Also available on Genesis, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii, 3DS, Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Android, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 01/23/2019 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
A year after the release of the first Mega Man (two years for North America), Capcom saw fit to bring the Blue Bomber back for another platforming pew-pew party on the NES. The box art for the North American release still looks more like a Chinese knock-off Power Ranger than Mega Man, but at least it’s not as ugly and downright creepy as the cover of the first game was.
Everything about Mega Man 2 is an improvement over its predecessor. The robot masters feel generally better designed, and there’s more of an open-ended weakness system with them. Whereas in the first game, each robot master had one specific weakness, your options are a bit more varied in the second game. The basic mega blaster will usually take care of them easily enough in a pinch, but they usually have a couple of weaknesses rather than just one, and they have specific resistances this time, too. In one instance, a certain boss is actually healed by a specific weapon, and in another, a boss is weak against his own weapon. It’s clear that more time and energy went into the weaknesses and strategy in the sequel which makes sense given that the first game actually didn’t perform particularly well commercially.
Another area in which Mega Man 2 excels over its predecessor (in part because of the aforementioned attention given to the boss weaknesses and strategy) is the difficulty. In the original Japanese release, your only option was “balls hard,” but when it got brought over to North American and Europe, they added in a “hard but not emasculating” difficulty alongside the “balls hard” difficulty of the Japanese release. You can also get three special items – creatively called Item-1, Item-2, and Item-3 – in addition to the robot masters’ weapons that can make traversing levels MUUUUUCH easier (and I’m pretty sure are required in a few areas) which add to the problem solving that the game requires. The difficulty still doesn’t feel as finely tuned to me as some of the later games, but it’s an astronomical improvement over the original.
Mega Man 2 is an entirely different breed of game from the original. I seem to be in the minority in that most folks seem to think that Mega Man 2 is the best of the six NES games, but even if I don’t necessarily think it’s THE best, it’s definitely in the top three of the six. The difficulty is much more approachable, the robot masters have some legitimate strategy elements to them with regards to weaknesses, the platforming takes a bit more thought and planning, and the overall game mechanics just feel more refined and polished. This is basically everything that a sequel should be; fix what’s wrong with the previous game and expand what was right.