NES: Mega Man II
Published by Capcom
Developed by Capcom
Mega Man, what is now one of the most revered gaming franchises of all time was but a blossoming newcomer on the stage when Mega Man II was released in 1988. The original’s success, coming as a surprise to even Capcom, was quickly taken advantage of as they launched its sequel to an eager public.
For those that have been living under a rock and have no idea what Mega Man games are about, I’ll give you a quick run down. Mega Man is a robot that looks like a young boy, but don’t let looks fool you. Equipped with his buster, (or as many a gamer lovingly refer to it, his pea shooter) he sets off to rid the world of robots that have been corrupted by the evil Dr Wily. Each robot has a specific job in society and as such they have special abilities that help them do that job, though strangely enough they make weapons of great destructive power. While ridding the world of these robots may seem like a tough task for our hero, Mega Man is not without an ability of his own. After defeating an enemy Mega Man is able to claim their ability as his own, thus building his strength. The beautiful part about Mega Man games is that each ability is strong against another particular robot, the trick is finding out which ability can take down which robot. This concept is simple in design, yet amazingly fun in action.
In one of the rare instances in gaming Mega Man II took everything that was right with the original and improved upon it ten-fold. Graphically Mega Man II is leaps beyond the original. Brighter colors, more interesting settings, smoother screen-to-screen action (The original could suffer from some serious slow down when too many enemies were on screen, and while this still does happen it’s not nearly as crippling.) and a bigger variety of enemies all make for a much more enjoyable experience. Musically Mega Man II delivers in a big way. Every level will have you humming along as you are blasting your way to the boss. Unlike many NES games where you want to shove something into your ears to prevent the music from hitting your eardrum, you will actually find yourself wanting to hear it outside of just playing the game.
Gamplay wise Mega Man II is everything its predecessor was, split timing jumping, attack pattern memorizations and reflex testing attacks will challenge you right to the end credits. Though one negative point (depending on how you look at it) must be made. The difficulty takes a deciding steep drop. The original’s difficulty was and still is famous (or infamous). It took hours of practice and planning to have a chance to beat it. The same cannot be said with II though; with energy items being dropped more frequently and the inclusion of the energy tank system (Basically you can find and collect up to 4 tanks of extra energy that you can use to refill you gauge at any time) Mega Man II is decidedly easier, but still challenging none-the-less.
Overall, a better Mega Man game you will not find. Mega Man II should be a staple in every retro-gamer’s collection. While it may not be too common to find it’s well worth the effort to do so.