20: Mega Man II

Genre: Platformer

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Year: 1988

Basic Idea: Defeat Dr. Wily for the second of infinity times.

Review: I feel kind of dirty ranking this game all the way down at #20.  Most people have it in their top five, and many more have it as their favorite  game of all time.  It is probably hurt by the fact I didn’t have this game as a child and couldn’t obsess over it for years.  I can’t really explain why the game doesn’t move me like it moves others.  But the game is more or less perfect at what it does, and I did enjoy myself quite a bit while playing, so I have no qualms about having it in my top 20.

For those who aren’t aware, you basically control a robotic man equipped with a laser cannon for an arm.  You must traverse several levels in standard platformer style, defeat a boss, then defeat the big bad boss at the end.  What pleased a lot of people (and something I don’t personally care about) is that you can tackle the levels in any order you wish.  There is more than one optimal path through the game, as finishing some levels sooner will give you power-ups that will make other levels easier. While this gives the game replayability in a sense, it doesn’t do much for me as once I win a game, I have little desire to do so in a different manner unless there’s a true alternate path.  For an extreme example, there is a FAQ on how to win Final Fantasy VI while not giving equipment to any player.  If I’m going to play the game again, I’d rather just play it regular and enjoy the story.  Finding a slightly different way to get to the end just for a different challenge does not intrigue me.

That said, the game mechanics are flawless.  Mega Man always does everything you ask him to.  It is a difficult game.  If you have trouble with Super Mario Bros. this game will give you fits.  But it’s not impossible, and way more fair than the first game in the series.  Patience is rewarded, as taking time to use your special abilities (such as levitating platforms) while also conserving them is key to making progress.

The level designs are very creative, the colors bright and inviting.  The music is consistently amazing and a perfect fit for the game.  I am not alone in feeling the series peaked on the NES with this game, and the final four games are mostly derivative.  You certainly don’t need to play the first game in the series to enjoy Mega Man II; in fact, you’re better off skipping it altogether.

14 thoughts on “20: Mega Man II”

  1. Hmm…there’s so much to punch you in the face about here.

    Okay, not really, but I’m glad you at least feel dirty ranking this so low. The game did itself no favors by repeating itself over and over, though.

    I don’t get the attacks on the first game…I know I’m a true obsessor, but to this day I can beat it without a ton of difficulty (with the obvious exception of the Rock Robot, still the most difficult boss in the history of the series).

    I actually really liked the first X game on SNES (I haven’t played the others). It’s really, really easy though. Well, it was for me. Others probably find it reasonable.

    There are two(?) 8-bit sequels on the PlayStation Network that I’ve never gotten to, for some reason or another. I played the demo for Mega Man 8, and it certainly seems like it has the proper crushing difficulty.

    1. It’s a weird thing. I have no doubt when looking at the 19 games about this one that in general I’d rather be playing them. In fact, there are several below this one that I’m more likely to play on a given day. I struggled a lot with this ranking, because while the game is essentially flawless, Mega Man has never interested me for some reason.

      1. Yeah, you’ve mentioned that to me before, so I’m perfectly happy with this ranking.

        I feel the same way about Call of Duty. It’s a genre-defining, well-crafted Army shooter. And I don’t care if I never play it again.

        1. Speaking of Army shooters, the only one I’ve ever played for any length of time was the original Medal of Honor. That game had it’s flaws, of course, but I remember playing it in a dark room in the middle of night and literally shaking with how nervous I was. My nerves can only handle that type of game for so long.

          1. That’s the exact thing that’s drawn me to shooters in the past few years. I got a rush playing Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune that I haven’t gotten from a video game in years. It just feels so visceral and real in a way that falling in a pit between koopa troopas doesn’t.

            Zombie games are a weird middle ground. It’s supposed to be scary, but it’s tougher for me to engage with the supernatural. Uncharted is actually the exception in this case, because by the time they drop the supernatural on you in the end, the mythology is so well-built that I’m ready to buy into it. The Resident Evil world has a ton of backstory throughout, but each game essentially starts with the plot: “Suddenly, zombies!”

          2. To be at least a little fair, the “Suddenly: Zombies!” thing worked great in the first RE game, which I think had a lot to do with that first encounter with the zombie eating one of the team members on the floor. Setting the mood like that carried the freaky factor through the rest of the game.

          3. I love the rush, but it gets to a point where I have to put it down because I get paralyzed by the rush. In fact, I’m always seeking out good horror games. I prefer more subtlety, with occasional battles with a lot of stealth and some relaxed times to energize my nerves again. Many shooters just never give me long enough of a break.

          4. I just tried Medal of Honor for about 15 minutes the other night. The controls are just too clunky by today’s standards for me to get into it. Shooters don’t work well with D-Pads and analog sticks. Mouse all the way.

            I am trying the original Silent Hill on a PSX emulator and it’s a little clunky too, but I may give that more of a chance so I can experience that before continuing with the Silent Hill you got me for Wii.

          5. Shooters age horribly. I have a feeling we’re just now getting to the generation where they may hold up.

            GoldenEye was unarguably the most inspirational shooter considering what we have now, but it’s pretty well broken if you’re used to today’s games.

          6. Wolfenstein 3-D is hard to play these days, too, even with all the nostalgic value. There’s only like four types of enemies, all the rooms look virtually the same, aiming is tough, and there’s no plot development across 60 stages. But damn was it cool as hell back in 1993.

          7. I’d been out of the loop on game systems or playing PC games for that matter for awhile and discovered Half-Life in 2006 I think. After playing it I was surprised to find out it came out in ’98. I think it played great for 2006. Though, this is a PC game with a mouse, so I’ve just wasted a couple sentences.

            Shooters age horribly. I have a feeling we’re just now getting to the generation where they may hold up.

            …until you’re laughing about this x years from now when we download games to our brains and are immersed in a virtual realty battlefield. :)

  2. I’ve got the intro of the Dr. Wily music pretty far up on my “favorite moments ever” list. This one is solid, but I can see where it sits on this list.

  3. I attempted a play of this game the other night and, amazingly, I was able to stave off my impulse to move on after my first death. I really pushed myself to keep playing for a while (beat 3 of the bosses). This game is starting to grow on me now, although I never owned or played it as a kid.

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