- Takes the original Mega Man formula and polishes it to perfection
- The best level design in the series
- Incredible music and graphics
- Getting power-ups and figuring out boss weaknesses is still fun
- Still can be reasonably difficult while still being fair
- Password system isn't awful like 90% of other NES games
- That box art is awesome
- If you've played the game a few times before it's practically a cakewalk
- Getting Metal Man's power first makes the game kind of stupid easy
- Levels are a bit shorter than its excellent sequel, Mega Man 3
No hat? You knew this game was serious business.
Not going to beat around the bush here: Mega Man 2 might be my favorite NES game ever. I actually only elevated it to this status recently, after acquiring an NES and burning through all the awesome games I hadn't played in years. Some didn't hold up very well (Bad Dudes), others ended up being better than I remembered (Castlevania) but Mega Man 2 absolutely floored me. Yeah, I'd played it frequently on emulators and even the in-law's NES since originally booting it up over a decade ago, but the game still remains an incredible example of stellar level design, awesome power-ups, and just straight up fun. Assuming you do Heat Man's stage with Weapon 2, that is.
Best game intro of all time? MAYBE.
The game is basically the same as it's predecessor, if with more meat on its bones. You still have to go around blasting robot masters (eight this time) and stealing their powers before unlocking Dr. Wily's multi-part stage and fighting your way to him. It's a satisfying experience, with the game letting you choose the order you kill the robot masters, and with that Mega Man staple where some bosses are weak to other bosses' powers. Though you really should just start with Metal Man every time. Eight way directional fire with nearly unlimited ammo? Yes, please.
The faces of crime.
Mega Man 2 does well in its stage design in that each stage is unique, employs different mechanics, and has a specific feel about it. Air Man's stage is a lot of tricky jumps to platforms that only just appear when you jump to them. Heat Man uses a lot of shifting invisible platforms (man that stage drives me nuts) that requires memorization. Bubble Man is underwater with lots of spikes on the ceiling, requiring precision jumps. And the infamous Quick Man stage requires you to react extremely quickly while falling least you face insta-death.
And there's this fish, who is an awesome robot fish.
Why it works, though, is that if you are persistent and clever you can find easier ways through these tricky stages. Heat Man's extremely annoying platform section can be passed by with Weapon 2 (essentially a limited-use hoverboard), for example. Energy tanks and extra lives are also in tricky-to-reach places, some of which require you to have done the stages in a specific order to reach (encouraging multiple playthroughs). Stages are short but this is a good thing; they never feel grueling, and there is little to no dead time. Failing on the obnoxious Quick Man stage isn't as frustrating as it might have been, as the stage isn't too long to make someone mad, but long enough to provide an endurance test. The game also seems to drop health power-ups at a more frequent rate than any other original NES Mega Man games, which also helps soften the difficulty blow.
This is also the last Mega Man game before the enemy designs kind of fell off the deep end.
But what it boils down to is Mega Man 2 is just...fun. Sure for a master it'll be really easy, but even for a newcomer the difficulty is padded by the fact that if you suck and fail at a stage, you have seven others to try instead. Maybe you are really good at jumping underwater, or falling and avoiding insta-death laser beams. Once you get one power, you start feeling confident, and before you know it it's the middle of the night and you are still going because Wily has to go down. It isn't as hard as Castlevania, but it isn't as easy as Mario. It's a strong balance of challenge and accessibility, and because of that feels extremely refined.
I hate you so much, Quick Man.
The graphics are also excellent, with strong color themes for each stage giving each a unique look. Enemy designs are delightful, from the big fish pictured earlier on in the review to the rabbits, dragon, and all sorts of other memorable characters. The art design certainly sells it, with fun enemies in vibrant color palettes.
But what you'll really remember (aside from the awesome gameplay) is the insane music. Mega Man 2 has some straight up incredible songs. Stages range from intimidating to funky, but every song is catchy and memorable. I really can't praise this game's soundtrack enough, so I'll stop here. Just know it's awesome.
So very, very good.
Mega Man 2 is transcendental. Despite being almost a decade and a half old, it still is an extremely solid and playable platforming experience. Not just playable, but still one of the best games ever made. Boot this sucker up on your NES or Wii or whatever this thing has come out for and prepare for some awesomeness. Helmetless Mega Man compels you.
Five out of five stars.
|But your disappearing platform still suck, Heat Man.|