When you just can't get enough of Mega Man.
A whole new adventure for Mega Man arrived when the fifth game of the series was release for the NES/Famicon in 1992. One thing I realized is that most Mega Man games first came out in December of some year, this one did too. At that time the Super Nintendo had since long been released but Capcom wanted more, and apparently, gamers did too.
The fourth game had brought some interesting stuff to the table, most importantly the best HUD Mega Man probably had up to this point. They made sure to reuse that one. It’s the first time in the series that they reused the HUD, so it was pretty much in its fullest potential so say the least.
Nothing really changed when it comes to gameplay. The second debuted utility, the third debuted the slide, the fourth debuted the charge beam. This time Mega Man controls pretty much like it did the last time. Rush’s utilities have decreased a bit, there’s still the jet and coil but the submarine was taken off. Coil works in a slightly different way though, instead of catapulting only the player it acts as a jumper propelling both Rush and Mega Man, allowing you to jump off after getting altitude. Not exactly better, just different.
There’s also a new type of tank. We were accustomed at this point with the E-tank and its classic limitation of 9. Now you also have the M-tank — which strangely translates to mystery tank for some "mysterious" reason — and recovers Mega Man’s special weapons’ power fully. You can only carry one M-tank at any given time, so it’s better save for the best possible moment.
As a game this pretty much follows the formula. The levels are pretty nice, with some interesting gameplay mechanics in them. Some might stand out like the one with reversible gravity, which sometimes makes you play upside-down glued to the ceiling and sometimes from the ground like you usually do. Another one makes up for the absence of the submarine and adds a motorbike sequence; you have to move frontward or backward and still shoot enemies that appear on-screen.
The special weapons also have gotten some nice adds. Like a power that lets you attack while sliding with Mega Man, something I always thought should have been made universally present. It's interesting that it differs greatly from the usual weapon upgrade you generally get from Robot Masters. There’s also an arrow that can be glued to any wall to let you climb unreachable places.
One aspect I found a bit different in this one was the difficulty, it’s conspicuously easier all around. I have to admit that the two castles are still pretty challenging, but the stages are significantly easier as a whole. Not to a point that it makes the game lose its personality, but it sometimes feels like you’re getting way too many help items than usual. Maybe after 5 installments the formula was bound to be mastered, but I still think this is a bit less of a threat than the others. Again, this is not bad in any way, since the levels are still entertaining, just not a rage-inducing kind of entertainment.
There’s also a new type of mission, the MEGA MAN V letters, 8 letters scattered around the 8 levels that make out the name of the game and can yield a weapon made by one of the very antagonists of the fourth game — or something like that, let’s not spoil things here — and given to Mega Man to help him out, a bird named Beat that will certainly make one of final battles a lot easier. The letters itself are not necessarily hard to find but one or two might be missed if you don’t keep an eye out.
The story in this one feels a bit like the fourth. You’re led to believe that Protoman, known to be the brother of Mega Man, is behind this new attempt at world domination. We actually invade Protoman’s Castle before finding out the truth. As I’ve said before, this game feels easier, but when it comes to Protoman’s Castle, it’s not. This castle resembles what we found in Mega Man 3 in terms of difficulty; certainly one of the hardest segments in the series thus far. Just overall the stages themselves are easier.
When we look at the history of Mega Man we can easily see why the last games in the classic series were a bit frowned upon. They were released in ancient hardware at the time. Maybe time would have been better with them if they were released for the Super Nintendo/Super Famicon just as they were, with NES/Famicon graphics. After all, we had a revival of the series in glorious 8-bit-like graphics in recent years. Surely the gamers at the time wouldn’t have been happy about it, but the quality of the games themselves would have changed people’s opinions in time. Just as I hope people’s opinion change in time about he last two games, this being the first of the last two, and find out that they’re pretty fun, certainly worthy of being part of the classic Mega Man hexalogy.