Mega Man II is a 2D platforming shooter by Capcom for the Game Boy. Not to be confused with the NES game Mega Man 2. I’d recommend you either check out my review of the previous Game Boy Mega Man installment, Dr. Wily’s Revenge, or at least be familiar with classic Mega Man in general before reading on. I’d also like to preface this a bit by saying that I played the Nintendo 3DS virtual console port of the game rather than the physical cartridge, if that makes much difference. I’d like to start out with the plot, but the game doesn’t explain any of it. Maybe it’s in the manual and I’m sure I could look it up, but there’s really not one present in the game itself. However, it’s certainly not just a port of the NES game, so keep that in mind.
The gameplay is pretty much the standard Mega Man stuff. You start off by choosing any one of the four robot masters to enter their appropriately themed stages. These four bosses are from the NES Mega Man 2, but their stages, while sharing similar elements, are entirely different. Along with running and jumping, this game brings back the sliding mechanic by holding down and hitting jump, which will give you a short speed boost and allow you to fit into narrow openings. The E-tanks from the console games is also introduced here, allowing you to fully heal your energy at any time. And of course, the standard wheel of weaknesses allows you to take them on in any order you’d like. One top of the usual boss weapons, you can also acquire three items the utilize your robotic dog, Rush. There’s the Rush Coil, which summons Rush in front of you to be used as a springboard, allowing you to get to higher places. There’s the Rush Jet which lets you hop on Rush’s back and freely move through the air. And there’s the Rush Marine, which lets you move similarly to the Rush Jet but strictly underwater. These three items each run on their own ammo bar for use. After defeating the four robot masters you’ll be sent to Dr. Wily’s Castle where you’ll need to go through four more stages, each one ending in a boss fight with a robot master from the NES Mega Man 3. Similarly, you’ll acquire their weapons and get a password upon defeating them, though you won’t get a weapon refill between these rounds. After defeating these four in any order you will then face a brand new boss that will award you with an all new weapon and one final password. Then all that is left is to go through one final stage and defeat the three forms of Dr. Wily’s boss fight.
Mega Man II has a lot of the positive elements that the previous installment did. The mashup of two of the NES games’ bosses is interesting, but the fact that each one gets a brand new stage here is what really makes it worth checking out. It’s certainly more than a mashup port job. I think the combination of sliding, E-tanks, and Rush abilities also adds a lot to make the game feel more balanced and flexible. Fighting some of the Mega Man 2 bosses with the ability to slide helps a ton, and the fights themselves seem to be well-adjusted. You have less screen space to work with on the Game Boy, but the bosses tend to have slower attacks to compensate. Also, they feel decently balanced as far has how much damage you do to them with your weapons. I also really like that the second set of bosses also get their own stages this time around, making the game feel a bit more full. Plus, they mercifully hand out more passwords so that you don’t have to repeat so much if you get a game over near the end. I also found the final boss more manageable here than the previous game, largely due to its weaknesses, the ability to dodge the attacks effectively, and the E-tanks. The game just general controls more tightly than the previous one, which I would attribute to being more akin to Mega Man 3. I also think it’s cool that it has its own music based on the NES games rather than just straight up copies. It’s a nice touch.
That being said, I think I would’ve preferred the NES music. The themes here are okay, but they sound a little too much like noise at times for my taste. The sound design in general seems a little weak. I could see people complain about the game’s difficulty. It’s pretty easy, both compared to the previous Game Boy title and the NES Mega Man 2 as well. The game seems to hand out lives a lot and doesn’t demand nearly as much from the player in the stages and boss fights. So while I don’t think it’s too easy in general, veterans of the series might be a little bored with this one if they are looking for a hard challenge. I also found that there were a few sections that seemed impossible to do without taking damage. This might just be from a lack of figuring them out, but I’m not entirely certain that’s the case. Some enemies also seemed to take a lot of hits before going down. I understand that larger enemies would require this, but some smaller ones took more shots than I thought they should. This can also be a little annoying when your shots go through them. I only had it happen a handful of times, but when it did happen I would have shots going through them and forcing me to wait for them to leave the screen before getting to shoot more. It’s very minor, but it exists.
Overall, Mega Man II is a lot of fun. I mean, if you like Mega Man 2 and Mega Man 3, not to mention Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge, then you’ll probably enjoy Mega Man II. It’s more classic Mega Man goodness with new stages and a few new bosses to make for a great companion piece to your Mega Man collection. I don’t know how much it usually goes for, but I’d say it’s worth 15-20 bucks, depending on how big of a fan you are. I might not recommend it as your start to the series unless the Game Boy is all you have, and even then I’d recommend the previous one over this, but it’s certainly not a bad representation of Mega Man gameplay. How did they put out so many of these games in such a short amount of time anyway!?