The Mega Man series lost a lot of steam after its fourth installment on the NES. The first three titles were instant classics, while the fourth was entertaining, yet lacked that certain something to it, that made the first three titles as beloved as they are today. The final two Mega Man titles on the NES were met with little fanfare, almost as if they never existed. But why is that? Is there something so wrong, or so forgettable about Mega Man 5 and 6 that Mega Man fans just don’t clamor on about them? Lets take a look at Mega Man 5 first, and see if there’s any one thing, or multiple things, that pushes this title to the very backs of our minds.
One apparent strike to Mega Man 5 comes in the section where you’d never expect the series to falter — the music. While the sound effects are again all stock from previous titles, the music is woefully underwhelming, almost to the point where none of it feels like it fits properly. The usually celebrated boss battle theme sounds like nothing more than a Dr. Wily castle stage theme. There’s no sense of thrill or trepidation whatsoever to the tunes that coincide with your boss battles. The stages themselves contain music that could have been unearthed from the Capcom vault from songs not used in Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers, or Little Nemo: The Dream Master. Granted, these songs are not bad, but they do not fit in with the action going on, nor the stages they are contained in.
The level design, boss names and boss powers are all sub par to the high standards that this series has set. The boss names are pretty dull when compared to even Mega Man 4’s boss list, which was pretty much underneath the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. You once again get your shield power, slow moving projectile power and so on. Even if some of the powers may differ, you still have the cut and paste bosses, like the outer space gimmick boss, or the earth/ground/brick gimmick. Sure, Charge Man, a locomotive-like boss might be original, but it’s also misplaced, and pretty moronic to have as a boss. It’s nice that his accompanying stage is the exterior and interior of a train, but as with the other stages, they really don’t draw you into the world well whatsoever. Heck, you see a portion of the game that appears in Mega Man 9,with very little change to it. So it shows you that even after 15 years of 8 bit Mega Man releases, Capcom manages to “borrow” certain elements from older titles.
Despite the underwhelming selection of enemies, lackluster stages and very un-Mega Man music selections, the action is still the classic Mega Man affair. While it’s still an entertaining run through, it is neither memorable, nor something you’ll care about hours later. Mega Man 5 suffers from repetition that has barely been addressed, with almost little care to keep what previously made each title before it as enjoyable as they were.