Mega Man 2: Who Says Sequels Are Never As Good?
Well in our case here today, the sequel is the focal point of the franchise. I've said it before and I'm sure many fans of the series will agree with me: Mega Man 2 is hands-down the best installment of the "Classic" era. Let's find out why in what I'm sure will end up a huge review of one of the greatest platformers of all time: Mega Man 2. Once again, and I'm sure this will follow in all the Classic Mega Man reviews to come (at least until I get tired of it), I'll take you down the path of the Story, Graphics, Sound, and Gameplay (coupled with Controls), as well as a (hopefully) short overview / score of each of the eight Robot Masters.
Dawn your helmet and load your pellet gun, boys and girls - it's time to follow the Blue Bomber in the quest for peace once again!
It's the year 200X (sorry for the interruption, I'd just like to note that we're on the last year of all the possible "200X's" and I have yet to see a blue robot defending the world from insane doctors) and after his defeat, Dr. Wily has created eight of his own Robot Masters (Metal Man, Wood Man, Air Man, Crash Man, Flash Man, Quick Man, Bubble Man, Flame Man) to counter Mega Man's uh, counter (a la "Mega Man 1"). With a simple yet effective way to start things off in this classic follow-up to the original, what else do we really need? Mega Man straps on his helmet and sets out to defeat the evil doctor once more - go Mega Man go!
In the tradition of ever-present Mega Man patterns, we'll start things off with what is, in my opinion, the most fun pattern to follow, beginning with Metal Man. Metal Man likes to hang out in a factory-type warehouse, complete with compressors, conveyor belts, floating screws (referred to as "moles"), and the likes. When one finally arrives behind the gate of Metal Man's "room," they are greeted by the Master of the Blades himself. Though his pattern is entirely way too easy and his attacks are avoidable at best, the weapon you acquire from him will prove to be infinitely useful for the entire duration of the game. Destroy you metal adversary to obtain the ever-useful Metal Blades.
The tired predictability was not enough to over shine the fact that his weaponry is more useful than your pellet gun, giving Metal Man a nice 4.5/5
The first victim that will fall to our Metal Blades will be Wood Man. Hiding deep within a reclusive forest filled with bats, carrot-shooting rabbits, fire-breathing felines, and some crazy ostrich-type enemies, Wood Man was the first in the series to boast the less-than-impressive shield-type weaponry, consisting of leaves that surround his body before shooting towards our hero while they fall from the treetops. Avoiding the falling leaves is as easy as finding a spot in-between them while you jump over the aforementioned shield, blasting away with your trusty blades all the while. Chop down our wooden friend to attain his Leaf Shield.
Boasting some unimpressive weaponry and being barely able to make it halfway across the screen before being executed puts Wood Man at a laughable 2/5.
Next to fall is Air Man. Let me just start off by saying if there's a tough baddie to beat down, it's this guy. Staying in the tradition of Ice Man, Air Man shoots a simultaneous pattern of mini-tornadoes that are not only difficult to navigate through, but deal out some respectable damage while pushing you back. Equip your Leaf Shield while he hops across the screen and touch him with it a few times, though, and he will fall quickly, and in most cases leave a tornado or two floating mid-air while you jack his power. Awesome. Calm the storm long enough to take him out and you're rewarded with the Air Shooter.
A tough foe for any untrained player for sure, Air Main breezes in with an impressive 3.5/5
Who other to blow away with not only our new weaponry, but our stunning good looks than Crash Man? I'll just start off by saying, what a joke! To begin with, if you don't move when you enter his gate, he'll just run back and forth around his room looking for something to blow up. Not only that, but so long as you don't jump or shoot, you can follow him, and when he turns around he'll follow you! Hah. In any case though, just get him to jump in the air and toss a few tornados his way and he'll go down in one shot. After you blow his mind, you're rewarded with the Crash Bomb.
Being a bad punchline to an already lame joke, the only funny part to Crash Man is his bad score of 1/5
So now that we've got some pretty destructive bombs on our hands, who should we test them out on? This is kind of where my pattern hits a snag, as you can take Flash Man out with either the Crash Bomb or your Plasma Cannon, but in any case, we'll venture forth. Flash Man, much like his name implies, flashes. Not in the "indecent exposure" type of way, but in the way that his armour will glisten before he freezes time, unloading an unearthly round of shots your way. Watch out for this, as if you fail to avoid this, it can put a dent in your plan. Sure, you'll take a hit or two, but after you assimilate this bad, bad man, you'll be rewarded with the ability to freeze time a la Time Stopper. Freezeframe!
Once you get the hang of him and his pattern, it won't matter how long you're frozen for; the battle's already won. Flash Man times in at 3.5/5
Now that we've got the ability to stop time (straight outta some crazy Twilight Zone episode), let's go try it out on our obvious test subject: Quick Man. As I'm sure all of you know, everything about this guy is tough, and at least a small portion of your victory / lessening your frustration will ride on luck. Yes, guys and gals, I'm talking about the Gauntlet. Running the Gauntlet can be fun, but only if you've played through this game enough to where you know the pattern. Otherwise, much, much cursing will ensue, followed by the potential destruction of everything around you. When you make it through, things don't get any better as this guy is a tough one to beat. Immediately freeze the scene with your Time Stopper to suck down half (one-quarter on Difficult) of his health, and pray you can take him out on your first go with your pellet gun. If you are successful, you'll be rewarded with the Quick Boomerang.
Quick Man is a model of what all Robot Master should be about: frustration, luck, and sheer joy when you finally destroy him. This gives our speedy friend here a lightning-quick 5/5. Catch THAT, Wile E. Coyote!
Next, head on over to Bubble Man's stage for another snag in the "pattern," where you will be deep in the depths of the ocean, fighting off mechanical seahorses, fish, jellyfish, and basically anything else that lives in the ocean. The neat thing about this level is that how hard / how long you jam on your jump button will dictate if you blow up upon touching the ceiling spikes or not. Slip up and you'll be mad at yourself for sure. Tough it out 'til the end, though, and you'll come face-to-face with the mechanical scuba diver himself, Bubble Man. Avoid his bubble attacks, shoot some Metal Blades his way and you'll be the proud recepient of the Bubble Lead.
Bubble Man's awesome swimming talent aren't enough to make up for this super-quick fight, keeping him drowning in the depths of a 2.75/5
Last to face our wrath is Heat Man. Though Quick Man's stage holds strong as the #1 most annoying stage in this entry, Heat Man is right behind him with his dissappearing blocks of doom. Well, they would be a snag in the road, but by this time we have our trusty Item 2 (aka a rocket jet), so we can simply skip those little annoying snags in the road and breeze right on by to Heat Man's gate in this relatively short level. The trick to Heat Man is to simply stay on him after he zooms across the arena floor completely engulfed in flame, pumping him full of lead (Bubble Lead, that is). Extinguish his flame to acquire his Atomic Fire.
Flame Man burns with rage as he scores in with a 3/5. Oh burn!
Even though the bosses in this entry are pretty laughable, this one gave us some of the best NES music of all time, including what some believe to be the best Mega Man tune of all time, Dr. Wily's Stage 1 & 2 music. Booyah! Destroy all your foes to reach Dr. Wily's castle and, eventually, Dr. Wily himself... who is apparently an alien. Take him out with Bubble Lead and enjoy the show!
GRAPHICS / DESIGN 4.5/5
Basically holds strong with the same Blue Bomber we fell in love with in the first entry of the Mega Man series. The boss designs are a little more mature and spot-on in the sequel, however, giving us memorable faces such as Bubble Man, Heat Man, and of course Metal Man. If I recall correctly, even Guts Man makes a cameo in this one in the form of a giant bulldozer, accompanied by his trusty army of Mets.
Each level has been upped to the next tier in this one to further emphesize your surroundings. From the industrial style of Metal Man's stage, complete with blinking conveyer belts and a background full of assembly-line style conveyers, to the engulfing forest of Wood Man's stage, everything here is beautifully designed and right on with the theme of the bosses.
And who could forget - wait, what's that? Does that... fill my life up? Yep, that's right, this game gave us the re-vamped item designs that would carry forth into all the remaining NES entries: life packs, weapon packs, energy tanks, they're all here. Well, except the Mega Tanks, but eh, this game's easy enough...
Hands down the best in the Classic series. The stage themes aren't so much 20-second loops in the sequel as they are fully composed classic masterpieces of 8-bit glory. Who doesn't enjoy hearing the melodies of Bubble Man's stage, or Flash Man's rhythm? And yes, as I mentioned before, Dr. Wily's first two stages held quite possibly the best anthems in any Mega Man game regardless of the timeline. Spot-on music ensures countless memories in this one.
GAMEPLAY / CONTROL 5/5
The controls even seem to have matured a bit as there are way fewer "sketchy" moments in this entry and everything just flows so smooth it's unreal. From hopping onto ladders and exploiding the ladder-shot onto Sniper Joes to hopping on the top block of the Dragon's Lair only to be knocked down a step time and time and time again, who doesn't remember playing this one? A bit more strategy has been incorporated into Mega Man 2 (if not a bit obvious - Metal Blades on Wood Man? Time Stopper on Quick Man? Come on...) and there are so many boss patterns to execute it's just nuts.
Infinite replayability and crazily exclaiming "OH I REMEMBER WHAT TO DO HERE" make this a very solid entry into the Mega Man franchise, and definitely one of the best.
Bravo to CAPCOM on this one, man - they hit the nail right on the head. Now don't get me wrong - I enjoy the original Mega Man just as much as the next guy, and even bust it out every so often to enjoy the nostalgia, but Mega Man 2 is just so far ahead of it's predecessor that it makes it look like garbage. Everything flows so smoothly from panning up the "world's tallest building" in the intro to walking through the seasons in the game's ending, every moment in this game just feels so... epic. If only game developers still focused on making vastly entertaining games with so much replay value over developing the world's "next big thing," we would be so much better off.
Overall, Mega Man 2 scores in with the bragging rights of 4.5/5. Take that, Wily!