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. They 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; they are simple and colorful but clear. The music is unparalleled. Some of the best chip tunes. Mega Man 2 is the NES.
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. And 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. And 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 makes MM great. Though MM has only jump and shoot options, 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.
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. And 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 (And 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.
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 graphic, 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.