As we near the end of the original NES run of Mega Man games, we start to see the problem with an action platforming game releasing so many entries on a single system. While there is a new bird companion (if you manage to collect all the slightly-hidden letters on all stages, which for the record, I didn’t… That’s what I get for going in blind!) the game otherwise feel like the same old, same old. Is that a bad thing, though? Let’s find out!
Charge Man is what you get when Thomas the Tank Engine gets pissed!
Mega Man 5 (known as “Rockman 5: Blue’s Trap?!” in Japan) was first released in December 1992 in both Japan and North America, then the following March in Europe. As per usual it’s seen multiple re-releases as part of collections on various modern platforms as well.
The line up of Robot Masters this time are Star Man (a rip-off of the old Leaf Barrier, but with stars instead!), Gravity Man (controls gravity…), Wave Man (water, specifically waves of water, I guess…), Stone Man (can cause stones to fall and can become hard as stone), Gyro Man (may as well be called “Helicopter Man”), Charge Man (may as well be called “Train Man”, who can… well, charge into people), Napalm Man (military themed, including flaming missiles, obviously!), and Crystal Man (crystals!). This leads to several levels of sub-bosses, a confrontation with a false Proto-Man, then finally Wiley’s Castle and a blatantly-not-so-final showdown with the evil Doctor.
Hey! An auto-scrolling level with you in a vehicle! Gameplay variety… sort of!
Run, jump, shoot. Accurate platforming and fun mini-bosses and full boss fights, you gain a weapon based on what robot master you destroy, you have a robo-dog that also has several abilities, and you can regain health and weapon power by picking power ups. Same old stuff, though as mentioned you can now add a robo-bird called Beat to your arsenal if you pick up a letter icon on each robot master stage (M-E-G-A-M-A-N-V… wait, I get it!), which is actually really helpful for two bosses in the game, especially the final one… which is why I struggled so hard against them, as I was bird-less. Also new is a special energy tank that not only refills your health, but all your weapon energies as well.
There is a moment in Wave Man’s level where you jump in a water vehicle and then jump and shoot while being pushed forward via an auto-scroll. It’s… slightly different! Hooray!
Oh, and your charged shot now has a slightly wider field of effect on it. Some of the stage design is very cool as well, especially Gravity Man, whose stage does the whole “switching from walking on the floor to walking on the ceiling” level mechanic which I was impressed to see here on a NES game. Overall the game felt easier than some others, except for those two bosses, but hey-ho… that was my fault…
Graphics and Sound:
Look at the different colours and detail on those mountains! Compare that to the basically blank backgrounds of MM1 and you can see a good bit of difference between them, despite being on the same console.
Graphics wise it’s much the same. Once again the level backgrounds look a little nicer, more detailed and bright, but the sprites are pretty much as per usual for the NES Mega Man series.
The Soundtrack is quite good this time, one of the Wiley stage themes was particularly dramatic-sounding and catchy. Something being memorable and catchy isn’t something I’ve said about 3 or 4, so it’s worth giving 5 an extra tick there…
Wiley’s Castle is certainly vast, if that background is anything to go by…
Proto Man, Mega Man’s brother, has turned evil and began a plan to conquer the world with eight powerful robot masters! … except it’s an inferior copy of Proto Man created by Dr. Wiley, and soon the real Proto Man reveals this truth as Mega Man then defeats the copy and goes on to defeat Wiley AGAIN. I’ll admit to finding it funny when Wiley appeared in his little UFO and raised his eyebrows again signifying the start of the fifth Wiley castle. They know the joke now, at least…
This has to be the most Disney-looking enemy of them all…
Mega Man 5 is another fine Mega Man title. It has a few minor new hooks, but in general its just another set of fun levels to platform and shoot across. It gets no points for originality, and because of that some of the less interesting stages were a slog, but it did at least have a few fun level gimmicks to make it feel a bit fresher than 4 did. Recommended, but only if you’re a fan of the genre and playing through the series, otherwise the earlier or later entries would be better…