It’s too bad more people haven’t played this game. It was made during the dying years of the NES. Result? It is one of the two very overlooked of the NES’ six Mega Man games. Still, it’s very good. Whereas its immediate predecessor didn’t have much heart and soul behind it, there was actually a sense of enthusiasm behind this game. Level design is improved, the weapons and items are both numerous and creative, and the challenge is again top-notch.
Plot: 4 out of 10
Capcom again beats around the bush, attempting to convince us that it’s someone besides Dr. Wily as the bad guy. The intro tells us that Proto Man has built a lot of robots the wreck havoc on the world. He’s also kidnapped Dr. Light. It’s a classic tale of betrayal.
If only it were. Proto Man is a supporting character who helps Mega Man and is mysterious. Too mysterious to be the bad guy. We simply knew too little about him for them to throw away that concept now. And there’s little enough doubt that Wily will be used without insulting our intelligence like this. As Nintendo Power Magazine put it at the time, “you knew it all along.”
The game does still feel very Mega Man and works fine as filler for platforming and shooting. Least there’s that.
Thankfully, Mega Man, while not exactly plotless, is not exactly dependent on storylines. So this uninspired plot doesn’t do as much damage as it would in many other franchises.
Graphics: 8 out of 10
The backgrounds are getting a little too familiar but the graphics are otherwise quite good. The backgrounds are very well done despite the strategy being the same as always. The sprites, meanwhile, are better than in any of the prequels.
Sound: 9 out of 10
We’re back to the all-around great music of the earlier games after a lackluster Mega Man 4 soundtrack. It’s very catchy and memorable. Like the game itself, it seems that Capcom put the work into the music of MM5 that it didn’t into MM4.
Gameplay: 9 out of 10
Level design is outstanding. There’s a lot cool twists like reverse gravity areas in Gravity Man’s stage and a jet ski on water in Wave Man’s stage.
Two new items are added beyond the weapons you get from the first eight bosses: Super Arrows and Beat. Super Arrows are both powerful but slow weapons and stepping stones. Beat is a bird that goes after enemies when in use. Getting him requires getting letters that spell “Mega Man V.” There’s one in all of the first eight stages. Both of the items are nice touches.
The Mega Buster has been slightly changed. Your charge is disrupted if you’re hit. This is for the best. Getting the other weapons to use on bosses is a fundamental point of the series. The Mega Buster made this optional in MM4 but not here.
The only problem with the gameplay is that the passwords only take you halfway through the game.
Challenge: 9 out of 10
At this point, there were both easy and hard games in the series. In fact, this is without a doubt the most challenging game to this point (although as of post, I’ve not played MM6 decades). The bosses are the meat of the difficulty, often being both high-jumping and shooting wide. The bosses in “Proto Man” and Wily’s castle’s are especially hard. All I can say is that you should spend some time after the first eight stages going back into them to get as many Energy Tanks as possible. You just might need them.
The difficulty of MM4 was what kept it above mediocrity. In this case, it really brings a great game together.
Overall: 9 out of 10
Second best of the NES six. Storyline aside, there’s nothing it doesn’t do well. Consider yourself encouraged to give this game a try, particularly since bad luck left it without the attention it deserved.
(Looks over the review.)
It’s clear I’m not the very best at keeping comparisons to a minimum. There were way to many comparisons to MM4. I’ll just have to try to avoid that in the future.