Gameplay of the Rock-Aozora series
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The following games are considered part of the subseries:
- Rock-Aozora (based on Mega Man 2)
- Rock-Aozora 2 (based on Mega Man 3)
- Rock-Aozora World (based on Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge)
- Rock-Aozora 3 (based on Mega Man 4)
- Rock-Aozora World 2 (based on Mega Man III)
- Rock-Aozora 4 ( based on Mega Man 6)
- Like the standard Mega Man games, the games are platformers focused on projectile-based combat. The player must play defeat eight bosses in the order of their choosing, claim their Special Weapons, and venture on to the endgame stages.
- The graphics, while the in-game character art and sprites are stylized off 8-bit Mega Man-styled sprites, feature a much wider array of colors that don't follow any limit. The graphics and game window are also double the size (516x480px) compared to a standard Mega Man game's visuals and screen size (256x240px), allowing for higher resolution graphics and visuals.
- As with Mega Man, the game is controlled through a directional input and two buttons, one for jumping and the other for firing the currently-selected weapon, while holding down and pressing the Jump button executing a slide. Unlike most Mega Man games, the player is able to shoot freely in eight different directions as well as crouch and fire regardless of which character they control. Rock-Aozora adds a third button used to lock the player's aim in one direction as long as it's held, allowing them to move and shoot freely, and additional buttons to fire the standard weapon while a Special Weapon is equipped and cycle through the currently acquired Special Weapons.
- Rock-Aozora would also feature direct shortcut keys to firing at different angles, plus flight stick and tank stick support with one stick used for movement and jumping and the other for aiming and shooting.
- Aozora (in all games) and Jigoku (starting from Rock-Aozora 3) would be the main playable characters, serving as analogues to Mega Man and Bass respectively.
- The games would use a modern-day save system along with a password system, however by using a password, the game is locked out of certain unlockables within the game. Saves made from plays that were accessed form a password will be marked with "PASSWORD SAVE".
- The games feature a difficulty selection which includes Normal and Hard, as well as an unlockable Intense. These do not function like Mega Man 2's difficulty ratings, as Hard increases the enemy count in stages, changes some stage layouts to be more challenging, and gives bosses new attacks. Intense doubles the damage the player takes from enemies and bosses.
- Starting from Rock-Aozora 2, an in-game shop would be present to purchase items such as recovery tanks, lives, and play style upgrades (with each playable character and Master having access to different upgrades). It is closed on Intense difficulty, but the player can attempt to access it anyways in Rock-Aozora 3 and on, with leads to cutscenes featuring the player character's response to the shop's closure and their futile attempts at getting into the shops if the cutscenes are accessed more than once.
- In Rock-Aozora 4, Jamji and Mr. Morph's stages give Aozora access to the Jet and Guts Power-Ups respectively, which function similar to Jet Mega Man and Power Mega Man. Unlike typical depictions of Power-Ups, these work like adapters, and can be removed and saved for later use.
- The Special Weapons, compared to most classic-series Mega Man games until Mega Man 7, are designed with the intent of being equally useful in various situations, similar to the ROM hack Rockman 4 Minus Infinity. They all have respectable damage outputs that outclass an uncharged Buster shot (while weapons with the same power level are faster/easier to attack with), as well as ammo counts that balance their use. Some game modes give these Special Weapons infinite ammunition.
- Shield-based weapons (Gambeler's Cards, Soul Ember, and Pixel Barrier) are able to block enemy projectiles.
- Guts Aozora in Rock-Aozora 4 is intended to be much stronger than Power Mega Man from Mega Man 6, with normal and charged shots dealing 2 and 5 HP on enemies versus 1 and 3 HP. He also can punch away shields and when charged, deal damage on enemies and bosses in ways normal Aozora couldn't.
Stages in the Rock-Aozora series will feature the following:
- Climbable surfaces that allow for horizontal and diagonal climbing
- Foreground Ladders
- Ladders embedded on walls (Rock-Aozora 3)
- Shooting into the background in dedicated areas (Rock-Aozora 2)
- Shooting into the foreground in dedicated areas (Rock-Aozora 4)
- Overhead/Top-Down Stages (Rock-Aozora 4)
- Unique Boss Gate Design for each stage (Rock-Aozora 3), can opt for classic shutter gates if desired
- Each game in the series has eight bosses, labeled "Masters", that must be defeated in the order of the player's choosing to access the second half- usually involving a set of four more stages (remixed stages or entirely new stages in the second and third games respectively) followed by a fortress with linear stage progression and between four to six stages- all occupied by Joker.
- The second game, after clearing a two-stage Fortress aboard Fayato's Wave Cruiser, has four "Doc-Bots" that inhabit Masayoshi's, Girou's, Bachi's, and Migonette's stages- each with a different appearance (unlike the Doc Robots in Mega Man 3). They take arm attachments styled after the Masters from Rock-Aozora and are fought twice in each stage.
- The third game has no early Fortress and uses four new Masters in more difficult stages, with Special Weapons that cannot be copied.
- The fourth game features three optional "secret" Masters whose stages are found through hidden portals scattered in three of the eight normal stages. Their weapons can be copied and used throughout the rest of the game, unlike Rock-Aozora 3's extra Masters.
- The fourth game has Joker's castle as a fake-endgame area, with the true endgame area following after it.
- By defeating the Masters using only the player's default weapon as Aozora or Jigoku, the player unlocks that master as a playable character. Unlike the playable Robot Masters in Mega Man Powered Up, there is no weakness/resistance system applied when playing as a Master in the Rock-Aozora series. Each character also has their own unique storyline and if they defeat a Master they otherwise have a mutual bond with (Masayoshi and Saniko, Bachi and Sharkane, Chouko and Hiromori, Mugi and Jamji), they will instead be left alive to teleport out.
- When playing as a Master, either Aozora or Jigoku will replace the boss in their original stage.
- In Rock Aozora 4, each Master would sport their own unique boss theme instead of one constant theme shared across all eight. This also applies to Returning Masters in Boss Rush.
- All games in the series include a Time Attack mode which allows playing of one stage or the whole game while competing for the best time.
- Speedrunner interferences can be enabled for full game speed runs, showing details on time eclipsed on a level and time comparisons between runs.
- Other modes (some which may need to be unlocked) are several different Boss Rush modes (including "Returning Master" rushes starting from Rock-Aozora 3- featuring Masters from prior installments), challenges using main game stages and newely-designed rooms, and an endless mode. If a main game stage is featured in Challenge and Endless, it is redesigned slightly with a new palette. All the games feature sound tests, with flashy interferences in all installments and interactive screensavers/slideshows starting from Rock-Aozora 3.
- Rock-Aozora 4 is intended to feature a fully traversable 3D overworld (the interior of a large mansion) that can be used instead of text-based menus. It operates on a day/night system and has different music if accessed during the day or at night. Players can also unlock bios for the Masters across the series (alongside other major characters) along with detailed explanations and "training programs" of each Special Weapon.