Platform: NES | Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom | Developer: Capcom | Released: 1988
In 1987, when Capcom released Mega Man for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the game was met with a largely indignant response. Upon inspection of the game's box, it seemed like just another cheap, generic action shooter--which the NES was rife with at the time. Those who actually took the time to play the game, however, found an enjoyable, unique action adventure game with a nonlinear structure and the innovative ability to take on the weapons of defeated boss characters. Still, the game never achieved any semblance of commercial success in the United States, and some assumed that we would never again hear from Mega Man. Only a year later, when Mega Man 2 was released, were those naysayers proven wrong, and only then did the franchise gain the success it has since maintained for more than 15 years.
Mega Man 2 was much like its predecessor in design, storyline, and mechanics. You played as Mega Man, the heroic robot boy created by the good-natured Dr. Light, embarking on a journey to defeat the vile Dr. Wily and his band of evil-minded robots. At the outset of the game, you had the option of taking on whatever stage you preferred by selecting from a list of the game bosses' portraits. You could beat them in whatever order you liked, but the key was to acquire the right weapons which would more easily defeat other bosses in the game. Each boss had a mortal weakness in one specific weapon. For instance, Crash Man was highly vulnerable to Air Man's air shooter, while Heat Man could be easily wiped out with a few shots from Bubble Man's bubble lead, and Metal Man's metal blades were useful for, well, just about everything. Once you'd defeated Wily's cadre of robots, you'd fight tooth and nail through his near-impenetrable fortress until facing off against the man himself.
So, what exactly made Mega Man 2 so special? The basic play mechanics were practically the same as the previous Mega Man game, and the storyline was pretty much the same as well. What really made Mega Man 2 so superb can be summed up in a single word: consistency. To elaborate on that, Mega Man 2 was consistently challenging, inventive, and, most importantly, fun throughout the entire gameplay experience. Every level in the game was a significant improvement over the basic concepts laid in the first Mega Man, each with an impressive array of challenging jumps and tough bad guys that made it a unique experience. All of the boss characters were impressively designed, as were their acquirable weapons--well, except for maybe Bubble Man, but seven out of eight isn't bad at all. Add all of these elements to the nicely upgraded graphics and the insanely catchy music scattered through each level, and Mega Man 2 was a truly stellar package.
Some may argue that Mega Man 3 was really the most definitive Mega Man experience of the series, as it built largely on everything put forth in Mega Man 2 in a lot of great ways. We don't argue that that game wasn't great in its own right, but, really, no Mega Man title ever struck us the way that Mega Man 2 did. Every boss in the game proved a memorable fight, no level in the game lacked an impressive challenge, and, to put it frankly, no Mega Man game ever defined the franchise the way that Mega Man 2 did. That's why it's the best Mega Man game of all time, and that's why it deserves to be called one of the greatest games of all time.
|Mega Man 2 is easily my favorite of the series, primarily just because I found it to be the most rewarding in terms of challenge. However, one boss, in particular, really got my goat and, after a time, became the very bane of my existence. That boss was Quick Man. Quick Man himself wasn't so ridiculously hard to beat, because if you had Flash Man's time stopper, that would do most of the work for you. The problem was more those blasted lasers that would shoot out from all sides during the vertical drop portions of the level. Trying to time my fall past those lasers was one of the most painful gaming experiences of my life, and, even to this day, I still frequently die when trying to tackle Quick Man's stage.|
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