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Mega Man V (Game Boy) artwork

Mega Man V (Game Boy) review


"It would not be improper by this point to simply ignore a review for any game with the words “Mega Man” in the title. Despite being a series with over 100 entries, the elite group of Mega Man games which have been awarded the coveted title of “this doesn’t suck” from the gaming community is quite small, loosely consisting of Mega Man 2 and 3 for the NES and Mega Man X for the SNES. Most people would argue that the rest can be safely ignored. "



It would not be improper by this point to simply ignore a review for any game with the words “Mega Man” in the title. Despite being a series with over 100 entries, the elite group of Mega Man games which have been awarded the coveted title of “this doesn’t suck” from the gaming community is quite small, loosely consisting of Mega Man 2 and 3 for the NES and Mega Man X for the SNES. Most people would argue that the rest can be safely ignored.

The Gameboy games in the series are non-canonical variations of the original games for NES, featuring levels loosely based on the source material and the original bosses rendered in monochrome glory. In most cases these games were poorly made and thinly veiled attempts to leach more money from an already popular series, but the Gameboy game called Mega Man V is a surprising exception to this rule. It features – I kid you not – new and original bosses, new levels, new music, and production values that don’t scream “we don’t care about quality.”

Here is every Mega Man game in brief: there are 8 robots with the last name “Man” that are a threat to humanity. Mega Man must stop them by traveling to their unique levels, listening to their music, jumping on some platforms, and shooting away at their health bars. Once this is done, strange particles converge on Mega Man and he receives a weapon. Each boss is weak against one of these weapons. Once all eight bosses are defeated, it revealed that Dr Wily, PhD was pulling all the strings. So you go through Wily’s subtle castle made out of a giant human skull, refight some bosses from the past, and attack Wily while he peddles around in some sort of robotic monstrosity until he is defeated (... or is he?).

Mega Man V doesn’t depart from this formula much, except now the quasi-homoerotic robot masters (Hard Man? Flame Man? What’s with all the “men” anyway? Does Wily have some sort of fear of sexuality or is he just an old fashioned misogynist? I can’t help noticing that the only female robot in the entire series is Roll, whose special ability is having a vacuum cleaner attached to her arm. Supposedly Mega Man 9 will feature a “Splash Woman,” but this conjures images of a scantily clad 20-something in a skimpy bathing suit who laughs gleefully while splashing Mega Man and coyly running away. Of course, the idea of changing “man” to “woman” is pretty gimmicky to begin with. The problem is the robots shouldn’t have been gendered as clearly male in the first place. I suppose this follows the stereotype that boys like video games and robots, but I hope future generations are less stingy about gender identity and – wait, wasn’t I reviewing a video game?) are exchanged for “Staroids,” which are the exact same thing as robot masters except they are named after the nine planets. Don’t let these names fool you though – “Mars” might just have easily have been named “War Man,” and so forth.

The few differences between this and any of the other Mega Man games are really inconsequential. Instead of shooting charged shots, Mega Man shoots his arm off like a rocket. (Gasp, that changes everything!). To get an energy tank, you need to collect four small energy tanks. (Oh no! That makes me rethink my entire being!) Enemies drop “p-chips” which can be used to buy a few weapon upgrades. (That’s so original!) All of these things really don’t matter though – you’re still just jumping around and shooting robots, and that’s what the series used to do best.

What separates Mega Man V from the rest of the Gameboy titles is its ability to not be atrocious or blatantly stupid, which, when one considers the scope of the Mega Man series, is an impressive feat. It’s like the sound composer and the level designer actually showed up for work one day, and decided that the levels should be not boring or frustrating and that the music should not be a grating and incoherent mess.

Really, telling you that this is a Mega Man game that adheres to the original formula should be enough information to end this review satisfactorily; but perhaps that makes me as lazy as Capcom’s development team. It’s easy to forget that that original formula, despite getting abused to no end, was actually a lot of fun and didn’t need most of Capcom’s idiotic changes. In this game, you are Mega Man, not Zero, not X, not that hideous thing in Battle Network, and you’re fighting – get this – Dr Wily, who is unexpectedly trying to destroy the world. You fight bosses, not animals with Japanese names I can’t pronounce (what the hell is a Kuwanger?), and you collect weapons and energy tanks, not “cyber faeries” or capsules that contain Dragonball Z-like super happy samurai fighting suit things.

And there’s no unskippable dialogue!

If you grew up playing with Mega Man, then Mega Man V is going to feel like some sort of secret gem that was hidden in the Internet jungle, waiting for you to rediscover it. It’s only real fault is being a Gameboy game and thus lacking technical flare, but one can hardly fault it for that. It’s everything that was great about the original games without any unnecessary frills or gimmicks. Let me explain it a different way:

Robots, eight of them
and Wily too; get weapons,
you bomber in blue.

If that didn’t sell you on this game, nothing will.

Rating: 8/10

dagoss's avatar
Community review by dagoss (July 02, 2008)

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