MEGA MAN X4 / Capcom / Playstation
More cheap death-trap-filled levels and grueling boss battles ahoy! As far as level and enemy design go, X4 manages to combine the worst aspects of X2 and X3. It has the short but death-trap-filled level design style of X2, just ramped up even more with constant stretches where one slip-up kills you instantly and you more-or-less have to die a bunch of times to memorize what's coming. And then there's the overly pumped bosses of X3, where if you're trying to use the Mega Buster (or Z-Saber) to take any of them down, you have to be absolutely perfect in a grueling duel of constant dashing, wall-humping and jumping.
There's a hardcore fanbase that loves this shit, and as it's been noted many times, the Mega Man franchise as a whole drifted more and more toward catering toward them at the exclusion of gamers who didn't want to spend literally hours replaying the same level and beating their heads against the same bosses until they finally got all the quirks of the game down. At the point of MMX4, I think it had totally commited itself to that demographic and there was no going back.
You really want to forgive the game for all this, because it's very nice to look at, and the music is pretty good too. Ironically, game rags of the time gave the game tepid reviews not so much because of the gameplay, but because the game refused to transition to ugly 3D polygons like everything else was doing at the time! Now the lovely, fluid 2D art is about the only thing that has aged well. The game also adds Moar Plot, Dialogue and Exposition as compared to the previous entries, but it's the usual corniness and melodrama, and the cutscenes are so compressed to fit on the CD they look like early 1980s anime.
This was the first game of the X series to allow you to take on the whole thing as either X or Zellloooo, and while they go through the same levels, they get different weapon upgrades and different animu cutscenes as the story progresses. Of course, the game all winds up with yet another ridiculously frustrating battle against perennial reviving villain Sigma.
* Boss chart
* Gameplay Video