Part 5: Star Man
This is a nice, simple, focused and pretty memorable stage. Its gimmick is low gravity, which is nice for the programmers because they could copy-paste water physics, and nice for the player because it's decidedly not a water level in looks. Despite my personal aversion against all things pastel, it continues to argue greatly for MM5 having the best graphics in all of the classic series. Proving even so long ago that graphics do not a game make.
The start sets the scene nicely with the falling meteors; now if only those could return later to be combined with enemies...this is something the GameBoy designers would most certainly have done, looking at their MO, but sadly, there's no Star Man on the GB to be found. Except for Sunstar (MMV spoilers), of course.
Then we enter an enemy gauntlet with subsequently harder placed jumpers and cannons. That's pretty standard stuff, but I always think those stages are the best in Mega Man; they're nothing too fancy, but pretty challenging to avoid damage on, though making a single mistake or even a few in a row won't kill you. It's nothing that stands out or makes the stage particularily memorable...however, it's fun the moment you play through it, and can we ask for more? This is a big selling point of this game for me. One could pretty well describe most of it as a "casual romp", and that pleases a casual player like me greatly.
Getting back on the subject matter, the Buster is not too easy to use here because it requires precise timing, which I'm always bad at. Gyro Attack would take away any and all issues with them but that's just no fun. As said, I'm pretty pleased to have discovered their weakness to Water Wave, because that weapon desperately needed a bit of love from the designers. Seeing as it's also Star Man's weakness, that's good thinking on their parts. Except for the whole "nobody would ever dream of trying Water Wave on stuff" issue. Oh well, it's the thought that counts.
Then the spike corridor...well, it's nothing we haven't seen before. The space Mets are pretty annoying though, homing AI at its most assholish. Better get out those melee weapons! I also like using Napalm Bombs on them, obviously also good when you get swarmed. Charge Kick really shines here, though. As would Water Wave if you could fire it on narrow platforms God what a shitty weapon.
Missiles are easily dealt with. The cannons should never be an issue if you take your time, especially if you don't forget that you can shoot through walls, eh? Taking it slow also should assure you don't bonk your head in the wrong places.
The Met ambush is evil, but balanced by the health pickup afterwards. Basically time your straight-upwards jump and the release of a charged shot well, in order to take out two at once, then you should be able to sail over the bottom ones. Or Gravity Hold them if you have it.
Anti-gravity in space. Yeah just roll with it.
Then comes the "numerous issues" section. Guys, you know how to make moving platforms that are actually platforms. Come the fuck on, whatever cop-out of coding you did there is just blatant laziness in the hopes that nobody ever uses the shitty weapons you came up with. Not that Napalm Bombs or Water Wave are particularily great there, but really. I don't think projectiles can hit you off-screen, by the way; going beyond boundaries there has its own issues, as I address, so...this whole thing is just a mess. It's also piss-easy. If it didn't have low gravity, it might have been somewhat harder (and I'd bitch about cockblockers now as if I got paid for it), but as it is...the whole thing is completely out of place.
And that was basically it, the walker in front of the door can be dealt with by...being patient and not getting frustrated because his hitbox sucks. Sure as hell ain't a Big Eye.
Another boss where I think it looks really cool. The giant chest star armor thing definitely works for me; I can think of numerous ways in which they could have made a "Star Man" simply too fabulous for his own good, and he really doesn't fall into that trap.
So where's that promised blow job, forums user Star Man?
He is hilariously easy, though (boss, not user). Even disregarding the "fuck your shield" trick - seriously, what up with hitboxes in this game - avoiding his "attack pattern" of "jump where Mega is" is a matter of sliding away and that's it. His only real attack of throwing the shield is telegraphed from so far away that the only issue would be not noticing it because of the earth's curvature - but we're not on earth. He's also nice enough to wait for about half an hour before putting it back on, so there's your opening to blast him to your heart's content. I don't think I need to lose more words about tactics.
- Asteroid: It falls.
You can completely avoid those if you slide swiftly, by the way.
B Bitter: Those cannons are a pretty interesting enemy design that gets completely trashed by how ridiculous the Buster is. Like mice and other enemies, you can't hit them with normal shots when they're not ready to fire, but a charged shot plows right through them. If you're not blind, you have all the time in the world to charge up and get rid of them before they can do anything. Even when you're going too fast and they open up, though, a shot will take just long enough to be fired that you can spam-kill them. Or Charge Kick through or Napalm Bomb them twice quickly or...but special weapons, even those, being sometimes simply good is the name of my game, I shouldn't need to tell you that.
Bounder: Those are so goofy, yet so representative of general Mega Man enemy design. They start hopping up and down madly when they detect your weapon fire (like the tigers), occasionaly firing two shots at fixed angles. Never aimed, so pick a safe spot and take your time if you're not in a hurry. Annoying to hit because they're quite fast, but as always, there's weapons for that.
Dachone: Because pink and turquoise are such a great combination.
The resident walkers are probably the most unthreatening of their ilk yet. The three laser shots they fire are once again un-aimed and as suck will always go over Mega's head if he's level with their feet. Not always the case, and later on they will get placed far more annoyingly, so don't dismiss them just yet. The most irritating part of them is their hitbox because while the eye is obviously the weak spot, gauging the exact height from which you should fire is a complete crapshoot because, to me at least, I always misjudge. To prove that in the video, I wanted to shoot a shot that was intentionally misaimed but looked like it should have hit...and got him twice that way. Go me. But yeah, try it out for yourself and you'll curse them.
Or Napalm their faces in. The bombs always hit and while he's not exactly weak, spamming them will get rid of him in the course of one bold jump. This is going to be essential later!
Space Met: Why do they need an air supply
Those can be very annoying in multiples. Especially when coupled with tricky terrain. Most of their deviousness can be pretty well observed in this video, so I don't want to lose more words that nobody reads anyway.
Tondeall: In regular intervals, those fire out two shots that are, once again, not really aimed at Mega. Nevertheless, they can be effective obstacles even though they go down in one hit. Multiples of them fill the screen with bullets quickly and you'll have to look for a safe spot fast.
Toss Machine: Those catapult-types don't exactly live up to their potential here, but will get far more annoying later on in Wily's castle. Can aim pretty well - like the bomb/stone throwers we already met - so when you don't have low gravity helping you out, it might get dicey.
- Star Man - this is a very strange-sounding tune, which practically no real melody at many parts, completely out of this world - and as such, perfectly fitting the stage. I definitely like it. You see, I'm not against this game's soundtrack because "it isn't traditional Mega Man", I hate arguments like this; it's because so many tunes are not as good as the ones we've heard before, and that's just my personal preference. This one, however, is different, but in a very good way. Funky, spacey, futuristic - if more of the game's music had taken this exact approach, this might be the best soundtrack simply for the reason that it fits the stages perfectly and supplements the playing because the whole feel is right.
I put great value in such a holistic view; it's cool if individual setpieces are awesome, but if they fit together like the pieces of a great puzzle, they become greater than the sum of its part. Star Man's level is such a good one, with very nice looks, gameplay and the music being what cements it as a really nice experience.