Game of the Month December, 2003:
Mega Man 2

System: NES Developer: Capcom
When I think of games that defined the NES gaming experience for me, Mega Man 2 is one that comes to mind. I still remember renting this game for the first time and being so impressed by its graphics and music. It remains one of my favorite games in the Mega Man series. Now that I'm older and think about it, I begin to wonder why I actually like Mega Man 2 as much as I do. It's a very easy game, even on its harder difficulty setting, which is normally a turn-off for me. Maybe it's because it has some really strong, memorable moments, or because many later Mega Man games that I've played (and I haven't played all of them, mind you), would duplicate this one's formula, but never quite top it.

Why shrimp were so common in NES games, I'll never know.

I wonder how those things are able to float in midair like that. Mega Man 2 is very similar to its predecessor, Mega Man, but many improvements, though some less successful than others. As always, you get to choose which robot master's stage to conquer. Success in completing the stage depends mostly on skill; success in defeating the boss may depend on having the right weapon to use against him. Part of the main challenge of any Mega Man game is figuring out what weapon to use against which bosses, and really, a lot of times it's a guessing game. Of course, all bosses can still be defeated with the regular arm cannon weapon, so you're never completely shut out. A good example of this is Crash Man, because he's VERY difficult to defeat with the arm cannon (but it's possible, because I've done it), but only takes two hits from the weapon he's weak against to be destroyed. If you can't defeat a boss and get a "Game Over", you're given a choice to continue or select another stage, so you can try again, or come back later with more weapons to see if anything else will work. Because of this, as in any Mega Man game, you'll probably spend a lot of time replaying stages.

Some of the improvements from the origial Mega Man game are welcome, such as slightly better play control. The special item system (Jet Sled, Wall Waker, and Hover Platform) is also vastly superior to the Magnet Beam, which caused way too much screen flicker and slowdown. But Mega Man 2's challenge was toned way down, and perhaps a bit too much. However, the game still has some very memorable moments and situations that really stand out. There is a part in the first Dr. Wily stage where you have to make an impossible jump from one ladder to a much higher ladder on the other side of the screen, and damn, was I stuck there for the longest time just trying to figure out what to do. There are also some bosses that are only vulnerable to one specific weapon, and sometimes only vulnerable in a certain spot (or at a certain time) to that weapon. Another harrowing experience is a long, fast drop between narrow vertical lines of spikes (much more difficult than a similar sequence in Mega Man 3. And I don't think any other single video game character in history has made as many gamers drop their controllers as the Dragon boss when he first pops up behind you.

Burn, baby, burn!

In retrospect, I overrated this game a bit in my review, but I still think it's worth playing, even if you do find it a bit short and easy. Mega Man also features excellent graphics and sound, and is one of the better incarnations of the series on the NES console.

Mega Man 2 Links

  • My Mega Man 2 Review - A complete review of this fantastic game.
  • Explanation of a Weird Mega Man 2 Glitch


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