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Mega Man 2 (NES) artwork

Mega Man 2 (NES) review

"Yes, I've managed to write a Mega Man review without using "blue bomber" in the main body. You're welcome."

Peace had at last settled over the unnamed city as the nightmarish events depicted in Mega Man drew to a close, and the citizens breathing sighs of relief. It was thanks to a determined robotic youngster that the metropolitan area had finally fallen into a restful silence. It would have been a perfect respite were it not for the wall-shaking BOOOOM!!! that shattered the citizens' newly discovered sense of security. Though they all questioned aloud the explosion's source, they knew who was responsible. Their saw their fears confirmed when eight figures emerged from the smoke, decked out in blades, blasters and bombs. Their intentions were plain and their scheme far from elaborate: wreak as much havoc as possible to draw out the city's defender, then bring his mangled frame to Dr. Wily

That's pretty much how I envision Mega Man 2. It's not a tale about a mighty hero defending his city from a megalomaniac's lust for power, but a story about a warrior fighting for his life after his nemesis lures him into a trap. Because this conflict is more personal, the developers would have to design stages that show an elevated level of thought and creativity. After all, who plans to kill his most despised adversary with halfhearted constructs and harebrained schemes? If Wily is truly serious about ending this feud, then it would only make sense for him to go for broke. That's why he created eight Robot Masters this time around instead of six. Unlike their predecessors, Mega Man 2's rogues weren't created for the advancement of society, but specifically for the eradicating Mega Man and the subsequent fall of society. To suit, Wily also designed their native lands to reflect his malevolent intent, planning carefully where to place certain mechanical menaces and position every platform and obstacle.

Mega Man 2 screenshotMega Man 2 screenshot

Wily's intricate plotting and calculated engineering does not bode well for our hero. For the audience, on the other hand, it serves to create an exciting platformer experience that greatly overshadows its humble antecedent and features a variety of lively environments. In one stage, for example, we guide Mega Man through a dense forest populated by mechanized rabbits and devious simians dwelling in the treetops. The real attractions in this gauntlet of animal automatons, though, are the immense fire-breathing canines, the likes of which caused my jaw to hit the floor the first time I faced them as a wee one. Though most of us who've patrolled these parts for years can annihilate these pooches blindfolded, newcomers might find themselves struggling to gain purchase as they fail to properly dodge metal-melting tongues of fire. They may also fail to realize that it's wiser to take choice shots rather than go balls to the wall against such foes.

If you're more into timed jumps and moving platforms, then you'll find Air Man's stage to your liking. The madness begins with massive heads that serve as platforms. Leaping onto them is not a matter of basic jumping, though, as they attempt to stymie your vaults with twin drills resting at the edges of their topsides. On top of that, they generate swarming drones that you have to shoot down in order to advance. Later on, the level segues into a scene involving propeller-driven platforms that fly in mostly circular patterns. Some even act as homes for projectile-tossing robots, perfect for throwing careless players off their rides and screaming towards the surface below.

Wily's locales don't lack for deadly mechanisms and frame-shattering situations, as can be seen in many stages throughout the game. Mega Man's wild ride takes him through a metallic fortress plagued by damning treadmills that threaten to throw him into pits. Surviving that, he still has to worry about Quick Man's home and its swift, instantly killing laser beams that fire from various openings in the walls. Even beyond that, there are plenty of rail-bound platforms gliding over spiked pitfalls, appearing/disappearing bricks positioned over lakes of lava, and a fierce clash against a tremendous mechanical dragon that can end a life with a mere touch. Beat that, Skyrim!

Mega Man 2 screenshotMega Man 2 screenshot

At the end of each onslaught of life-threating leaps and action-packed brawls lies the experience's main attraction: a showdown with a Robot Master. Like its predecessor, Mega Man 2 features the franchise-defining concept of robbing opponents' techniques from their obliterated bodies. The array of weapons in this one, by and large, is pretty kick ass. Among them, you can secure the mighty Metal Blade, a powerful circular saw blade that can be thrown in eight directions. There's also the punishing Atomic Fire, a heat-based attack that strengthens as you hold down the fire button. Unleashing a fully charged Atomic Fire will deplete your weapon gauge, but the trade off is that you can reduce most non-boss enemies to smoking scrap metal. You can also secure Time Stopper, which comes handy when dealing with those pesky laser beams, and Crash Bomb, which demolishes certain walls.

Mega Man's adventure is not a perfect one, though, as there are some generic or just plain dull stages featured in this outing. This is especially so with the strangely iconic first stage in Wily's fortress, which is little more than a basic trudge to the right, followed by a ho-hum ascent with only one segment of interest. What likely makes this stage memorable isn't its design, but its awesome musical theme and the aforementioned dragon boss. This stage isn't the only offender, though. There's also Flash Man's "labyrinth," which manages to disappoint despite having a maze-like level of intricacy. Unlike an actual maze, though, Flash Man's level seems to feature multiple pathways and branches without many false corridors or dead ends. In the end, it winds up feeling like a haphazard network of platforms that ends quickly and will likely leave you underwhelmed.

Apart from a few dull stages, Mega Man 2 represents almost everything a sequel should be. It's an upgrade of its predecessor's concept in a multitude of ways, but still not the franchise's pinnacle. It's a helluva step in the right direction, though, and the true beginning of what would be the savage beating of a long dead horse.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (February 22, 2013)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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