(Game Boy)

Mega Man V (Game Boy)

Game Review

Mega Man V Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

There's a Stardroid waiting in the sky

The handheld Mega Man games, up until now, have been remixed mashups of two NES titles each. Some of them hewed more or less closely to the source material, while others were emboldened to evolve the original ideas is exciting new directions.

Mega Man V, however, throws the very concept of "source material" aside. It's the last game in the classic handheld series, and clearly the development team wanted to go out with a bang. We're glad they did, because the end result is a title that unexpectedly stands shoulder to shoulder with the best games in the series.

The differences are apparent from the opening sequence. Rather than Mega Man facing yet another threat from Dr. Wily, he and Roll (in her only Game Boy appearance) are attacked by Terra, one of five Stardroids that have invaded Earth. (In another rarity, Mega Man launches an offensive against another four, in an attempt to halt the attack before it happens.) The fight doesn't end well for our hero, as the Stardroids are constructed of a material much sturdier than any of Wily's creations have been.

This means Mega Man needs an upgrade to his buster, and that comes with the welcome side effect of a new charge shot, in the form of a fist that launches across the screen. It can further be upgraded to grab items (which is tremendously helpful) and latch onto enemies (which is not, but is still awfully fun to do). Additionally, Dr. Light introduces a new companion: Tango, a robotic attack cat.

All of this happens before the game even begins, and that represents a good number of differences right off the bat. Mega Man V wants you to know that whatever follows, it's not going to be what you expect; that's great, because what follows is one of the best action platformers the Game Boy ever had.

As in the previous games, there are two sets of main bosses. This time, however, they are not Robot Masters. These are Stardroids; looming cosmic threats that have been awakened, somehow, and it's up to Mega Man to fight them off. Doing so will require him to navigate a series of very, very long stages, each of which has its own unique traps and hazards, culminating in a boss fight. Defeat the boss and earn their weapon. It's a classic formula, but what makes Mega Man V stand out is just how charmingly it explores it.

The level designs are great. Gimmicks and hazards are not segmented, but rather combined. For instance, Jupiter's stage has both space physics and ice. Saturn's stage has shifting gravity and the slowing of time. Just when you've adapted to the quirks of one stage element, you can expect to encounter another; of course, this is all on top of the standard Mega Man concerns, such as enemies, bottomless pits and death spikes. It's a lot to keep in mind at any given time, which makes replaying these stages a very rewarding exercise in accomplishment by degree.

Although the stages in the previous Mega Man handheld titles were remixed — often significantly — there's no doubt that the relative lack of new special weapons to play with was a disappointment. Aside from the Mega Man Killers, none of the bosses in those games gave you anything you hadn't seen, and mastered, already.

Here, though, everything is fresh; while that makes it pretty inevitable that a few of them will be disappointing (such as the glob of salt water known as...Salt Water, or the upgraded Super Arm known as the Deep Digger, which sadly still relies on rare external ammunition), there are some excellent ones in the mix as well. The Spark Chaser is a powerful laser weapon, as well as one of the most fun to watch go about its business, and the Grab Buster allows you to not only deal damage to enemies, but to steal their health for your own use. That makes it a very valuable weapon for those times when you're limping around a dangerous stage, only a bar or two keeping you from death.

The bosses, as well, are all new — in fairness there are some returning faces, but they're welcome surprises and we won't spoil them here. We applaud the willingness to experiment, but we have to admit many of them have pretty easy patterns to figure out. The simplicity of the bosses is counterbalanced by the absolute insanity of the levels, but it's more than a little strange to think of a major boss as a "breather."

In fact, the entire game feels like a slight step down in terms of difficulty. For many, that might be a good thing. For those looking for a major challenge, they may have to resort to self-imposed limitations, such as avoiding the shop or only using the Mega Buster.

The final word, however, is that these issues barely register as issues at all. The sheer amount of fun and creativity employed by the development team is on display, and it's contagious. While some bosses might be too simple, some weapons could be more useful, and some stage themes could be more memorable, all of it ultimately builds to a brilliant, lengthy, rewarding experience that more than makes up for any missteps by how much it gets absolutely right.

Mega Man's final Game Boy outing is easily his best, and it's interesting to note that while his NES titles were arguably losing steam, his handheld titles were getting steadily better. Putting the first three NES games and the last three Game Boy games in a row would probably give you the ultimate 8-bit Mega Man experience, and the fact that you'd be ending on Mega Man V — a game of impressive breadth and variety — would leave you with an excellent sense of universal closure.

Mega Man V isn't a perfect game, but its imperfections are charming, addictive, and even fondly memorable. It's an instant highlight of the 3DS eShop, and is guaranteed to remain one.

Conclusion

Mega Man V, against all odds and exceeding any reasonable expectation, turns out to be one of the best Mega Man games, period. The difficulty might be a tad low, and the soundtrack only intermittently hits the peaks we've come to expect from the series, but all of that is made up for by an endlessly creative experience, ten new special weapons, and a whopping fifteen main bosses. This might be one of the most overlooked games in the Blue Bomber's catalogue, but that just means it's primed for rediscovery. If you have any interest at all, you'd be doing yourself a great disservice by passing on Mega Man V.

Sponsored links by Taboola

More Stories

Game Trailer

User Comments (31)

BalrogtheMaster

#1

BalrogtheMaster said:

Fantastic review, guys! Really glad they released this on eShop, the cart still goes for about $70 ;-;

Phantom_R

#2

Phantom_R said:

So I guess if I'm going to play one main-series Mega Man game, it should be this one?

ollibald

#3

ollibald said:

Super awesome game, this. It's well worth $70 but luckily it's bound to be cheaper on the vc:)

CanisWolfred

#4

CanisWolfred said:

Just a quick note, it's actually $3.99 on the eShop, unless Nintendo ripped me off.

Anyways, it's hard for me to emphasis how long I've waited to play this. I remember Nintendo Power lauding it when the GB collection was announced back in 2004, only for it to be cancelled after two years. I remember reading about it on the Mega Man Home Page when I finally got my own computer in 2006, every detail, including the glowing review. I remember joining retro forums in 2008 and seeing people talk about off and on for 6 years. And now I finally get to play it. Words cannot express my excitement.

unrandomsam

#6

unrandomsam said:

I think I will get this one then if it comes to the EU. (Still sad this and Donkey Kong '94 both omit the Super Gameboy features).

sleepinglion

#7

sleepinglion said:

It sure we be cool to see a Mega Man compilation title that contains his console AND handheld adventures. That would separate me from my cash so darn fast.

Palom

#8

Palom said:

Are 1/3/4 also worth it, or would I not miss them if I just got this?

JaxonH

#9

JaxonH said:

@Phantom_R

I would personally recommend Mega Man 2 or Mega Man 3 on the NES as your first Mega Man game- they are universally hailed as the best, full color, and of course a decent graphical upgrade from the Gameboy line of games.

Most of us MM fans played Mega Man 1, 2 or 3 on NES as our first (there are some exceptions, but generally speaking). The original MM on NES was pretty hard though, so I wouldn't recommend that one as your very first. I'd say go with MM3- it's a little easier than MM2 is, and once you beat it you'll probably have the skill necessary to go back and beat the first 2. MM3 had the perfect difficulty imo, though some crave the brutality of other entries.

Giygas_95

#11

Giygas_95 said:

I've really been enjoying this one. It's quite excellent! I've only been able to defeat Mercury and Mars so far. The stages are LONG just like the review says. Just a few more days, and I'll be playing the one I've been looking forward to the most: Xtreme 2!

@sleepinglion Speaking of compilations, I wish I could get my hands on the X Collection, but the Gamecube version is so dang expensive, and I don't have a PS2...:(

Yomerodes

#12

Yomerodes said:

"Putting the first three NES games and the last three Game Boy games in a row would probably give you the ultimate 8-bit Mega Man experience..."

Meanwhile, Megaman 9 and 10 cry in shame.

SparkOfSpirit

#13

SparkOfSpirit said:

@Yomerodes Mega Man 9 is one of the best, IMO.

Game Boy IV and V simply MUST be played by MM or platformer fans. They are truly excellent platformers well worthy of playing through.

KoiTenchi

#14

KoiTenchi said:

@CanisWolfred

In the past, I had only played V. I'm now playing the rest on GB VC (still in the middle of IV though admittedly) and I feel I missed out a little.

From what I've played now, I would recommend V, IV and III in that order. If you don't find IV appealing to you too much with it's sort of system of recycled bosses but totally revamped stages, then I wouldn't tell you to bother with III but otherwise I feel all three of those are very good.

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#15

Philip_J_Reed said:

@Yomerodes
Yeah, my bad. 9 is absolutely a masterpiece. Possibly my second favorite, behind 2. I was trying to limit myself in the review to consideration of the "original" classic series, but definitely could have phrased that better. Rightly called out. :)

Giygas_95

#16

Giygas_95 said:

@Philip_J_Reed As far as the NES games go, my favorites are probably 2, 3, and 4 (hard to say which one is my favorite), but as far as the entire classic series goes, my favorite is probably 9. And the music...my goodness, I could listen to Hornet Man's stage theme and Concrete Man's stage theme all day...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hqAun99_ug

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbMmnNyCcBM

Shame I've never beaten 9 though. The Wily stages are HARD.

Dr_Corndog

#17

Dr_Corndog said:

@CanisWolfred mentioned the site already, but I was greatly surprised when I saw that this is the highest-rated game on MMHP.net. Higher than MM2, MM3, and MMX. Sure, that's one person's opinion, but it's the opinion of a massive Mega Man fan, so that counts for something with me.

Wish I had a 3DS to play this (and the first four). I've only ever played the first MM on the Game Boy, and that was a long time ago.

Discostew

#18

Discostew said:

This was the only Mega Man game I got on the GB long ago, and it was great. The original cart goes for $70 now? Hmm....

outburst

#20

outburst said:

Wow these MM GB games have good reviews. Too bad I only have Wii U. I'm not tempted to get a3DS yet.

Tasuki

#21

Tasuki said:

I have been waiting for 20 years to play this game and I have to say it's everything I expected and more. So far I have only defeated Mercury and Neptune but the next two days I plan to put some major time into this one. This is shaping up to be one of my favorite Mega Man games.

@Philip_J_Reed: As always great review.

EarthboundBenjy

#23

EarthboundBenjy said:

My favourite Mega Man games in the classic series are... 9, 6 and MM&Bass. ...Everyone's favourite seems to be Mega Man 2, but there were things about that game that annoy me... like, how the Metal Blade is OP, and there's the one Wily stage where you have juuust sliiightly not enough Crash Bombs to beat the boss. So annoying.
... Conversely, I love Mega Man 6 because the Rush power suit jetpack thing is so fun to use. Though I will say the weapons aren't the most exciting in that game.
I love MM & Bass and Mega Man 9 for about the same reason - and it's that each weapon in these games were unique and had their own uses that were all useful under different situations. It wasn't just a different way to throw a projectile, it actually felt like I needed to switch up my strategies for what the stages had to offer.

Anyways... I played all the Game Boy games in order, right after another, and I thought they were okay. I may play just the fifth one again in the future, because maybe my perceptions were different coming straight off of the other four, but I didn't feel like it was anything too spectacular. Hm.

HylianJowiStaff

#26

HylianJowi said:

@Philip_J_Reed Your Mega Man reviews are the best. I went back and read all your pieces for the other Game Boy titles as well as the earlier NES ones, and they're really thorough. I'm not a huge fan of the games (mostly 'cause I suck at them), but your stuff made me want to give them another look. Seriously great work, dude.

hugo_octorok

#27

hugo_octorok said:

I will be getting this soon. Should I get the other GB games considering I have Mega Man Anniversary collection on GC?

Creeper

#29

Creeper said:

Did the reviewer not experience the lag everywhere in this game? It seems rather ignorant to just leave that out of the review completely since it's quite noticeable from the beginning. It doesn't ruin the game but it's pretty annoying.

SparkOfSpirit

#30

SparkOfSpirit said:

@hugo_octorok Mega Man IV for sure. If you like IV and V, then I'd go with III after.

IV is an entirely original game that only has two similarities with the NES games being the robot masters and level themes. Otherwise it is completely original.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...