developed & published by Capcom/1989.06.01
1 Player/Cartridge/NES/GameCube/etc/Nintendo Wii (Virtual Console)
It’s easy to forget that Mega Man was a revolutionary action platformer back when it made its debut in the mid ’80s. A robotic hero echoing Astro Boy who defeats rogue robots created by a mad scientist, Mega Man had the unusual ability to assimilate his enemy’s weapon. Each robot had a hidden weakness that Mega Man could exploit if he had the right one. Filled with a solid mixture of jumping and shooting challenges, Mega Man appeared like a bolt of lightning out of a clear blue sky.
Despite its genius, Capcom was unimpressed when the game failed to live up to sales expectations, and the team had to beg the executives to let them work on a sequel. Not that the first game was bad – quite the opposite, actually – but it was cursed by one of the worst box arts for any video game on any console in history. Thankfully, they were able to pour their enthusiasm for the project into Mega Man 2, or one of the industry’s greatest heroes would never have achieved the legendary status he enjoys today.
Ditching the points system, Mega Man 2 took everything that made the original great and expanded upon it. Eight levels were readily selectable from the start of the game (instead of Mega Man 1’s six). Spare energy tanks for replenishing health, as well as items 1 through 3 (an early precursor to Rush, the robot dog) were also added. On top of all this, Mega Man 2 included a handy password system which was sorely missed in the original, and had two difficulty modes which made it much easier to get into for novice players.
By now all gamers should be familiar with the formula, and we have Mega Man 2 to thank for perfecting it. It is one of the few games that I feel is truly a 10/10 – it is perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing, and I couldn’t ask for more. Despite more than 25 sequels or variations on the theme, and 20 years later, Mega Man 2 is still regarded as the pinnacle of the series in many gamers’ eyes. What makes this one so special?
Well for one thing, the music. Every level features a classic chiptune set that still sounds fantastic 20 years later. Add to that the impressive artwork, multiple screen-filling bosses (in Dr.Wily’s fortress) and inventive enemy and level design, and you have a clear winner. This time the game was a hit, and the rest is history.
Mega Man 2 also features one of the best endings on the NES.
Now that you know just how great this game is, I’d like to share with you a little personal story. Back when Super Mario Bros 3 was released, it was HUGE. It wasn’t just that it was a new Mario game – it had a whole goddamned movie made just to advertise it to kids (The Wizard). Every kid had to have it, and approximately 1 in 3 families in the US already owned an NES at the time. Naturally, it was sold out immediately. If you were lucky enough to get it, you were automatically the coolest kid on your block.
I was sent by my older brothers to pick up our copy from Toys R Us. My grandma took me, and when we got there, I knew which game I was supposed to get. I knew if I came home with anything other than Mario 3, I was going to get beat up pretty bad. Still, the draw of Mega Man 2 was like a powerful magnet saying BUY ME, BUY ME, BUY ME. I looked up at my grandma’s wrinkly face, but her benevolent smile did nothing to ease the pressure of this decision. It didn’t matter to her which game I picked from the wall of boxes in front of us – the buying power was in my small but capable hands. On the one hand, I could get what could be the greatest game of all time, and on the other, I could get Mega Man 2 – which I had already finished, but knew was a great game.
But then I saw Mario 3‘s box. Was that a raccoon tail? Why does Mario have a racoon tail, I wondered? I came home to find my brothers eagerly awaiting my return. I proudly displayed the box for Mario 3, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat. Yes, Mario had won out in the end, but only just. And that day, untold hours were spent playing Mario 3. And the next day. And for weeks to come. And all the neighbor kids were jealous.
Quick Run Down
- Super tight, responsive controls
- Imaginative and challenging level design
- Unbelievably sharp and colorful graphics
- Soundtrack from the Gods
One Sentence Review: A classic that is required gaming if you want my respect.
One Word Review: Perfect.