Also available on PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Wii via Virtual Console, Wii U via Virtual Console, 3DS via Virtual Console, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/19/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
After playing Mega Man X – a game I felt was virtually perfect – I had high hopes for Mega Man X2. X2, while still an excellent game and superior to Mega Man 7, unfortunately, doesn’t quite live up to the astronomical standards set by X1. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great – but when that’s what it’s got to follow, it’s not terribly surprising that it feels a little lacking.
As far as level design goes, X2 and X1 are about on equal footing generally speaking. X2 keeps its predecessor’s X-cellent controls (I had to make the joke at least once), and controlling the game is easy and responsive. The visuals are fantastic, and the bosses all look unique and creative. Where the game disappoints is with the boss battles. They just don’t feel quite as well-designed as they did in the previous game. You’ve basically got to have the weapon they’re weak to (or be significantly better at Mega Man than I am) to stun them enough and do enough damage to beat them whereas in X1, most of them were doable with just the X-blaster once you got a feel for their attack patterns. At least at my paltry skill level, these bosses just attacked too fast for that for the most part. That’s not necessarily a bad design, mind you, but it felt less about learning a boss’s movements and patterns and more about exploiting their weakness in this game, and it just didn’t feel as fun or rewarding for me.
All that said, if you do have the weapon to which the boss is weak, the battle becomes a walk in the park. With the first eight bosses, it was one of those two extremes – extremely difficult or extremely easy. The Sigma Fortress bosses, of course, were a different story; even with their weakness, every single one of those bosses kicked my tail up and down the screen. That juxtaposition, as well, felt a little haphazard to me. I know part of Mega Man’s formula is being able to tackle most bosses in any order, but the difference in difficulty between regular bosses and Sigma bosses just felt more pronounced here than in most Mega Man games.
I’ve dogged on the boss fights here a lot, but that really is my only major disappointment with X2. It’s an extraordinary Mega Man game, and I had an absolute blast playing it. It may not have lived up to X1 in my opinion, but damn if it didn’t come close. I can definitely call this one of the jewels in the SNES crown. With how accessible the X collection is on modern consoles, this is definitely a game to check out if you’re into action platformers and haven’t played it already.