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CONSOLE: NES DEVELOPER: Capcom PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): December 1992 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Mega Man does once again what he does so well.

Some people say that if you find something that works for you, stick with it. In other words, if it isn't broken, don't try and fix it. That must be the case with the Mega Man series at this point because, frankly, the tried-and-true formula has yet to be tampered with. With impressive enough enthusiasm for Mega Man 4 behind them, the development team at Capcom decided upon yet another sequel (obviously being titled Mega Man 5 and reviewed here). Not much has changed since the last four iterations, and the feeling of "been there, done that" is seriously sinking in. To say that Mega Man 5 is a terrible game would be a shameful utterance, for it is just the opposite; however, we must accept the fact that, at this point, the series was becoming as stale as a week-old pumpernickel loaf.

Capcom has tried to keep the plot fresh once again. This time around, Dr. Wily seems to be nowhere in sight. However, Proto Man has a nasty motive: he has kidnapped Dr. Light and awaits a showdown with Mega Man, perhaps to prove who is the greatest in battle. (Although Proto Man didn't need to capture a bearded scientist to prove his point...) As Mega Man catches the thief escaping, he finds Proto Man's yellow bandana as well as a note with clues as to what the heck he's up to. Could it possibly be true? Proto Man has also dispatched eight Robot Masters to take care of Mega Man, thus disproving my earlier statement about wanting a showdown -- perhaps it's just a case of pure elimination. So now, former foe Dr. Cossack temporarily takes the place of Dr. Light (though it is not shown in the game's introduction) and helps out Mega Man by tweaking his Mega Buster and also providing a new robotic ally, which I will discuss momentarily. Ultimately, we have to go and defeat Proto Man, but not before pummeling the eight Robot Masters and charging through Proto Man's fortress. When Mega Man meets up with Proto Man, however, his trademark whistle is off-key; the REAL Proto Man then shows up and the impostor is revealed to be Dark Man, a metal minion of Dr. Wily's. So now the goal is clear once again: defeat Dr. Wily and bring him to temporary justice (unless he escapes the scene unharmed, which he does once again, leaving room for yet another sequel...).


The Robot Master Lineup: Star Man, Wave Man, Crystal Man, Stone Man, Gravity Man, Gyro Man, Charge Man, Napalm Man

The basic control scheme is still as tight as ever, which it should be, considering that barely anything has changed. The most notable difference is the inclusion of a new ally: a blue robotic bird named Beat. He serves as his own weapon powerhouse -- he can home in on and attack nearby enemies and then return to his master (although his homing system could definitely use some improvement). Nevertheless, Beat will serve particularly well at certain times, especially during a couple of definite fortress battles. However, in order to attain this perriwinkle bundle of joy, you'll have to do a little work. Hidden in each Robot Master stage is a letter card that, when combined with the other seven, spell out MEGAMANV (where V equals the Roman numeral for five); get them all and win Beat! Sweet! Neat! There are some other minor changes but nothing groundbreaking. Rush the robot dog's possible incarnations have been altered a bit: Rush Coil now actually has a spring on the bottom instead of the top, so it bounces off the ground with you. The Rush Jet is a bit more difficult to control, and the Rush Marine adaptor has been removed completely. The best they could come up with to replace it is the Super Arrow, an arrow (obviously) that can be suctioned to walls and be used as a platform. It's helpful at times, but I want my Rush Marine back, yo! Also, new types of Energy Tanks are introduced in addition to the standard E-Tank. The W-Tank refills weapon energy (all of them), and the M-Tank refills both weapon and life energy. There's also an L-Tank that you get from Proto Man and immediately use. It's pretty useful, but you never get to personally use it. What a waste. Oh, and did I mention he can ride a water vehicle now? No? Okay. He can ride a water vehicle now. That's downright awesome.

History repeats itself and we are treated to eight new Robot Masters, as you can see in the above image. I'm thinking that Dr. Wily needs a new strategy; he is clearly not getting anywhere by having Mega Man take out eight robots before coming to see him. But anyway, he's built some new robots and they're ready to take you out! Hold on tight as you are flipped upside-down by Gravity Man, overwhelmed by the chemical imbalance of Napalm Man, and taken to the local deli for lunch with Gyro Man. (Okay, the last one isn't true, but it ought to be!) And accordingly, you get to copy the weapons of the Robot Masters after you defeat them. I mentioned in my previous review of Mega Man 4 that the designers were running a bit low on ideas and were looking to the past for inspiration. Fortunately for us, that inspiration did come just in time for Mega Man 5. New weapons such as the Charge Kick, which lets Mega Man slide and perform a powerful boot in someone's rump, and the Napalm Bomb, which lets you toss a small bomb of napalm (duh!) at a foe, are refreshing to the annoyed fan. (Only the Star Crash feels rehashed, like the Skull Barrier from Mega Man 4... and maybe the Gyro Attack is like the Metal Blade from Mega Man 2...) Of course, they will continue to be annoyed by the Power Stone weapon (which later became the name of a Capcom game for the deceased Sega Dreamcast) that is about as s**tty as the Top Spin from Mega Man 3. I admittedly despise the Top Spin more, but this is definitely the runner-up. You fire off three rocks from your body and they fly around in an outward spiral, but they won't hit anything unless you shoot the rocks when you're right beside the enemy. How worthless the flying stones are! I am not impressed by that. Once you finish all of that, you'll enter Proto Man's fortress of doom and take on four new levels featuring the Dark Man robots, each of which have their own weakness, but it's tough to tell what they are... Oooooo! Trial and error time!

The graphics in this game still have the same look as those of previous Mega Man titles, especially in terms of detail and fluidity, so nothing is worse. In fact, there is even some nifty parallax scrolling in the backgrounds (where one layer moves at a different pace than another, creating an interesting background movement effect), something that hadn't been seen in a Mega Man game prior to this one. The introduction also looks excellent and well-animated, though lacking adequate captions to tell the story particularly well. I suppose that's what the instruction manual is for. This is also the point where I talk about the box cover art. ...it's a picture, that's for sure. It features Mega Man getting zapped in the hand by Gravity Man for some reason. I can't figure that out. Nonetheless, Mega Man is looking more like his cartoony self with each passing game iteration, which is good. (It won't be until Mega Man 8 that we get the same appearance on Mega Man in North America and Europe as they do in Japan.) As for the sound quality, I have to say that the music is an excellent step up from the horrid tones of Mega Man 4. The music is much easier on the ears and better overall to jam to. In fact, I consider the ending theme to be among the finest tunes of the series. Of course, the composer decided to use the same background music for each of the four stations in Proto Man's fortress, and only one other tune for Dr. Wily's stages. Usually we get at least two, but such is not the case here. Oh well. At least the music sounds better than in Mega Man 4. That's all I care about. The sound effects tend not to change, so they are of standard quality.

Overall, even though the series' format is clearly seeing far too many repetitions of itself, this game still is a bit of a jump over Mega Man 4 in terms of general quality. Music and graphics have seen somewhat of an upgrade, although that's pretty much where the line can be drawn. If you've been a fan of the first four games, Mega Man 5 will not disappoint you. But if you find excessive tedium, steer clear of it. I personally like this one second best out of the NES hexology of Mega Man games, right after Mega Man 3. Care to try it out? I'll act as Capcom's hip PR guy yet again and recommend the "Mega Man Anniversary Collection" for either the PS2, GameCube, or Xbox systems. Fight, Mega Man, for (seemingly) everlasting peace!


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