Mega Man 5 (NES, 1992) - Napalm Man
Mega Man 5 is very likely the weakest of the NES Mega Man games, in my opinion. It doesn't really do anything too new with the gameplay, which is fine...but it also doesn't have very many standout moments, either. The stages, for the most part, are pretty tame and not overly interesting (with the exception of perhaps Gravity Man and Star Man's stages), and unlike the previous entries in the Mega Man series, I don't think I can actually pick out specific screens from levels to remind me of them. I can remember some of their gimmicks, yes...but the actual stages just didn't burn themselves into my memory like MM 1-4. For example, Heat Man's stage really stands out with portions like the long, stressful set of disappearing block platforms. Pretty tough area really, and likely one that any Mega Man fan can blow through without a problem by this point in their lives, because it's ingrained in their memory. Mega Man 5 didn't really have these moments...overall, the game is quite straightforward and pretty easy, which may be the reason the stages themselves don't really stand out as much. Other things that made MM5 pretty simple were the increase in power of the Mega Buster (when it really should have been toned down, if anything), and the ridiculous drop rate on extra lives. Whenever I play through, I almost have a full count of lives by the end of the first stage! It's very odd.
This isn't to say Mega Man 5 is a bad game...it's just not as good as the rest. It's still got the same old Mega Man gameplay and tight controls, but it just doesn't quite stand up to other entries (although it beats the ever-living FUCK out of Mega Man 8...more on that later, though). The same can be said about its soundtrack, really. Although it's generally a good, decent set of musical compositions, it just doesn't quite have the same impact as the tunes from Mega Man 1-4. You'll still find yourself humming along to the tunes as you play the game, but once you've finished it up and turn the game off, you'll go right back to whistling Air Man or Gemini Man's theme. Luckily, there are a couple of cool tracks on the playlist, such as this little ditty you hear throughout Napalm Man's stage. Also, let's be serious...fucking NAPALM MAN? What a badass.
Mega Man 6 (NES, 1994) - Mr. X Stage
This game is the final Mega Man entry to be released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Actually, it was released in nearly two years after the Super Nintendo arrived on store shelves in North America! Mega Man 6 was released ONE FUCKING MONTH before Super Metroid! How crazy is that? A copy of this game is pretty hard to come by these days...it's well known that video games released near the end of a platform's cycle wind up being pretty rare. It's a shame it's so hard to find, because it's actually a pretty sweet game! In Mega Man 6, the Blue Bomber has the ability to activate different types of adapters which cause him to merge with Rush. One of them is a Power adapter, allowing Mega Man to bust rocks open and access new pathways, and the other is a Jet adapter, providing a helpful jetpack to help with tricky jumps and propel Mega Man to previously unreachable areas. On top of this, many of the stages have two different paths you can take which utilize the adapters in various ways. It's a pretty well-designed platformer!
The bosses are even pretty cool as well, with sweet designs and names. Centaur Man, Flame Man, and Tomahawk Man are probably some of the standouts. Unfortunately however, I found that the stage music for the robot masters didn't hold up to those found in the first 4 entries again. It's a very similar situation to Mega Man 5, in that the music is good, but just can't beat the tunes from the earlier entries...but there's one that manages to stick out and remain catchy. It may even be on par with the tracks from the earlier games! The music I'm speaking of is the chiptune you hear as you traverse the stages of the mysterious Mr. X's castle. That's right people...Mr. X. WHO COULD THIS ENIGMA POSSIBLY BE??
(...it's Dr. Wily again.)
Next time, I'll talk about one of my very favourites of the classic Mega Man games...as well as the most terrible one. Keep an eye out for it!