Also available on 3DS via Virtual Console
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/30/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Mega Man Xtreme 2 is the significantly more competent follow-up to Mega Man Xtreme, and unlike the previous game, this is a true Game Boy Color game rather than a cross-gen fence straddler. Granted, the actual gameplay and in-game sprites still use a pretty drab color selection, but the cut scenes look significantly better in this game, and a lot of the issues I had in the previous game have been remedied.
My single biggest complaint with the previous Mega Man Xtreme was the control, and fortunately, while they’re still far from perfect – I found Zero especially to feel awkward to control with platforming – they’re leagues better. Gone is the sluggish and unresponsive feel of the last game’s controls, and while I still wouldn’t call this game especially smooth or fluid, it’s far more playable and enjoyable. As I mentioned, Zero’s controls with jumping and dashing felt a bit jerky to me, but that does lead to my favorite addition to this game – a fully playable Zero. When you start the game, you can choose between X’s missions and Zero’s missions. This lets you choose between the two sides of the game; the actual story is the same, but each of the two playable characters faces different bosses and has different endings, so to experience the whole game, you need to play through with both characters. There’s some common content, but it’s probably 85% different between the two which keeps it from feeling stale and repetitive when going through whichever character you didn’t pick first.
My favorite thing about the choice between playing as X and Zero is how differently the two handle. I found X to feel much more comfortable with platforming, and X has the advantage of a long-range attack whereas Zero only has his sword as his standard weapon, but Zero packs much more of a punch than X, and that’s especially noticeable with boss battles. Overall, I found X to be a much more enjoyable character to play as with platforming and Zero to be a much more enjoyable character to play as with combat. That kind of balance gives both characters a distinct draw, and as a result, neither one feels useless or tacked on. After you face your chosen character’s four Mavericks (recycled from X2 and X3), Iris, your 8-bit robot waifu, gives you the option to change the character you’re using with the Select button, so you actually can use X for the actual stages and Zero for the boss battles if you want.
Overall, Mega Man Xtreme 2 is still a flawed and very imperfect game, but it’s a shockingly large improvement over the first Xtreme, and that can’t be overstated. I actually enjoyed this game. I think IV and V on Game Boy were better games overall, but I’d put this one ahead of II and III for sure and probably on par with Dr. Wily’s Revenge. If you’re a fan of Mega Man, this one’s worth checking out. If you’re not a fan of the series specifically, though, you can probably find better action platformers on the Game Boy Color.