Megaman 2 Review (NES)

Quite possibly the best Megaman game ever made


Just how many Megaman games have there been throughout the years? I’m not even sure series creator Keiji Inafune would be able to easily answer. For the past two decades, the iconic blue-clad hero has appeared on every major console in some form and there have as many as six spin-off series based on the classic one created two decades ago.

How did all of this come to be? Despite all Capcom’s efforts, Megaman 1 was only moderately popular in Japan, and in the US it was hampered my the epitome of terrible boxart and needed to be noticed by word of mouth alone. Megaman 1 didn’t even get much coverage from gaming magazines.

Somewhere along the line, Megaman picked up.  The series had become popular and successful enough to warrant sequel after sequel. That point was here.

Megaman 2 is so refined it’s often considered to be the best in the entire series, even though it’s only the second title. It’s been featured in many top NES games lists, and it’s been ROM hacked almost as many times as Super Mario Bros. has.

Does Megaman 2 still hold today?


Story

In the year of 200X, Dr. Light created a super robot named Megaman. Megaman defended peace and defeated the evil desires of Dr. Wily, whom had betrayed Dr. Light, stole six of his robots and tried to take over the world.  However, after his defeat, Dr. Wily has created eight new robots of his own to counter Megaman. He’s sent his robots across the globe with orders to destroy Megaman.

While perhaps not quite as good as the plot of the first title, Megaman 2’s prologue is still one of the most memorable and enjoyable cutscenes in all videogame history. It’s a simple story of revenge. Wily’s robots are out to eradicate mankind. What’s a super robot of justice to do? Suit up, prepare to fight, and blast everything that comes your way. Protector of justice vs. evil robots bent on killing? This means war.

Graphics

At first glace, Megaman 2 appears to look no different than the first game. Megaman’s sprite is reused as are some of the tile set. Lazy right?

A closer look will reveal the sequel has far superior graphics. With an increase of memory, every stage features unique challenges and enemies that often will not reappear anywhere else in the game. And this is on the NES.

The depths of the ocean floor in Bubbleman’s stage offer giant angler fish that spawn robot squid. Woodman’s stage is filled with robotic fire-breathing dogs, menacing rabbits, swooping bats, dive bombing birds mechanical monkeys and nearly invincible robo-chickens. Metalman’s stage is full of conveyor belts, chained spikes and all manner of metal hazards to avoid.

Don’t stop in Quickman’s stage for long or laser beams will send you to the scrap heap. These deadly lasers are fast and indestructible,but the Flash Stopper can freeze them in place long enough for you to slip by. Airman’s stage is high in the sky, with some of the best looking clouds in any eight-bit game. There’s so much to see that once you finally do see it all, you’ll want to see it again and again.

The game is colourful and bright, every character animates with almost cartoonish motion, and even today it’s a blast to look at. Like the first game, Megaman 2 holds up well as one of the best looking games produced for the Famicom.

Audio

Megaman 2 is quite arguably the crowning achievement of sound design on the Famicom. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Megaman 2 has the best soundtrack of any game produced for Nintendo’s 8-bit console. Every song in the game is memorable, catchy, distinctive, and downright fun to listen to. This is the NES at it’s best, and one of the prime reasons chiptune music is so popular today.

The depths of the ocean in Bubbleman’s stage leave the player with a feeling of loneliness and purity. The fast paced drums of Woodman’s stage give the impression that the forest is alive with robots and what you’re hearing is actually a war march against Megaman. Quickman’s stage is a secret tower where sounds of instruments going off in the background meld together to create a unique and otherworldly sound.

None of these tracks of course compare with Dr. Wily’s castle music. It is a legendary chiptune that never EVER gets old. Hundreds of videogame cover bands worldwide devote segments to the soundtrack of this game. One in particular are called the Megas. They go so far as to devote their entire existence to the Rockman 2 soundtrack, performing lyrical covers of the songs found in this game. It’s just beyond awesome.

Gameplay

Megaman 2 is a platformer-shooter, just like the first game. Megaman must defeat a series of bosses (now eight instead of six) before challenging the evil Dr. Wily.
After defeating each boss you gain their powers. Expanding on this, some bosses also now bestow a particular item for Megaman to command. Item 1 creates steps that slowly travel up the screen, Item 2 creates a sled that speedily travels horizontally in a straight line and item 3 creates a stepladder that travels up walls like a spider.There are points in MM2 that require the use of these items in some spots.

As well as these additions, Megaman 2 introduced the Energy Tank, a single use cure-all that restores Megaman’s energy to full strength and can be used at anytime, including all boss battles.

There are some points where special walls prevent progress, and can only be destroyed by use of the Crash Bomb. Megaman 2 is one of the only Megaman games to feature alternative paths through stages in this way.

Once again , every robot has a strength and weakness to one of the others, like in Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Establishing which robot is weak to which weapon is half the fun of defeating them. Here’s all the weapons in the game:

Megaman: Megabuster – Megaman’s default weapon. Fires up to three high energy plasma shots horizontally. Does decent damage to almost all enemies in the game.
Airman: Air Shooter – three cyclones of air form mini-tornadoes that rip though enemies as they travel up and off the screen.
Crashman: Crash Bomber – fires a time bomb explosive, capable of destroying certain walls and casing severe damage to neighboring enemies.
Metalman: Metal Blades – metallic gears sharpened to saw blade standards and hurled at enemies at great velocity. Easily the most powerful weapon in the game.
Bubbleman: Bubble Lead – whether you think “lead” refers to the fact that it follows (leads) or lead as in the substance we don’t want to find in toys made in china, this weapon is a bubble that travels along the floor, allowing Rockman to spot pitfalls and damage enemies the Rockbuster may miss.
Heatman: Atomic Fire – Fires a molten hot fireball at foes. The only weapon capable of charging up, at full blast it can take out nearly anything with one hit.
Woodman: Leaf Shield – A barrier surrounds its user protecting them from any harm as long as the user remains stationary. The moment they move, the shield is hurled at the enemy as a weapon.
Flashman: Time Stopper – A unique weapon that stops time, freezing all enemy movement while allowing Rockman to keep moving. When in use Megaman can’t fire, and only certain enemies are damaged by its time-freezing effects.
Quickman: Quick Boomerangs – Fires a succession of boomerangs, this weapon is actually very similar to the Metal Blade, just not as powerful.

Control

Megaman 2’s controls are tight and well executed. The + pad moves Megaman seamlessly, B fires, A jumps, Start brings up the change weapon menu (and pauses the game) and Select toggles though a list of options on menus the same as the +pad.

Fun Factor

With refined amusing characters, amazing graphics, spectacular sound and solid gameplay, Megaman 2 is a game you’ll want to return to over and over. This is easily the most approachable game in Capcom’s long running series and its popularity today is a testament to the appeal this game processes.

Frustration

Though it’s the easiest game in the series, Megaman  2 can also be the most frustrating. There are several key points in the game that require you to have enough weapon energy for a certain point in order to proceed, such as about midway though the first Wily stage that forces you to use Item 1.

Many complain about the high degree of difficulty getting though Quickman’s stage of laser death beams, and most everyone moans at running out of Crash Bombers, the only weapon that damages the wall sensor boss in the third Wily stage. However frustrating as the game can be, with careful planning and conserving weapon usage, these problems do go away with practice.

The Energy Tanks take away much of the worry of running out of lives during boss battles. One thing to note is that the Japanese version of Rockman 2 does not have a difficult selection as NES Megaman II does.  The game is played on “Difficult” mode at all times.  However, Rockman 2’s difficulty is nowhere near as high as some other Famicom classics such as Ninja Ryukenden.

System availability and price

Megaman 2 is available on a wide array of consoles including the Famicom and NES, Genesis, PSX, Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, PSP and Wii Virtual Console.

The Famicom Rockman 2 goes for between $20-35.
The NES Megaman goes for about $15-20.
Rockman Mega World for the Genesis goes for between $20-50.
If you want to track down the Playstation’s Rockman Complete Works, be prepared to spend over $100.
The Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox Megaman Anniversay Collection discs run around $10-15.
And the Wii VC version is of course, 500 points.
Megaman 2 is even on the iphone!

Audience

Everyone – Megaman 2 is the most casual friendly game in the series. Newcomers should play Megaman 2 before any other Megaman game in my opinion.  The ESRB was still years away from existing when the game was made, but it would carry an “E” rating today.

History

As crazy as it is to think about, Megaman 2 almost never happened. Since Rockman wasn’t very successful, Capcom had its design teams work on new projects, abandoning the idea of a sequel. However, Inafune and his team were so passionite about creating a sequel, they worked on the development of Rockman 2 as a side project. Rockman 2 was a true labour of love that the team worked on quite literally in their off hours. The total development cost for Megaman 2? $0.

On a side note, once again, Megaman 2’s US boxart is laughably bad. Megaman resembles a human police officer more than he does a robot. Ah well. At least he’s blue this time. Strangely, the European cover, which was so accurate for the first title, now shows Megaman as a shiny silver tin man out of a 30’s science fiction flick. The Japanese cover looks pretty good, but it was greatly improved in the 1999 Rockman Complete work remake.

Overall

Good

Megaman 2 is better than the first in every way. The graphics are more detailed and more color is used, the sound team truly outdid themselves creating one of the greatest soundtracks ever, and even the gameplay was expanded upon and new ideas introduced. From the additions of the mid-bosses to the password save system, Megaman 2 a giant leap forward for the series and set a standard for NES games to strive for…and did it all in 1988.

Bad
Megaman 2 can be quite unbalanced. The Metal Blade is frankly overpowered, and you can carry 128 of them at once and no boss in the game requires you to use it. By contrast, you can only carry 9 Crash Bombs, and the damn Wall Sensor boss in Wily’s stage 3 requires the Crash Bomb to not only defeat the boss, but also to destroy the walls protecting each sensor. I hate this boss.

Other than that, Megaman 2 is an excellent game.

Conclusion

Megaman 2 is a legendary game and is one of the the best reasons to own an NES, even today. Sure the game is on pretty much everything, but this is one game you should pull that NES out from the closet and hook up to enjoy to this day. From the way it outclasses the first game to the beautiful, almost emotional epilogue, Megaman 2 is and will very likely always be the best Megaman game ever made. Get it.

Megaman 2 is my favorite game of all time.

Data

Platform: Famicom, NES

Genre: Action Platformer

Release Date: 1988

Devoloper: Capcom

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer’s notable other works: Street Fighter series, Resident Evil, Bionic Commando, Ace Attorney

ESRB: N/A, but would be E

Buy or skip: Buy

Tips

Use Metal Blades almost all the time. Not only are they effective against almost every enemy and can be thrown in eight directions and pass through walls, three blades can be fired using up just one unit of energy.

As Rockman can carry 52 units for each special weapon, this means he can fire the Metal Blade 156 times without picking up any weapon energy recharge capsules, of which you are sure to. This basically means you’ll never run out of Metal Blades!

Examine situations closely. Correct usage of the three Items Megaman conceals is both helpful and necessary to get through some portions of the later levels.

If your weapons energy is low, stick around an area where small enemies respawn every few seconds. This can allow you to regain all lost energy quickly and you might even score in an extra life or two! This process is generally referred to as “farming”.

Be mindful of where to place your Crashbombs during the battle with the Wall Sensor boss in the fourth Wily stage. You need to use at least seven bombs and you can only carry nine. There is no way to replenish your supply if you waste them during the fight except to die, restart halfway through the stage and hope you destroy enemies that drop large weapon’s energy and try again. The walls will return each time you face the boss, so make sure to replenish your supply each attempt.

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4 Responses to “Megaman 2 Review (NES)”

  1. Jodo KastMaster Says:

    There’s another boxart cover for this videogame you haven’t shone, & it looks much more pleasing than the other two.

  2. Quite the elaborate, in-depth review – and with visual media, nonetheless! Excellent work on illuminating a classic sequel.

  3. Mega Man 2 simply is one of the greatest classics of the era, curiosities like the absurdly powerful Metal Blades non-withstanding.

    It continues to stand above its peers today probably because it was a labor of love that didn’t suffer from the production limitations of the other games in the series.

    Inafune and his team wanted to show everybody the power of the formula they had created in the first game as well as the amazing things they could do with the Famicom hardware and the result was one of its best pieces of software.

    And yes, the wall boss is a terrible piece of game design. They tried their best to add a puzzle to the game and, well, it fell flat on its face.

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      Everytime I think of that, I am reminded of the deep sadness that there is no Megaman 2 remake. Megaman POwered Up 2 would have been BOSS. Sadness Capcom, sadness.

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