Monday, May 16, 2016

Mega Man V (Game Boy, 1994)

This is it. The last Mega Man of the Game Boy exclusive series, the only one to have an entirely new cast of robot masters, and the only one to take advantage of the Super Game Boy to deliver its own color set.



IN A.D. 20XX WAR WAS 

...NOT beginning? 

We see plain-clothes Mega Man going for a walk with Roll. I understand now that his blue armor isn't his actual exterior and that he's more of a Blade Runner style android than the typical robot master, but there's still something deeply unsettling about seeing him without his armor. It's like looking at a hairless cat.

In a twist that happens to also be the plot of every Dragonball Z movie, the peaceful outdoor adventure of our heroes is soon interrupted by the villain of the game. This is the nefarious Terra, and he comes from somewhere out in space to take on Mega Man. He makes reference to Mega Man being his nemesis and stuff while Mega Man just kinda stands there looking bewildered.

In any case, Terra is made of metal not of this Earth, and he's immune to Mega Man's weapons. In response, Dr. Light develops the Mega Arm. This is basically Hard Knuckle with a boomerang component (it returns to you), and replaces the charged shot of the game.

Apparently, Mega Man punching his enemies instead of shooting them with lasers is "the most powerful weapon ever devised". Who knew?

"It's the Mega Arm. It's so bad."

Terra is very nefarious... and is wearing Saiyan armor. That hair is kind of DBZish, too. Yep, this game definitely draws a bit of inspiration from that series.

ZAPOW! Ya know, this weapon is pretty cool. Definitely varies things up a bit from the usual, but there are plenty of people who weren't crazy about the change for this game.

The box-art for the game features the fist prominently, so Capcom was really pushing this idea. Chances are it would have stuck around if they had made a sixth Game Boy installment.

"MEGA ARM: Your old charged shots are child's play. Look at my rad to the max sunglasses."

Oh yeah, this game also introduces the robotic cat, Tango. If you look at the box art above, he even gets a more prominent spot on there than Rush (who isn't even useful in this game, for once, so it makes sense). Problem is, Tango isn't that useful either. Which is unfortunate because he's a cool dude. More on Tango in a bit.

The stage select takes on different proportions than usual, with a focus on space.

The robot masters in this game are named after planets. You'd think that Capcom would be whipping out the remaining four bosses from Mega Man 5 on the NES and then half of the Mega Man 6 bosses for this game. You'd be wrong. Personally, I prefer having some entirely new stages unique to this game.

Here's the Mega Arm. Yep, it looks exactly like Hard Knuckle. Much quicker and more mobile, though. If this game had Top Man, he'd be DOOMED.

Minibosses return in this game. Also noteworthy is that the entire game features metallic architecture that looks like it's from another series, much like the Wily stages in the previous Game Boy games. I can only conclude that the people who designed new stages for the Game Boy games wanted a new art direction. Since they had to stick to the existing designs for most of the stages in the previous games, they could only do their own thing in the Wily stages. But now, they finally had an entire game to invent in their style.

The downside is that all of the stages in this game kinda look the same. They don't have the usual variety, which knocks some points off and leaves this game perhaps a notch below Mega Man IV.

Know what's weird? The hallways before bosses in this game aren't flat. They tend to have steps or various other oddities. This one in particular is a bit interesting because it gives the impression that there's a hidden hallway underneath. If this were a Metroid, I'd roll up in a ball and bomb the floor.

Mars is the first boss I take on, because I legitimately have no idea what the best order is for this game. I've only played it once before, and it was in 1998.

"There's this thing called the internet" said a douchey nerd somewhere when reached for comment. Well, I'd prefer to just wing it and see what happens.

Mega Man takes Mars' quickening without much trouble, and we move on.

"HIGHLANDA! Remember who you are! Remember where we come from! Remember the planet Zeist!"

One of the best weapons in this game, the Photon Missile zips across the screen. Most of these games have one particular weapon that dwarfs the others in usefulness. Mega Man II had the Metal Blade. Mega Man IV has the Pharaoh Shot. This one might be the equivalent for this game, but it's hard to say. Most of the bosses seem to be easiest to beat with the Mega Arm, so weaknesses aren't that important in this one.

The next stage I take on is... you know, I'm not sure. The lack of variety in the way the stages look is a big strike against this game. None of them are very memorable, and they all kinda blend together. It's too bad, because in every other respect this game is awesome.

Oh yeah, I said I'd talk about Tango. Here he is, in all of his robo-cat glory. So you summon him, Rush-style, and he...

...turns into a buzzsaw and DESTROYS EVERYTHING. Well, everything immediately in front of you. It really isn't that useful. Beat, in the previous game, was a better attack pet. If Tango had covered the entire horizontal surface area of the screen, or bounced around it, the ability to summon him might have been more useful.

Also, he meows. So that's cool, at least.

These nefarious owl-bots are the lamest foes in the game. They both suck and blow... literally, which is a bad thing when they always seem to appear in rooms with pits or spikes that you get pulled or pushed towards.

The bosses in this game have an S outside of their rooms. No Wily here. Who is S, you ask? Probably Sunstar, Terra's nefarious master. More on that later.

Venus is the next boss I take on. He's basically Toad Man reincarnated, more or less. One thing I find interesting is that both Neptune and Venus are water-themed stages/bosses. Usually they vary things up a bit more than that.

Venus should team up with Toad Man to become the...

"W!
W!
E!
Tag!
Team!
Champions!"

Rush Coil get. It isn't anywhere near as useful in this game as it usually is, because you have few real occasions where it's necessary. Rush Jet is even less useful in this game, to the point that I never even used it. Which is a first, because I usually make use of it constantly. I'm very lazy in areas with a lot of small block jumping, and if I can fly over an area and skip it, I'm all for that.

Here's Neptune, the other (and more expected) water themed boss.

Mars is war-themed (ala Napalm Man) and Mercury is... well, I'm not sure, but he might be fire-themed.

Neptune's stage is full of these weird copter mechs. They're visually appealing, just like every other miniboss in these games.

These water jets bring back bad memories of Elec Man's stage. Ladder + wall traps = a pain in the ass, to say the least.

Here's Neptune. Wait a minute, why is a Jovian planet boss mixed in with the Terrestrial planet bosses? I guess there aren't four non-Earth Terrestrial planets, so they had to bring in a Jovian planet. Wouldn't Jupiter have made more sense, though, given the closer proximity?

And while I'm at it, why is the leader of the Stardroids named Terra? Isn't Mega Man the representative of Earth in this whole deal?

Mercury's stage is basically all conveyor belts, as Mega Man faces off with the nefarious Son of Beat.

Here's Mercury, THE LAMEST MEGA MAN BOSS OF ALL TIME.

Why is he so bad? His weapon is an item-grab, similar to the Steal command in a Final Fantasy game. You shoot enemies with it and it knocks items out of them, which is tremendously useful in this game and puts it in contention with Photon Missile as best weapon.

The problem is that when you fight him and he uses it on you, it causes YOUR items to go flying... and you can't get them back. In other words, whatever Energy Tanks you have might get knocked out of your inventory by the end of the fight. It's...




Terra reappears after the first four bosses, again acting like Mega Man's long lost nemesis. Dude, I just met you like 45 minutes ago.

He leaves, and Mega Man instead must do battle with... NO! NOOOOO!!!

Well, it figures that the Yellow Green Devil would finally make a Game Boy appearance...

Same attack pattern as always, but this fight is pretty easy. He moves in slow-mo compared to Mega Man, Mega Man 3, Mega Man 8, and Mega Man X5. ...wow, that's a lot of iterations. I'm probably forgetting one.

This game brings back the Light Shop, and once again the Energy Balancer is the best item offered by the paint chip eating Dr. Light. This game adds a couple of other persistent items worth getting, though. There's a powerup that makes the Mega Arm do more damage to smaller enemies (it grabs them and hits repeatedly) and another that makes it grab items like a boomerang. That second one sounds really useful, but I didn't get either of them. The first would be good if it worked on bosses.

Mega Man boards Rush Spaceship, and we're off to fight the second set of bosses.

These four all lurk up in space. Each has an outer planet as a base (or is perhaps orbitting them, in the case of the gas planets), unlike the first four stages which took place on Earth. Conspicuously absent is Neptune.

I take on Pluto's stage first. I figured this might be the "ice level" of the game, but it looks just like all of the other stages.

Protoman makes an appearance here to remind us that this is indeed a Mega Man game. As usual, he breaks floors (wait, now I get "Break Man") and gives you powerups.

Pluto is a weird cat-man. It's a ferocious battle. Insert joke about furries here.

Pluto's weapon is this sweet dash-backhand. Who needs a dash punch when you have a dash-backhand?

Uranus' stage is better than most of them because it actually has a theme: Ancient Egypt. The miniboss, seen here, is rad. This might be better than Pharaoh Man's stage.

Uranus himself is like an MMX-series animal version of Guts Man, and spends the entire fight throwing blocks.

The last four stages have something that the first four don't. There is a crystal hidden in each stage, and getting all four of these gives you a powerup that reduces special weapon cost by half. It's a pretty damn useful powerup. The crystals are really well-hidden, though, unlike the letters in MMIV.

We've already had Guts Man Plus, and Saturn is basically Ring Man Plus. He's big and bad.

Moving on, Jupiter's stage takes place on some kind of starbase. It's full of these robots with pointy heads, and I guess in that sense it's a little bit memorable.

Jupiter is a bad-ass, and assaults you with lightning blasts from above.

He's pretty agile too, even with those ridiculous World of Warcraft style shoulderpads.

With all eight stages down, Terra shows up again.

The last time? He really won't get off of this idea that Mega Man is his nemesis, despite that they just met a couple hours ago.

"Sieg Heil!" says Terra as the battle begins.

Well, I didn't get any shots of it, but it was a disappointingly easy fight after all of the buildup. A few Mega Arm shots took care of him. It looks like there are throw-able blocks lining the floor, and that might be his weakness; yet he takes so much damage from the Mega Arm that it's barely worth the trouble to investigate any other weapons.

But wait! The game isn't over yet. Rising over the horizon is... the Skull Sphere? Yep, Wily's working with the Stardroids. No surprise there. Given the space theme of the game, I suspect this latest space station was a play on the Death Star.

Mega Man boards Rush Spaceship and has to dodge asteroids to get to the station. It's a short "level", but I have to commend this game for throwing surprises in like this.

The outside of the station itself is a boss, believe it or not. The screen zooms out for this fight, which is the one time in the game that you're zoomed out. Impressive stuff for the Game Boy.

The station interior is one long stage with many checkpoints. The Wily emblem is back in full force, and the big bosses from the earlier Game Boy games return.

Here's Enker, the badass from Dr Wily's Revenge. Once again, your shots inexplicably home in on his head, and once again it makes the fight easy.

Speaking of easy, here's the return of the easiest boss in Mega Man history, Quint. Unlike Mega Man II, you can now charge your shots, which makes this battle even easier.

Wait a minute, I recognize that image. It's...

BLADADADA WAAAO BADA DA DA DA!

"ALL I EVER! WANTED!"

"SOMETHING SOMETHING SOMETHING!"

"EVEN THROOOOUGH THE DAR-KEST DAYYYYS!"

"THIS FIIIIIRE BURRRRRNS!"

So yeah, as you can expect, Ballade is next. Punk is the only one of these four that really poses a major challenge, which makes sense. He's from the most difficult of the games. Ballade almost poses a threat, but not quite. He was the coolest of the Mega Man Hunters in his own game, but this one seems to just be a facsimile.

Capsule room! Like the previous game, this is a fun one. I still don't know what some of the bosses are weak against, but they're all perfectly beatable with your default weapon.

Turns out that no less than THREE bosses are all weak to Jupiter's electric taser weapon. Makes sense given that the game has several water-themed bosses. Mars isn't water-themed, but he dislikes being tased... bro.

Oh geez, it's Mercury again, with his item-grab weapon of doom. As before, this fight is a royal pain in the ass, and costs me an E-Tank.

Like the previous game, the Wily fight transpires in several stages, starting with giant mech arms.

As always, shooting it in the stoned-looking eyes is the way to win.

After that, we get one of the less memorable Wily tanks in the series. It looks like a giant trash compactor, and it unleashes smaller enemies to fight you.

Defeat that form, and we get exposed Wily and a super-low spiked ceiling. This has to be a record for number of final battle forms in a Mega Man game, because I suspect a saucer battle is still to come.

But wait! No saucer fight, as he has something else for our hero. And it's in this here box.

"WHAT'S IN THE BOXXXXX?"

...oh. Wait, what?

Here's Sunstar. Forget Terra, forget Wily, this is the final boss. He's like Super Pharoah Man. As in, the Super Shredder to his Shredder.

Sunstar is a boss that you'd expect to see in the X series. He's futuristic and badass, not to mention a really difficult fight. Absolutely kicks the ass of everything else in the game.

His biggest attack is this highly-damaging energy blast. I'm at full health in these shots, but that's only because I was burning through E-Tanks. His weakness is the homing laser from Terra (ah yes, Terra had a weapon, forgot to mention that), continuing the trend of using the "ninth boss" weapon in each Game Boy game against the final boss. However, the homing laser significantly lames up this fight since you don't need to make any effort to aim. If you just use the Mega Arm, it's one of the best, most competitive fights in the original series.

Get him down to one tick of health and Mega Man is all "STOP THE FIGHT, I GOT SOMETHIN' TO SAY"

It's cool to see dialogue in this game. Either way, Sunstar refuses Mega Man's help and tells him to get out of the base while he can.

Mega Man takes off on Rush Spaceship, leaving Sunstar to his demise.

The end credits have Mega Man thinking about his foes in this game. Interesting that he reached out to Sunstar like that. I'm wondering what Sunstar's origins were. It seemed like he wasn't a Wily creation at all, but something ancient that Wily had unearthed.

What about Terra and the eight Stardroids? They didn't seem to be Wily creations either. He simply joined forces with them to take out Mega Man.

Wily shows up in his saucer after the credits. Really? "Curse you"? After all of these games, I'd think our hero at least earned a "Fuck You, Megaman"

No fight, though, because the saucer promptly explodes from all of the damage it took earlier.

That concludes the Game Boy series. This is a hit-or-miss series to say the least; the first three games all have problems, while Mega Man IV and V are both pretty damn great.

Which is better? Hard to say. I think Mega Man IV wins overall due to how un-memorable much of Mega Man V is (stage design, mainly). That said, V introduces a lot of new concepts and has a number of big surprises. I also really enjoyed the boss procession in the final stage, featuring foes from older games.

Other Mega Man posts


6 comments:

  1. Great post that brought back memories. Sunstar is a badass and they should have brought him back.
    Mercury isn't a problem the second time if you spam Black Hole (Saturn's weapon, IIRC).
    I'd argue that this is a better game than IV just because it doesn't rehash any NES games.

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  2. Also, you missed a huge power-up! If you intentionally die over and over, you get Mega Arm upgrades that reduce charge time, make the shot travel faster, and travel farther.

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  3. The Rock Moon Devil is also in MM9. Kindof. Great article. Any plans to do more of the NES games?

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    1. Oops, I forgot about MM9! Yes indeed, I'll be doing Mega Man 2 (NES) soon and 4/5/6 at some later date. Maybe Mega Man X as well. Mega Man posts seem to get the most attention out of all the posts I do on here, for some reason, and if people like them I'll keep doing them.

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  4. ...wow, that really is the plot of every DBZ movie.

    Tango's meow > everything

    New stages mean new stage musics. Saturn's is incredibly good.

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  5. I'm surprised after Terra SIEG HEIL Rush didn't betray Megaman on the spot like he always wanted to do.

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