Mega Man 2
While Mega Man 1 was received well, sales showed otherwise. Capcom was considering stopping the franchise right there and have it just be a one-shot. Director Akira Kitamura was not planning on throwing the towel in the ring however, and asked the higher-ups for permission to continue with a second game. This was allowed but under one condition: the other projects that were currently in production had priority, so development of Mega Man 2 had to be done in their free time. Being determined to make this franchise a success, they agreed to this condition and started working on the sequel. Their goal was to improve on everything the original had to offer, as well as allow fans to send in their input such as Robot Master designs. I would assume they learned from the past cover art mistake but unfortunately that was not the case, though this cover does have a funny story behind it. Veteran video game cover illustrator Marc Ericksen was assigned to draw the cover, but he was completely unfamiliar with Mega Man to begin with. He didn’t even know what Rock used to shoot, and when he asked his higher-up he blatantly said ”Let’s give the dude a pistol”. Never forget: Rock holding a gun is 100% legit.
Dr. Wily went into hiding since Rock felt it was unnecessary to send him to jail or something. That was a mistake he would probably regret.. or not, since something similar may or may not happen more often. While Wily was left alone so that he could do anything that he wanted to, he created a set of Robot Masters himself to take revenge on Dr. Light and his robot son. Rock goes out yet again to stop Dr. Wily’s world domination twice and for all. Standing atop a huge building in a nice cutscene that will always remain familiar to retro fans, Rock is ready to take off!
Instead of six robot masters, we’re facing eight from now on. The original game was very short and the only extension in time it got was from the difficulty. Stages therefore have gotten an upgrade as well, with some having alternate paths or hidden goodies because of the variety in weapons. The alternate paths aren’t necessary to go through either; they may make life easier and reward people for discovering them or going through more difficult platforming obstacles to get there. And the stages are just far more fun to go through with the more experience the developers have. Enemies aren’t as horribly placed anymore, and Rock doesn’t have soap underneath his feet anymore. They still have their own theme and gimmicks, like Wood Man taking place inside a tree and Bubble Man underwater. Quick Man’s stage in particular was an accelerating one with you having to travel downwards while avoiding lasers. But at the same time that is a minor issue with stages; there’s a lot of downward progressions without ladders, and first-time players definitely do not know what’s coming up. Some have spikes on the walls for example, and it sucks real bad when you fall down in a certain angle and just hit a spike, resulting in you having to start all over again from the checkpoint.
I mentioned goodies before and one of them is a staple that has returned in every game after, and I’m glad it has: the e-tank. This item is a health container that can be used at any time–given you have one of course–to restore your health bar to full. There are no drawbacks to using this item, and you can carry up to four with you at a time. This is great for when you’re facing a tough boss battle or a corridor with many enemies and there’s no health in sight. You can save them up too, but once you get a game over you lose all of them so don’t be too hesitant with using them.
Rock loses all of his old weapons in favour of new ones. These range from completely broken to being almost useless. I don’t think I even have to mention the Metal Blades, a weapon of mass destruction that can be fired in any direction unlike the regular mega buster, and it almost consumes no ammo. Most people equip this right away and almost never look at the regular buster again. The Quick Boomerang does not shoot in multiple directions but is still a nice alternative. The Atomic Fire introduces the first weapon able to be charged up for added damage, but at the cost of almost half the ammo bar which makes an otherwise fine weapon not one that I use often. The Bubble Lead travels on the ground, and the Air Shooter kills enemies that are in front of you in the sky. Both have their uses. The Crash Bomber’s only use is literally to open alternate paths because as a weapon it sucks, which is weird for a bomb. The Leaf Shield doesn’t protect you from anything and is thrown at the opponent for minimal damage the moment you even slightly move. Finally, Time Stopper.. an ability that sounds cool on paper but is executed poorly. The moment you activate it, you can’t deactivate it and have to wait for the ammo bar to deplete itself. You can’t switch weapons or fire at all while it’s active either. Sure it freezes obstacles and enemies which has its uses I guess, but that only makes it very situational.
Replacing the Magnet Beam this time are the generic named Item-1, Item-2 and Item-3. If you can remember which one is which, they are actually pretty useful. One functions as a platform that moves up, the other is a jet that flies forward with Rock being able to travel on it and finally an elevator that can be attached to the wall. I found the latter to not be as useful since Item-1 basically does the same, but all three of them make platforming a lot easier. Item-2 especially with it being able to skip a huge disappearing block section of Heat Man’s stage.
Enemies have gotten better as well with more variety in designs and attacks. There is still an enemy that functions similarly to the Big Eye, but at least this time its jump arcs are the same and has additional attacks instead of just jumping at you. Bosses also got better with slightly less identifiable patterns. Air Man and Quick Man have caused many people a lot of grieve without the weapons they’re weak against and for good reason, though I do like their boss fights because of it. This is also the first game to have a boss rush at the end in the form of a teleport room, where you can select which Robot Master to fight in which order. The teleporters don’t show which teleporter is which boss however, so unless you have a good memory you probably won’t be entering the boss room that you want to enter. The bosses in the Wily Castle are fun as well except for one boss that might be one of the worst in the entire series: The Boobeam Trap. Being a literal trap, Rock has to shoot five security lights with the Crash Bomber. Problem is that you only have eight Crash Bombers if you didn’t use any previously in the stage. Even worse, you have to use two to destroy blocks preventing you from reaching some of the security lights. You’re still being attacked too by homing shots, and if you die in the middle of the fight you might as well reset the game or kill yourself till you game over, because the lights have no other means of being damaged. Oh, and you’re forced to use Item-1 as well so don’t deplete that ammo bar either. This is by far the low point of an overall solid game.
I’ve hinted at it before, but in case you didn’t get the memo yet: Mega Man 2 is a whole lot easier than the original game. Not only can you select the difficulty before starting the game, but the Metal Blades are also ridiculously overpowered as stated before. It’s the weakness of multiple bosses–including his rematch funnily enough which kills him in one or two hits–and consumes almost no ammo while being able to shoot in multiple directions. And if that wasn’t enough, e-tanks exist. This is one of the perfect starting points for newcomers to the franchise. A password system has also been implemented so you don’t have to play the game in one sitting if you can memorize the pattern. The game takes about one and a half to two hours to beat, which is slightly longer than the original.
There is one other low point to this game however, and that is an overwhelming amount of screen flickering. Most of the times it won’t be an issue, but while in a fight where many things happen on screen like Crash Man and the Boobeam Trap, there are points where you can’t see anything at all. I’m not exactly sure if the Legacy Collection amplified this problem or if there’s something wrong on my part when it comes to those two bosses specifically, but the screen flickering is a known problem. The graphics overall and music are both better than the original however. I mean, who doesn’t know the theme that plays during Wily’s Castle??
Mega Man 2 is in almost every way a major improvement over the first game. The difficulty has been made much easier making it a good introduction to the franchise for newcomers. Many of the series staples originate from this game as well, such as the e-tanks, a set of eight robot masters and the teleporter room boss rush at the end. Stages also got an upgrade whereas curious players that manage to overcome more difficult platforming segments get rewarded for their effort. The only negative of this game is the serious amount of screen flickering that can actually hinder some platforming and boss battles. Also this game has the worst Mega Man boss ever, just saying. And with that, here is my final verdict for Mega Man 2:
The second game was a major improvement on the original. For many this even is their favourite of the classic franchise! For me it’s not quite there yet, but it certainly is on the higher end of the list. Like the other games, this one is available on almost every current generation console and of course the NES itself.