Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Megaman 5

Protoman on the dark side?

By 1992, the Super Nintendo was in full swing and the 16-bit era was raging, and the 8-bit market was continuing to shrink. Capcom, ever the company to play it safe, decided to revamp Megaman once again and release yet another Megaman title for the NES.
By this time, Megaman had become as big a gaming icon on the NES as Mario was; Megaman 5 was heavily promoted and gave NES fans a game they could enjoy, even if it was expected of Capcom. Most people had by this point moved on from the NES Megaman games, so how does this one compare to the rest?

THE STORY: It is the year 2013. Dr. Wily has been defeated once again and is living in hiding, bringing the world once again to peace. Proven innocent of wrongdoing, Russian scientist Dr. Cossack now lives in Japan and works alongside with Dr. Light in his efforts to better mankind through the development of robotics.
A few months later, the peace is shattered when suddenly Protoman, Megaman’s mysterious elusive brother appears to be giving commands to several robots attacking the city as Wily bots have done in the past! Protoman has always lived by his own rules, but neither Dr. Light or Megaman could imagine Protoman doing something like this for no reason.
Just before he could send Megaman into action to investigate, Protoman appears at the lab and kidnaps Dr. Light! Clutching his brother’s signature yellow scarf left behind, Megaman insists on stepping into the fray once again to save the city, rescue Dr. Light and discover the mystery behind Protomans actions.

THE GRAPHICS: Megaman 5 continues the trend from the previous games and is once again, one of the best looking games on the NES while bringing very little new to the table. But once again as a great looking NES game, it adds very little that Megaman 4 didn’t do. Sprites are just as well animated as ever, mid-bosses look great and there’s now a rotating set of sprites for Megaman!. Megaman 5 taps into everything the NES could do and produces some really great effects. You won’t be disappointed with the way it looks. Megaman 5 screams late NES game graphics.

THE SOUND: Megaman 5 was composed by Mari Yamaguchi, who had also worked on Breath of Fire and U.N Squadron. I find most of her music to be among the absolute best. Each track in 5 are memorable, distinctive and get to the point quickly so you know exactly what you are listening to everytime you play. 5 also some of the best remixes in the series by far. I often times find myself humming tunes from Megaman 5 while driving, working, sometimes even cooking!
Here’s a remix of my favorite track in the game, Naplam Man.This remix is from the second Megaman arcade game, the Power Fighters. I’ve always, always loved this remix.

THE GAMEPLAY: It should come as no surprise that Megaman 5 plays no differently from any of the previous Megaman games. It should also come as no surprise that this isn’t a bad thing as the formula once again works perfectly. Everything from the previous games is once again present: the jumping, shooting, even the sliding. Megaman 5 improves the Mega buster from 4 by allowing hyou to keep the charge when hit and also allowing Megaman to fire a larger 4×4 block blast rather than the tube shaped shot form 4. From this point on, Megaman would use this style of shot, so one could argue the perfected Mega buster came from Megaman 5.

Megaman 5 also has some minor gameplay additions featured for the first and last time. First among them is a section where Megaman rides on a water ski. This is like an auto scrolling shooter, but you can’t pause, change weapons or even charge the mega-buster. It only exists for about half of Waveman’s stage.

Another addition are scrolling backgrounds. The end of Gyroman’s stage is an elevator with platforms and spikes that need to be avoided with careful jumps and movements. Late into the game there’s also challenge to ascend to a platform by destroying supporting bricks. It’s odd 5 is the only game to try this.

Megaman 5 is one of my favorites, yet I can’t help but feel it has one of the worst weapon sets in all of the Megaman games! This time around, I have a bone to pick with every single weapon.

Water Wave – Sends a rush of water forward that only affects enemies on the ground. It is very weak and will not kill anything in one hit and doesn’t pass through enemies.
Crystal Eye – Shoots a large crystal that breaks into four smaller crystals and fly about. Like the Gemini Laser, it’s hard to aim it anywhere but straight, defeating the purpose.
Charge Kick – Turns Megaman’s slide into an attack. Would be really kinda cool if you could fire as normal with it selected. As it is, sliding into enemies is almost like 3′s Top Spin fiasco repeated.
Gravity Hold – Flashes the whole screen, destroying all effected enemies. This weapon is really cool, but enemies never leave power ups and it consumes a lot of energy.
Power Stone – Sends three stones orbiting away from Megaman. It is very rare that you’ll ever actually be able to hit multiple enemies with this weapon.
Napalm Bomb – Fires small grenades that roll along before exploding or hitting an enemy.  A really cool weapon, but they aren’t very powerful.
Gyro Attack – Throws a spinning blade that can be controlled up or down. A cool weapon that doesn’t do much damage to most enemies. Also, why "attack"? Couldn’t they come up with a better name?
Star Crush – It’s another %&#$ shield weapon. Disperses when enemies touch it once. Consumes a lot of energy.
Super Arrow – It’s like Item 2 made into an attack. Doubles as a means of transport.
Beat – A robotic bird that automatically homes in and destroys enemies for you. Beat can be used only after collecting all of the MEGAMANV icons, by which point you’ll be used to playing without his aid and you might not even notice he’s there as the game doesn’t notify you! Beat is really cool, but I wish that Beat could be used a little sooner than until after you defeat all eight bosses!

THE CONTROLS: Megaman 5 once again controls literally identically to Megaman 4. The only slight tweak is in the Megabuster as it now doesn’t seem to discharge as easily and you no longer loose your charge when hit by an enemy.
D-pad: Movement
B: Fire
A: Jump
Select: No Function
Start: Pause/Menu

FUN FACTOR & FRUSTRATION: Due to the enhanced buster, most of the robot masters this time around are a cinch. If you choose to play without the charging ability of the Mega buster though, the game can be quite challenging. It’s also well worth mentioning that some of the stages can be infuriatingly difficult, particularly Crystalman’s stage. There are sections where crystals randomly fall through these shoots and you must make timed jumps to get through. Even as a child I hated these more than even the death lasers in Quickman’s stage from 2. Just when you think you’ve got the timing for them down, bam you’re hit, and then you fall into a pit. It’s a lot harder than it seems it would be.

HISTORY:  As with previous entries in the series, development for Rockman 5 involved a robot master creation contest held in Japan where kids would submit drawings and ideas for robot masters. For the previous Rockman 4, the eight finalist robot designers received a special gold copy of the game as an acknowledgment for their work. This game the finalists didn’t receive anything, and their designs themselves were redesigned several times by Keiji Inafune before they were approved. Still, the robots maintain the child approach at least in spirit. Concept art for Megaman 3 shows early ideas for robotic sidekicks including a robotic dog which became Rush, and a robotic bird which became Beat here. Beat, roughly based on Megaman’s helmet, is a robot built from the previous game’s framed antagonist Dr. Cassock. When Megaman 5 came out for the NES in North America, Nintendo Power magazine heavily promoted it, even featuring a robot master creation contest for fun and showcased many ideas, some names of which would go on to be robots in future games! Megaman 5 won the category for best NES graphics in a 1992 poll in Nintendo Power.

GOOD: Continues the Megaman tradition of excellent play control, graphics, audio and gameplay. Mega Buster feels much better than Megaman 4′s. Some original concepts such as falling ceilings introduced here that make the game more exciting. More legendary Megaman music. Many of the best themes in the entire series can be heard here. Relatively common and affordable for a later NES game. Great replay value. Gravityman and Starman have some of the most interesting and enjoyable stages in any NES game.

BAD: Visually looks almost exactly like the older games, which can turn off some players. Again, some of the robot masters are incredibly dumb. How about the robot based on a steam train, Chargeman anyone? CHOO CHOO! Rush Jet isn’t nearly as useful here as it was in Megaman 3, and joining the crapfest is the new version of the Rush Coil which turns Rush into a pogostick. One of the worst weapon sets in all Megaman games. A few are fun to use, but far too many stinkers make this one Megaman game you’re better to just stick with the main arm cannon.

CONCLUSION: For me personally, Megaman 5 is the pinnacle of Megaman games on the NES. The rebalanced Mega Buster makes using it much less frustrating than Megaman 4, and the great verity of stages gives it much more lasting appeal than the previous entry in the series. It came out in 1992 and by then most had stopped playing the NES Megamans, which is a real shame as even with a few issues, Megaman 5 is by far the best NES Megaman. I hope Capcom remakes it someday and retools the master weapons to be a bit better. Ah, I can dream, can’t I?

THE COMMERCIAL: Commerical time kiddies! Transport back to childhood and pertend you like in an awesome country like Japan that bothers to produce such steller ads as this.




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