The mountainous crags in the background are nothing compared to the winding labyrinth you must traverse in order to reach the end of Hard Man's domain.
From the start, head right along the rocky canyon, watching for giant, bee-shaped robots that bombard you with their little ones. You can't hit the hives as they drop, but you can shoot the four bees that will emerge. They often leave behind power-ups, but sticking around to fight them all may well drain your life meter. Better to keep moving, when possible, and shoot the little bees from a safe distance.
Past that particular hazard, you'll find green-colored ledges pressed against the rocky surface that coats the stage. These green panels are traps. Stand on one for long at all and steel jaws will snap on Mega Man, dealing quite a hefty amount of damage. Hop over them, or slide.
Through a narrow space just beyond that first set of three traps, you'll find a ladder leading up to three more traps. A ladder hangs above them, while a large energy capsule is nestled against a wall to the left. Grab the energy if you need it, then climb the ladder up to the next room. Here you will find a robot swinging a mace-like object. He's invulnerable except for when the projectile is thrown. There are a few ways to hurt him, but don't be tempted to use your magnet shots; you'll need those for the boss encounter at the end of the stage. Instead, note that you can stand to his diagonal lower right, then throw shadow blades at an angle when he is open for damage. Once the robot is vanquished, use the Rush Coil ability to hop onto that ledge and from there to the ladder that leads into the next room.
Here, you'll find a hallway with the ape-shaped robots you may remember from Mega Man 2. Instead of narrow scaffolding over a forest, they now jump to the ceiling and will attack you from there. Shadow blades are again the way to attack. Three hits or so will disable each ape. Proceed right past those, and up a long ladder (if you need to stop along the way, you can take out the robot that guards an energy capsule from the safety of the ladder; you can actually find the perfect place to rest that will enable you to shoot him while his projectiles fly just barely over your head).
Once you've climbed the tall ladder, there's another ape to take care of with a shadow blade, then another ladder that leads up to the next portion. Here, you can drop down and slide under a green barrier to the right. In the following hall, you'll find a bulldozer enemy that you must hit with a few quick shots from the arm cannon. Press right beyond that and hop onto the next ledge. Climb up and take out another bulldozer, then beyond him you can obtain your first energy tank! This will certainly come in handy later in the game.
With the energy tank collected, climb up the ladder and take out the hardhat that you'll find in the next room. Then climb another ladder and you're in another canyon. A series of the traps lines the area ahead, so you'll want to press to the right and keep moving while taking the least damage possible. At the end is a ladder that drops down into a new room.
This room plays host to another battle with Proto Man, and he's more difficult now thanks to the addition of raised ledges in the center of the room. You'll have to navigate those while working to take him out. Remember that you can slide under a good number of his jumps. Take the least damage possible, and when the battle ends a hole will appear at the center.
Drop down that hole and you're in a room with a giant robot that takes large jumps. Let him take one jump toward you, then get near where he stands so that when he jumps again, you can slide under him and rush to the gate that leads to the encounter with the area's robot master.
NEXT: Spark Man