A Critical Look at Mega Man 5 Stages: Gyro Man

Gyro Man's Stage and Music mm5gyro_01

Gyro Man starts with an elevator lifting us into the sky, where we fight Tattepakken and Pukapelly. The area in the fourth image uses this well, where jumping to hit Pukapelly can leave the player open to Tattepakken, while destroying the latter first gives the former a chance to knock Mega Man off the platform.

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The next new enemy is Giree, which is simply a new sprite for Biree from Mega Man 4. The piece sticking out of the bottom of the orange platform is solid, forcing Giree to move around it. That only serves to help us here, but perhaps we'll see that come into play later.

Another nice aspect of this screen is that the player can skip the ladder by jumping to the platform with the energy refill, or use Rush Coil to get there from the start. The Cocco here has wonderful placement, as players can opt to kill it or slide under it, and those going after the extra life will find that it respawns on the way back.

At this point players have the option of continuing into the gap underneath it or immediately jumping out. Those hiding under it can now carefully time their escape, shoot their way through, or inch forward enough that the three Corocoros all get stuck where the life was. That's a lot of possible interactions for a single enemy.

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Next up is a series of three platforms, the first two of which carry us upward while the last moves downward. There's nothing wrong with that, but the two Lyrics here are in a bad spot. The only way they'll hit us is if we stand on the first platform for too long, but since we don't need any extra height to reach the second one, there's no reason to stay on it. We're then surrounded by three Pukapellys, and this arrangement leaves players with plenty of options for shooting or avoiding them.

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Twin Cannon is an interesting enemy, firing white bullets from the bottom at regular intervals and shooting a faster one anytime we attack it. The second shot punishes players for being inaccurate and is also destroyable, giving Twin Cannon a unique method of defending itself by negating one of our shots. Unfortunately it dies in two hits, the reaction shot is lined up with ours on flat terrain, and it takes a long time to start firing white shots. This means players don't need to understand how they work and can just power through.

The stage design is also questionable, as we have three paths available with all leading to roughly the same situation. Power Muscler's extra height on the next screen gives him a good advantage, as his first jump takes him halfway across the screen.

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Kouker Q flies forward slowly, then falls when it reaches a point slightly in front of us. They actually take their own height into account when doing this, always falling at a point that would hit us if we continued walking forward.

It would be easy enough to avoid this by stopping whenever we see one, if it weren't for the floor collapsing under our feet. Individual pieces only fall when we touch them and we can jump from a falling piece, so we've got some leeway for avoiding these. We can also grab an "A" item by allowing a piece to fall under us. The game's been lacking in environmental hazards for a while, so this is good moment that gives the stage some personality.

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Speaking of which, the next area has another new mechanic. We're now on an elevator lifting us through a series of spiked walls. We can make it through the first few by just walking back and forth, but we have to jump onto the long middle platform since we don't have time to slide through when the floor catches up. The middle gap at the end is a good followup to this, as players will be thinking they need to jump through this one too, but we can easily walk to the left when the floor reaches it. Not bad for the first appearance of this idea.

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The last section is just a good mix of platforming and projectile dodging. The last Tondeall is difficult to avoid and it'll be offscreen if we try to hit it from the side, but we can take it out by moving forward just after firing to make it appear in the path of our shot. It's always great to see the limitations with enemy spawning work with the design rather than against it. The last Twin Cannon is no more difficult than the others, but the way we enter the room at least gives it time to start shooting.

This is a fairly generic stage with enough good design decisions to balance the bad, and a couple new mechanics to support it. In the context of this game it's pretty good, but the missed opportunities are disappointing. Giving Twin Cannon a few more points of health and putting it above the player even once would have given it a chance to shine. The Girees and moving platforms could both have seen more use, and the Lyrics lost their chance to hassle us during the latter.

The surfaces seem to be lacking any coherent theme, but the propellers and large clouds are animated, and the spinning drills in the elevator segment look extra dangerous.