Part 14: Wily I
A perfect introduction into the Wily stages, with countless very obvious signs of the designers just losing interest. Except for a few parts - which are actually good! - where unique Mega Man 5 enemies are used in new ways, they just took lots of gimmicks and setpieces from old stages and called it a day. Spike drop - MM2. Small moving platforms - MM3. Crusher segment - MM4.
Biggest problem here, except for blatant laziness, is that the first and last were shit to begin with. I think I don't have to elaborate some more on my hate of instant-death based difficulty, and the beautiful way this stage starts out with absolutely demands you know which side to jump from and afterwards where to, which is just peachy. A minor annoyance, especially at the very start, but telling.
The crusher segment is just awful. Not because it's hair-tearingly frustrating, like the original one in MM4 is for some people or the one in the Gameboy version is for everyone, but because it's absolutely pointless and a giant waste of your time. If you're not playing drunk off your ass (which might happen during races!), the ceiling won't ever crush you, maybe if you're really bad at sliding during the last part. So what remains is exciting block shooting simulator 2000. Peppered with enemies that are just annoying, too; my way of dealing with them, charged shot then a quick bullet, is probably the most reliable and fast next to Crystal Eye usage, but it's still nowhere near efficient. The final nail in the coffin is the removal of the piercing capabilities of the Buster, and that must have been intentional, so fuck whoever came up with that idea.
There are good parts in the level, and I don't want them to fall of the radar; enemy combinations still are a simple and effective way to create new challenges from old setpieces. The slowly moving unkillable sawgears coupled with enemies that can only ever hit you if you're taking your time and not rushing forward - or if you take them out completely - work very well together. And in the last room, the ever-dangerous homing fliers combined with two shield cannons working in unison, a cramped environment with strategic spikes to top it off make for a legitimately interesting challenge.
Overall, this stage doesn't make me want to hate it or myself like some really bad of the older ones do. MM5 never stoops to those levels, with a few dangerously close exceptions. But the game has its main problem perfectly reflected here: It's never really bad, but rarely very good. The Proto stages were good, but they were the preview, the appetizer. Wily fails to deliver. Level annoys you at points, is completely forgettable in others. It's bland as hell. It looks as boring as it is to play. A crying shame with such a setup.
Big Pets is a great boss concept with quite a few problems in the execution. Overall, they don't hamper the enjoyment too much, but make it look bad overall.
Its only way of attacking is firing two zig-zagging mini versions of his head from it, which...come in randomly enough to be seriously in the way at the worst of times. I don't really know if they're targeted at Mega in any way. So can't really offer advice on manipulating them. Their biggest problem is that the hitbox is very wonky, and feels rather too big. Weaving through them is no mean feat, and their main purpose is hindering you in actually damaging the boss, so...they're pretty good at that, yeah.
The way you get up is pretty cool, shoot the wheels with anything, they come flying, by controlled activation you can make yourself moving platforms to reach the head. In any other game with more...flexible weapons, this guy would have been impossible, but they fully knew that he'd be unreachable if they had something below his weakspot protecting it so that's what they did. Getting up is mainly a problem of avoiding the dropping enemies, and their erratic placement and pattern; also don't lose your cool and shoot around wildly, the spikes hurt. "Fortunately" you can get glitched onto the platforms easily; sometimes, I won't know up from down in this fight...
Weakness is Crystal Eye, but using it exclusively is not advised, you don't have infinite ammo. Switching to it when on the second platform is clunky, though, so...choose your pain. You can get two charged Buster shots off with the right timing, though, so it's not too bad using it.
This is the third and last boss with Crystal Eye as a weakness, by the way, and still the fact that it splits is completely ignored because it would require effort to design a boss that profits from that. Or they should have just taken the splitting out because it is balls anyway pun intended.
- Wily Stages - *sigh*. This isn't a bad tune, it's nice to listen to, I think I might have given it kind words as a Robot Master theme.
As a Wily theme, after Dark Man's great song? It just doesn't get a pass. It's underwhelming, making it...a perfect fit, actually.
You might have noticed by this point that we had a drastic decrease in actual music selection from the last games. Both Cossack's and Wily's fortresses in MM4 had two themes each, like every castle before...so what happened here?
Probably the same thing which happened to castle boss music. The lethal not giving a shit anymore syndrome.