The Game Boy had some truly awful games, but hidden within those messes of poor hit detection and bad design were some incredible gems. Megaman V is, without a doubt, one of those gems. While previous games in Megaman’s Game Boy series reused elements from the NES games, V was the first to feature all-new bosses. Even better, they’re based on planets, so there’s none of the stupidity that brought about enemies like “Cut Man.”
This is one of my all-time favorites
Megaman V isn’t perfect, but it’s still one of my most cherished side-scrolling Megaman games. While the Nintendo and Super Nintendo Megaman games were undeniably great (especially the X series), Megaman V will forever be my preferred Megaman experience because of how well everything comes together. From the music to the bosses, everything is just right in V.
Except for the lag
The biggest problem that you’ll face in Megaman V is the lag that you occasionally have to contend with. It may sound strange to those who aren’t familiar with older Game Boy games, but sometimes things slow down when too much is happening on the screen. Since V is every bit the equal of games on other platforms with significantly better hardware, it can tend to lag a bit because of this. For example, it’s possible to cause lag early in the Mercury stage by jumping and shooting a charged shot at one of the floating owls while boxes are falling from the top of the screen. However, despite the occasional lag (which is more infrequent than I’m probably making it sound), the game is very much playable and fair.
There’s also the end part of the game
Almost everything that I love about this game occurs relatively early in it. For example, my favorite stage (Mercury) can be chosen as the first stage you tackle. That’s not to say that the rest of the game is bad, because it isn’t, but the very end of the game can be incredibly frustrating compared to the more average difficulty of the early stages. Toward the end of the game, you’re thrown into a weird space stage that plays more like a simplified version of Gradius than anything resembling Megaman, and this is really a turning point; after you finish this section (which I personally find to be annoying and out of place), you face a large level filled with several minibosses, and this level eventually leads to a room where you have to face every major boss again. Even after you finish this, you still have several more boss fights ahead of you. While it was fair enough that I made it all the way to the final boss fight before I was even in my teen years, it’s still incredibly frustrating, especially since you suddenly stop getting level codes. I’m all for difficulty in games, but at a certain point things become more cheap than difficult.
This is the Megaman you know and love
Everything you think about when it comes to Megaman is present in this game: there’s your robotic dog Rush, Dr. Light, robot masters who sit around in their chambers waiting for Megaman to show up, and plenty of interesting game mechanics that make each level feel unique. While it would have been easy to water down the game for the Game Boy and make it a lesser experience than other Megaman games, it doesn’t feel at all like that. One level has gravity that’s greater or lesser in certain areas, while another has bubbles that bounce you higher or lower depending on when you bounce. Not only are the mechanics different between stages, but the enemies and general stage theme are also distinct. You even get new powers at the end of every stage that other robot masters are weak against, same as always.
There are also new additions
Megaman V’s intro introduces a new villain and shows that Megaman’s buster gun—the weapon he always uses—is ineffective against him. As a result, you have a new weapon in V: the mega arm. Rather than shooting a burst of energy, it actually shoots your hand out some distance before having it return to you. While this functions a lot like in previous games, allowing you to either shoot small pellets or charge up a stronger shot that basically functions as a long-distance face punch, the fact that the arm returns to you means that the mega arm can play a bigger role than just shooting enemies. For instance, your mega arm can be upgraded between stages (with P-chips, the game’s currency) to drag items it passes back to you when it’s returning. This is the only way to acquire items in certain circumstances, such as when you’re on a ladder and there are items to the side of you that can’t be jumped to. In such a situation, you can charge up a shot, shoot it past the item you want, and have it dragged back to you. The mega arm can also be upgraded to “stick” to an enemy, inflicting extra damage in the process.
I love this game’s graphics
Megaman V’s graphics are easily some of the best graphics you can find in a Game Boy game. While they didn’t have a lot to work with (Game Boy games being monochrome and all), they definitely made the best of it—Megaman sports his classic 8-bit appearance, and enemies are all highly detailed and distinct. This is especially obvious when it comes to the end-stage bosses, each with a design that correlates to the planet (or planet name) they represent in some way. Mars is, of course, a walking tank, while Saturn has a ring that he uses against you. Stuff like that really gives the game a great deal of personality that even other Megaman games often fail to capture. Just take a look at the screenshots to see what I mean (but be aware that they’re colorized to reflect how the game looks when played on a Game Boy Color or Game Boy Advance, not the original monochrome).
The music is so good
Megaman V has the best music of any Game Boy game out there, period. It’s so good that even the immortal Link’s Awakening’s music can’t stand up to it. It so perfectly captures each stage with a catchy theme (many that you’ll remember long after playing) despite the incredibly limited technology that it’s amazing to me that they haven’t remade this game for the music alone. Even if you have no intention of playing this game, you owe it to yourself to look up some of the music to discover some of the best Megaman music ever made.
Here’s what you should do: