Review by CMoriarty
"If Frank Sinatra was still alive, I think he'd love this game..."
As far as I know, no single game series had more games on the NES than the Mega Man series. While I never researched that assumption, all you have to really do is ponder. Zelda only had two games, while Mario only had three. Dragon Warrior comes closer with four... but then, Mega Man had 6. Mega Man 5, naturally, is the fifth installment in the super-popular game series that still reigns supreme over a massive videogaming world today, as I write this, in 2002. While a step up from a slightly falling Mega Man 4, Mega Man 5 still doesn't touch the serene feeling of the first three Mega Man games. Not to say Mega Man 4, or Mega Man 5 are bad games, they are both excellent videogames, but Mega Man 5 continues a trend of losing the oldschool feel.
Released in 1992, Mega Man 5 boasts eight new Robot Masters, a nicely enhanced storyline, a pretty long game, and even a new Mega Man helper, Beat (a robotic bird). Often makes you wonder where Dr. Light comes up with these designs, but regardless, we got Rush in Mega Man 3, Enker in Mega Man 4, and now our friend Beat in the fifth installment. Hell if I know why a game can lose its intended feel and still be fun, but it is certainly the case with Mega Man 5, as you'll learn as we delve a bit deeper...
Storyline/Plot - 9/10
Mega Man plots oftentime feel ''blah,'' and coincidentally, that's the feeling you get when you play the original three Mega Man games, games that I score higher then the latter three Mega Man titles. Starting with Mega Man 4, and proceeding through 5 and into 6, one just doesn't get that feeling of ''blahness,'' but instead gets a feeling that Capcom might have put a little more thought into the storyline of the games, which is always more vital then people realize in early NES games. Storylines are important. If it adds another dimension in which to enjoy a game, then how can it not be?
The storyline of Mega Man 5 is pretty brilliant, because while Dr. Wily is, of course behind the entire scheme in the game ultimately, he actually makes it seem as if Mega Man's famous but mysterious brother Protoman is actually behind all of the deeds. In fact, Dr. Wily built a clone of Protoman and programmed him to do his bidding, but it's not actually the real Protoman, and when you finally faceoff against the fake Protoman towards the end of the game, the real Protoman comes and takes him out, to protect his good name. Yeah it's a major spoiler, but alas, I don't really think it should come as any surprise that Dr. Wily is truly behind this... after the entire Cossack deal in the Mega Man 4, it should only be expected.
In anycase, the storyline is simple, but sweet. It works well for the game, a game that's not exactly plot-centered or driven. So for such a game, the story works itself out nicely, and is ample for any Mega Man game. Not only ample, but exceedingly stellar for a series famous for lackluster storylines.
Gameplay - 10/10
The last two Mega Man games (that is, Mega Man 3 and Mega Man 4) both added two new vital elements to the gameplay; the slide in Mega Man 3, and the power shot in Mega Man 4. Naturally, while both carry over, Capcom hasn't added another new gameplay feature in this fifth installment in the Mega Man series. This is okay, however, and the fact that nothing new gameplay-wise in Mega Man 5 doesn't hurt the gameplay score at all. Gameplay still gets a perfect in my book, for no NES game (and most games to this day) had/have better gameplay and a feeling of pure control that Mega Man 5 has. The familiarity and pure fun that it is to play Mega Man 5 is always a welcome trait when I play a Mega Man game.
For any of you reading this review that have never experienced a Mega Man game in your life (sorry, I feel bad for you), let me tell you how the game is played out. You, playing as Dr. Light's super robot, Mega Man, are sent out on your fifth adventure to stop the evils of a robotic worldwide takeover. The real beauty of the gameplay is that you can tackle the stages of the game in any order you want... the first eight, anyway. This is a Mega Man cliché, and a really good, welcome cliché at that. Tackling any stage you want in any order gives the game not only replayability (which we'll get into later in the review), but also a non-linear feeling, making the game seemingly fitting for everyone. After you defeat one of the eight ''Robot Masters,'' the super strong robot bosses built by Dr. Wily located at the end of each stage, you get their weapon for your aresenal, called a ''Master Weapon,'' in which Mega Man can now use on any robot he wants. The beauty of each Master Weapon is that another Robot Master in the game (and enemies in both Protoman's castle and Dr. Wily's castle at the end of the game), is weak to this Master Weapon. This factor enhances the gameplay even further, because it gives you, as the player, a reason to figure out the ''correct'' order in which to beat the Robot Masters, which each game DOES have (you just have to find the Robot Master to start out with that suits you best... in this game, Star Man is the one, but I'm going into FAQ mode, so let me get out.)
All in all, this system of gameplay has remained untouched and unchanged since the year 1987, when Mega Man was released on the NES. Keeping it familiar and keeping it fun at the same time is what Capcom continues to achieve with each Mega Man game on the NES, and, of course, Mega Man 5 is no exception.
Graphics - 9/10
The one familiar feature of all NES Mega Man titles are the graphics, which, for the most part, have remained untouched and unenhanced since the original Mega Man, but more accurately the sequel, Mega Man 2. The graphics of Mega Man 5 are beautiful. Although the same style of the previous Mega Man games, the coloration of the Robot Masters, the enemies, the backgrounds, and the stages themselves get away from that drab, colorless and dark look of Mega Man 4, and back to the colorful and exciting (not to mention lively) look that Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3 were so well known for.
As far as drawings and the look of the game itself, the looks are similar, but still stellar. The backgrounds are in-depth and colorful, adding a lot to the game. The enemies, Robot Masters, and Mega Man are all well drawn, and well animated, at that. All in all, Capcom did a nice job keeping the look of the Mega Man series alive, while at the same time, doing some minor tweaking here, and minor adjustments there, which adds flair and ''life'' to the graphics of Mega Man 5, which Mega Man 4 just didn't have, regardless. While one may not notice the graphical enhancements as far as dark looks to lighter looks from Mega Man 4 to Mega Man 5, there definitely is a difference, one that I not only noticed, but embraced. Graphically, Mega Man 4 depressed me. Mega Man 5's lively features doesn't do this to me... it makes me want to play the game.
Sound - 8/10
I don't want to have to go back to Mega Man 4 to make my point again, but I will regardless. Mega Man 4's music wasn't bad, but it was for a Mega Man title, known for absolutely awesome musical tracks to suit their different style stages perfectly, like a glove on a hand. Unfortunately, Mega Man 4, the previous Mega Man title in the NES series, didn't do this. However, Mega Man 5 redeemed the series from drab, crappy music, bringing it up to a score of 8, which is good. While the musical MIDI tracks aren't nearly as memorable as Mega Man 2's or Mega Man 3's (or even the original Mega Man), the music was still a step up from Mega Man 4, and quite good. The music is catchy and suiting to its particular stage. I really especially like Charge Man's stage music, which is not only good, but added to by the ''train'' noises in the background (being that you're on a moving train throughout the entire stage). It's a nice effect to go with good music, which can be found throughout the entire game.
On the sound side, enemies continue to make more and more noises as the ''operate,'' and Mega Man has his normal old ''hit, jump and shoot'' noises. But other than that, nothing too great or new in the regular sound department. This is certainly made up for by great musical tracks, however.
Control - 10/10
Control is what makes the Mega Man games so familiar on a playing level. The simplicity and pure familiarity of the control of Mega Man games is excellent, and is carried over nicely into Mega Man 5. It still impresses me how the Capcom programmers managed to fit in so many commands onto a limited (very limited, actually) NES controller. You can move, pause, go to a menu, shoot, jump, slide, do a super shot, and climb all with the use of a directional pad, a start button, an A button and a B button. They were truly the first programmers to use button combinations to execute certain moves (such as the slide, which is executed by pressing down and A at the same time). Maybe that's why they made the Street Fighter games later on. =) Or not.
Replay Value - 7/10
Mega Man games (especially the latter ones in the NES series) always get hurt in the replay value section of the review, but regardless, what is is what is. The fact of the matter is, apart from the fact that the game is non-linear enough where you can choose which order to beat the stages in, and then use certain weapons on certain Robot Masters to add a little bang for your buck, and to get more out of the game, there's not much else to replay the game for, and most people won't replay the game for awhile after they beat it, even if they know that beating the Robot Masters in all sorts of different orders is actually fun. It's just not worth it to a lot of people... and although Capcom successfully made it more fun to replay then Mega Man 4 was, it's still not as fun to replay as Mega Man 2 or 3... but still pretty fun, in my opinion. I'm a huge Mega Man nerd, however, so I have to weigh the fact that most gamers, no matter how hardcore, won't feel the same way. And hence, the replay value is steady, but not entirely strong. If you want to play a Mega Man game over and over again that's even more fun than Mega Man 5, go back to the earlier games, like the original, 2 and 3.
OVERALL - 9/10
Overall, Mega Man 5 is a game that manages to add up, and then some. Not only should it be a welcome addition to anyone's NES collection, but should be a game that you not only love to play, but you'll want to play for quite some time. It truly is a classic, even if Capcom was (and is) milking the famous Mega Man franchise for all it's worth. It's got way above average scores all around, and being that it's going for no more than lets say... $20 on eBay (and that's a really generous number, it's probably going for a lot lower), it's the best $20 you could spend as far as NES games go. So give it a try... I doubt you'll regret it. The game is that good, and far more importantly, that fun.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/05/02, Updated 06/05/02
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