Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Mega Man V


A short game, an awful game, a decent game and a great game later, the Mega Man Game Boy series finally gets an awesome game. It took Capcom half a decade to finally dissect the Game Boy's core elements, working on how each important component of the Mega Man series could be reworked for the system that didn't aim to compete with the original series but to excel over it.

From the previous four games you'd expect this game to have four bosses from Mega Man V NES and four bosses from Mega Man VI NES. This game doesn't have any robot masters, but rather nine stardroids based on the nine planets in the solar system (now eight). Unlike the previous four games which contained some elements of the original games, Mega Man V consists only of new ideas.

The charge beam has been a staple of the series since it's introduction in the series but for the first since its arrival it's been replaced with a better system, the Mega Arm. Like the boomerang in the original Legend of Zelda, when charged fully the Mega Arm launches itself away from Mega Man, attracts itself to an enemy to damage it and then returns back to the Blue Bomber himself. This created a risk/reward strategy that the series had never seen before as using the arm left you venerable to attack.

Another new addition to the series is Tango, a robotic cat that aids you on your adventure. Rush has been a mainstay since Mega Man III for the NES and my best guess is that Capcom wanted to try and see if they could take this concept another step further. None of this even mentions the level designs themselves which rank up there as some of if not the best-designed levels in Mega Man history. Each stage takes a previously unused motif in the Mega Man Universe and creates a stage that strikes a perfect balance between challenge and frustration that so many other companies fall short of. This trend of level design continues until the final moments of Dr. Wily's Castle which, while not as good as Mega Man IV's castle, is still a climatic way to end the Game Boy series.

In fact, the whole game is just that, a climax to a series that struggled to find momentum but paid off  when it did. Mega Man took some interesting directions after the 16-bit era. Battle Network went from good to amazing, to decent then terrible then terrible again then back to decent. Mega Man Legends was a series so amazing that the third installment would have been such a paragon of great video game design that the 3D would have forced the user to sacrifice their eyeballs to the goddess Tron Bonne, and Mega Man ZX is good if you like that sort of thing. Over a decade later Capcom would go back to the series' roots with Mega Man 9 & 10 which contain elements of the Game Boy series (the shop especially) so it's good that Capcom remembers their troubled entry into the Game Boy era; it's just a shame that the rest of the world didn't.

Find Mega Man V on ebay

Released: Sep. 1994
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom


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