Mega Man 2
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • NES
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • JP 12/24/1988
    • US June 1989
    • UK 12/14/1990
Score: 85%

This review was published on 06/21/2013.

Mega Man 2 is a 2-D, side-scrolling platform game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It's the sequel to the original Mega Man and the second game in the classic series. All things considered, the fact that this game got made at all is a bit of an anomaly. The original Mega Man didn't sell very well and wasn't a critically acclaimed game, so there was no reason for Capcom to release a sequel. However, Keiji Inafune, the creator of Mega Man, insisted that he wanted to make a sequel. Capcom agreed to let Inafune pursue his desire, but only under the condition that he worked on the game in his spare time in between other projects. He and a few others agreed to take on the task. The man certainly has dedication. It was a good thing they did, because Mega Man 2 turned out to be a huge success. Thanks to the success of Mega Man 2, Capcom decided to turn Mega Man into a major franchise that would spawn endless sequels. For better or for worse, Mega Man quickly became one of Capcom's most top franchises. Mega Man 2 has garnered a lot of praise since its release. Many fans claim it's the best Mega Man ever made, and even the best game ever made. That's exaggerating things a bit, but Mega Man 2 is an excellent game nonetheless.

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In the year of 200X, a good scientist known as Dr. Light created Mega Man, a fighting robot that fights for great justice. I'm not sure what year 200X is exactly; is it sometime between 2000 and 2009? I have no idea. Anyway, in the first game, an evil scientist by the name of Dr. Wily tried to take over the world by reprogramming six of Dr. Light's robots to do bad things. Mega Man quickly put a stop to Wily's plans for world domination with his mighty arm cannon, but the peace that resulted didn't last long. Wily returns with eight new robots to try and conquer the world once again. This time, however, Wily actually designed the robots himself. At least he learned not to steal from others. It's up to Mega Man to rise up to the challenge and put a stop to these dastardly plans for a second time. Can he accomplish such a goal? If the first game is any indication, then yes. The story to Mega Man 2 doesn't really introduce anything new, and is more or less the same deal as the first game. Like the first game, you won't be dealing with any cutscenes or dialogue, just straight up action. That's the way games are meant to be.

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The concept of Mega Man 2 is the same as the first: beat a boss and absorb its power. There are 8 bosses this time around instead of the 6 that were in the first game. This becomes a tradition that carries over into all the future Mega Man games. The bosses are called Robot Masters, and they are as follows: Metal Man, Bubble Man, Heat Man, Wood Man, Air Man, Crash Man, Flash Man, and Quick Man. They all have their own stages with themes that relate to them, such as Wood Man being located in the woods, or how Air Man is situated in an aerial fortress. Each Robot Master has a special weakness that Mega Man can exploit if he is equipped with the proper weapon from another Robot Master. This is why the order in which you select the stages can be essential to victory, because Robot Masters can go from ridiculously hard to ridiculously easy if you have their weakness. Mega Man starts the game with only his weak pea shooter, though, so the beginning is the toughest part. You have to try each boss until you find one you can manage to topple with only Mega Man's regular gun. Once that's done and you have your first special weapon, it's only a matter of figuring out what the weakness order is. Mega Man 2 is a little different from the other games when it comes to the weakness order, because a lot of bosses are actually weak to multiple weapons. For example, Bubble Man takes increased damage from both the Metal Blade and Quick Boomerang, and possibly some other weapons. In fact, you'll find that almost all the bosses are weak to the Metal Blade, which seems a tad bit unfair. This oddity works to the game's credit, because it allows for greater flexibility in boss strategies. If you're running low on ammo for a particular weapon, chances are, you can probably use something else that's just as effective. Almost none of the other Mega Man games go for multiple weaknesses like that, so this makes Mega Man 2 a unique flower.

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In addition to the weapons Mega Man gets from defeating Robot Masters, he also gets special support items for completing certain stages. Support items are a new feature added to Mega Man 2. There are three items in total and they all assist Mega Man's mobility in one way or another. They're accessed from the menu just like all of Mega Man's weapons, but they most certainly are not weapons. Future Mega Man games keep this concept, albeit in a different form. The first item, appropriately named Item 1, is a small platform with a propeller underneath it that can carry Mega Man upwards in a vertical motion. Mega Man can set this platform anywhere he wants, so it can come in pretty handy when trying to get to certain areas. The second item is the most useful; it's a jet that Mega Man can ride across long chasms, of which there are quite a few. This particular item makes Heat Man's stage a cinch to beat, because it totally bypasses one of the toughest jumping challenges in the game. The third and last item is the least useful. Item 3 is a platform that attaches itself to walls and climbs them for a short period of time, allowing Mega Man to experience a short ride. It's like a substantially worse version of Item 1 and not very useful in most circumstances. You're only likely to use Item 3 as a last resort. Unfortunately, you'll find that last resorts tend to be a regular thing in Mega Man 2. Just like special weapons, the support items all have limited ammo, so they run out after a couple of uses. They can be refilled like weapons by finding energy in stages, but that can be problematic when there isn't any energy around. Other than that, these items are a welcome addition to Mega Man 2.

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Energy Tanks are another big addition to Mega Man 2. They're these blue cans with a letter E labeled on them, and they are scattered throughout the game. Picking one of these Energy Tanks up will add it to Mega Man's inventory, which can be accessed via the menu screen. An Energy Tank can be used at any time to completely refill Mega Man's life gauge. That's a pretty big deal. It's such a big deal that these are the most important items in the entire game, even more important than extra lives. Don't feel ashamed if you end up sacrificing lives to preserve Energy Tanks, as that's a perfectly legitimate strategy. You can only carry up to four Energy Tanks in Mega Man 2, and there are only a finite amount of them available to collect in the game, so you need to savor each one. The bad thing is that you lose all acquired Energy Tanks if you get a Game Over. That can put you in a really tough spot later in the game. Generally, the thing to do with Energy Tanks is to gather as many of them as you can and save them up for the hardest parts of the game, like the final stages. Whenever you bite the bullet and use an Energy Tank, you'll always question whether it was truly worth it. That's part of the appeal; these items must be used strategically if you're to finish the game. Well, unless you're so good at the game that you don't need them. For regular mortals like me, however, Energy Tanks are a stupendous feature of Mega Man 2 that is reused in many of the other games.

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This is the first Mega Man game to introduce the almighty password system. Believe it or not, the previous Mega Man game lacked not only a save feature, but also a password system. Mega Man 2 still doesn't have a save feature, but it does have a password system that systematically became the standard for almost every other Mega Man game ever released. It's a good thing Mega Man 2 has a password system, because while the game isn't terribly long, it's long enough that completing it in one sitting can be a most tiresome task. Passwords are just convenient, plain and simple. Not as convenient as saving, of course, but you can't have everything. The passwords in Mega Man 2 are a little confusing at first, as they aren't like conventional passwords. You have up to 9 red balls that can be placed in a 5 by 5 grid in various combinations to create passwords. The grid has numbers and letters on it to give you an idea of where each ball sits, but that's about it. It can be annoying to right these passwords down, as the chances for mistakes are high. Ultimately, though, passwords won't be a problem once you get used to them. The passwords are never very long, which is a good thing. While Mega Man 2 doesn't have the best password system, it does have a decent one.

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After trouncing all of the Robot Masters, Mega Man proceeds to Wily's new fortress to take the fight to the man himself. Mega Man 2's 8 regular stages are all excellently designed, but that design starts to fall apart in Wily's castle for a number of reasons. First of all, special weapons normally refill in between stages, but they don't refill in between the stages in Wily's domain. That's really bad, because there are about 4 or so stages to Wily's castle alone, plus a lot of the special weapons and support items are absolutely required to complete the last leg of the game. There are spike pits that require Item 2's jet power to get across, for example. If you reach one of these pits and your jet power is empty, then your journey basically comes to an end there. You'll have to farm enemies for weapon refills, an excruciatingly tedious task that can take forever, if you hope to get anywhere at that point. The thrills don't stop there, either. There are a couple of bosses in Wily's castle that can only be defeated by certain weapons, and if you don't have that weapon when you reach the boss, your only option is literally suicide. This is some seriously bad game design, which is surprising considering how well designed the rest of the game is. On top of that, the first boss in Wily's abode flashes like crazy, making the fight a glitch mess. That's due to the hardware limitations of the NES, but still, it's the development team's responsibility to make sure such things don't occur. Besides the awesome music, Mega Man 2's endgame isn't very good.

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Mega Man 2 is too good to be true, but not too good to be good. It's the game that put Mega Man on the road to video game stardom, putting the blue bomber up there with the likes of Mario. Mega Man 2 has some of the best music out of any game ever, with an amazing soundtrack comprised of incredibly catchy tunes. The level design and game mechanics have been refined from the first game, although there are still a couple of issues with the last few levels. Mega Man 2 is heralded as the best game of all time by gamers of many creeds, so it's clear that the game has left an impact on many people. Objectively, though, it's not really the best game ever; the blemishes in Wily's castle prevent it from reaching that height. It is, however, an excellent game for the NES and worth playing if you haven't already.

Word Count: 2,054

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