The most classic form of the fan game is the ROM Hack. Ever since we created emulators to play classic NES games on our PCs, fans have been dissecting games and re-editing them to create entirely new experiences.
Half the time, these are just simple graphic swaps. For example, replacing all of the Pokemon in a Pokemon release with anthropomorphic Poke-Schoolgirls… Japan is weird. Sometimes, these hacks slightly change the gameplay of the ROM, like hacking Mighty the Armadillo into Sonic 2, or hacking Mario 3 power-ups into Super Mario World. But sometimes, these hacks take it to such an extreme that the hack is barely recognizable from its original. That is the case with this week’s Fan Game Showcase: Rockman 4 Minus infinity.
Rockman 4 Minus Infinity is, as you can expect, a hack of Mega Man 4. However, just about everything in the game has changed. All of the stages have been altered and greatly extended. Each is based on a certain theme, such as Skull Man’s stage, which has just about every type of floating platform that has ever made an appearance in an NES game. New mid-bosses have been included, many of which are references to other NES games. Shadow Man from Mega Man 3 makes a recurring appearance as a sub-boss. You even get to fight Lololo and Lalala from the Kirby franchise!
The weapons from Mega Man 4 have also been completely changed. Dive Man now gives you a controllable laser that cuts through enemies. Skull Man gives you a shield that increases your speed to incredible extents. Toad Man literally gives you the Toad spell from Final Fantasy, which turns all enemies on the screen into a toad. But the coolest remixed weapon is easily Dust Man’s: the Dust Recycler. This weapon allows you to suck up enemies and turn them into pick-ups like health, energy, or one-ups. But if you use it to suck up bosses, important items or even your allies, you get special equipment that makes Mega Man even better. For example, if you suck up Shadow Man, you get a piece of equipment that lets your shots randomly critical hit. Finally, there are also temporary weapons that replace your mega-buster that you get for a limited time for beating sub-bosses. For example, at one point in the game, you get the hyper beam from Super Metroid!
Speaking of special items, you start the game with a lot of useful special items right off the bat, including the energy balancer, which makes it easy to use boss weapons, and the Rush Search, which will give you random power-ups just for calling it. You are going to need these items because the Mega Buster is easily the weakest weapon in the game. You’ll have to use your obtained weapons at just about every point in order to stand a chance against these remixed enemies, and even normal enemies have weaknesses to exploit. Over the course of the game you’ll also gain special items such as the Balloon, which operates a lot like the Rush Jet, and the Wire, which operates like Bionic Commando’s arm. You’ll also get the Rush Cannon, which lets you fire Rush as a projectile, and the Wish Star, which attacks all enemies on the screen.
Simply put, no other ROM hack comes close to the extensive redesign that is Rockman 4 Minus Infinity, and it’s still being updated today! The latest version of the patch came out on Jan. 11, 2014, which added a new boss and a brand new hard mode. If you want to get your hands on one of the craziest Mega Man games ever made, head on over to the official Rockman 4 Minus Infinity Google project page.