[MEGA MAN 2 LOGO]

[THAT IS ONE BIG FISH! WHERE'S MOBY DICK WHEN WE NEED HIM???]


System: NES
Publisher & Designer: Capcom
Release Date: July 1989
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Save Feature? Yes

When I first rented Mega Man 2 from our local Marsh grocery store way back in late 1989, I really didn't know what to expect. I had recently glanced through a Pak Source guide that Nintendo Power had published and saw that some cool-looking game called "Mega Man 2" received some exceptional scores. I figured that I had nothing to lose. More than twenty years and almost as many Mega Man games later, I can confidently say that renting Mega Man 2 was one of the best video game-related decisions I ever made! Even now, the second Mega Man game remains one of my favorite video games of all-time! Mega Man 2 is a legend in every sense of the word and the nostalgia factor is through the roof as well. I have wonderful memories of receiving this game for my ninth birthday and of playing it deep into the beautiful spring evening. :)

Overview: Any fans of the action genre who have never played Mega Man 2 (or any Mega Man game for that matter) must do so immediately! This game is action-packed and represents classic gaming in its purest form. Side-scrolling stages, vertical levels, enemies attacking from all directions, a huge variety of weapons...if you want action, you've got it!

The object of this game sounds simple on the surface. Like the original Mega Man classic, the goal in MM2 is to face off against a plethora of robot masters in their mysterious and awe-inspiring domains, turn them into a pile of scrap before they can do the same to you, and go after their master in the series' first Skull Castle! Unlike the original Mega Man game, however, these are not Dr. Light's twisted creations you are hunting down but the first batch of Dr. Wily's bonafide robotic nightmares. And not only that, but this time, you have to track down eight of them (instead of six like in MM1)! Believe me, before this game is over, you'll have a good idea of what "twisted metal" feels like.

In regards to the gameplay itself, Mega Man 2 is very similar to the original game. You can jump, shoot, and use special weapons just like before. And like the first Mega Man game, the variety in each stage is remarkable for a pre-1990 NES game. The levels range from the mechanical world of Metal Man to the more serene underwater domain of Bubble Man. You have the slippery, almost ice-like Flash Man stage and you also get Quick Man's mysterious laboratory where the lights go out and deadly laser beams send shivers down your spine (unless they pulverize you first). As you can tell, each stage has a really unique "feel" and the atmosphere throughout the second Mega Man game is one of many reasons why this game continues to stand out among the crowd of Mega Man classics.

Like the initial Mega Man hit, the weapon system found in Mega Man 2 has to rank among the greatest innovations found in any action game. If you manage to defeat a robot master, you will receive his weapon. And the special weapons found in Mega Man 2 are absolutely legendary! From the classic Leaf Shield to the Air Shooter (a multi-shot tornado attack) and Atomic Fire (the precursor to the Mega Buster perhaps?) weapons, every single robot master in Mega Man 2 gives you something really cool! But the weapon that will always stand out as possibly the greatest special weapon in the history of the Mega Man series has to be the Metal Blade! Simply put, this weapon is as good as they come! It can be shot in eight directions, the weapon gauge hardly decreases even if you blast away like a madman, and it is extremely powerful to boot! Three to four robot masters are extremely vulnerable to this weapon and even Metal Man himself grows faint at the sight of his own blades! One hit in Normal Mode and only two in Difficult Mode completely destroy Metal Man! How crazy is that?!

On an unrelated note, it is also worth noting that Mega Man 2 was the first game in the series to feature a password/save feature of any kind. Unlike the original game in which you had to beat the game in one long marathon session, the sequel would mercifully give you a password whenever you beat a boss or got a dreaded Game Over.

[METAL MAN'S MECHANICAL WORLD]
[THAT SNIPER JOE MEANS BUSINESS!]

Graphics: Although I have always been in total support of the adage that "Gameplay comes before graphics," I have to be honest with you. The first thing that won me over in Mega Man 2 was undoubtedly the game's vivacious visuals. Right from the get-go, Mega Man 2 amazed me with vibrant colors, impressive backgrounds, and excellent animation. The sights throughout the game do a great job of creating an amazing atmosphere (there's that word again!) and just make playing through this game such a memorable experience. From the diverse color scheme of Metal Man's stage with its reds, oranges, and greens to Flash Man's ice-like stage full of blue hues, every single stage in this game is a visual masterpiece! The dark sky and barren ground in the first stage of Wily's Skull Castle creates a very ominous feeling that I will never forget! It's the little things like this make MM2 stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Another aspect of MM2's graphics that impressed me was the game's animation...notably the background animation. The stages almost seem alive with gears churning, platforms flashing, and clouds puffing (...clouds puffing?!). Even Mega Man himself shows signs of life with that cute effect of him blinking if he stands still for a few seconds. This is simply incredible for a 1989 game pak; we just weren't used to seeing attention to detail of this magnitude back then.

Lastly, no review of Mega Man 2 would be complete without mentioning some of the bosses. While the robot masters are very cool indeed, nothing compares with the Dragon and Gutsdozer bosses that await in Wily's Castle. The encounter with the Dragon in particular is so incredibly epic because of the setting and atmosphere of the first Wily stage. It was the absolute perfect boss battle for that particular level and the graphics were so amazing! I thought that my eyes were deceiving me when I saw both of these Wily bosses for the first time. They are simply huge and even rival some of the bosses found in Blaster Master. Mega Man 2 sure spoiled us in the graphics category.

Music: Although the sparkling graphics in Mega Man 2 caught my eye first, the sound-waves of MM2's music hit me soon after. Saying that Mega Man 2's soundtrack is outstanding has become a formality in video game circles. The music in this game absolutely blew me away right from the start! Very rarely does video game music impress me as quickly as MM2's brilliant soundtrack.

I think that the music was so breathtaking at first because of the way that it gelled with the game's graphics so well. The tracks convey emotions such as intensity (Metal Man), serenity (Bubble Man), and a happy, almost giddy feel (Crash Man) among other things. Additional favorites of mine certainly include Quick Man's somewhat dark, suspenseful track, Flash Man's dance-like melody with its incredible beat, and Wood Man's somewhat sad, thought-provoking song. Even the Air Man and Heat Man tracks were unforgettable in this game! The game's great atmosphere just wouldn't be the same without the superb music. I couldn't possibly imagine playing through Wily Stage 1 without its insanely epic track. Speaking of which, the Wily Stage 1 & 2 theme has to rank among the all-time great Mega Man tunes because it was simply perfect for setting the tone of Wily's Skull Castle! And not to be forgotten is Mega Man 2's touching ending theme along with the catchy credits track. Both of these tunes were wonderful!

As you can probably imagine, the sound effects are overshadowed in a big way by the game's music. The sound effects are very good though. The various weapons have different sounds and, for an NES game, they sound pretty realistic (e.g. the Metal Blade sound). After reading what I think of the game's graphics/music, it shouldn't surprise you one bit that Mega Man 2 won the 1989 NESTER (Nintendo Power Award) for Best Graphics and Sound. It was truly a no-brainer and it would have been an Academy Award-sized crime for MM2 not to win this award.

[MEGA MAN VS THE KAMIKAZE-CRAZED CRASH MAN]
[MEGA MAN'S EPIC BATTLE VS THE DRAGON]
[THE RETURN OF GUTS MAN!]

Play Control: Mega Man 2 really came through with that good, crisp play control that we've all come to love. It is virtually identical to the original Mega Man game in this regard and the neat thing about it is the short learning curve. Within minutes, even a novice can jump and blast away with the best of 'em.

The ironic thing is that although the controls in MM2 are simple, they don't seem too redundant. Sure, you'll do a whole lot of jumping and blasting, but there's more to the game than meets the eye. There are a lot of special weapons that you will acquire throughout the game and all of them are slightly different control-wise. You can fire Metal Blades in virtually every possible direction, charge up the Atomic Fire to a second or even a third level of intensity, or magically freeze time with the Flash Stopper. You'll acquire three "Items" from Dr. Light as well; You can soar to new heights with Item-1, zoom over spikes with Item-2, and climb walls in "tight" areas without a hitch with the handy Item-3. If you can't master using these items, you'll have your work cut out for you. This is what makes the controls in Mega Man 2 so cool. So easy to learn, yet so hard to master.

[THE FIRST SCREEN I EVER SAW AFTER PRESSING THE START BUTTON IN A MEGA MAN GAME]
[DR. WILY'S ORIGINAL SKULL CASTLE!]

Challenge: Even though many fans of the series seem to feel that Mega Man 2 was one of the easier Mega Man games, there are areas in the game that I still find challenging...especially on Difficult Mode! If you can get past the laser beams in Quick Man's stage (You can't cheat with the Time Stopper!), the appearing/disappearing blocks in Heat Man's world (Don't even think of using Item-2.), and beat Crash Man straight up without any special weapons and still not break a sweat, you've got to be a machine or something! And speaking of machines, defeating the boss in Wily Stage 4 without running out of Crash Bombs can be a nerve-racking endeavor since the margin for error is literally nil.

Mega Man 2 is unique in that it has two challenge levels available (Normal and Difficult). While the Normal mode is frankly way too easy, the Difficult mode feels about right. Just for the record, I will be rating MM2 based on the Difficult Mode. Overall, I'm very pleased with MM2 in this aspect; it may not be the toughest game ever but dang, some sections are tough even if you're playing for the hundredth time! Now that's what you call a lasting challenge!

Storyline: Okay, so Mega Man 2 doesn't have an incredibly epic storyline. However, it must be emphasized that this game was released way back in 1989 and that, for its time, it wasn't too bad in this regard. The story goes that after Mega Man defeated Dr. Wily in the original Mega Man hit, the mad doctor somehow managed to escape (as mad doctors usually do) and secretly built eight powerful robots of his own. In addition, Dr. Wily built his first ever state-of-the-art fortress that would remain a constant throughout the rest of the series: the dreaded Skull Castle. With his new army assembled, Dr. Wily has finally come out of the shadows and seems determined to rule the world with or without the people's consent. However, Mega Man will have none of that and once again, it's his job to bring Dr. Wily to his knees. Let the second battle begin!

[UH-OH...THIS DOESN'T LOOK GOOD!]
[THE DREADED HOT DOGS...WHERE'S THE MUSTARD WHEN YOU NEED IT?]

Funfactor: From the very moment I selected Heat Man's stage (my first ever Mega Man level!) on the Stage Select screen way back when, I knew that something was going to be very special about this game. Although the graphics and music completely blew me away, the gameplay was equally spectacular. I thought that it was so cool that you could acquire weapons from the robot masters after defeating them. I had a blast firing Metal Blades, guarding myself with the Leaf Shield, and even bringing time to a halt with Flash Man's Time Stopper! Heat Man's Atomic Fire weapon was an awesome sight to behold when it was fully charged as well! Back in those days, I just wasn't used to games featuring this much firepower and variety in terms of gameplay. While most games were vanilla in this regard, Mega Man 2 was a rebel...it was neopolitan! Even all these years later, when new games have a hundred times more megabytes than classic NES games, I still have a absolute blast every single time I fire up Mega Man 2. It is one of the very best video games that I have had the honor and pleasure of playing and it is the measuring stick that all future Mega Man games would be measured by.

Negatives: If there is anything truly wrong with Mega Man 2, it's probably the distinct possibility of getting stuck in a couple of areas very late in the game (especially during your first play-through). There is one particular boss that is weak to only one special weapon with the normal blaster being completely useless. As a result, if you go into the battle with less than a full weapon gauge or miss one section of the boss with your shot, you are literally screwed. You can even run out of your weapon if you destroy the wrong walls instead of conserving your weapon for the correct walls and enemies. The final boss of the game involves a similar situation where only one special weapon is effective at all. Personally, this issue is almost always a non-factor when I play simply because of all my previous experience playing the game. But it does come across as a noticeable flaw.

Another slight flaw is the slowdown that occurs in certain areas such as when two spiky chains in Metal Man's stage are moving at the same time. This also occurs when battling some of the huge bosses like the Dragon and Gutsdozer near the end of the game. It is typical NES stuff really but still, it's worth mentioning.

And on the music front, there are two tracks in particular that keep this game from achieving a perfect rating. The tune that plays when you enter a password gets annoying very quickly and the Wily Stage 3 & 4 music just doesn't really go anywhere. The latter track isn't horrible by any stretch but it wasn't a very good follow-up to possibly the greatest Wily theme ever!

And lastly, while the play control throughout Mega Man 2 is fantastic overall, it does have some of the same "slippage" problems found in the original game. This is particularly the case when trying to navigate small platforms. Thankfully, this minor defect was cleaned up nicely in Mega Man 3.

[I COULDN'T RESIST POSTING A PICTURE FROM THE GAME'S AMAZING ENDING. I ALMOST WANT TO CRY WHEN I SEE THIS ONE FOR SOME REASON.]

Ratings: Graphics: 4.9 Music: 4.9 Play Control: 4.6 Challenge: 4.3 Storyline: 4.0 Funfactor: 4.9 Overall Score: 27.6 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!

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Last Updated: March 3, 2011
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