Mega Man V is the fifth and final installment in the Mega Man Game Boy series. This one takes place after the events of the previous installment and even includes some characters from the other Game Boy titles, so it would be wise to play this AFTER all of those. And since you’ve played them all, you’re up to speed and I don’t need to repeat too much for you here. Cool? Cool.
Yet again we get an opening cinematic to explain the plot. Months after Dr. Wily’s fourth defeat, the world is peaceful. Then, one day, a mysterious robot comes down from space and severely injures Mega Man before sending the rest of his Sardriod pals to take over the planet. Mega Man gets his buster modified in order to combat this new threat and sets out to save the world once again. Yet again, you fight against four bosses in any order, go to a set stage, and then fight another set of four bosses in any order before going to the final set of levels complete with many sub-bosses and a multi-form final fight. There are also a few cutscenes along the way.
Many things return here, such as E-tanks, mini E-tanks, W-tanks, S-tanks, the Energy Balancer, Rush Coil, Rush Jet, the P chips and lab system, and the general gameplay. But this game sports a lot of new things as well. Instead of taking bosses from Mega Man 5 and Mega Man 6 on the NES like you might expect, this one has an entirely new set of bosses and stages named after planets. So you get new battles, new levels, new stages mechanics, and new weapons. New stage mechanics include things like fixed gravity sections, perilous waterfalls, enemies than can put you into slow motion, and more. You get a new animal companion here, Tango, which is a cat that can bounce around and attack enemies. The stages also have some alternate routes and secret rooms, which often times will require you to have a certain power in order to access. Collecting the four mysterious jewels will unlock a brand new item that halves your weapon ammo consumption.
The biggest adjustment is the new buster, which shoots like normal but has a very different charged shot. If you charge it up and fire it, though it no longer has kickback, it will actually shoot your fist out. It no longer goes all the way across the screen, and you can’t fire again while it’s gone, but it also will return to you so it can damage enemies both ways. It also has four possible upgrades. Two of them are available in the store. One of which allows you to grab items with your deployed arm and bring them over to you. The other can grab onto certain enemies and, by holding down or rapidly tapping fire, can damage them multiple times in a row. The other two are obtained by running out of lives and continuing multiple times in a row, much like the upgrade in the previous game. For the first batch you’ll have all of your shots move faster, which works for both the shoot as well as returning of your fist. The second batch seems to be about the same speed for your normal shots, but your charged shot will fire much faster and even go a bit further. These last two can be lost upon shutting off your system. Oh, and Dr. Light is actually called Dr. Light in this one.
I definitely respect a lot of the choices here. Having a bunch of totally new bosses is great, along with new weapons to figure out, stages to learn, and music to listen to. It’s very ambitious. The game also throws in some interesting new mechanics and tries to expand with some of the concepts. It felt kind of cool going back and using special weapons to open up new areas and collect those jewels. Having so much left to the unknown, along with getting a handle on the new charge shot, made it really feel like a new Mega Man experience that was going to take more than some memory of the NES ones to beat. I also think it’s a cool nod to the Game Boy series to bring back the Mega Man Killers for sub bosses near the end. It just makes it feel like this is what the handheld installments were building towards, even if they really weren’t doing that from the beginning. The new fist mechanic is actually pretty fun too, once you get the hang of it. I know I kind of mentioned that already, but I think it’s one of the best features of this game because it changes up the combat AND adds more things for you to get in the lab with your P chips. So the game definitely has a few interesting strides while seeming very comfortable with other established aspects.
Unfortunately, a lot of it came off as a bit bland to me. Some of the music is cool, but most of it was pretty… meh. I mean, that’s just personal taste, and I know it has some stiff competition with other Mega Man games, but it still feels a bit lackluster. A lot of the enemies seem to take a lot of hits. Once you get the buster upgrades it isn’t too bad, but right out of the gate it feels like barely anything will die from a charged shot, which often times lead to me just ignoring it. And to get TWO upgrades from multiple continues is even worse than before. These should be in the god damn lab! The lab WAS a bit a better this time around, but they still have the stupid mini E-tanks that rarely are of consequence and they still decided not to refill your ammo between stages so you could still buy those refills. It’s odd that there’s no collectibles in the first set of stages but there are in the second set, which you could totally miss if you never even found one of them to learn about them and miss out on the new item. The passwords are a bit better this time, but they’re still annoying to write down for sure. The general difficulty of the game is pretty low, and that combines with the beefy enemies, replaying the stages, and, the P chip grinding to make this game feel a bit more on the tedious side. Tango is sort of a lazy addition. It’s a robot cat companion… that does only one thing that’s rarely ever useful. Not sure why they bothered. Oh, and remember the boss rush thing where you fight all the bosses over again? Yeah… this game brought that back despite having eight Stardroids and the Mega Man Killers already. Talk about padding. The cutscenes aren’t as badass as the previous game either, in my opinion. So a lot of it came off as good ideas without proper execution.
Mega Man V is still probably the most unique of the Game Boy Mega Man games. If you’ve already played the other four then it’s an easy recommendation. It’s still good for general Mega Man fans and all that as well. However, I will say that it comes off as a lot cooler if you play the other four first for the context. I’m not sure how much this one goes for either. It was pretty cheap on the 3DS eshop but I think it might be rare to find physically. I’d say it’s worth about 15 bucks or so. It’s too bad this was the sendoff we got to 8-bit Mega Man… at least for a while. Not that it was bad, but it was sad. But hey, it’s a new Mega Man game that I’m sure a lot of people missed out on because of its late Game Boy release, so definitely check it out if you missed it and another all-new Mega Man to play.