I have to admit, I was extremely skeptical when I put down the money for a Mega Man 5 cart. In all honesty, I thought it was ludicrous that I was paying more for one of the sequels than I did for a copy of the 1987 original. Nothing in that respect has changed, but I'll be damned if Mega Man 5 didn't pull the rug out from under me despite partaking of previous, seemingly uneventful play throughs. So how did Mega Man 5 go from drab to fabulous? That's a question I'd love to answer... if I could.
Mega Man 5 is an uneven beast when it comes to overall difficulty. Fun as it still is figuring out the boss/weapon "weakness chain" it takes next to nothing to get through the initial wave of robot masters and their levels. This and the overall feel of the game changes dramatically once the player enters the fortress levels. There's an abstract sense of maturity that presides over the last portion of the game, something that reminds me of the sobering steel and seriousness of a Mega Man X game. Given that I've never been too comfortable with cuteness Mega Man portrayed with it's earlier artwork and later games like Mega Man 7 and 8, it's interesting to experience this kind of undertone at this point in time.
Interesting as this can be, the most significant change Mega Man 5 brings to the table is the fact the series has finally cleared that oddball hump that started with Mega Man 3 and continued with Mega Man 4. Even after playing through all the NES Mega Man games I still can't explain why those particular titles felt as stunted and bizarre as they do. Needless to say, I was glad to see things were back on track despite the fact Mega Man 5 doesn't deviate from the tired and true formula. Would anyone expect anything less?
While I can't say I was exactly thrilled with the price tag it carries, Mega Man 5 is a lot better than a quick glance, or a half-remembered memory would suggest. As one would expect, the game doesn't do anything radical yet there are some subvert, covert forces at work that are devilishly alluring once they're discovered. If you're into Mega Man, I would definitely suggest digging for them.