The original Mega Man was a fan favorite in my neighborhood. Then when Mega Man 2 came out, our little minds were properly blown. It was a sequel that improved upon the original in so many ways. And Mega Man 3 kept that same momentum going. But by the time Mega Man 4 limped on to the scene, there was a feeling of fatigue. Maybe there was no way that Capcom could keep going at such a pace. Or maybe we kids had just had too much of a good thing. But the fourth game was just not as exciting. In fact, I only knew one kid that had it. I played it at his house and was pretty underwhelmed.
So that probably explains why I never experienced the remaining duo of Mega Man games on NES. In fact, I think I had pretty much avoided the series until Mega Man X showed up on SNES and reinvigorated my love of the series. But going back to these entries I missed via the Mega Man Legacy Collections on Xbox One has been an interesting experiment anyway.
In the case of Mega Man 5, I'll sum it up by saying that I don't feel that I really missed much as a kid. Much like my impression of Mega Man 4 all those years ago, Mega Man 5 just seems entirely uninspired. It's a lazy slog through all the tropes and settings that we'd already gotten in previous entries in the series. Some elements even feel like they were just straight up recycled. The levels are generally short and not too challenging and oddly boring at times. And most enemies outside of the boss battles can be taken care of with a single charged shot of the default weapon, meaning if you just take it slow enough to not get overwhelmed, the stage enemies just feel like popcorn.
Interestingly, the Legacy Collection comes with a convenient cheat sheet that outlines which robot masters are weak against which weapons. This at least takes out the guess work required back in the day (or perusing gaming magazines of the time for hints). So here's my quick rundown of running through the core eight levels before I finally gave up in disgust...
Star Man - This stage has low gravity, which really just gives you the effect of being underwater, which basically feels like a throwback to Bubble Man's stage in Mega Man 2. And Star Man himself uses a spinning shield which is like Wood Man, also from Mega Man 2.
Gravity Man - This stage is at least interesting, with the switching gravity mechanic. I can't help but think that this stage was maybe an inspiration for VVVVVV? It's actually pretty cool. But the boss battle is dumb with Gravity Man just switching gravity himself.
Gyro Man - Here's a lackluster Air Man throwback/ripoff level. Again, I'm just getting this feeling that I've played this game before in better form. And I don't even understand what the Gravity Gun does that I got from Gravity Man, but somehow it took out Gyro Man. Whatever.
Crystal Man - Here's another boring stage. It looks like Gemini Man's stage from Mega Man 3. And enemies are really sparsely spread out here, creating very little threat.
Napalm Man - This stage was alright. It does remind me of Snake Man's stage from Mega Man, though. But at least the boss battle was kind of cool. Still nothing to write home about, though.
Stone Man - This stage feels like a Rehash of Guts Man's stage going all the way back to the original game. Decent boss battle, I guess.
Charge Man - So let me get this straight, he's a train but also the stage is a train? Man, this series was really running on empty here. But at least finally there's a fun and challenging boss battle in this game!
Wave Man - And then I got up to a part in this stage where you have to jump on bubbles of various sizes to reach the top of the screen. I did this over and over again for ten minutes and couldn't figure out how to do it right. I guess I could check Youtube, but why? What's the end game? I'm clearly not enjoying this game. So what's the point of saying I beat it?
So there we have it. I played through seven stages, and then quit on the eighth. I feel like I've seen more than enough to know how I feel on this one. Mega Man 5 is not a good Mega Man game - of which there are many. So I'll stick to playing all of those instead.