Part 2: Introduction & Charge Man
A pretty standard introduction, briefly telling us everything we need to know about the story, which obviously isn't much. Gotta love the capture scene only displayed with sprites; maybe there were space constraints, but I'm pretty sure the real story was just along those lines...
Capcom employee: "Okay making a scarf fall is easy enough, but a kidnapping? You know how much you'd have to pay me for animating that?"
Capcom exec: "Fuck it then, do it with sprites."
Loving the title screen, though. I always like simplicity over flashiness, and the scarf is a pretty powerful symbol for the main "mystery" of what Proto Man is up to really. If Mega Man plots weren't always completely bare-bones, there could have been done more with that.
And yeah, the video is pretty damn short, but I felt there wasn't much to elaborate upon.
This is really the perfect introductory stage, and a good example of solid design that doesn't need a gimmick, I like it. Every bit of difficulty is enemy-based, their placement being varied with differently elevated terrain to create challenge that's free of cheapness. Seeing as there are tons of opportunities to farm powerups, even if you're somewhat bad at Mega Man games, you shouldn't have too many problems here.
It's also the perfect showcase for how extremely overpowered the Buster is, and how well the developers knew that - and rolled with it. Many situations, like the two enemies at the start placed directly above each other or the mice which are impossible to hit with normal shots would be somewhat tricky, if the AOE of your charge shot wasn't so ridiculously big. Especially the mice just fully expect you to use the thing.
So there's not much to comment on in particular. It's a fun little romp, with varied enemy types used to the best of their ability most of the time. Nothing special, but solidly designed, like most of MM5.
Personally, I really like his design. The concept of a train with legs might be baffling, but his charge attack showcases that with what amounts to rollerskate feet it fucking works. Also, he's a goddamn train, what's not to love? From quickly charging to raining coal, he utilizes the concept fully and that's awesome.
Strategy-wise, he's easy to cipher, with actually a bit trickier behaviour than most bosses in this game. Which is a good thing, I'd rather have simple patterns and easy bosses than what MM4 had. Namely either obscure tricks that trivialized the boss once you knew it or bosses that were pathetic either way you took them.
To get back to the matter at hand, he's got two attacks. One is a quick charge towards Mega, the other is a coal rain of three pieces that fall completely at random. During attacks, he's invincible. After them, he'll walk towards Mega; that means, if you jump over him while he walks, you're most likely getting hit, so don't do that. Jumping over his charge is most preferable, because him moving so quickly means that it's actually easier to clear his bulky frame. Also, if he chooses to segue into coals from walking, them shooting up will hit Mega as he jumps over him, so not a good idea again.
The key here is staying calm, as is often the case, but especially in MM5 where getting hit will lose you the charge. Don't ever panic, the pattern is easy, so focus on dodging. Contrary to other Robot Master in the past who focused on contact damage, his is actually fair in amount, so again, no reason to lose your cool. Hit him right as he ends his attacks, watch out for coals and slide away if and only if needed, and you should be able to down him without too many problems.
- Bomb Thrower: Produce an explosive projective from the top of their head and lob it at Mega. They're actually pretty good at leading you, as many MM enemies are, that AI has been rock-solid forever. Might give you more trouble than you expect, so take them out quickly.
Henbot + Walking Egg: I love those, they're so goofy and very typical for Mega Man enemy design. Shoot out a constant stream of eggs, similar to the penguin makes in MM3; contrary to those, they come out in fixed intervals, are far slower and thusly no problem to dodge. Jump surprisingly high, though! Absolutely perfect for farming, if you're so inclined. Two charged shots in the head to down them, and for once, the hitbox isn't too stupid.
Lyric: What a strange name. Those are surprisingly difficult to deal with, as they usually appear in multiples, coming from different elevations; they are really slow, but steadily and mercilessly home in on Mega. Your first instinct would be to back away and lure them to a good spot for you to kill them, but the usual Mega Man respawn is in full force, seemingly even more so in this game...going back is not an option. That means that precise shooting is required and later on, special weapons will be a godsend against them.
Metall K1000: The train mets, despite their appearance, are a very typical Met design, what with being invincible until shooting and the standard three-shot pattern. Hard to dodge as usual, but shooting at the right time and sliding does the trick! If you let them live for some reason, they'll charge at you and even explode after a few second, which is...totally pointless, but whatever.
Mousuberu: They scoot around on platforms, back and forth forever; that makes them very prone to being scrolled offscreen...their biggest problem is the size, which makes them immune to normal shot if you're level with them. So just use the charged shot, they practically beg for it. Many special weapons also do the trick, though they are for whatever reason not a one-hit kill with what would logically be the best: Water Wave. Great move, designers.
Renbakun: They fly in a straight line over the screen and drop their payload of three bombs at fixed intervals. Every part of them is downed by a single buster shot; the biggest problem with those is that they usually come in numbers, and sometimes paired with other enemies. It can get hectic against those at parts because of all the movement on the screen.
Yudon: Those are just annoying. They will shoot out homing missiles that behave exactly like the ones from the Hippos in Ring Man's stage, and apparently while shooting them, the raised arms block the eyes, the weakpoint, from being hit. Which is something I only learned now as I got the sprite image. No wonder I keep missing shots. Makes them hard to hit in general, and the hitbox is far smaller than it should be; in Charge Man's stage, it's not too big of a deal, but trickier placement like in Napalm Man's can make dealing with them really frustrating.
Turban: Behave almost like the Battontons we all know by now, but in addition to being invulnerable until they attack and then homing in on Mega, they can also shoot. Can be annoying, especially in multiples, but usually not too big of a deal, as they only take one hit unlike their predecessors.
- Opening - it's an interesting composition, and tells you right off the bat that you'll have to expect something completely different from this game's music. The crazy background melody isn't something you could whistle, it's anti-catchy. On top of it is laid a very simple buildup track which is timed rather nicely with the "Protoman?!" screen to reach full climax. Points for effort, but while effective, it's just not as good and fun to listen to as the other openings so far.
Title - this one I like. It's actually got melody, and a rather nice one. Par for the course, it's pretty upbeat. Sadly, after the first two iterations of the main theme, it dissolves into crazy notes again, to complete the loop, ensuring again that you won't ever be able to get it into your head fully. Shame.
Password - nothing special, but a password track doesn't need to be. Nice beat, though. Far above and beyond 4's atrocious password theme, not that that takes much.
Stage Select - a decent track. Again shows the emphasis on a strong background beat that many tracks do, which does get you into the mood, I suppose. Very short loop, but you'll rarely hear it for long anyway, so that's just like it's always been.
Stage Start - not MM2's! Thanks for not recycling here, at least. It's cool. The very quick melody doesn't need to be catchy, and it does get you pumped up, it's one of my favourite Robot Master selection pieces, for what it's worth.
Charge Man - the background beat is somewhat subtle here, but you'll notice it if you listen closely. It's punctuated at times with "bass" notes which do come a bit out of nowhere. Together with the melody, the track does "chug" along and as such fits the stage pretty well, I think. Never said those tunes weren't atmospheric. But it's just like the backgrounds, they are pretty gorgeous...but I hate the palette choices. It's like that with the music, it shows effort, but it's wasted because the main thing, the melody, is just nothing special. I don't know about you, but this tune doesn't stick in my ear at all. It's built to flow more, to be more organic than the previous game's beeps and bloops, but only accomplishes to flow together into a strange, bland mix. Nothing like the crisp melodies we're used to.