A Critical Look at Mega Man 5 Stages: The Robot Masters

Boss Music Another Mega Man, another round of boss fights.

Stone Man

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Stone Man jumps around the room. If he jumps high, he crumbles on the ground and can't be damaged until he gets up again. Sometimes he'll leave behind two swirling rocks, the max radius of which is about where the rock is in the third image.

He's easy to avoid, and though the room shakes after a big jump it does nothing to hinder Mega Man's movement. The rocks could have been more dangerous, but he'll only use them if Mega Man is far away and always follows with a large jump, giving the player plenty of time and room to deal with them. He's weak to the Napalm Bomb and easy to hit with it, but it's such a bland fight that this hardly matters. Monking in Mega Man 3 put up a better fight than this.

Gravity Man

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An interesting twist to this one is that Mega Man enters with gravity switched. Gravity Man walks around on the opposite side, switching gravity constantly. The only way to hit him with normal shots is to fire as you pass each other, which is a fairly neat idea. He'll also jump and shoot now and then, which goes a long way toward breaking up an otherwise monotonous pattern.

Hitting him with Star Crash presents a different challenge, as players need to get as close as possible on a pass or time their shots carefully. This one's decent for an average-difficulty boss, with a unique setup, a weakness that's interesting to fight him with, and just enough variety to catch players off guard.

Crystal Man

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Easily my favorite of this game's bosses, Crystal Man starts the fight by creating four balls that bounce around the room at diagonals. These last for a long time, and he can also fire smaller shots directly at Mega Man. He can only move by jumping and only attacks at the peak of a jump, but unless he decides to fire a string of single projectiles in a row, the player will need to perform some fancy jumping to avoid damage.

Gyro Attack's vertical aiming makes it a useful weakness here, but still requires skill to use well. This is much more energetic than anything we've seen the player put through so far.

Charge Man

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Charge Man either walks toward you, charges forward, or turns red and fires a projectile upward. The last of these is followed by three fireballs falling from the ceiling, and it's fairly random whether these will be difficult to dodge or appear nowhere near the player.

He can't be damaged while charging or attacking, so the majority of the fight involved running away and firing backward. Jumping over him is also problematic as he'll sometimes stop moving just as you're doing so, preventing Mega Man from clearing him. Power Stone is awkward to hit with, but at least it gives the player a way to attack without turning around. The difficulty of this fight is above the game's average, but it feels more like a hassle than a challenge.

Napalm Man

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Napalm Man can fire three missiles forward, fire two bombs upward, or jump. This is another simple one, but the pattern works well. The bombs spread out more with distance so they're easier to avoid when standing near him, but this leaves the player more vulnerable to missiles. At a medium distance it can sometimes be hard to decide between moving toward or away from him, and getting caught against a wall is particularly dangerous.

Crystal Eye is useful here, as a missed ground shot will often hit him in the back on the return, and the remaining shots have a decent chance at getting a second hit in. He's more fun than one might expect for such a basic pattern.

Wave Man

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Wave Man cycles between shooting a water jet from a random point on the floor, shooting a slow harpoon forward, and jumping toward Mega Man. The best thing about this fight is that jumping over his own projectile can be confusing to avoid, and I'll give it credit for that alone. However, that water jet is all over the place and he seems more likely to hit himself than the player if they're standing still. This can oddly work to his advantage though, as a player using Charge Kick will take damage from it, though they can slide through him well enough. This is painfully easy once the player gets how to dodge the harpoon/jump combo, and the Charge Kick has little to offer over a charged shot.

Star Man

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Another boss that moves only by jumping, Star Man creates a shield around himself and occasionally throws it at Mega Man. He'll only do this from the peak of a high jump or when near the ground, and creates a spark from his arm to announce it. The shield is slow, and while it takes up a lot of room, the player can't even be damaged by it until it's been thrown. Mega Man also retains the low gravity physics from the stage, so this is another very easy boss to avoid.

The only thing that stands out here is the Water Wave, which can be awkward to use but hits through the shield and removes it for a while. This would matter more if the shield was any danger to Mega Man.

Gyro Man

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Once again, Gyro Man has two moves. The first is to fire a Gyro Attack forward that either moves upward when jumped over or downward when slid under. The second is to rise into the air, fire a gyro downward that moves toward Mega Man when it hits the floor, then fall down onto Mega Man's position. He can use either at will. The clouds hide Gyro Man's position, but he gains nothing from this since he'll fire as soon as he enters them.

By the same token, the fact that the forward gyro moves up when jumped over adds nothing to the fight, since Mega Man is already out of the way and it'll be offscreen by the time another is fired. Gravity Hold, being a screen wipe, simply damages him. This one had potential, but the advantage the clouds could have offered him are wasted and he spends far too much time standing still.

While none of these fights are quite as dull as Dust Man or Toad Man, nearly all of them are much too easy compared to the previous games. Some of them would have been perfectly acceptable in the role filled by Magnet Man or Top Man, but Crystal Man is the only one that can put up a respectable fight, with Gravity Man and Charge Man as distant seconds.

Also, for the first time, every single one of these fights on a flat surface. Comparing the quality to Mega Man 4, it's simply a matter of whether you'd prefer the fights easy or awkward. Personally, I'll take Pharaoh Man and Ring Man over this bunch.