While the Mega Man series on NES system didn't change too much from release to release, Capcom did manage to keep coming up with new and more challenging ways to keep platformer fans coming back for more. Mega Man 5 didn't try to re-invent the wheel, but what it did do was bring eight brand new robotic bosses to the table for Mega Man to tackle, and even tossed in a couple of surprises for fans to enjoy.
At its core, Mega Man 5 sticks to the traditional formula that made all of its predecessors so popular with gamers during the 8-bit era. When you first begin the game, you're taken to the robot boss selection screen where you can choose which stage you want to play. Much like previous releases, the order you defeat the bosses can greatly influence how effective you'll be against them.
When you defeat a boss, you're then given that robot's weapon of choice. Since each of the eight robot bosses have a specific weakness to a particular weapon, it's up to you to discover which weapon works best on a specific boss. It's this challenge that adds a nice layer of strategy to the mix and forces you to use a bit of trial and error to find just the right weapon for each of the game's bosses.
Mega Man's faithful helper Rush returns once again and brings with him a host of special abilities that Mega Man will need in order to traverse some of the game's tougher sections. There's the ability to jump higher using Rush Coil, or being able to scoot across difficult platforming sections with the Rush Jet, for instance. The developers were even kind enough to toss in another unique set of hidden surprises, called Letter Plates, which are well-hidden in each of the game's stages for you to locate. If you can locate them all and spell MEGAMANV, you'll be given access to another rather helpful assistant.
As with past Mega Man titles, this fifth incarnation controls like a dream. The controls are spot-on responsive and making use of the special abilities is as easy and intuitive as ever. The challenge level is not quite as steep as previous games in the series, but there's still plenty of challenge, even for seasoned platformer fans who think they've seen it all. Toss in a few hidden surprises and the challenge of figuring out the best order to take on the levels and you've got yet another solid and engaging Mega Man experience.
Mega Man 5 features some of the best looking levels in the 8-bit series, but there are a few bland spots along the way as well. Highlights like the Crystal Man and Napalm Man show a lot of colourful creativity and really take advantage of NES's colour palette, while the robot bosses are as uniquely animated as ever and show a surprising amount of detail.
Mega Man has always had a reputation for its amazing musical presentations and this release is no exception. There's not a bad track in the bunch — this is some of the best chip tune music to come out of the 8-bit era. And, of course, all the patented Mega Man sound effects are present and accounted for as well.
Mega Man 2 is widely regarded as the best Mega Man title to come out of the NES era, but it's difficult to not appreciate just how amazing this fifth instalment truly is. The level themes are among some of the best the series has to offer and while some of the robot bosses are a bit cheesy, they're also extremely unique as well. It goes without saying that if you're even a slight Mega Man fan, this is a game you absolutely must not miss.