Mega Man 5
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • NES
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 12/04/1992
    • US December 1992
    • UK 11/18/1993
Score: 80%

This review was published on 06/24/2013.

Mega Man 5 is a 2-D, side-scrolling platform game released by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It's the fifth game in the classic Mega Man series. There were very few franchises on the NES that made it to such a high number of sequels as Mega Man did. It's pretty clear that, at this point, Capcom was milking the franchise for all it was worth. Like some of the previous Mega Man games, a contest was held in Japan to see who could come up with the best 8 Robot Master designs. The winners would have their designs immortalized inside of the game. That's a great honor for anyone who's a diehard Mega Man fan. Mega Man 5 was a critically acclaimed game back when it was first released, like most of the Mega Man games were, but nowadays a lot of people consider it one of the lesser games in the series. There was a drop in originality and creativity right around Mega Man 4, and Mega Man 5 sort of continues in that trend. The development team was beginning to run out of ideas, as they claim to have perfected the Mega Man formula at number four. Maybe that's why they kept holding those contests. For all intents and purposes, though, Mega Man 5 is not at all a bad game. It might not be as original as the first three, but it's still a classic.

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Mega Man, the daring blue robot designed and created by Dr. Light, is a pretty cool dude who fights for everlasting peace. The blue bombshell has thwarted the plans of the malicious Dr. Wily four times already. Wily is one determined mad scientist. In the previous adventure, Wily framed somebody else in an attempt to hide his nefarious plans, but Mega Man quickly saw through his schemes. Now, though, something else is afoot. Two months after the grand adventure of Mega Man 4, robots start going ballistic again and attacking the city. One would immediately suspect that Wily is behind this one, but it turns out that Proto Man, Mega Man's robotic brother, is actually behind it all. Proto Man somehow amasses his own robotic army that he sends all over the place to attack humanity. In particular, he has eight powerful Robot Masters under his command that are terrorizing eight locations. On top of all that, Proto Man kidnaps his own creator, Dr. Light! Mega Man has no choice but to fight his own brother in a dramatic quest to save the world. It should be fairly obvious who's actually behind these events, but I have to say, this story does have an interesting premise behind it. If only the events of Mega Man 4 hadn't actually taken place, then this one would count as a real deviation from the norm. The idea of a morally ambiguous friend suddenly becoming a foe is kind of neat. Mega Man 5's story isn't half bad for a typical Mega Man game.

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Obviously, you control the titular Mega Man in this game. He retains all his abilities from previous games, like the stylish slide that can be used to dodge attacks, the charging Mega Buster, and his ability to jump. That last one is particularly important. Mega Man controls identically to the way he did in Mega Man 4, with one exception: his Mega Buster has received a mega upgrade. The Mega Buster originated in Mega Man 4, enabling Mega Man to charge up his bullets into more powerful shots, but now the powerful shots are even more powerful than before. Fully charging up the Mega Buster in this game will release a shot so powerful, it's almost bigger than Mega Man himself! This shot really changes everything. Not only does it do tons more damage, but it has a very wide radius, making it a cinch to hit small targets. A big problem with the Mega Buster in Mega Man 4 is that the shot was a lot smaller, so you missed more often. Missing is really bad for the Mega Buster, because it takes so long to charge up. That problem is mostly alleviated now, thanks to the increased size of the charged shot. The downside to all this is that it makes the game far, far easier than any of the previous Mega Mans. You can easily cheese most bosses and practically every enemy with the Mega Buster, almost completely invalidating any other weapon Mega Man can use. If you're a hardcore fan who plays Mega Man for the hardcore challenge, well, you're going to be a little disappointed in Mega Man 5. Personally, though, I don't mind. The modifications made to the Mega Buster does ruin the game's balance, but it's awesome and that makes it okay.

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The blue bomber can absorb the weapons of the Robot Masters he defeats, like he always could, and there are eight new masterful robots to beat located in eight new thematically appropriate stages. Each Robot Master has a weakness Mega Man can exploit if he uses the correct weapon, so as usual, the stage order is of utmost importance. None of the special weapons are particularly useful outside of boss battles, though. This time the bad 'bots are Gravity Man, Gyro Man, Crystal Man, Napalm Man, Stone Man, Charge Man, Wave Man, and Star Man. Some of the Robot Masters are a little goofy this time around, but there are a few cool ones, like Gravity Man and Napalm Man. A robot that has the power to control gravity is pretty freaking cool, no matter what anyone says. To offset the coolness of Gravity Man, you have Gyro Man and Charge Man. Gyro Man literally has a giant propeller strapped onto his back to fly around. Considering this is the far flung future, shouldn't he have a more advanced means of getting around? As for Charge Man, well, he's half man, half train. I don't think I need to explain how silly that is. There's something endearing about the silly designs of these Robot Masters, though. Mega Man 5 has some well designed Robot Masters, even if some of them are a bit on the ridiculous side.

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All the stages in Mega Man 5 are designed pretty well, just like you'd expect out of a Mega Man game. The development team now has a lot of experience with four Mega Man games under their belt, and it really shows. A lot of the stages have cool gimmicks, like Star Man's stage has low gravity that allows Mega Man to jump higher, and Gravity Man's stage alters the gravity further to let Mega Man walk on ceilings. Two gravity gimmicks in one game is a bit much, but both are used in fun and unique ways. Other stages have a vehicular theme to them, like Wave Man's stage has a fun section where Mega Man rides a jet ski across the ocean, and Charge Man's stage takes place entirely on a moving train. Gyro Man's stage, a fortress that floats high up in the sky, is also pretty darn cool. The best part of Gyro Man's stage is also the worst: there's this part where a spiked ceiling starts to slowly fall onto your head as you must quickly navigate through a bunch of tight passageways. It's very reminiscent of Indiana Jones and is a good example of good stage design. Mega Man 5 brings a lot of cool, original stage designs to the table.

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Mega Man 3 introduced the robotic canine compatriot, Rush, and Mega Man 5 introduces a new friend; Beat, the robotic bird. Rush helps out by transforming into various things Mega Man can ride on, like a jet. Beat, however, does something else. First of all, Mega Man does not start with Beat's assistance right off the bat. In fact, Beat is completely optional. In order to get the blue bird, Mega Man must find eight letters that spells the game's title scattered throughout the eight stages. They're actually not hard at all to find, as they're usually in plain sight. Some of them are positioned in slightly annoying ways that will require you to replay the entire stage if you miss them, such as one letter that must be grabbed while falling down a long shaft, but it's not too bad. After getting all eight letters, Beat will permanently join your party. When called, Beat will fly alongside Mega Man and attack any nearby enemies, including those that are too far away for Mega Man to reach. Beat has limited energy, just like the weapons and Rush transformations, but his ability can be pretty useful in certain circumstances. Beat is particularly useful against the final boss of the game, so it's worth picking up his support for that reason alone. Mega Man 5's inclusion of Beat further adds much needed personality to the series.

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Busting all eight Robot Masters will unlock Proto Man's Castle, which will be your next destination. Don't ask me how Proto Man built a castle. These are four stages that must be completed back-to-back with no weapon refills in between them, just like the castle stages from the last four Mega Man games. They're not that different from the older castle stages, but the music here rocks. Mega Man 5 doesn't have the impeccable soundtrack of the last few games, but it still has some good tunes, and this is one of them. There is one part in Proto Man's Castle that is pretty cool, as well. It's this segment where you destroy pillars to slowly bring down the ceiling, and you have to do it in a manner that won't get you squished. That stage had a puzzle feel to it that is unusual for a Mega Man game, but much appreciated. Of course, once you beat all the Proto Man Stages, you discover the startling fact that Dr. Wily was behind everything all along. I don't think anyone would be surprised by that. It turns out that Wily created a clone of Proto Man to frame the real thing. The real Proto Man stands up and rescues Mega Man from the clone, proving that Proto Man is a pretty cool guy still. Shortly after that, you gain access to Wily's Castle and must do four more stages, just like in Mega Man 4. My complaint about this is the same as before; two castles are too much. Finishing the first four is an exhausting task, and really, the game should end at that point. Two castles come to about eight stages in a row, and while that does greatly expand the game's length, it also requires the kind of stamina most people don't have. Mega Man 5 should have dropped the two castles thing.

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Mega Man 5 gets a lot of flak for being a safe sequel that takes absolutely no risks. It also drastically lowered the difficulty level, which is something else that turns off many hardcore fans. The music is a mere shadow of what it was in the first three Mega Man games, though it's still not bad. Despite all that, Mega Man 5 has some great Robot Masters and fantastic stage design. The game does feel a little uninspired, but it's designed so well that it doesn't really matter. Mega Man 5 is still one of the best games on the NES, even if it's lacking in the originality department.

Word Count: 1,904

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