Mega Man 5 (NES) review
"The eight stages may not seem all that original (many of them just seem like variations of some of the less memorable stages from past games), but their actual construction is still proficient. Gamers will guide Mega Man along the top of a train, and inside its engine. They'll ride bubbles toward a spike-lined ceiling, hop aboard a watercraft for some shooting fun on the river."
A telling fact about the quality of Mega Man 5 is that when I think of its place within the Mega Man franchise, I always remember it as ''the one where Mega Man can walk on the ceilings and ride things.'' I don't think fondly that it's the best, nor do I smile the way I do when I think of Mega Man 2. Now, that doesn't mean the game is bad. I do still remember it favorably. I just find it interesting that Capcom's efforts to to add innovation to the game made it famous only for its gimmicks.
For the sake of the three people in the world who might read this review without any idea what Mega Man games are all about (three cheers for Yugoslavia!), allow me to give a brief summary of what to expect. Any game featuring the blue bomber follows a certain format. It starts with eight (or six, in the case of the first game) robot masters you must defeat. You can tackle them in any order you like, though a specific approach is likely to prove most fruitful. This is because when you beat the robot master at the end of a given stage, you gain his special weapon. This in turn makes some levels easier to survive, particularly when it comes to duels with still other robots. When each of the introductory first eight locales has been completed, the final few are then presented. Appropriate use of the right items becomes paramount, and the level of difficulty rises steeply right up until the final battle with none other than Dr. Wily, the ultimate boss in each of the NES Mega Man games.
For the fifth game in the series, Capcom didn't make many changes to the formula. There are still only the eight robots. And like Mega Man 4, it's not immediately obvious (based on the 'shocking' plot) that Dr. Wily is the actual culprit. This time around, Protoman is blamed. Given the interesting relationship between Mega Man and Protoman in the past, discerning gamers will rightly assume there's more to the tale. And so there is. Still, plot isn't the reason you'll keep playing.
Instead, you'll keep at the task because you're having fun. Even at its most formulaic, the Mega Man series is typically enjoyable, and that's certainly the case this time around. The eight stages may not seem all that original (many of them just seem like variations of some of the less memorable stages from past games), but their actual construction is still proficient. Gamers will guide Mega Man along the top of a train, and inside its engine. They'll ride bubbles toward a spike-lined ceiling, hop aboard a watercraft for some shooting fun on the river. Without a doubt, though, the greatest moment in the game is the majority of the Gravity Man stage, which often switches itself around so that Mega Man must hop along the ceiling and jump down the screen in order to progress. It sounds so simple (and it is), but the stage is one of the most remarkable in the history of the franchise. In short, Mega Man buffs will want to play it just to experience it.
Unfortunately, not all is well. For all its efforts to improve over the stellar offering that was Mega Man 4, Capcom still didn't make things any more magical. Instead of making stages larger with more trying jumps and challenges, they seem to have shortened things and set up the stages so that they often feel like no more than a series of mini-boss encounters. You'll face a robotic octopus, tanks and more. It's not entirely bad, as these encounters are still somewhat satisfying, but the dynamic has changed this time around, and not necessarily for the better.
Then there are the things that haven't changed. Music was always good in the Mega Man franchise, and there's nothing surprising about it when you enjoy listening to the tunes this time around. Likewise, the graphical style has always been vibrant and clear, perfectly suited to the cartoony style and comic book feel the franchise adopted early in its development. If you're happy with what you've seen before, there's no reason to complain this time around. However, those looking for something new are going to be grumbling almost from the moment they turn on the unit.
Which is what it really all comes down to. There's little of note in Mega Man 5 that's any different than what many NES fans already saw four times already. Capcom has always been known to give consumers more of a good thing, though, and that's what this is down to a 't': more of a good thing. A very good thing.
Staff review by Jason Venter (Date unavailable)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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