Nestled in the clouds high above the city is the chamber Air Man uses for his base. Since there's really not a proper pathway, you'll be relying on giant gremlin heads and the occasional bit of scaffolding to pass through the area. You'll even hitch a ride on some chariots!
Start the breathtaking trek by heading right along the gray scaffolding. When you near its edge, the first of several gremlin heads will appear. These giant robot forms are rather difficult if you wish to avoid damage. On either side, horns will rise and fall, and a leap at the wrong moment can damage Mega Man slightly. Worse, it may dump him off solid footing and cause him to plunge to his death.
To avoid this unfortunate fate, you might want to wait until a given set of horns has just about finished receding. The only problem is that there are other miniature forms popping out of tubes on the side of each head, so you're almost better off making a mad dash for it with only occasional pauses. It's your call.
It can be tempting to use the Metal Blade weapon here, since it eliminates foes quickly. Do keep in mind that if you pick up items that restore your life or special weapon energy, there's a slight pause and a jump may not register until the meter refills. In some respects, it's safer just to use regular bullets here so that you're not constantly finding your actions interrupted.
When you get past the first five gremlin heads, the stage grants you a reprieve in the form of a thrilling set of leaps from chariots. Robots ride these, naturally, and throw bolts of lightning. Take them out before that chance arises with some well-timed Metal Blade shots, diagonally or otherwise. The chariots move in circular paths, and you have to take out robots before it's safe to leap from one to the next. If you mess up and a leap is no longer safe, the chariot to the right may not immediately want to appear. If this happens, step out on the far left side of your current chariot, so that your toe barely remains on safe footing. When it completes a full, circular revolution, the enemy to the right should reappear and you'll have another chance.
Cross over the skies by way of chariot and you'll come to more scaffolding. Here, birds attack by dropping their eggs as you push to the right. Metal Blades again are a joy, and you may even get some weapon refills as you go.
Push against the far right and you'll find a drop obscured by the clouds. In the screen below, you can use your Metal Blades to take out the short, red stations and the projectiles they create. If you need to, you can stick around and just kill the projectiles for power-ups and extra lives. Then head to the far left, where clouds obscure another drop to the screen below.
Once you land, head to the right once more, using two more of the giant gremlin heads to make the crossing to another series of ledges.
A noteworthy hazard here is a new type of enemy in the area. A giant robot sends out gusts of air that will blow you back off a ledge if you're not careful. Three of your Metal Blades will disable each of those, but you have to watch out for more of the kamikaze birds in the meantime. Press onward along this series of ledges and you will soon come to the gate that leads to this stage's boss encounter.
As blowhards go, Air Man is the worst. He's also one of the tougher robot masters. When the fight begins, he'll immediately start gusting, and you'll have to push against his breath just to get within range. He also sends out miniature cyclones in what appears to be random formation, and you should hop over these once they break free of his gusts and fly toward you.
The problem is that the minute one set of gusts is gone, Air Man will send another. Get too close to him-within striking distance, that is-and he'll hop over to the other side of the screen. Thus, you'll have to attack from medium range. Fortunately, the tornadoes that strike you don't do a terrible amount of damage, so you can keep crossing over them to get in your attack. And what is it that you use to attack? Why, the Leaf Shield, of course!
The trick to using that weapon effectively is to make sure you're walking toward Air Man as you press the 'B' button to deploy the barrier. This will cause the leaves to go flying in that direction with only the slightest of delays. It's slightly slower than an arm cannon shot, meaning that you have to work quickly. However, two successful hits from this weapon will send Air Man to the scrap heap. You'll get not only his Air Tornado skill as a reward, but also Item-2, a rocket jet you can use to cross over the wide gaps that lie ahead.
A-4, B-1,3, C-2,4, D-4, E-1,3,5
NEXT: Crash Man