Rockman 4 Burst Chaser × Air Sliding is a fantastic hack of Rockman 4 made by Tsukikuro that was released in August 2014.
The patch can be found here. Apply to a Rockman 4 (J) rom.
At its core, this hack is a combination of ideas and mechanics from two other romhacks: Rockman 3 Burst Chaser and Rockman 5 Air Sliding.
Some of the more notable changes in this hack:
- Mega Man's movement speed is increased
- When jumping out of a slide, Mega Man retains slide speed (similar to dashing in the Mega Man X series)
- Mega Man can slide in the air once per jump
- You can quickly cycle through weapons with Select or Down + Select (or Select + Start to default to the Mega Buster)
- Health and energy items refill without stopping the game (this is very important)
- Boss AI and special weapons have been modified
- New music and level layouts
- Emulator used: FCEUX 2.2.2
- Aims for fastest time
- Manipulates luck
- Takes damage to save time
I love this romhack and feel like the particular combination of new features offers very unique gameplay and interesting challenges.
Some general techniques:
Air sliding: At the beginning and the end of an air slide, Mega Man is pushed forward a bit. As a result, the fastest movement over flat ground is repeated 1-frame airslides. In addition, when starting a slide on the frame Mega Man lands on the ground the game will treat it as an air slide.
Balloons: I pick up the Balloon item in Drill Man's stage. With Balloons, I can climb rapidly to save large amounts of time in vertical segments and I can get extra air slides over large pits to save frames. Once I have balloons, RNG manipulation becomes a very big deal. Unlike in the original game, you can't land on a balloon once it explodes so you can't climb up narrow spaces by placing them in the wall.
RNG manipulation: Once I get balloons, I need to manipulate large weapon refills very frequently to replenish my ammo. This is particularly difficult with Mega Man's high movement speed; many enemies can't be killed soon enough for their drop to appear before I've passed where it will spawn.
Robot master kills: I make an effort to kill every robot master as close to the (horizontal) middle of the screen as possible; this minimizes waiting time before the end of stage sequence begins. Standing in the middle of the screen prevents additional waiting time. The early exit glitch (where Mega Man skips part of the end of stage sequence) from the original was removed for some reason.
Charge storage: If you quickswap to a different weapon while charging the mega buster, the charge status will be preserved. This can be used to instantly release a full charge after using other weapons or to charge a shot while also firing other weapons to clear out enemies.
Some useful RAM addresses:
- 0330, 0318 : X position
- 0378, 0360 : Y position
- 0035 : Charge timer
- 05CF : Boss iframes
- 0347 : Boss X position
Stage by stage comments
I clear out two rows of blocks in the crusher section so I can keep using air slides. Thanks to this, I can barely escape without waiting for the crushers to rise at the end. A lot of work went into making Dust Man not use his sucking attack, which leaves him invincible for an annoying amount of time. Dust Crusher is a powerful weapon and is effective against many otherwise problematic enemies. It follows a convenient arc in this hack.
There isn't much to note in this stage. I use the 1 frame of input before the fight begins to summon rush coil to get the first hit in early (Bright Man will always jump high to start the fight). Flash stopper is nearly useless later in the run because it prevents switching weapons for 200 frames.
I can get the Wire item in this stage but I ignore it; it takes much longer to grab it here than later and there aren't many places to use it in the robot master stages. I start the fight with some charge shots to get Skull Man in the middle of the room before freezing him with his weakness. The fight is slower this way, but the stage ends faster. Skull Shield is a very helpful weapon that lets me deal with enemies right above me. In this hack, it can be thrown.
I get balloons in this stage. I use the 1 frame of input entering the boss room to spawn a shield early, which I can throw at Drill Man to get an early hit as the fight starts. Drill Bomb isn't very powerful and doesn't travel quickly, but its lasting explosion makes it useful for taking out certain enemies.
The first stage of many where balloons make a big difference. Skull shields make quick work of the whale minibosses. In addition to the boss explosion, I need to minimize the time it takes for Mega Man's air bubble to disappear off the top of the screen to start the end of stage sequence. Dive Missile is not good. (It's fun, though)
I skip one miniboss with an air slide and need to kill the other. I fool around a bit with balloons during the Ring Man fight while making sure missiles are hitting him as soon as possible. Ring Boomerang is a very helpful weapon; it's strong and it travels quickly, making it much easier to kill enemies in a way that lets me get their drops. Additionally, the number of frames the projectile is on screen seems to affect RNG.
The currents in the beginning of the stage add or subtract one pixel per frame from your speed. I avoid being in currents against me while maximizing time in friendly currents. Wind only affects Mega Man when he is not sliding so I minimize sliding when with the wind and maximize sliding when against it. Rain Flush can be used in some places to kill several enemies and leave a drop in a convenient spot.
This stage sees the most balloon use in the game. I jump before using rain flush to minimize the startup time (I end up needing to wait a few frames for Pharaoh Man to reach the middle, though). Pharaoh shot behaves similar to how it did it Rockman 4, but the held shot will sit inside Mega Man's hitbox. Luckily, it can't keep up with the speed boosts of air slides so I don't always need to take damage to hit with a held shot.
From here on out, the game won't be giving me free refills so I can't use balloons everywhere I would like to. Of course, that doesn't mean I don't use a ton of them. I pick up the Wire item here, mainly so I can use it in the next stage.
My favourite stage of this run. The stage has 3 sections that are meant to be done with Rush Jet. Naturally, I use jet in none of them. Eddie and the autoscroller sections are very convenient, letting me easily refill several weapons. It's barely impossible to get 5 hits in the first round of the Square Machine fight (by 1 frame).
Like with the robot masters, I need to wait for the explosion of the second Cockroach to leave the screen to leave the stage, but I can't manipulate its movements. Waiting for it to finish climbing the wall and start moving along the ceiling is slower.
I manipulate Cossack Catcher's movements to finish the fight with him in a position that minimizes movement at the beginning of the cutscene.
The fish section was very difficult; balloons make the game lag very easily here. I have some fun with a held pharaoh shot during the downtime in the boss fight.
Nothing too notable in this stage.
Nothing too special here either. I refight every robot master, but this time I don't get a free frame of input for early hits etc. and I don't need to worry about where they are when they die.
I enter the boss room 1 frame slower than I could to get a better third spawn in the boss fight, which lets me end input sooner. The final shot's debris finishes off Wily as soon as his invincibility period is over.
I had a ton of fun making this TAS and learned a lot along the way. I hope you enjoy it.
The rerecord count that FCEUX put in the movie file seemed horribly inaccurate (under 3000), so I replaced it with a (probably very) conservative estimate.
Nach: I have mixed feelings about this hack. On the one hand, the levels weren't that interesting and the new features makes the game seem too easy. On the other, it offers a lot of opportunity for entertaining action, and the hack itself is decent. In the end, I'm left asking myself what's better for the site, and I think a TAS for this hack that's well done is the way to go.
The play on this was quite good, with only one or two questionable moments. Feedback was good too. Weakly accepting this hack as a viable TASing candidate, and accepting this run as first run for this game. However, since I'm only weakly accepting this hack, it should be replaced with a better hack which sticks to the same general ballpark of altercations for this game. (RM4I is such a massive hack and pulls in things from so many other games, I consider it to be in a league of its own, and not just a Mega Man 4 hack.)