Worth it for the music alone... wait the game's good, too?!
It's time for (as requested by a friend) my Megaman 2 Review!
Hey, that rhymes! Anyways, hi there. As there are already a plethora of great Mega Man II reviews out there (Spoiler: It rocks... hence the name Rock Man! ... Am I trying too hard for a pun? Yeah, sorry about that.) so I'm not sure what else to say. But don't fret -- I'm sure I'll think of something!
The year is 200X, a year that will go down in infamy, as the villanous villain, Dr. Wily, has created an army of killer robots to take over the world! Though with his seemingly unlimited budget, I'm not sure why he doesn't just buy an island in the Caribean, kick back and relax? He's already made a throng of robots that do his bidding -- he could turn them into servants that make him Marguritas and give him a massage.
But no, Dr. Wily has bigger plans than that! Plans that involve WORLD DOMINATION and taking out that pesky Rock.. err Mega Man! Thankfully for our villanous villain, Dr. Light felt like removing Mega Man's previous upgrades and weapons from his first endeavor and sends Mega Man to tackle the robotic army of doom with nothing but his blue jumpsuit and peashooter.
Mega Man and Samus should probably get together and figure out a way to stop losing their gear everytime they go someplace new. It has got to be seriously frustrating for them.
So yeah, there's your plot -- mad workaholic scientist versus a blue-suited Astro Boy! Fight on, Astro Boy! As if you needed a plot to play Mega Man 2, pfft. If you were a young kid playing this game when it was released, all you cared about was getting new weapons and how cool the different robots you fought looked. Heck, that might still apply to a lot of adults playing the game today!
Capcom's always had an eye for design... except when it comes to box art. Have you SEEN Mega Man II's box art? It's terrible! Maybe not quite as bad as Mega Man 1's, but you can tell the artist has never actually played the game. Was it so hard for Capcom USA to show the artist an image of Mega Man in the game with his arm cannon and visorless blue helmet?
It's almost as bad as the time Larry Elmore did the cover of "Castle of Deception" and decided to give one of the main characters a gender swap (how the hell do I even remember this?!)
Anyways, the game's design is excellent, with the robot masses looking awesome (and easy for young aspiring artists to draw in their spare time at school, ahem), and the bosses being bad ass. The levels are crisp, clean, and all have their own unique style. The only level that might cause some eyesight problems would be Bubble Man's with those crazy waterfalls.
I found Quick Man's to be the most innovative of them all with those beams of light threatening to kill our hero if you don't manuever him quickly enough. Sure there was a bit of trial and error in figuring out which way to fall, but that was the whole challenge of the level! Oh and you could always just use Flash Man's ability to stop them in their tracks. Actually.. that's the only time I remember that weapon being even remotely useful, as if the game designed it specifically for QuicK Man's level. Hmmmm....
Most games don't get a whole section devoted to sound. Why's that? Because they're not Mega Man 2, that's why. To this day, Mega Man II's soundtrack is still one of the catchiest and most awesome video game soundtracks ever. I can only imagine how many people it inspired to become 8-bit musicians or how influential it was for the entire Electronica genre.
Sites like Nico Nico Douga still see tons of memes and music videos remixing songs like Dr. Wily's theme -- there's Para Para dance mixes of it! That's just crazy!
So what are some of the catchiest tunes of such an awesome soundtrack? Well, my personal favorites are --
Dr. Wily's theme (or rather the song that plays in the first two areas of his castle).
Metal Man's stage
Quick Man's stage
Flash Man's stage
Even the music that plays when you choose which level you're going to go to next is great. It's all dramatic and sets the stage for some fierce robot vs robot action! And while Crash Man's stage isn't one of my personal favorites, I have caught remixes of it used for certain video game related shows and websites. Mega Man 2's musical infleunces stretch far and wide!
Mega Man II is a more forgiving game than later games in the original series. Only one level has those really annoying disappearing blocks (Heat Man, boo) and while Quick Man's can be frustrating if you don't know which way to drop, there's an easy way around it as I already mentioned.
The bosses aren't even that hard to defeat using only the peashooter -- especially if you have spare energy tanks saved up. This is on Normal mode of course, as only a masochist would choose to play the exact same game on a less forgiving difficulty! You crazy masochists, you -- do you think Roll is going to be waiting for Rock at the end of the adventure and give him a big kiss for fighting Dr. Wily on "Hard mode". Pfft! (PS: Tell me if that really does happen, thanks!)
Each level revolves around a different style of obstacle to overcome. For example, in Metal Man's, you'll have to deal with conveyor belts that -- more often than not -- move in the way you don't want to go; in Quick Man's you have killer beams of light; in Flash Man's you have an icy surface; in Heat Man's you have those godawful vanishing blocks (and a bit of lava); Bubble Man has spiky circle things that if you touch you die; and in Wood Man's you have... mean animals... like giant dogs and gorillas? They'll bite your face off if you're not careful!
As soon as you can grasp the general design of those obstacles and change your style of play accordingly, the levels are actually relatively easy. Enemies drop plenty of health pills and there are energy tanks you can find along the way and use at a later time. The controls are easy to pick up and as intuitive as an NES platformers controls can be. You jump, you fire pellets (pew pew!), you try not to die.
Did I mention the music in Mega Man II rocks? Well, it does and it deserves a second section because of its awesomeness.
I highly recommend checking out OCremix.org for some excellent Mega Man 2 remixes... or heck, just check on youtube for tons of well-done guitar renditions.
Okay, so the game plays great but are the robots cool? Well.... heh, funny you should ask. Some of them aren't really all that awesome -- I mean "Heat Man"? What kind of name is that? Sure they already used Fire Man in the first game, but it makes me think that he's not hot enough to be Lava Man or Melt Man; he's only mildly warm, so they named him Heat Man. Oh and he's a Zippo lighter. I don't know what you think about when someone says "Imagine a robot that can burn the flesh off your bones!", but I think of Zippo lighters! (I don't really, but maybe I can set up some sort of sponsorship deal where they pay me for saying that).
Wood Man is... a giant log and he shoots leaves at you. He's pretty lame, so I always kill him first -- you know, to put him out of his misery. If Wood Man falls in a forest and no one is around, can he stand back up? I'm curious, cause it seems like his design is flawed in that if he were to fall over, he wouldn't be able to stand back up on his own. He coulda been so much more bad ass, if he had like a hatchet sticking out of his body and he threw hatchets at Megal Man instead of leaves.
Bubble Man is... okay he actually looks kinda cool, but "Bubble Man"? I wonder if his brother is "Soap on a Rope Man"?
Air Man looks like a giant fan. Yeah, a big old AC unit.
Crash Man and Quick Man are pretty wicked robots. They've got excellent designs, style, and useful weapons.
Flash Man was pretty neat, as well, though I always wondered why the floors in his area are so slippery.
My personal favorite has always been Metal Man. He's 10 tons of pure stainless steel awesomeness -- wicked name, wicked style, wicked look, wicked weapon, and wicked stage music. What's not to like about Metal Man? He was totally designed to be like a NINJA -- his gears are basically shuriken! How is he not the coolest Mega Man villain EVER?! They could have named him Ninja Man and it woulda worked. But Metal Man just sounds more hardcore.
There's not a lot to say about a 20 year old classic that hasn't already been said by a million people. Mega Man II was awesome then and it is still a fantastic game to go back to now, either for nostalgic reasons or for complete newcomers. If for nothing else, play it for the some of the catchiest music you'll ever hear.
I dare say it's the best of the series, though Mega Man III would try to wrench that title from its hands, and some would say it succeeded. Others would say Mega Man X stole the title from both of them, but those people are just crazy.