Scott’s Sunday Comic Review

So sometimes I buy comics (mostly on Thursdays) and because no one is dying to know what i think, I will jot down my thoughts as weekly reviews.  This first week actually contains more comics than I usually buy, but it was a heavy week for me.

Green Lantern Corps 48: This is Tony Bedard’s 2nd issue after taking over for Peter Tomasi and it is okay.  Not as good as Tomasi was, but Tomasi’s GLC was one of the better books over the last few years.  This issue deals with the complete failing of another of the Guardians great plans: the Alpha Lanterns.  Everybody knew that the Alpha Lanterns were going to go bad as soon as they appeared, so their corruption/defection is no surprise.  Still, the execution is pretty good.  Ardian Syaf’s art is not great, but it tolerable.  There are no real twists here, except Cyborg Superman being the one who takes over the Alphas, but this is revealed on the first page.  The only question is when this is resolved are any of the Alpha Lanterns going to be saved?

Justice League: Generation Lost 4:  With issue 4 of this 26 issue story we finally get to the starting point.  Max Lord is losing control of his powers and he has engineered the return of the JLI.  The players are assembled, now lets see what they do.  Like the previous issues, I liked this one.  The fact that it is a set number of issues means that even if the first few issues are slow they are going somewhere.  I was leery of this due to Judd Winick writing because his stuff tends to range from mediocre to terrible, but here he has done a pretty good job.

Superman 700:  This anniversary issue is light on classic feeling moments.  The first story, by James Robinson, is a nice coda to his run on the book.  Nothing great, but enjoyable enough.  The next story is by Dan Jurgens.  A nice story, but has as much Batman and Robin as Superman.  The last is the start of J. Michael Staczynski’s “Grounded” storyline.  The idea of Superman traveling around the United States to get back in touch with the country after spending the last year away is not a bad idea, but how he decides to do this is done in a stupid and off-putting way.  A woman accosts him and asks why he could not help save her husband from his brain tumor because he was too busy saving the world.  So Superman should feel bad because he he can’t save everyone?  That’s hubris.  If that is the point of the story, that Superman needs to feel less responsible for every bad thing that happens it could be good.  And the idea of Superman traveling the country is decent.  But not a good start.  Still a decent anniversary.

Zatanna 2:  This second issue written by Paul Dini and drawn by Stephane Roux is pretty good.  Zatanna fights a dream corrupting imp and the big villain plots.  I really have nothing to say other than this is pretty good.

Power Girl 13:  I was especially leery of Winick’s usually awful writing here, on my previously favorite book.  And the new artist is not Amanda Conner.  Sami Basri’s art is actually very good.   Not Conner good, but nothing is. It is different enough that it feels less disappointing a change than someone who tries to do something similar or generic superhero art.  Winick tries to maintain the humor, but does differently than Gray and Palmiotti.  I did like that is ties PG into Generation Lost and shows why she was such a dick to Booster Gold in the first issue.  I am still scared that he is going to destroy all that the previous writers built, but through one issue it is really good.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne 3:  Pirate Batman!  Well not really, but close enough.  This whole mini-series is slightly less good than it should be, but that does not mean it’s not great.  In this issue Batman sword fights Blackbeard on a bridge made out of bones.   No matter what slight failings it may have, that alone is enough to redeem it.  Not that it really needs redemption.  Yanick Paquette’s art is really good and the plot is coming together nicely.  I am still really excited for more of this, especially because the next issue is cowboy Batman.

Prince of Persia Movie Review

Prince of Persia is not a very good movie.  It could and should have been better than it was, but due to some truly baffling plot points what could have been an entertaining summer epic is just a mess.  Many viewers will write this off as the inevitable consequence of basing a movie on a video game, but contrary to that this movie is better when is stays close to its video game roots and falls flat when it deviates.  The deviations from the game include obvious twists and drawing heavily on tired influences.  The result is that what could have been the first truly good video game based movie is instead an uninspired and uninteresting amalgam of better movies.

The parts of Prince of Persia that could have made it good are there if the plot had let them.  First, for a summer action movie the acting is actually very good.  The casting was dead on as well.  There were no outstanding performances but neither were there any noticeably poor ones.  The acting was better than expected for a blockbuster.  Also the action scenes were good.  They were clear and well choreographed.  The movie shines when the focus leaves the asinine plot and shows Prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhal) performing acrobatic parkour feats.  This is something that hews closely to the video game, which was primarily about using the Prince’s acrobatics to traverse the trap filled wreckage of a ruined palace.  In the movie this translates into entertaining and unique action sequences.  Prince of Persia is a joy to look at as well.  The plot of the movie goes to some breathtaking and awe-inspiring places that really make the movie feel epic.  It’s bad that the adventure itself is so dull.

Prince of Persia starts by showing how the titular Prince became such.  Unlike the game, Dastan was not born a Prince.  For some reason the script writers or somebody felt that what PoP really needed was a big dose of Disney’s Aladdin.  In fact he is introduced in a near exact copy of the scene that introduces Aladdin in his movie.  It then moves to the Prince, his two brothers and their uncle debating whether or not to attack a castle that they have been told not to but appears to be conspiring with their enemies.  As soon as the uncle appears on screen he might as well have “villain” tattooed to his forehead.  He looks very much like “Aladdin’s” Jafar.  The uncle, who wants to fight, wins the argument and the battle begins.  During the well done battle scene Dastan acquires a dagger that can control the sand of Time.  He is quickly framed for the death of his father and escapes with the princess of the attacked castle.  This leads to about an hour of the Prince trying to get in touch with his uncle to tell him he was framed, even though it is obvious to everyone in the audience that the uncle is the one who framed him.  The movie plays it as though it is some big twist, but it is really just a waste of time.  How could anyone doubt that Jafar is the bad guy?

The Princess is a troubled character.  At the start she is capable of defending herself and even of killing the Prince when she catches him by surprise.  But as the movie goes along she becomes more and more helpless and useless.  Also introduced are Han Solo and Chewbacca.  Actually it is the leader of a band of gambling thieves and his faithful bodyguard.  Despite being somewhat pointless additions they are entertaining.  Though why it was thought adding Star Wars to an already confused plot was a good idea baffles.

The plot eventually takes the Prince and friends to a place where the dagger can be kept safe, though hit is not clear how considering it has already been found and destroyed.  It is revealed that Jafar wants to use the sands to go back and stop himself from saving his brothers life when they were kids.  The Prince is able to stop him, but only after he has rewound time to before all the bad things in the movie happened.  And he still gets the girl.  In the game it starts with the Sands being unleashed and it follows the Prince’s attempts to fix things.  Rewinding to before it happened is the goal and it costs the Prince his relationship with the Princess.  Instead of the goal, the rewind is a happy accident that was said to cause the destruction of the world in the movie.  It takes something that is convenient in the game and makes it stupidly more so.

Prince of Persia ends up as a messy combination of several better works; Aladdin, Star Wars and the game.  It feels longer than its already bloated runtime, with its stellar action scenes too few and far between when compared to the lame plot.  It is sad that the most glaring flaws of Prince of Persia will be written off as the remains of its video game heritage when in actuality those are the parts that stray furthest from the video game.

**

New Futurama Quick Reviews

So those of you who don’t watch Comedy Central or have bad taste you might not know that Futurama has been uncanceled and is back on TV as of today.  Sure over the last year of so they put out 4 movies of middling quality, but now its back to the format in which it is best.  So I’m writing quick reviews of tonights pair of episodes

Season 6 (I guess) Episode 1:  Rebirth

It starts with showing how they made it back to Earth after the end of “Into the Wild Green Yonder” (Which I predicted as soon as new episodes were announced.)  Though all except the professor were “killed” during their return, he manages to regenerate all of their bodies.  But Leela remains in a coma and Bender must party all the time to keep his new power source from exploding.   Fry is crazy and builds a robot Leela to replace the real Leela who finally wakens at her funeral.  After much confusion over exactly who is a robot and how dumb Fry is everything goes back to normal.

I liked it.  They main story, about Fry, Leela and Robot Leela was some classic Futurama flavor sci-fi.  The professor had several funny lines, Fry was dumb and the side characters all got a few funny lines.  I liked robot Leela  philosophizing over whether or not she could really feel and Fry not understanding a word of it and Fry building a robot Leela and not realizing it.  Another thing I liked a lot was the return to the classic theme song and not the remixed version from the movies.  Not that it was bad, but with the original theme it feels more like real Futurama.  On the bad side was the party Bender b-story.  It was funny for about 2 minutes and afterwards was annoying.  I think the creators realized this as well because there was really little to his story.  Rebirth also continues a theme that shows up in several Futurama episodes: that each member, except Bender, really doesn’t like themselves.  When there are two Leela’s they do not get along.  The same is true when there are two Frys around.  Overall Rebirth is a not quite great but still very good way to restart the series.

Season 6 Episode 2:  In-a-Gadda-da-Leela

The second episode focuses on Zapp Brannigan.  It starts with the Zapp Brannigan Show, a crappy TV show about the adventures of the incompetent 25-star General.  President Nixon’s Head then tells Brannigan about the destructive Death Sphere that is destroying the universe.   They go to recruit Professor Farnsworth and his new stealth fighter.  Leela and Brannigan go in the one man craft to take out the Death Sphere, also known as V-Giny.  Leela and Brannigan fail to stop the Sphere and end up crashed and incapacitated.   The Professor finds out that the V-Giny is a combined military and censorship probe that destroys vulgar planets.  To save Earth they preach against obscenity.  Zapp treats Leela surprisingly well after their crash and Earth is apparently destroyed.  Until Fry shows up and Zapp’s kindness is shown to actually be more sociopathic than kind.   The V-Giny shows up and forces Leela and Zapp to have sex to save the Earth.  They do.

I have some problems with this episode, most notably that it essentially ends with a rape.  It really seems meanspirited and wrong to force Leela to have sex with Zapp.  Worst of all its not very funny.  Fortunately “The Transcredible Exploits of Zapp Brannigan” is really funny.  As is Wonder Woman’s invisible plane that they fly to the Death Sphere.  It is invisible but Leela and Zap are not.  Zoidberg has a humorous fixation with Parcheesi and bender is a jerk.  But the whole Leela and Zapp in the garden of eden part is about half hilarious and half mean.  Zapp goes from being incompetent and  careless to downright evil, but it is kind of funny until he gets rewarded for it.  Overall I liked the first episode better, but this one was not really bad, it just featured some poor taste.

Most importantly Futurama is back!!  All should be dancing in the streets in celebration.  The only thing better would be the Arrested Development movie actually happening.  But this did happen.  I’m glad they brought back a show that deserved to comeback.  (Family Guy is terrible and has been since a while before it was cancelled.)  The only problem I see is that comedy central probably frees them of some of the restrictions that fox had.  That would seem like a good thing, but judging by the audio commentaries on the DVDs the restrictions actually forced the show to be more clever than vulgar.  Now they don’t have that and I hope my qualms with tonights show is a momentary thing.  It feels lazy and cheap at times.  I hope I am wrong and its not yet a problem but more of a suspicion.  Futurama’s back baby!!!

25 Years of NES: Mega Man 3

In the last 25 Years of NES I gushed about how Mega Man 2 is nearly perfect.  With that in mind I start with this premise; Mega Man 3 is better.  Mega Man 2 was almost perfect, and there was no way that Mega Man 3 could match it in game play and expect to be considered as good.  But Mega Man 3 does not attempt to match its predecessor.  As good as Mega Man 2 is, Mega Man 3 attempts to expand upon it in nearly every.  Fortunately, for Mega Man 3, and for the players, it succeeds as often as it fails.
MM3 maintains the perfectly tuned controls of MM2 with one change.  It adds the slide.  That is a fairly significant change.  The slide gives Mega Man an added touch of mobility and allows for more intricate level design.  Unlike the new move added to Mega Man 4, the charge shot, the slide actually enhances the game.  Sliding makes Mega Man move faster, or at least appear to move faster, while not changing the baseline game play.  The charge shot from 4 is the reason that Mega Man 3 will be the last Mega Man game to appear in my series of articles.  Not that the later Mega Man games are terrible, but the charge shot changes the flow of game play significantly, and not for the better.  Instead of the smooth run, jump and shoot game play of the first three games, where the special weapons are used throughout the level and not just against the bosses, in Mega Man 4 through 6 the game is stilted charge and wait with sub-weapons used only as boss beaters.  Again, not terrible, but not the high quality of MMs 2&3.  The slide, rather than a drastic change, merely allows for more intricate levels and greater movement.  Though the level design does not really pan out, as the levels in three are not really improved, but they also are not weaker.  The slide is necessary because without something different the levels could not be as good two’s levels.  Mega Man 2 had already taken that move set as far as it could go.
Another more minor change is the greater fleshing out of Mega Man’s world.  Instead of the generic “Items” from 2, 3 has Rush, Mega Man’s faithful robot dog.  Rush transforms into the Rush Jet that, like Item-2 from MM2, allows Mega Man to fly through the stage.  There’s also the Rush coil, a spring that catapults Mega Man to great heights.  And the largely useless Rush Marine, an underwater rush jet that is usefully at most twice.  Rush is not greatly different from MM2’s Items, it is a more colorful, memorable version.  The other addition to the Mega Man Universe is Proto Man, the scarf and shades wearing mysterious rival to the protagonist.  Sure, he’s just Racer-X from Speed Racer, right down to secretly being Mega Man’s brother.   Proto Man shows up in several levels to impede or assist Mega Man’s progress. (Incidentally Proto Man is much more awesome than the X series Zero)  Plus, before you fight him, Proto Man gets his own awesome whistling theme song.  While the story and its twists will never be a reason for playing Mega Man (hint Dr. Wily is behind it.  Always) the mystery of Proto Man is a welcome addition to Mega Man’s world.
As far as Robot Masters go, Mega Man 3 is somewhat weaker than it is predecessor.  Sure, there is Shadow Man, Gemini Man and Magnet Man, who are all interesting enough.  Plus Snake Man, one of the coolest bosses in the series.  But there is also Needle Man and Hard Man, both whom are dick jokes.  And the single lamest boss in Mega Man history: Top Man.  Top Man doesn’t even give you a useful weapon.  The only use for the Top Spin, other than a couple of specific enemies, is to get a look at the Blue Bomber’s paunch.  Overall Mega Man 3’s bosses are good.  They have mostly interesting levels and good sub-weapons.  While they are not quite as good as Mega Man 2’s bosses, at least none of the weapons are as stupidly overpowered as the Metal Blades.
If the game would have simply went from its 8 bosses to Wily’s Castle, then it would have been a slight drop from MM2, but MM3 ups the ante.  Before the castle, there are four more stages to beat.  Each level has 2 of the eight bosses from 2, now in the body of the Doc Robots.  But now the player must figure out their weaknesses with the weapons from 3 instead of those from 2.  Later games in the series would attempt similar tricks to this, but having already seen it in 3 the shock of 4 more levels was just not there.  With no great effect, the games just got 4 levels longer.  But the Doc Robots in MM3 were a shocking new challenge before the final showdown with Wily.
Mega Man 3 succeeds by taking all that was good about its predecessor and giving the player more.  Rush, Proto Man, Doc Robots, the slide.  Mega Man 3 simply gives the player more than Mega Man 2 had.  MM2 is a great game, and all things being equal MM3 could not be better.  But things are not equal.  MM3 has all that its predecessor had plus more.  It is not quite excessive in its growth, but it does hit the tipping point.  Mega Man 3 added all that could be added before the additions stopped improving the game and started muddling it.  In fact, it slightly passes that point.  Capcom was clearly running low on inspiration for bosses. (Hard Man, really?)  The signs if the excesses and stagnation that would doom the rest of the series to mediocrity are present here, but MM3 just avoids those traps.  It is a clear response to its predecessor.  Mega Man 2 is about perfecting a limited skill set.  Mega Man 3 is about adding all that they could to that skill set in an attempt to one up it.  And it succeeds, barely.

images courtesy of the VG museum

Futurama Episode 9

Hell is Other Robots

“Do I Preach to You When You’re Lying Stoned in the Gutter?”

Title Screen

Recap

Hell is Other Robots starts with Fry, Leela and Bender attending a Beastie Boys concert where Bender sees an old friend who takes him back stage to meet the band, and party with some other robots.  There Bender “Jacks On”, plugging himself in and getting too much electricity, and being Bender becomes immediately hooked on what is essentially robot drugs.  When the electricity bills go through the roof, everyone but Fry suspects Bender.  After a quick trip to Sicily 7, the mob planet, Bender detours the ship through an electrical disturbance to get high.  The crew stages an intervention in order to get Bender to change his ways, and while he is contemplating what they said, he uses the sign for the Church of Robotology for his next fix.  This leads to Bender joining said church, much to the bewilderment of the rest of the cast.  Bewilderment and annoyance, as the crew finds Benders new morals just as his old lack thereof.  They soon grow fed up enough with Bender’s newfound piousness that they take him to Atlantic City to reacquaint him with his sleazy side.  The plan is almost immediately successful and Bender goes on a depraved romp through the city.  But by the terms of his Baptism he is now doomed to robot hell so the Robot Devil comes to collect him.  Fry and Leela mount a rescue while the Robot Devil performs a rousing musical number.  After a brief fiddle contest, the episode ends with the crews escape and Bender learning not to be too good or too evil

Analysis

This is one of Futurama’s stock episodes; take Bender and put him into a crazy situation.  This, like most episodes in the first season, is like the first test of an idea that the show will do better in later episode.  Fortunately, for Hell is Other Robots it has a song, which elevates it from a mediocre to a good episode.  One thing that is really great about this episode is how quickly they get from point to point, even glossing over what could have an entire episode.  Each of the vignettes that make up this episode, Bender on drugs, Bender is religious and the Beastie Boys concert, could have been stretched to fill an episode.  Instead, they are distilled into small enough chunks to fit them into one episode.  And the trip to the mob planet is bypassed.  It sounds like it could have been an interesting episode, but by leaving it as just an idea, the joke is still there without getting old.  The same is true of the parts that are there.  By keeping each piece short, it includes only the best jokes and does not allow the episode to feel stale.  They do go a little too fast that each part is not quite long enough.  That balance is better in later Bender episodes, like Bend Her, Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television.  The animation continues to improve, and the writers seem to be settling in with the characters.  Fry tells one of his long and pointless stories that has little to do with his point.  Leela continues to be levelheaded but occasionally more interested in expedience over what is right.  And it ends with a song.  Every episode that features a song is better because of it.  The Robot Devil is little used, but he is fun when he shows up.  Hell is Other Robots seems like something of a prototype for better episodes, but it is not bad, just not quite as good a Futurama eventually got.

Great (bumped from Good due to song)

Reading Some Comics: JSA 52-53

If you read my Top 5 DC Comics heroes piece, then you know that I love Wildcat and Power Girl.  So it should come as no surprise that a story that has those two great heroes turn up would be one of my favorites.  The story in question takes place in JSA issues 52-53, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Don Kramer, and is nearly as good as it should be.  So when these two illustrious Superheroes team up you get action, mystery and romance.

Futurama Episode 8

A Big Piece of Garbage


A Big Piece of Garbage is the first of Futurama’s “issue” episode’s, and unlike most shows that do issue shows Futurama’s are actually funny.  It’s also the first Professor focused episode.  Which means we get to meet another great returning character: Wernstrom, the “evil” version of the Professor, unless the Professor is the evil one.  We also get to see that Farnsworth is even a geezer by the standards of other geezers.  Plus, he comes up with not one but two crazy inventions, the death clock that never shows up again and the oft-reappearing smell-o-scope.

The symposium scene shows us that Farnsworth is what an old Fry will look like.  In addition, the great slight that the Professor perpetrated on Dr. Wernstrom was an A- due to poor penmanship.  Bender, who really does not have a lot to do in this episode, does get to were a top hat again.  It sure is entertaining to watch the hat roll jauntily around his antennae.  After Farnsworth’s embarrassment at the symposium, we get the real meat of the episode: the garbage ball.  The video about the garbage ball is the first example of the great propaganda videos that appear from time to time to provide cheap exposition.  Fry shows off knowledge of 19th century technology and his lack of knowledge period before we move on the next part.

I am fairly sure that this episode also contains the first appearance of Mayor C. Randall Poopenmeyer.  Outside of his name, he is one of the least memorable returning characters, but it just takes one good episode of him to make me love him.  He calls in Wernstrom, even though Farnsworth is right there, and they come up with a plan to kill the crew while destroying the ball.  Of course, since the theme of the show is the Professor is old and forgetful he makes a mistake in the construction of his bomb.  Once on the garbage ball, fry wallows in nostalgia for a few moments before they fail to blow it up.  Back on earth, Wernstrom shows why he is the evil Doctor in this episode, by getting his instead of trying to save the city.  In addition, Fry is disgusting.  The plan of defeating garbage with garbage is similar to many such plots on Futurama, and it humorously undercuts the pollution is bad message (which is not really a message anyone needs to hear, it should be obvious).  We end with a Farnsworth is senile joke, a Fry is dumb joke and Leela emphasizing that people never change.

This is a pretty good episode.  It is not exactly an essential one, but there is no reason to skip over it.  This is what I tuned in every week to see: zany Sci-Fi humor.  It is a great episode for Professor Farnsworth lovers or big fans of Doctor Wernstrom and while it is not my favorite episode, I do like it.  Great

Just short: Robin Hood

Robin Hood, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, is nearly a great movie.  Scott and Crowe came close to recapturing the magic that made Gladiator so great.  Unfortunately some tonal inconsistencies mar this epic just enough to make it slightly disappointing.  Most of the Robin Hood is similar in tone to Gladiator, somber and serious with majesty and grandeur, but it also has some moments that come off as goofy.  The movie is humorous in between the serious parts, which is not a problem on its own, but it does not in smoothly with the rest of the film.

One thing I liked about the film is the portrayal of Robin and his merry men.  In the few scenes in which they act as a team are truly delightful.  Robin, Little John, Will Scarlett and Allan A’Dayle go about their wayfaring exuberantly and it makes for some enjoyable scenes.  Too bad such scenes were few and far between.  Blanchett as Maid Marian was also very good, as was Friar Tuck.  Easily the best parts of the film were the parts that focused on the traditional Robin Hood myths.

Then there were the historical parts, which were not quite as good.  Kings Richard and John were great.  Richard the Lionheart was well loved, but he did not actually care too much about governing his kingdom.  And John was all hubris and arrogance he meant well, but he was not actually that good at being king.  He was the King who ended up signing the Magna Carta, so having that be Robin’s focus rather than having him playing a waiting game while they hoped for Richard’s return from the Crusades was an  interesting change.  But there were also some quite strange things.  Like Robin being a commoner who assumed the name of a dead noble.  That itself is an interesting twist, but the fact that the father of the noble he impersonates just happened to know his real father strain credulity.  That his real father just happened to be an integral part of the group that wrote the first attempt at a Magna Carta is unbelievable.  The whole real father reveals were just confounding and disappointing.  As was how people suddenly knew was an imposter at the end.  The were also other strange bits, most notably Marian leading an army of orphans into the battle at the end.

Robin Hood is and enjoyable movie, but the little things that do not quite match the tone of the rest keep it from being great.  A possible sequel, as the ending suggests and practically begs for would probably improve upon this one, with Robin and his merry men hopefully acting as outlaws more than in this film.  But Robin Hood, in the end, is an almost great movie.

25 Years of NES Part 3: Mega Man 2

So Yeah I’ve been gone a while.  I guess a month of not posting is not the ideal way to start a blog.  But between my new job and increased time being spent on my side job I have had little time for writing lately.  So instead of posting maybe once a week I’ve been saving them to get a few post ready so I can provide a continuous stream of content.

Next up in 25 Years of NES is that classic of classics Mega Man 2.

The biggest character to come out of the NES is undeniably Mario.  25 years later, he is still going strong with the recently released masterpiece Super Mario Galaxy 2.  But on the NES, the greatest star was Capcom’s Mega Man.  Mario had 3 great NES games, all of which will be covered in my NES celebration, Mega Man had 2 great games and 4 that were not quite as great but were still very good.  After the NES Mario continued to shine and has never stopped shining.  Mega Man, however, faltered.  There was the Mega Man X series that started great but quickly faded.  There was the GBA Zero series that had its heart in the right place but was more frustrating than fun.  Also on the GBA was the Mega Man Battle Network series, originally a fun Pokemon flavored action RPG but soon degenerated into soulless cash cowing.  On the PS1, there was the truly delightful Legends series.  It had three great games that, while extremely good especially for their system, but were more Zelda than Mega Man.  But despite his troubles after the fall of the NES, on it the pudgy little robot was king.

While the first Mega Man game was good, Mega Man 2 took all that was good about 1 perfected it and expanded upon it and became one of the best games on the system.  The controls are perfect.  Perfect.  There is no possible improvement for them.  The way Mega Man handles is the best ever on the NES.  All other games must be compared to it and all are found wanting.  Much of this has to do with the simple move list: jump and shoot.  Later games added stuff like the charge shot or the slide that marred Mega Man 2’s perfection.  Graphically MM2 is why people remember 8-bit graphics fondly; the graphics here are simple and colorful but clear.  The music is unparalleled.  Some of the best chip tunes.  Mega Man 2 is the NES.

Wood Man's Leafy Stage

So starting with that great base MM2 only gets better.  The best thing about MM1 was the ability to choose the order in which the 6 levels are played.  MM2 kept the choice but gave 8 initial levels instead of 6.  From each of the Master Robots, as the bosses are called, defeated the player receives a new power.  Each of the powers is useful against another one of the bosses.  Half of the fun of the game is trying to find the “correct” order in which to beat the levels and get the power-ups.  Unlike most of the later games, in MM2 the weapons are actually useful in the levels and not just against the bosses.  In the case of the Metal Blades, they are overpowered.  But you gain one for each level; the player gets more and more powerful.  Parts of the game at the beginning that were unbeatably hard become trivial.  Not the any Mega Man game is actually that hard.  They are unforgiving and force the player to play its rules, but once the player submits and lets the game shape the way they play then the games become easy.  The weapons are what makes Mega Man great.  Though Mega Man can only jump and shoot, the differing shooting abilities makes Mega Man a formidable force by the time the player hits Wily’s Castle, the 4 level gauntlet that ends the game.  The feeling you get at the end of the game of having become so much more powerful is one of the greatest feelings in any game and it is particularly great in Mega Man.

Mega Man getting equipped

One of the last great things about this game is the eight master robots:  Quick Man, Flash Man, Wood Man, Air Man, Crash Man, Heat Man, Metal Man, and Bubble Man.  Each one has a good design and the levels fit what each boss is supposed to be.  You can tell which one is weak to which without resorting to trial and error.  Flash Man’s time stopping power is obviously the weapon to use against the speedy Quick Man.  Heat Man decimates Wood Man, etc.  Each Master Robot has a themed level that is wildly different from the others.  Bubble Man’s underwater level makes the player adjust to the different physics of jumping underwater.  Flash Man’s ice level forces the player to carefully control their movements.  Quick Man’s stage’s killer bars keep the player on their toes. (I for one have never beaten it with out the Time Stopper) The levels have a perfect amount of variety and challenge.  And then there is the true test of the game:  Wily’s Castle.  First of all Music.  These stages force the player to use all of the techniques they have learned throughout the game in increasingly difficult challenges.  The game ends with the one bad thing about Mega Man 2, the final boss.  To beat it the player must use the most useless weapon, the Bubble Lead (Pronounced leed not led) to take one bar of life away from the boss until it dies.  It is not actually that hard, just tedious.  And if you die, then you have to spend ten minutes or so farming the weak enemies outside the boss room to get enough weapon energy to defeat him.

The Source of all hate

Despite that one complaint, Mega Man 2 is one of the best games on the system, which is not true of all the games I will be reviewing.  The ability to choose your starting level means that not matter how hard you find the game you can still see the majority of the levels.  But it also keeps the game from being to hard, because any level could be the first level none are that difficult.  Mind you that is not that difficult for an NES game, those weaned on the mollycoddling of newer video games will probably still have some trouble.  But even for them there is an easy mode.  The great graphics, music ,and stellar game-play makes Mega Man 2 one of the greatest games ever, let alone just on the NES. The Blue Bomber shines as brightly here as he ever did.

The end of the fight for everlasting peace?