Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Party like its 20XX - Megaman 5

Here we are again with another Megaman. What can I say about this one? Well the charged shot has been revamped slightly as it is now wider and seemingly a bit more powerful. There is a new character named Beat who acts as a weapon but since I didn't collect all eight of the tokens(which spell out "MEGAMAN5") I didn't get to use him. Maybe I could go back to find him but eh it's not worth the trouble.

Actually "Not worth the trouble" does a fair job of describing Megaman 5 as a whole. There are some improvements over part 4 like the useless Rush Marine getting jettisoned but the game itself is so predictable and so easy that it actually comes out to be a worse game overall. Then again I'm not even sure if that's right cause if I played Megaman 5 before part 4 I'd say 4 is the worse game. What kind of sense does that make? It's almost as if they're interchangeable in quality.

To be fair Megaman 5 does try a new thing, a vehicle section. I'm well aware that this is a sign of the end times and I apologize if you ruined your keyboard with vomit upon reading this. There is a vehicle section in this game and while it is short it doesn't paint a bright future for the franchise. The sequences involving the Rush Jet could be considered vehicle sections but for the most part those are optional and Megaman is free to jump off whenever he feels it's necessary. However in this one all that happens is that Megaman is in some futuristic jetski mindlessly firing away at dolphins and mines while other guys on jetskis approach from both sides. This is very dull and actually kind of frustrating cause you don't really expect it so you're bound to lose a life. Otherwise this is an incredibly easy game. There are still various ways for the player to make the game more difficult but at this point it's pretty clear that Capcom doesn't want to take any chances that'll scare away newcomers or even the "veterans" who have grown more attached to the characters than to the game itself.

It's possible that I'm going about this the wrong way. Back then these games came out once every one or two years. That left plenty of time for gamers back then to play through other games including easier ones that might have allowed their skills to deteriorate or have forgotten about of a number of the traps each game has. I've been playing these Megaman games practically back to back. So whenever I come to something familiar I'll remember exactly how I handled it the last time and go from there. Yeah that's right maybe it's my fault. Videogames are only becoming bland and predictable because I play too many of them and start expecting change from a series already in its fifth iteration.

Still I think one thing Capcom could have done is include some kind of difficulty setting. Unfortunately videogames back then really didn't have much in the way of difficulty least the most memorable ones. Secondly how could one properly design a good harder difficulty for this game? Sure the easy way out is to just have everything do more damage but that always struck me as the laziest way to make a game harder. It should be about making the game harder to win instead of making it easier for the player to die. This would mostly be to the effect of having more enemies in different places, having more traps in the levels(even if that means more spikes), giving the bosses faster or even new attacks, and so on. Problem is not many people were doing this kind of thing at the time. If they were it was in second quests(Zelda 1) or even new games(Super Mario 2 Japan..which was practically unheard of at the time). In any case making Megaman 5 a harder game would be rather tricky. I guess having more spikes is an option. It's a pretty dumb one but I figure eventually every Megaman game is going to be nothing but spikes as far as the eye can see no might as well prepare gamers for it. Actually changing the structure of the levels would probably be too much trouble. Megaman 3 did do a nice job of it with the four revisited stages though.

The one thing to keep in mind however is that Megaman 5 is not a bad game. It's about as solid and well-designed as one can expect from the series. It just seems like Capcom has little interest in not phoning it in and they're most likely not interested in rocking the boat with an entry that'll scare away fans. On the other hand the alternative could be stuff like the later Megaman X games. It's an extremist view maybe but after playing through 5 I don't have the optimism necessary to believe otherwise.

I will say also that Megaman 5's revamping of the charged shot is the best thing to ever happen to it. It's a far more useful weapon and the level design doesn't try so hard to force its usage(like with enemies that only charge-shots can kill). There are some out there who don't like the charge-shot but I think with this entry it proves itself as a good addition. The regular shot is fine for almost every situation but if I'm fighting a boss or something where I can't easily get a shot in I'd rather use a weapon that'll do decent damage when the opportunity arises. Some people don't like the slide either which is something I can't possibly begin to understand.

I just noticed that one of the weapons in this game is actually called Power Stone. Kind of weird considering that Capcom made a couple of games called Powerstone several years later. Unfortunately this about the only thing I'll remember from Megaman 5. Part 6 could fare better as it has a couple new ideas but I dunno, this whole Mega March thing I'm doing is starting to feel too much like work. Eh well can't quit when I'm already half-way done right?

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