Top 100 NES/Famicom Games List: #2
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.
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!
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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!