact that they can use their attack even when they are slightly offscreen. Saving the best for last, Archmages are floating robotic wizards with fancy capes which they open up to shoot three fireballs and they attempt to teleport directly onto Mega Man so you have to keep moving (yep, Dracula has been turned into a magical robot wizard).
Weapon: Magic Missile is decent enough, though the real prize from this stage is Rush Jet. Magic Missile can be shot quickly and it homes in on the nearest enemy; I’ve had a few cases where it outright refused to home in on certain enemies for some reason, but it’s usually good about it. The damage is extremely low, but its high fire rate and its ability to pass through walls makes it useful for taking out groups of small enemies or enemies in difficult positions when you don’t want to waste the energy from stronger weapons. Magic Missile also bounces to another enemy if it deals the finishing blow, making it really fun to use in drill corridors as a single missile can bounce around while destroying well over a dozen drills before finally leaving the screen. Unfortunately, this only works while playing on Normal or lower as drills have enough health on Hard that it takes two missiles to destroy them. Overall, this is a fairly situational weapon, but you’ll be very glad to have it around in those situations where it proves the most useful.