Part 4: Napalm Man
I really like this level. The first stretch is amongst the most challenging in the game; newcomers, beware! The tigers are very high on the rank of extremely tough enemies to deal with, and they're placed in exceedingly dangerous ways. You'll have to get clever in manipulating them or suffer fangy death. The best trick to know is that they react to you letting go of the fire button. Holding it down will not attract them, so keeping it pressed while you exit the menu will give you a free charge which is invaluable. Once you relase it, they will jump, so aim above to goad them into the shot. The insane AOE helps. You pretty much have to do this against the last in order to not get hit; I haven't found a better way except for spamming Gravity Hold, maybe. Yeah, it's really fun trying to figure out the best way for dealing with screens like that, far above and beyond "well Metal Blade them duh", which is part of the reason why I like MM5 so much!
Afterwards, the cave part awaits. Beginning with another tiger against which having the high ground helps immensely...sadly, you probably won't be dropping Napalm Bombs down, but as you can see, even Water Wave can do good here. Water fucking Wave! Enemies below you are generally pretty much fucked in MM5.
Then a screen chock-full of enemies...it can get really hectic there, especially with the asshole homing Battonton expies.
The screen with the drill thingies is kind of...there. Simply walking and charging or firing a steady stream will get you through no problem...really, you'd have to be extremely reckless to be in danger there. I don't even mind them being instantkill. Water Wave is ideal here for once, though I am never fast enough in my sliding to get one to hit two drills. Maybe someone more generally skilled at Mega Man can pull it off. You've gotta be very careful at the screen divide, though, if you go through as quickly as possible, it's very likely a drill will spawn right on top of you and it's back the the start then, sucka.
What follows is a cave done exactly right, a beautiful background that even extends into how the level works - with waterfalls! They're pretty much inconsequential (like most of the stuff in this game, really - see: Drills I just described), but better than if they were extremely annoying. Really annoying are the flying Joes; Charge Kick isn't exactly ideal but it's great fun to use it once they have spotted you. Best way is to come in with a Buster charge ready, unload and a single shot immediately after to spare yourself any hassle.
Next aboveground portion is filler, only the second missile-spewer can get annoying if you don't keep your cool. Psychology again! Then it gets pretty damn tricky with the missiles; remember, if you kill them, they'll shoot out debris in four directions, if they hit a wall, it'll home in on you! I used Water Wave against them back in the day, but it's far cooler just sliding through them, I think. Pretty good use for the Wave though. The three at once are just to unnerve you, simply don't jump, the one spawning right after the spike pit is just a dick move. If you don't know it's there, you're going to get hit, no questions asked. The only thing that would help is an instantly pulled out Gravity Hold, as it removes them from the screen with one hit and no debris.
Oh yeah there's a fat guy too, I guess. He's placed stupidly and no concern.
Last stretch...cockblockers...fuck those assholes. No need to rant more here when I already did enough in the video.
Overall though, great stage, great variety, looks awesome, chock-full of little gimmicks that never annoy, more of that, less of what we were subjected to in Wave Man (read: boredom). By they way, the astoundingly good MMIV on the Gameboy takes this stage's Drills and makes them into a full-fledged level gimmick, and a great one at that.
I had lots of time to talk in the video, so I'll keep it short. First of all, though: He's got tank treads as soles, a cannon for a face, bombs on his shoulders and his arms are fucking warheads. Whoever said that MM5 has boring and forgettable Robot Master designs is a dumbass.
So yeah, he's got missiles and the signature Napalm Bombs. The missiles are the harder attack to deal with, as they come out pretty quickly; I found that a jump slide jump route works best for me, though if you can do short hops consistently, that's also fine. Bombs are dealt with by just staying the fuck away. After each attack, he'll leap exactly to where Mega is, and what he does is decided only by where Mega stands, so he's at your beckon. Great fun to toy with, love the fight.
Oh yeah, and there's a specific reason for me showing that Water Wave does indeed erase the missiles (when fired right away; the waterspouts do vary in height also in hitbox terms, so they might not reach sometimes). I'll discuss this one later. Just so you don't wonder. Completely forgot to mention this in the video.
- Apache Joe: Those are pretty hard to deal with, having an annoyingly random pattern, firing and dipping down whenever they feel like it (it's probably not random at all but I haven't figured them out much due to panic panic panic). Best to shoot quickly, as they only have 4 HP; charged shots go a long way. In close quarters, don't panic and pull out the melee weapon.
Jet Bomb: The missile enemies are there to ambush you by flying quickly over the screen and often placed very deliberatly to require quick thinking. Depending on if you shoot them or let them hit the wall, they react differently; might just be their placement, but I believe the latter makes the debris home in on Mega. Often used in multiples, can be pretty dangerous for it, but again, having invincibility at will goes a long way. Yay Charge Kick! Also, Gravity Hold, secret super extra tip. Gets rid of them with no questions asked.
Metall Cannon: Very annoying. The standard Met trait of only being vulnerable while shooting combined with more health than a single charged shot can take out makes them pretty effective roadblocks. Their projectile can be shot out at least, so charged shots again reign surpreme. Or you ignore them. Charge Kick!
Mizzile: These are the worst version of the pit popup enemy type. Why? Well, they have about a million HP; no matter what you do, you can't take them down at all. Meaning you not only have to be careful because of their nature in general, you also have to wait for them to go down. Because of that and because I didn't even notice they had eyes (they close them when going down again), I dubbed them cockblockers and never looked back. Fuck those assholes.
Power Massler: The resident "big guy" enemy, and they're pretty cool looking, I think. Except for the pink, oh well. Have the HP to back up their status as big threats to be dealt with, and you'll have to think of a tactic beyond "two Dust Crushers" here, because they have no crippling weakness. However, there is a weapon that lets them go down in milliseconds. Don't want to spoil it just yet, you'll see.
Rolling Drill: Constantly spawning from the right, they'll kill you dead if you touch them, but they're weak to pretty much everything (not only Water Wave, also for example Crystal Eye) and of course charged shots, so no big deal. For more comments look above.
Search Mine: Those are a neat design, interesting take on the standard "move faster when level with Mega" enemy. As long as you're not too close, you can take them out with a single shot; afterwards, though, they close up and zoom at Mega. Oftentimes, they're placed cleverly enough so that you can't avoid triggering them by shooting them first, and after closing up, they're too small to be hit by an uncharged shot! Fortunately, you've got a shitton of weapons that target the floor in this game, so no biggie, but can get tricky in multiples.
Sumatran: Talked enough about those already; really tough to deal with when placed accordingly, and they often are. Later on, they'll appear in multiples, and then it gets nasty. Create some of the toughest situations in the game and can tear your apart pretty easily if you panic and start flailing around. No one-hit kill weakness adds to the fun!
- Napalm Man - eh. This is one of the best examples of my dislike of this game's music; it's not bad or annoying or anything, but to my ears, completely forgettable. The intro sounds disjointed and arhythmic, then the main melody starts and jumps around and...I don't like it, okay? Hard to describe. Compared to the at least interesting background beat in Charge Man's theme, this one is pretty bland and doesn't add any kind of oomph which a jungle or cave stage would warrant; in contrast to the other two themes we've heard so far, it doesn't fit the stage at all in my opinion, not that I could associate any feel whatsoever with it.
To illustrate my problems a bit better, take the part following the 39-second mark in the linked video. It's slow, drawn-out notes with almost no melody to speak of. Segues into an end that's completely unexiting, loses any trace of recognizable melody and then lazily starts over. I'd never find myself humming this theme along, unlike most others we've heard so far.
To be very clear, again, it's not bad, just worse, and only in my opinion. If you like subdued, slow tunes that run smoothly in the background, that's cool and then this is probably the soundtrack for you!