The ultimate Mega Man retrospective

Mega Man 5 continued the time-worn formula with only a few changes. This time we're led to believe Proto Man (who helped you in MM3 and MM4) has gone rouge and unleashed yet another batch of robot masters into the world. Staying true to form, Mega Man beats them, nicks their powers and faces Proto Man only to find Dr. Wily waiting at the end - again.

Sounds the same all right, but a good crop of levels, some inspired robot designs and another excellent soundtrack kept fans a-blastin' for another year, even if part five is one of the most bastard-tough games in the entire franchise. If you know everyone's weakness there are some damn tricky spots to get through, most of which involve instant one-hit deaths. Great!

Other things about Mega Man 5:

That last bit, about being the last Capcom-published Mega Man, should be quite telling. The year's 1992, the SNES has been out for some time now and is already gathering a large following against Sega's Genesis/Mega Drive. This is probably the last time people were genuinely excited about an old-school Mega Man title, as part seven was buried by Mega Man X hype and eight hit right when 3D gaming exploded.

Weakness: Napalm Bomb (Napalm Man)
Gives you: Power Stone (no, not the game)
What it does: Spins three huge rocks in a spiraling circle

Another construction 'bot, and thus another enemy that makes a lick of sense. The Metools, the little hard hat wearing enemies that've been in every game, now split into three tiny Metools when struck because this game is hard. It's actually almost rude how more difficult this is than the previous four.

Weakness: Star Crash (Star Man)
Gives you: Gravity Hold
What it does: Flashes the screen, little else

Big G hosts a refreshingly unique stage - it's broken up into chunks, each with its own gravity. You'll be running along and pass an arrow pointing to the ceiling and upon passing it flip everything upward. Now you're running on the ceiling, climbing ladders "down" and generally just being a little disoriented. The battle against Mr. Gravitas is the same, only he can control the gravity shifts at will.

Weakness: Gyro Attack (Gyro Man)
Gives you: Crystal Eye
What it does: Shoots a rotating ball that splits and reflects

It looks like Crystal Man studied up on Mega Man 3, cuz his stage and power are remarkably close to Gemini Man. This is one of the more annoying levels, with tons of spikes, pits and cheap shots. Luckily the random item drops are frequently 1-ups.

Weakness: Crystal Eye (Crystal Man)
Gives you: Napalm Bomb
What it does: Fires an oval bomb that clangs around and then explodes

So first we had Fire Man, then Heat Man and now they've upped it all the way to Napalm Man! Not much room left to grow, is there? Also strange how his level, which you'd expect to be full of fire, takes place in the woods. Suppose it could pass for a napalm test facility or something.

Weakness: Gravity Hold (Gravity Man)
Gives you: Gyro Attack
What it does: Sends a spinning set of blades slashing through the air

Equal parts cutting and flying, Gyro Man is another one of our favorite designs. Even his weakness makes sense - Gravity Man's irresistible pull would undoubtedly wreak havoc on someone dependent on defying the law of gravity, right?

Weakness: Water Wave (Wave Man)
Gives you: Star Crash
What it does: Protects Mega Man from attacks (like Leaf Shield)

In any Mega Man game there must the weak link, the one enemy easily felled by simple arm cannon ordnance. Star Man is such a robot, but we applaud his cosmically loud choice of attire for his sacrificial battle. His level's great too, with zero-G leaps behaving like Bubble Man's underwater boost.

Weakness: Charge Kick (Charge Man)
Gives you: Water Wave
What it does: It's a wave of water

Talk about annoying - this level's overflowing with cheap shots and tricky leaps. From steam blasting out of pipes to a floating bubble ride around deadly spikes, this is a stage you'll be glad to put behind you. Looks a bit like Empoleon, no?

Weakness: Power Stone (Stone Man)
Gives you: Charge Kick
What it does: Turns your slide into a weapon

Hoo boy, here's the runt from MM5, a robot with a train engine for a head. Wait, no, it's more than his head, it's his entire body, with legs and arms sticking out. Talk about reaching. Cool stage though.

They're gone, time for Proto Man's remarkably vain castle and then off to (shock!) Dr. Wily:

The next entry would be the last NES game and for the most part, the last time anyone really heard from what it is considered "Classic" Mega Man.

Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.