Review by EPoetker

"NOW we're back in business!"

All I can say is...Nice recovery, Capcom! And thank you for disproving the notion that sequels have to be worse than the games that came before them! After the rather stale Mega Man 4, Capcom has rebounded with a much, much, better Mega Man 5. Too many sequels, you say? Bah. As is proven even now, there can NEVER be enough Mega Man sequels. On to what made this game so good...

The MUSIC! While not nearly as good as Mega Man 2 and 3, it deftly avoids the ''rushed'' feel of its predecessor. The NES was reaching its twilight years by the time this title came out, so the makers now knew every trick on how to stretch the capability of the music processor to the max. So most of the levels have two or three different synthesized tunes playing at once! The best example of this is Gravity Man's Stage, which I feel to be one of the prime examples on how to play synthesized stuff RIGHT. However, my personal favorite melody is in Charge Man's stage. Don't ask me to give a reason why I liked that music so much, I just have a weakness for happy-sounding stuff. I became even happier as I stared at the...

GRAPHICS! Finally, some REAL improvements! First, on the bosses. Finally, we see some that are(gasp)TALLER and more detailed than Mega Man(as opposed to the ones in the previous titles which were all roughly the same size and shape as he was.)Stone Man and Charge Man...big! And this larger size gives room for a WHOLE lot more detail. Look at their facial expressions, which actually CHANGE now! No more of those plastic, pixelated sneers! But enough about them, did you see DIVE MAN's stage? Specifically, the middle, where you had to pilot a futuristic jetboat through a waterway that came as close as the NES is going to get to triple-parallax scrolling. An absolutely beautiful single section, fortunately ALL of the stages have nice little graphical idiosyncracies which, though sometimes almost so ''background'' as to be invisible, make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

As if the added stuff didn't make it fun enough. While our friend the Rush Marine is no longer with us(because there ARE no water levels in this game) Mega Man now has a handy little Super Arrow, reminiscent of the Magnet Beam in MM1, which doubles as a weapon. You also have what can only be described as a ''Mega Energy Tank,'' which not only fills up energy but weapon power as well! You can only hold one at a time, however, so don't think you'll get off THAT easy. And, if you collect the letters spelling out M-E-G-A-M-A-N-4 on every level you'll get Beat, a handy little avian assassin who likes nothing more than to...well...''beat'' on enemies and bosses. Keep this little birdy's energy up, he's VERY useful! But if you've mastered the jump, shoot, slide, and charge, you may not even need him. The control is as sharp as ever, so the only excuse you'll have for not beating the bosses is your own incompetence.

Ahhh...the fine wine of this series is recovering its vintage taste. Most definitely should you get this game, not just if you're a Mega Man collector. The only thing that kept it from getting a 10 was unoriginality, and that can hardly be helped. Play it, and wonder if that wascally Wily will EVER stop his evil plans...

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/16/00, Updated 02/16/00

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