Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List: #2

Top 100 NES & Famicom Games

Arguably the most beloved console of all time, the Nintendo Entertainment System, commonly abbreviated as NES, is now well over 25 years old. With over two thousand games produced worldwide for the legendary hardware, the NES, despite it’s age, has an eternal staying power. As retro gaming continues to grow in popularity, more and more gamers flock to Nintendo’s first home console to get their gaming fix.

Welcome to the final top 10 countdown for my personal picks of the greatest games to grace the NES and Famicom. I will be posting one update per day on my march towards the number one position. This has been a long time coming, and I want to thank you, my readers, for all of your support.

Now then, as before, I am ranking every game on its overall difficulty using a simple scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is brain dead easy and 10 is….well,  Battletoads. A 5 on this scale means it’s average difficulty with perhaps some challenging elements, but nothing the average gamer should get stuck on for too long.

I’m also including many links to videos and other online information sources. Links are indicated by orange words. Please open these links in a new tab/window so you don’t have to navigate away from this article.

Previous entries:

part 1, #100-90
part 2, #89-80
part 3, #79-70
part 4, #69-60
part 5, #59-50
part 6, #49-40
part 7, #39-30
part 8, #29-20
part 9, #19-11
Final top 10: #10
Final top 10: #9
Final top 10: #8
Final top 10: #7
Final top 10: #6
Final top 10: #5
Final top 10: #4
Final top 10: #3

So without further ado, here is entry #2!

#2Megaman 2#2Megaman 2
1989
Capcom
Platformer
Price range: $10-15
Difficulty: 5
Region: All

In the year of 200X, Dr. Light created a super robot named Megaman. Megaman defended peace and defeated the evil 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 created eight new robots of his own to counter Megaman, sent them 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.

Why you should play it

For the past two decades, the iconic iron blue-clad hero has appeared on every major console in one form or another and there have as many as six spin-off series. Contradictorily to most successful game franchises, the roaring success of Megaman can be traced back to not the first game, but the second. Many retro gamers still consider Megaman 2 to be the best game in the entire series, even to this day. What’s so special about Megaman 2 that makes it better than the other NES Megaman games and even Super Mario Bros. 3?

Polish.

Well, everything, really. Megaman 2 is a brilliantly designed game in nearly every aspect. It takes a preexisting good concept and refines it into perfection. As with Super Mario Bros. 3, the best way to describe what makes Megaman 2 tick is to break it down into some core concepts:

Refinement

At first glace, Megaman 2 appears to look no different than the first game, but it’s vastly superior in a whole range of ways. Backgrounds are no longer solid colors are are instead lively with well animated moving objects like clouds, gears or flashing lights.  Enemy designs are far more charming in a whimsical, cartoony way that would become the series standard for future games and each of the eight robot masters are incredibly well thought out and memorable. The game is longer with more stages populated by a wider variety of enemies. Three support items were included as well as health restoring E-cans, a password system, and even an option to select the difficulty for new players.

Powers & Abilities

The whole idea behind Megaman is the bosses work on sort of rock-paper-scissors system where each has a strength and weakness to one of the others. When you defeat one boss, you then carefully think about how that weapon you gained can be used, and then move onto another boss and see if that weapon is their weakness. Although this concept was introduced in the first title, it was Megaman 2 that really expanded on this concept into something truly special.

The weapons gained from the bosses are among the coolest and most useful weapons in gaming history, each with a distinct purpose. The bubble lead travels along floors, Quick Boomerangs travel in zig-zag patterns before returning, Crash Bombs attach to walls and detonate a large explosion, and then there’s the extremely useful Metal Blades. The Metal Blades – metallic gears sharpened to resemble saw blades – can be hurled at enemies at great velocity in any direction. They can often take out enemies in a single hit, and can be fired a total of 128 times. They are easily the most powerful weapon in the game. There could even be an argument made that they’re overpowerd and break the game, but since you aren’t required to ever use them, their use is a situational choice left up to the player.

Play Control

A true go-to example for excellent play control, everything about Megmaan 2’s control scheme is completely flawless, tight, and well executed. You have perfect control over your jumps and movement in the air. The + pad moves Megaman seamlessly in a way that reflects how well polished the game is as a whole. Megaman may only be able to shoot horizontally, but firing the Megabuster never gets old.

Variety & Level Design

Megaman 2 has some of the most memorable stages in gaming history.

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.

Quickman’s stage is full of laser beams that force constant movement to avoid, 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.

Visuals

Although most who play NES games don’t do so for their visuals, Megaman 2 manages to impress with well animated, colorful cartoony sprites, tons of background details and enormous screen-filling bosses that are vibrantly colorful despite the limited color pallet available.There is never a dull moment visually in Megaman 2.

Audio

Megaman 2 is quite arguably the crowning achievement of sound design on the NES/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.

The soundtrack is so good in fact, that I strongly urge you to check out Nico Nico Douga user MAX VEGETABLE’s outstanding Rockman 2 Megamix.

The best track of the game is hands down Dr. Wily’s castle music. It is a legendary chiptune that never 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.

Replay Value and Challenge

As all the elements come together in a perfect blend of retro gaming awesomeness, Megaman 2 is unprecedentedly replayable. Should you play through it using only the Megabuster whenever possible, or try a Metal Blade free run? Are you a seasoned player ready for the challenge of the original Japanese difficulty? The more you play Megaman 2, the more you’ll want to play Megaman 2.

Megaman 2 is one of the most remarkably well crafted, ageless games ever made, 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 equipped.

Fun fact

As crazy as it is to think about, Megaman 2 almost never happened. Despite all Capcom’s efforts, Rockman 1 was only moderately popular in Japan, and in the US it was hampered my the epitome of terrible boxart and needed to be spread by word of mouth alone. Megaman 1 didn’t even get much coverage from gaming magazines at the time.

As a result, Capcom had its design teams work on new projects, abandoning the idea of a sequel. However, Keiji Inafune and his team were so passionate about creating a sequel, they worked on the development of Rockman 2 as a side project. In fact, Rockman 2 was a true labour of love that the team worked on it quite literally in their off hours. The total development cost for Megaman 2? $0. When the finished project was presented to the powers at Capcom, the sequel was greenlit, and the rest is history.

When Megaman 2 hit the western world, once again, the boxart was 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.

On a personal note, I have fond memories of getting Megaman 2 as a young child. While this isn’t me, this video perfectly captures the general excitement of getting Megaman 2 for the first time. Special thanks to ShinobiMan for the permission to use his video here. More the point, special thanks to ShinobiMan’s father for filming this. An entire generation of kids now well into their adulthood thank you.

In an interview with Udon Entertainment, Keiji Inafune revealed Megaman 2 was developed in a mere three months.  He has also gone on record naming Megaman 2 has favorite overall project he’s ever done, and his most proud creation.

Among the more interesting ROM hacks for Megaman 2 out there is Rockman 2 Endless, a romp through classic Megaman 2 using the same “endless” mode established in Megaman 9 and continued in Megaman 10. The game is an endurance mode that challenges the player to see how long they can survive in a Megaman game given only one life and no energy tanks. Guide Megaman through over 40 random areas in a never ending assault on Wily’s robots. Every thirty screens you clear presents you with a random boss ranging from Airman or Flashman to even the good Dr. himself. You’ll start off armed with every weapon in the game, so go out there and trash some metal! For more ROM hack recommendations, check out my Top 25 Powerpak Killer Apps List.

Rockman 2 Japanese Commercial

It’s down to the wire now! Stay tuned for the final entry! What will make the number one spot?! Be sure to leave your comments and memories of Megaman 2 below! See you guys again in a few days!

Click to march onward to the Top 100 NES/Famicom Games list #1!

17 Responses to “Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List: #2”

  1. Rockman 2 will be hard to beat….I suppose mario 3 is spot #3, megaman 2 is spot #2….#1 will be something with the number “1” in the title?

  2. Travis (treismac) Says:

    Great pick! One of the best ever- nevermind the NES. 😉

  3. Jodo KastMaster Says:

    I actually kinda like the artwork; it has a unique aesthetic appeal to it. Also interesting, opening up Mega Man 2 in a level editor, one finds remnants from Mega Man 1 levels! The game was built right on top of Mega Man 1. No surprise there!

    Oh yeah, first Mega Man game I’ve ever played as well!

  4. I would also rather play Megaman 2 than SMB3. The thing about SMB3 is that even though it’s great, picking it up and playing it on the NES involves a huge time commitment, unless you skip to the last world with the warp whistles. With Megaman 2, you can play a few levels here and there, and then write down a password if you need to stop playing and come back later. The gameplay is also perfectly polished and you can challenge yourself to beat every level using only the blaster when you’re bored.

    Can’t wait for #1! I’ve already made a prediction so i’m anxious for tomorrow.

  5. Mega Man 2 is easily my most beaten NES game if not any game ever. It is one of those games that I play through to completion almost every time whenever I get the itch for a quick game to play.

    One of my proudest moments in gaming was getting past the Quickman stage lasers without Flash Stopper. Up to that point I used it on the way through all the time but that one time I decided to give it the shot without and after that I have never used it again.

  6. StarDust Says:

    You gave Megaman 2 a lower difficulty ranking then SMB3. I have to disagree on that. All six of the Megamans are ridiculously hard. Even with Game Genie codes for infinite health and lives, the fact that weapons don’t respawn and instant-death spikes are everywhere, my friend and I still had an excruciatingly hard time beating it. At least I can beat several worlds in SMB3 without using a warp whistle or cheat codes. I cannot beat a single robot master in any of the Megamans. While I agree the Megamans are great games, they are a thousand times harder than any Mario (except for maybe SMB2j aka Lost Levels).

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      No way. Megaman 2 is not ridiculously hard in the least. It’s firmly a 5/10, meaning accessible to everyone.

      NES North American Megaman 2’s “Normal” mode makes the game braindead easy. The difficulty was radically reduced from the Japanese version to make it more accessible to western gamers. If you still find Megaman 2 difficult in “Normal” (read: easy) mode, then you need to brush up on your gaming skills. This isn’t Contra where you die in one hit – Megaman 2 is extremely forgiving.

      If you want to give it another go, I suggest you start with Metalman or Airman. Both are very easy to take out with the Mega Buster. Once you beat the two of them, try their powers on basically everything else. The Metal Blade makes Megaman 2 a cakewalk. Just practice playing it and you’ll soon realize that you’ve been unable to beat a very easy game all these years.

      • StarDust Says:

        There may be some amount of truth to your words. I’ve spent countless hours playing run-and-jump games such as Mario, but my experience in the run-and-gun and beat-em-up departments is lacking. I also enjoy playing arcade-style shooters but generally suck at them. Maybe it’s that I keep getting hit by all the tiny little bullets. It gets difficult with a lot of sprites on the screen at once.

        That, and the fact that I didn’t grow up with NES (my parents never got me one even though it was all I ever wanted at Christmas) but discovered it later in life, so I never perfected my 8-bit gaming skills as a child like many of my peers did. That, and 8-bit games in general were hard and unforgiving back then.

      • No offense, but saying SMB3 is harder than Megaman 2 is ignorance, or insanity. And I’m not talking about ‘Normal’ mode.

      • satoshimatrix Says:

        No, it’s not ignorance, or insanity. Megaman 2’s normal mode makes the game rather easy, and while I do stand by my claim that Super Mario Bros. 3 is a harder game when compared to Megaman 2’s normal mode, I’m not therefore saying Super Mario Bros. 3 is an overly difficult game. On the contrary, I think Mario 3 can be beaten my the average gamer with only a bit of frustration. On the Japanese default difficulty (Hard mode in the NES version) the game is about on par with Mario 3.

        I’m not entirely sure if this is what you’re saying, but if your point was that Megaman 2 is NOT easy, then I beg to differ. I honestly think the difficulty of Megaman 2 is a myth – its one of the easiest NES action platformers out there. You have a huge health bar, a lot of lives, health-restoring E-cans and no real consequence for getting a game over, you can tackle the stages in any order, and the weapons are all very powerful and useful, especially the Metal Blade and Quick Boomerang.

        If you’re struggling to play through Megaman 2, try Metalman’s stage first. He’s quite easy and once beaten you get the Metal Blades, which arguably break the game given that they can be flung in any direction and are so vastly powerful.

  7. StarDust Says:

    PS – I hope #1 isn’t BattleToads…

  8. ShinobiMan Says:

    Nice! I thought for sure MM 2 was going to be your number 1! Now I’m really excited to see what game holds that spot.

    Thanks for featuring the childhood home movie of me receiving the game as a gift. I was happy to supply it and hope more get to relive the memory of receiving such a great game and memory.

    Your write ups are top notch man! I will always be looking out for whatever you have to write about.

    • LazzAron Says:

      Very cool video of your friend !

      I cant imagine the excitement of finally getting the game after having craved it for a full 8… days 😉

  9. HELL YEAH!
    The Megas are awesome, and I’m excited to see the #1 spot. While I’d switch MM2 and MM3 if I were you and then MM2 and MM5, I’m just happy a Megaman game placed this high.

    Also, am I the only one whose favorite is Bubbleman?

  10. hey, you are missing these games 1. Three eyes boy from tomy 2.prisoner of war

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      Mitsume ga Tooru and P.O.W were both candidates for the list, but were pushed aside for the 100 games I eventually chose to go with. This list isn’t the only 100 games worth playing on the Famicom/NES, it’s just the best of the best. Remember with well over two thousand titles released for the system, even a top 100 games list only covers a tiny percentage of the library.

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