A Critical Look at Mega Man 5 Stages: Stone Man

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Mega Man 5 gives us a somewhat lackluster intro compared to the last one, this time using Proto Man as Wily's new scapegoat. The Robot Master selection is as ridiculous as always, and Mega Man gets a spot on the screen again. Unfortunately his eyes don't follow the cursor this time, which saddens me far more than it should. We do get someone named Napalm Man and what looks like an angry Thomas the Tank Engine, while two other Robot Masters are giving us big goofy grins, so I suppose I can't complain too much. Anyway, let's dive in.

Stone Man's Stage and Music

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The Metall Mommy stands still while firing and gives us a new hassle to deal with, exploding into three Baby Metalls when shot. These slowly hop away and explode on their own after a while. The new flying enemy is Taban, which acts like a Batton but dies in one hit and gains the ability to shoot at us. This is a great redesign for this enemy type, as we now have to pay attention to those that appear far above us instead of just running past or waiting for them to come down. This area makes good use of that; putting some of them out of reach and giving those in the last image a Metall for backup.

The new ground enemy in the second-to-last image is Subeil. These flatten themselves and charge at us when we get near, turning around when they hit a wall. This room is set up very well for introducing them, as the first will trap itself on the right side, and the second can be lured into the same pit or attacked while jumping toward the ladder, but players can also just fire through the wall from the left side. The Metall is also in a good position to bother us on both sides of the room.

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Rock Thrown throws rocks. They're painful at six damage, but the first will toss them into the corner of the ceiling until we approach, giving us a chance to take it out in safety. The next is more difficult, as we need to jump onto the platform it's pelting with rocks to hit it. The charge shot is helpful for this and for taking out Metall Babies, as the new hitbox is much bigger. The downside is that Mega Man will now lose the charge when hit.

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Hirarian 427 drops from the ceiling when we approach, quickly runs towards Mega Man, and explodes. One of them drops as soon as we enter the room and explodes harmlessly on the left wall, giving us a heads up on what it does. Mousubeil is another new ground enemy, charging back and forth across whatever platform it's on.

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All the Tabans on the ceiling mesh well with the occasional mouse, and the setup at the Metall is great. There are three Tabans nearby that are out of reach, which the player will likely ignore while running forward. Then they get stopped by the Metall, and suddenly they're surrounded with shots flying everywhere.

We didn't need a second suicidal Hirarian in this stage though, and it might have helped to shorten the range they trigger at vertically so a setup like this could work. The new flying enemy we see as we leave the cave, Lyric, is roughly identical to Telly from Mega Man 2, though slightly faster.

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Tatepakkan guards itself with a shield between taking shots at us, but we can kill it while it's defending by shoving our buster right through the shield. Strangely, this tactic fails if we've already bounced a shot off the shield, but after it takes a shot and moves the shield back down it'll work again.

There's also a new platform here, which moves to a set point when we step on it, falls after a moment, and spins us around in the process. Each Tatepakkan gets backup from multiple Lyrics, and jumping backward to buy time tends to spawn the previous group of them. This puts some pressure on the player to kill Tatepakkan quickly while giving them more chances to shoot once the Lyrics become a distraction.

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The last Tatepakkan appears by itself, which is a shame as the ceiling here would make a good opportunity to throw some Tabans. The next screen includes a seemingly impossible to reach extra life, and gives us a reason to bring out Rush Coil. He looks a bit different this time.

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The new Rush Coil jumps up along with us, giving us a chance to jump again once he's in the air. This may seem awkward, but I like it. It gives the player more control over Mega Man's height, allowing us to avoid smacking into the ceiling and more easily avoid enemies while using it. Whether or not that will be useful in this game remains to be seen, as in this case we just want to jump as high as possible to reach a hidden path to the extra life.

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The new platforms justify their inclusion here, making the player jump from one to another while they move horizontally. We can also snag an E Tank by making a quick jump from the last platform. Eddie makes another appearance in this game, and I seem to be getting unusually lucky with him in these playthroughs.

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The final area serves up a little more classic platforming before the boss door. Nothing new to see here, but the choice of paths is always nice. We're not quite done here though.

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If we take a moment to look around Eddie's room, we can find two blocks on the right that look different from the rest, and shooting them creates an opening to a hidden room. There's another of these earlier in the stage that leads to an M Tank. We can only carry one of these, but it refills all of our health and weapon energy.

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Another of these rooms appears near the start of the stage, leading to another new type of item. The pause screen includes the game's title, and the "G" item we picked up fills in one of the letters. Each stage has a letter hidden in it, so we'll find out what this does when we collect them all.

This stage handles its enemies well, giving us a good variety in both enemy types and positioning. However, aside from the one room with three moving platforms, it lacks the dangerous platforming and flashy gimmicks we've come to expect from the series. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but given how long this stage is it could have benefited from putting something more attention-grabbing in the middle.

Still, as a basic combat stage it works well enough, and I'd take a stage full of simple enemies done well over a gimmicky stage done poorly any day. This was a very safe design, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as the rest of the game can provide some stronger highlights. The visual design is excellent though, switching up the scenery and color scheme frequently, with the mountain range getting larger and more imposing as we progress.