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ROM Hacks: Mega Man 4: Free of Charge

Started by RHDNBot, February 24, 2021, 07:35:16 PM

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Update By: turbomcphazer

Mega Man 4: Free of Charge is a hack that removes the charge shot, often considered to have broken the pace of the classic Mega Man gameplay. It also lowers HP on a number of enemies to around the level of their MM2/3 counterparts (Capcom buffed a lot of enemies into bullet-sponge territory in order to make the charge shot useful) and makes various other small changes to try to restore the tempo of the earlier games.

RHDN Project Page

Relevant Link


Instant download! This is exactly what I've always wanted for MM4-6.



While I am glad this exists for those who don't want a charge shot in their MegaMan 4 hacks, it strikes me as odd to remove it from the base game, and not just because of the enemy health. I never thought the charge shot ruined the pacing, if anything I thought it improved it.

It's nice to have but for me, I'll pass, if I wanted to play MegaMan 4 without the charge I just wouldn't use the charge.


This amps up the difficulty quite a bit if you're buster dueling the Robot Masters. Though the only nitpick would be the bosses' invulnerability time. Sure, 28 frames is good, but 16 to 18 frames seems reasonable a la Mega Man 2, but that's just me. Still, it's worth a challenge. :)


I personally think the charge shot is balanced in MM4, it's in MM5 that they went way overboard with it, and as result the charge shots of all games are put in the same bag even though they're different. There are many factors in play: charge time, size of the charge shot hit detection, speed at which it travels, whether or not you're allowed to shoot more projectiles when a half-charge in on the screen and how many, but also invicibility frame time of bosses (and more).
MM5 changed most of these factors favouring the charge above else; and it's worth noting that MM6 backed down (though probably not enough) on several of those factors including the most important ones: hit detection size and charge time, making MM6's charge an "in between" of 4 and 5.
My Protoman hack of 5 modified several of those factors and hopefully make MM5 a little more balanced in that regard, for one thing the reduced charge shot size means that you actually have to aim with it, which is also the case in 4.

Anyway, there are plenty of situations in MM4 where if you insist on using the charge shot only you're going to have a harder time, the most obvious example being Dive Man: if you don't use the regular shots to destroy his missiles as they spawn, you're going to get overwhelmed pretty quickly, meaning you're pretty much only allowed to charge and unleash a charge if you time it well after dodging Dive Man's dash. This entire dynamic is lost if you get rid of the charge shot entirely. Kabatoncue and Moby are also good examples, Kabatoncue's pillar respawning faster than you can destroy it with charge shots (so it's a bit ironical to get rid of its 2nd encounter where it was a pro-regular shot enemy), but if you bring the pillar all the way down you should have time to hit him with a charge. Moby also goes downn much faster if you stick to regular shots, but when you're dodging his missiles, this is when charging becomes worth it.
Skull Joe's collapse feels to me like it is the whole idea behind his design, one possible change would have been to have regular shots harm him, but give him 3 HPs and he'd die after 2 collapses with regular shots, but instantly with the charge. Also to me the whole point behind Pharaoh Man's fight is that he is a mirror of MM: "oh you can charge? well I can charge too, let's see whose is better", and when he doesn't charge and jumps around with regular shots, that is also when the player is encouraged to user regular shots because Pharaoh's more likely to dodge the player's charges then.

I'm not saying it's perfect but my point is the charge shot in 4 isn't nearly as bad as some other games like 5, and imo too many dynamics are lost if you get rid of it entirely. I would have rather seen subtle changes that encourage smart play and switching between regular and charge shots more often, rather than getting rid of it entirely; turning the game more into what MM10's charge shot is with Protoman for instance, in which inv frame time of bosses alone encourages regular shots, unless the boss behave in such a way that he's not often likely to dodge the charges. Of course I understand that reducing inv frame time of bosses too much is also an issue because it means you can spam their weaknesses even quicker, that was an issue to me with hacking MM5 for instance.

Edit : btw - it would be a good idea to make a Rockman 4 version of the hack, that is if it would be compatible with Puresabe's lag reduction hack of the game (which only works with RM4)


@GlitchyTSP - fair enough, I said in the readme I really consider it more "improvement?" since I know a lot of people like the charge. I will say though, this hack is not quite the same as just not using the charge, since a lot of stuff in the original game is kind of balanced for you to use it, and the hack readjusts things to make it flow better with just the buster.

@tom1988 - Yeah, as much as I love MM2, the super-short boss invincibility feels a little... sloppy? To me? Not sure how to put it. But if you'd like, I can make you a "special edition" version :)

@Ness - very insightful analysis, thanks. I agree that MM5's charge is kind of more unbalanced on paper, since it really makes all of the RM weapons totally useless. ...buuuut... since the game expects you to use it, I'd rather it just be fun to use, and the MM5 charge at least feels big and powerful and more fun in that way--whereas 4's charge, I agree that it's more balanced in some ways, but I just don't really like it somehow. It feels weak and stiff to me. To me the better solution would be to make the charge as powerful as it is in 5, but also make the other weapons actually useful. That's basically what MMX does (although it also has the advantage of being on the SNES where they can flood the screen with more weak enemies that it's fun to blast through, and not have to suppress MM's fire after you fire a charge, etc).

I agree that removing Skeleton Joe's collapse kind of defeats the purpose of his design--and I did think about keeping the collapse in and just having damage accumulate--but I don't really like his design, or any design that's reliant on waiting around. I will say I was sad to lose the animation of him popping his head back on. It's pretty great.

Re Rockman 4, I'd like to do that, but I'm not actually sure how--I built this patch off of the MM4 disassembly found here: If you have any advice, I'd be glad to give it a shot!


Quote from: turbomcphazer on February 27, 2021, 06:06:59 PM
Re Rockman 4, I'd like to do that, but I'm not actually sure how--I built this patch off of the MM4 disassembly found here: If you have any advice, I'd be glad to give it a shot!

Your changes are probably simple enough that the data is the same in a Rockman 4 rom, just some of it located in slightly different places as some offsets may be a different; if that's the case you can probably do a simple search and find the data (in fact, I said that without trying but with luck your hack may already be compatible with RM4). Rock5easily has some documentation on RM4 on his site, you could see how much it differs.

Quotebut I don't really like his design, or any design that's reliant on waiting around.
I can see that! I'd have kept the HP of the two sub-bosses in Ring Man stage the same myself, charge or no charge; but it's more of a nitpick.
Speaking of Ring Man stage, if you ever update the hack I suggest modifying Mono Roader so that the window for shooting him in between two of his dashes is a tiny bit longer, that enemy feels to like it's built for the charge shot in mind: miss the window to shoot him with a charge and you're in trouble. With regular shots he's just way more painful than he should be imo.


Cool, I managed to convert a Rockman 4 ROM just by applying my changes to the hex, and then added Puresabe's improvement hack. Haven't had time to test the whole thing, but it seems to be working fine at first glance. Will upload a new zip including the RM4 patch once I've confirmed that it works. Thanks for the suggestion!

I'll make a note about Mono Roader if I revisit this. I've never liked those guys!