Mega Man 2 is a 2D side-scrolling run and gun platformer for the Nintendo Entertainment System developed by Capcom. The plot is similar to the first game, but this time Dr. Wily has created his own master robots, and eight of them to boot. Once again, Mega Man must defeat them all and stop Dr. Wily’s plots to take over the world. And hey, this time we even get a nice opening cinematic telling us about the story. How neat!
The gameplay is largely unchanged. You jump and shoot your way through the eight stages in any order you please, trying to avoid enemies and obstacles along the way to the boss room where you’ll fight the boss. Defeating a boss gives you their power which can be used against other bosses to a greater or lesser effect. Most of the collectibles return here, although they have a slightly different appearance and there is no scoring system. There IS one new item here, the E tank. You can hold up to four of these in your inventory and use them whenever you’d like to refill your energy. Defeating all the bosses opens up a linear set of stages going through Dr. Wily’s Castle. This game also has three unique abilities called Item 1, Item 2, and Item 3 that act as support items but run on ammo just like your weapons. These are used for certain platforming feats and necessary for the later stages. Another addition is a password system that gives you codes to put in after each victory or game over. And as mentioned, there are now eight master robots instead of just six. So gear up and rock Dr. Wily’s socks off!
I definitely see the improvements in this game. This is the first of the iconic, classic Mega Man everyone thinks of, and for good reason. I’m glad the unnecessary scoring system was thrown out the window and that the password system was put in place. The stages are longer here with more detailed art and even cooler music, though I suppose that’s highly subjective. There also seems to be much better balance in the difficulty of the bosses and not much for glitches. In fact, it’s even humanly possible to beat most of the bosses with just your standard buster if you get their patterns down. The difficulty is much easier, but that’s largely due to better design in general. Of course having less bullshit does tend to make things easier. Plus the E tanks help keep you from losing too much progress if you take a lot of damage and need a heal in a pinch. I also find the platforming items to be pretty interesting, especially with how they require a little extra thinking in order to be rewarded with some easier platforming segments. It even feels a little less sluggish than the previous title. I also appreciated the more uniform design of the collectibles. Plus, I find atomic fire to be really neat how you can charge it up for a more powerful shot. Overall, it’s just a more polished version of the original game’s concept and shows there was certainly potential there.
The game isn’t quite perfect, though. It’s pretty good and the simple design was tuned up nicely, but it still has a few things left to be desired. I understand the merit to the system of lives, but it can still be a little annoying to need to restart an entire level after you can clearly beat it. Oh well, that’s minor. I also think the weird pause glitch that makes you fall off of ladders is a bit silly and maybe should’ve been fixed. I also find some of the sections to be a bit obnoxious. Places like Quick Man’s stage and one of the Dr. Wily’s Castle stages have sections where you must fall through instant death traps very precisely. This will eat up your lives and force you to get back to them over and over just to practice them, which ends up feeling like padding the playtime rather than trying to test your skills. Also, some of the weapon balancing is a bit off. For instance, the metal blade ability can be shot in eight directions and does decent damage as well as having tons of ammunition compared to how much is used per shot. This makes it incredibly useful. Now something like… whatever Flash Man’s power was called, on the other hand, stops time for a short amount of time until the ammo is totally depleted. It cannot be halted mid-use and only does damage to one boss as far as I could tell anyway. This makes it significantly less useful. Most of the others are fine, but it seems weird to have such a strange unbalanced few. Also, some weapons don’t harm certain bosses. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it IS a bit of a harsh lesson to learn when you blow ammo on impervious enemies. Oh, and maybe adding in a tip about being able to charge atomic flame would have been nice to include as its the only one you can do this with, I believe. Anything else I can think of is much more minor than even that.
Mega Man 2 is a beloved classic that is one of if not the most iconic Mega Man game there is. If you’re a Mega Man fan, you probably already have the game. If you’re a fan of 2D platformer shooters, especially classics back on the NES, you can’t go wrong with this one. This will most likely give you the best idea of if you’re into the original Mega Man series or not. It’s widely available in many formats for varying prices, but I’d say it’s worth maybe about 25 bucks or less, depending on how you get it. At any rate, this is the Mega Man everyone should try out at least once. I’m sure Dr. Wily has learned his lesson by now.