Mega Man II
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Biox
  • Publishers:
    • JP Capcom
    • US Capcom
    • UK Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 12/20/1991
    • US 02/20/1992
    • UK 07/31/1992
Score: 75%

This review was published on 08/16/2016.

Mega Man II, known as Rockman World 2 in Japan, is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Biox for the Game Boy. It was originally released in Japan on December 20, 1991, North America on February 20, 1992, and Europe on July 31, 1992. The game was published by Capcom in Japan and North America and Nintendo in Europe. This is the sequel to Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge, called Rockman World in Japan, which was the first game in the series to be released on the Game Boy. Typically, Mega Man games are made by Capcom, but the first two on Game Boy were outsourced to two different companies, Minakuchi Engineering and Biox. Keiji Inafune, head honcho of Mega Man, stated in an interview that he was pleased with the first Game Boy title, but disliked the second one. He claimed that Biox was too inexperienced with the Mega Man franchise, and this resulted in a lower quality game. Despite that, Mega Man II is really not that bad for a Game Boy game, though obviously, the console version is miles better.

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Initially, the Mega Man series started out on the Nintendo Entertainment System, but eventually got portable versions on the Game Boy. Dr. Wily's Revenge was like a trimmed down reimagining of the first Mega Man on NES, bizarrely combining some elements from the second NES game, in addition to adding some new stuff. Mega Man II on the Game Boy continues that tradition by being a reimagining of the NES versions of Mega Man 2 and 3, while also adding some unique content of its own. By the way, there's an actual reason behind me using both the Roman and Arabic numerals; it's to distinguish from the NES and Game Boy versions of the game. The NES version is referred to as Mega Man 2 and the Game Boy one is Mega Man II. I'll be referring to them as such for the rest of the review, so try not to get confused.

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Even though it bears the same title as its NES counterpart, the Game Boy version of Mega Man II has a different story. Dr. Wily, the mad scientist that has been antagonizing Mega Man since the beginning, is up to no good as usual. This time, he broke into a place called the Chronos Institute and stole an experimental contraption known as the Time Skimmer. Wily then used the Time Skimmer to skim through time, traveling approximately 37 years into the future. Meanwhile, Rush, Mega Man's robotic dog, has sniffed out a few of Wily's robots guarding a mysterious subterranean passage. After some investigation, it's discovered that Wily abducted the Mega Man from the future, reprogrammed him to do evil, and then brought him back to the present. This evil Mega Man is named Quint and he currently serves Wily. Now the Mega Man from the present must face foes from his past, in addition to facing his future self!

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The graphics in Mega Man II are pretty similar to the NES games, with the exception of the lack of color, bigger sprites, and smaller resolution. Things also move a lot slower in this game, like bullets don't travel as fast. These changes are consistent with Dr. Wily's Revenge, and are obviously due to the Game Boy's limitations. The music, on the other hand, is another story entirely. Almost all of the music in the game is completely different from the NES originals. Having different music does make some sense, though, because the Game Boy's sound chip doesn't quite have the same ring to it as the NES'. Perhaps the developer thought it'd be better to create new music as opposed to ruining the old tracks. The new music is nowhere near as good as anything from the original NES soundtracks, but it's still pretty decent, and it manages to retain that traditional 8-bit Mega Man sound.

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You use the d-pad to make Mega Man walk, the A button to make him jump, and the B button to have him shoot his little gun. Those are the basics, but there is one other maneuver Mega Man has at his disposal in this game, and it's the slide. When you hold down on the d-pad and press A, Mega Man will slide across the ground like a baseball player. Because the slide lowers Mega Man, it can be used to make him fit into tight places and evade enemy attacks by going beneath them. The slide was first introduced in Mega Man 3 for the NES, so this was a move not originally in Mega Man 2. As a result of that, many of the sections from the NES Mega Man 2 that have been recreated here can be traversed with the slide, allowing you to employ new strategies against old foes. That's pretty neat.

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Like usual, Mega Man must beat all the Robot Masters before he can face Wily. Before you get to face the Robot Masters themselves, though, you must go through a whole stage first. The order in which you tackle these stages is entirely up to you, which is customary in Mega Man games. Design wise, these stages borrow heavily from Mega Man 2 and 3 on the NES, essentially being recreations of some of the stages from those games. That's not to say they're the same, though, as they have different layouts. Some of the Mega Man 2 stages will also incorporate elements from Mega Man 3, like an underwater section in Wood Man's stage where you can use Rush Marine, and mandatory slide sections in Crash Man's stage. Since the original stages are good, these recreations aren't bad, either.

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As with the other games, Mega Man permanently borrows the weapon of the Robot Master he defeats, making it a part of his internal arsenal. These special weapons can be switched to at any time by pressing the start button and selecting them via a menu. Unlike Mega Man's standard gun, they all have limited ammo that can be replenished by picking up weapon energy, though they're often more powerful. While they can be used on regular enemies, the main purpose of special weapons is to exploit a Robot Master's weakness. Each Robot Master is weak to another's weapon, so it's up to you to figure out the weakness order. Even though the Robot Master's and their weapons are all taken from the NES games, some of their weaknesses have been modified, so you may have to relearn a few.

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Yes, that's right; Rush is actually in this game. Considering the robotic dog was first introduced in Mega Man 3 on the NES, that's kind of a big deal, because you can now use him in the Mega Man 2 stages. After beating certain Robot Masters, you'll not only get their weapon, but also a special Rush ability. The Rush abilities function identically to the special weapons, in that they have limited energy and can be switched to using the menu. However, instead of attacking enemies, the Rush abilities are to be used for mobility purposes. Rush can travel across land, sea, and air, depending on which ability you're using. This game also has energy tanks, consumable items Mega Man can find and then use later from the menu to fully replenish his life energy. These were first introduced in the NES version of Mega Man 2. Along with Rush and the special weapons, Mega Man has many tools at his disposal.

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Unlike Dr. Wily's Revenge, this game has eight main stages instead of only four. At first, you only have access to the first four Robot Masters and their stages, but you do get four more later on. This is in stark contrast to the NES games, which let you access all eight right off the bat. The first four Robot Masters and stages are taken straight from Mega Man 2 on the NES, and they are Wood Man, Metal Man, Air Man, and Crash Man, also sometimes known as Clash Man. Top Man, Magnet Man, Needle Man, and Hard Man are part of the second set and they're from Mega Man 3. The way this game handles everything is rather awkward, though. For the first four, you have a neat stage select screen, but the second four are in a teleportation room at the beginning of Wily's fortress, which becomes accessible upon beating the first set. This was probably done to surprise the player, but it's weird. Still, this game has more stages than the previous Game Boy title, giving it length more comparable to the NES games.

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Longer and more forgiving than Dr. Wily's Revenge, Mega Man II is one of the better Game Boy games out there. If you like Mega Man, then there's a good chance you'll like this one. It's not on the level of any of the NES games, but it's pretty solid for a portable release. Just know that this isn't meant to be a faithful recreation of the NES titles. Rather, this is like a remix, combining elements from Mega Man 2 and 3 in interesting ways. There's also enough new stuff in here that it's still worth checking out even if you've already played the original NES games.

Word Count: 1,541

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