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// article by Jeff

Oh. My. Goodness.

I'll say it flat out: This isn't just a simple half-assed project where someone just edits a Mario sprite to make him completely flesh-coloured then adds an animated pixelated penis. (I believe this actually exists... maybe that's something to highlight in a future "Phlegm!" featurette.) No, this hack of Rockman 5 (the Japanese version of Mega Man 5 for the NES) goes all out to provide an all-new heart-racing experience. But it's also pretty damn hard. This is a hell of a lot more difficult than the original -- or any of the NES Mega Man games, for that matter. Heck, it's more difficult than Mega Man 9, and that game was tough stuff. If you thought Capcom was sadistic in their level design, so is Tar, the creator of this hack. All levels have been completely redesigned to feature more treacherous jumps (platforms are often squashed a bit closer together, so it's tougher to hop around them), enemy placement is pretty tight, and there are more than a few obstacles that will cause you to pull a spit take all over your computer screen. As well, the Robot Masters have been sped up and the occasional battle tactic has been changed as well. And the weapon weaknesses of each one has been modified, so the order you completed levels in the original won't apply here. Frankly, this game would be far too difficult and unforgiving on an actual NES, so novices need not apply to complete this game. At least Tar opted to also include a feature standard to future Mega Man games: using a separate button (in this case, the Select button) to flip between acquired powers. It's good for when you're on the go and are too lazy to open the menu screen.

One of the biggest changes here is the graphics. Not content with what was provided, Tar opted to import graphics from all over the place to compose his masterpiece. For example, the background of Star Man's stage, formerly just a generic galactic backdrop, is now the darker landscape of stars from Kirby's Adventure, while Gyro Man's stage uses not only the cloud background but the platforms as well from the same game. And Gravity Man's stage... well, all I can say is that it feels like I fell into the world of Tron all over again. Needless to say, everything is quite unique and far from its source material. The only issue I noticed was excessive flicker on several occasions, but that's how things go in NES games. And not a piece of original music from Mega Man 5 remains in this new gamescape either. Everything has been pulled from here, there, and everywhere. Expect to hear tracks from Kirby's Adventure, Kirby's Dream Land, Mega Man IV for the Game Boy, Earthbound, Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong Country... and I think I even heard a bit of StarTropics fare in there, but I could be mistaken. Either way, the new soundtrack provides a bit more vivid feeling for one of my more preferred Mega Man games on the NES.

I'll say that this is by far the best hack I have ever encountered, and any Mega Man fan would be a tad foolish not to try this one out. But as I mentioned before, this one is not for the faint of heart. You'll need more than a few reloads of your save state to get through this, particularly Gravity Man's stage -- there are a few insane moments that even Capcom, notorious for inserting crazy peril into their games, wouldn't have even dared to stick in there. This is the second of Tar's Rockman hacks, the first being of Rockman 2 (Mega Man 2 for us English fellows), and it, too, just might be great -- if I get around to testing it out. Those who wish to get into the hacking movement, take a few notes from this one.

Here are some screenshots to illustrate how wild things get in Wily's Dream Space:


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