A big improvement over the original, Mega Man 2 is one of the finest and most iconic action games on the NES.
While the original game had six robot masters, this is the first to give you eight. These are some of the most beloved robot masters of all time, too. Can't really go wrong with this lineup... except for Crash Man. He's a bit lame.
Metal Man is pretty much universally regarded as the best choice for first boss in this game. He has the best weapon out of any of the robot masters, and at least one easily-acquired energy tank.
This game is a lot more difficult than the later installments. One of the reasons for this? If you run out of lives, you lose all of your saved energy tanks. And you -need- those for the Wily stages. This means that a strategy is necessary in terms of making sure you get to said Wily stages without getting a game over in the meantime.
For this one reason, it'd actually work strategically to do Metal Man's stage last, as well as any other stages that have an E-Tank or two.
Alternatively, you could just not die at all.
Creepy purple gnomes attack in this stage. Blasting them off of their gears is pretty satisfying.
Metal Man is a bit of a conundrum. Aren't all of these guys metal? In any case, the battle is pretty simple, and the rewards are rich.
This thing can be rapid-fired in any direction and has a LOT of ammo. It also beats Metal Man in one shot later on for comedy gold.
I'm going to be talking a lot about the rad-ness of the minibosses in these old Mega Man games. I particularly like these fire-spitting dogs. They're like prototype versions of Sigma's dog in Mega Man X.
High above the treetops, Mega Man does battle with a vicious monkey. This isn't an acid trip; it's Mega Man 2.
Metal Blade is very useful in situations like this where you need to aim downwards. It's also the reason why all those PSAs exist about being careful with shop tools.
Wood Man is the penis reference boss du-jour of this game.
We get it, Wily, you're sensitive about your junk.
Junk Man: "HELLOOOO!"
Air Man's stage is really iconic because of the Air Tikis. Remember these from the Game Boy iteration of Mega Man II?
Grayscale, yet still stylish. I'll repost this one soon too.
Air Man is a tornado-launching bastard! I've always had trouble with this guy if I don't bring his weakness, because without a slide ability in this game it's hard to close in on him.
Wood Shield drops him in two hits, which is easy to accomplish once he leaps over to this side of the screen and starts firing in the other direction. Air Man isn't too bright.
Bright Man: "Can I help you?"
My God, there's a robot master for everything!
Much like Santa Claus, Dr. Light appears to give our hero new tools after some stages. Since this is before Rush existed, the various items serve the same general purpose. They're interesting and varied in their applications, and I like them more than just having a simple Rush Coil and Rush Jet. Still not as cool as the Magnet Beam, though.
Man, that is one nefarious frog-robot. Looks like he has something evil planned. Protect your balls, Mega Man!
It has some snazzy - if somber - music..
This is the first water level in the series. Water means you can jump really high, but that isn't exactly a benefit when they lined the ceiling with DEATH.
Robo-metroid! It's actually useful, as I take the hit and use the invinciblity time to run off to the right without getting scratched by the spikes.
Bubble Man. I'm unsure of his weakness (Quick Boomerang, if I had to guess... and I don't have that yet) so I blast him with Metal Blades. That makes quick enough work of him. The bosses in this game don't have a whole lot of health compared to the other games in the series. The reason for this? It was dumbed-down a bit for the American version. The original difficulty of the game is preserved in the "Difficult" mode on the title screen. However, since I'm just trying to relax, I'll pass on it this time.
Flash Man's stage is...weird. I think it's supposed to be an ice stage, since the floors are blue and slippery. Not sure how that figures into "Flash" Man, though. Flash freeze, maybe?
Flash Man is another easy boss. His special power is formidable, but he rarely uses it. Said power? He can freeze time. I suppose "freezing time" might be where Capcom got "ice stage", but who knows.
...yeah, gotta be a "flash freeze" pun going on here.
...yeah, gotta be a "flash freeze" pun going on here.
Flash Man's time stopper is pretty much required to get through Quick Man's stage without running the risk of losing too many lives. This is - almost without a doubt - the hardest of the eight stages. It's full of instant-death beams that surge across the screen faster than Mega Man can move, but the time stopper can shut them all down for a little while. Here, for instance, the slide power would totally save his life. ...the slide power he doesn't have yet.
Thing is, the time stopper is what Quick Man himself is weak against (it halves his energy) but I've never actually reached him with any of it left. Thus, it becomes my mission on this playthrough to get through his stage without stopping time at all. So much for relaxing...
After surviving the beam-hell, you're rewarded by having to get past a few of these AT-AT walker things that do massive damage if you so much as lightly bump into their kneecaps.
Quick Man. After cutting his energy in half with the time stopper, he's a manageable foe. Still, his manueverability may well make him the most difficult of the eight bosses. Figures, given his stage. The only competition in the difficulty department - both stage and boss - is Heat Man's stage.
Quick Man gives up the Quick Boomerang, essentially a smaller, faster, much more useful version of Cut Man's weapon. When you get both of them in Dr. Wily's Revenge, it's a bit awkward. Quick Boomerang is all "sup" to Cut Blade before running off with his wife and moving into his house.
Crash Man's stage is nearly identical to the Game Boy version. I don't like this guy, or his stage, and find them both pretty boring. I don't even like his weapon, as it's slow and ponderous in a game full of super-useful weapons.
The big challenge of this area involves platform-riding while enemies slowly home in on you. However, activating Wood Shield and standing still completely nullifies any threat from these rooms.
Crash Man himself is an extremely easy fight with his weakness. He jumps when fired at, and the Air Shooter travels upwards. This means there's no escape for him, and he takes massive damage from it.
I like the way this fight takes place at night. Pretty sure the Game Boy version has the fight take place during the day.
Heat Man's stage is full of Mario-esque tiny platform hopping. This stage has really good music, perhaps my favorite track in the game.
Aw yeah, listen to that 8-bit goodness.
Here's the insane Sega Genesis remix of the song. The Genesis even had extra attitude in its BGM instruments.
Heat Man's stage involves a lengthy section of disappearing-block hopping, but the entire section can be skipped with one of the special items. Joke's on you, Dr. Wily. I've got Proto Rush Jet.
Heat Man is a tough bastard. He, naturally, attacks with fire. His weakness is the water weapon of the game, Bubble Lead. Since he's invulnerable a fair portion of the time, this is one of the trickier fights in the game.
He also does some Dragonball Z style powering up. Unlike DBZ, this powering-up does not go on for twenty minutes.
Whoa, was that all eight bosses already? That was quick. Here's Dr. Wily, saucer and all. In this and the original game, there wasn't even any pretense of Wily being a good guy or hiding behind someone else. The plot of this game is just straight-up "Wily's the bad guy, go get him". I like the purity of the story.
Skull Castle debuts! We didn't see it in the original game. This is the first of many, many iterations of Wily's fortress of doom. No relation to Lufia and the Fortress of Doom.
This particular Skull Castle is, no surprise, a challenge; it makes you use all of your items. Here we see one of the items in action as Mega Man gets a lift over a wall.
Another item in action. Creating platforms and using them is just plain awesome, and I wish the rest of the series had stuff like this. Rush is a cool dog (when he isn't ranting about liberals), but these items allow for a lot more ingenuity.
Behold, the coolest boss in the game. The green dragon is a difficult fight because it's so easy to get knocked off of the platforms.
This particular fight is the most enduring image of this game for me, much like the Rock Monster in the first game. It's in the same position, end of the first Wily stage.
Next boss: THE WALLS ARE ALIVE. Blocks break off and come together to form robots that fly towards Mega Man, but they're easily dispatched with Metal Blade.
Wily Stage 3 is evidently the sewer, and Mega Man must traverse a lake of pee.
Behold. The Pee claims another victim.
Now here's a damn cool boss. The Guts Robot is a fearsome beast. Luckily you can jump on the platform-edge in front to get enough height to fire at his head. I'm a fan of being able to jump on parts of bosses, something that happens every so often in this series.
Wily Stage 4 consists of a lot of these Crash Man platforms. Again, the Wood Shield makes this simple.
The boss of Wily Stage 4 is potentially the biggest pain in the ass in this entire game. Each one of these pods on the wall takes one Crash Bomb to destroy. The various block-walls in the room also take one Crash Bomb to destroy. Unfortunately, the Crash Bomb has very limited ammo, and there isn't enough to destroy everything in this room. In other words, unless you -carefully- plan out your shots, it's nearly inevitable that you'll run out of ammo. And if that happens, you're screwed, because ammo won't be replenished unless you lose all of your lives, and there go your E-Tanks.
Also, the pods are shooting at you during all of this, which tends to make it hard to think about where you need to direct your shots. The only silver lining here is that the pods stay dead even if you die and come back. It's -exactly- like the mechanics behind the Bed of Chaos fight in Dark Souls. I actually wonder if that fight was inspired by this one, because it's so similar. Multiple pods you have to take out, with barriers in front of them, but the pods stay gone once you defeat them even if you die and run back, even though that's never the case anywhere else in the game...yeah.
WIN. With my last Crash Bomb. The three walls I left up are the ones that you don't need to waste ammo on.
But seriously, this "fight" is trouble.
Wily Stage 5 (yes, 5...WE GOIN' LONG) is just a simple capsule room. Fight all eight bosses in succession, which isn't difficult when you have all of their weaknesses ready to go. The robot masters in this game already have relatively low health, so with their weaknesses you can just plow through them.
My question from earlier is answered, as I find that Quick Boomerang makes short work of Bubble Man. It also turns Mega Man hot pink.
And of course, with the Metal Blade, I defeat Metal Man more single-handedly than Reagan defeated Mondale in '84. BOOM! 80'S REFERENCES! MIAMI VICE!
Here we go, Dr. Wily. This ship looks a lot like his ship in the first game. No Elec Beam trick here, but this fight is fairly easy.
Of course, he has a second life-meter once he's exposed, but he's such a big target that it's hard to mess this up. You might be expecting a saucer fight to follow this one, but instead...
...we get a SIXTH Wily stage. And it's apparently in the bowels of Hell.
This place is insanely creepy, because there's no music. Just red acid (blood?) dripping down everywhere. Does a lot of damage, but it's easy enough to avoid as long as you aren't rushing.
I'm sure there's something symbolic going on here. Maybe this is a hint of the edgier Dr. Wily that Inafune wanted but we never really got to see.
Dr. Wily... with no saucer? Is he going to fight Mega Man mano-a-mano? That'd be awesome, especially if he had some cybernetic enhancements, but no.
Wily proceeds to turn into a green alien. What the hell?
He flies in a figure-8 and launches some fast-moving projectiles. This fight is another annoying one because you're forced to use Bubble Lead. If you run out of weapon energy, you're screwed until you run out of lives. And this fight is difficult to win without an E-Tank. Well, one. For safety. Otherwise it isn't too difficult to practice until you can do it without a tank. He follows a fairly redundant pattern of movement, but his shots move quickly and having to get close to hit him with Bubble Lead often results in taking a lot of damage.
Victory causes the lights to go on, revealing that you were fighting a hologram controlled by the real Dr. Wily. Huh.
Now that Wily is (I guess) defeated, Mega Man returns home and we get some shots of the four seasons.
Last scene. Rest assured, Mega Man will need to helmet up many more times as Mega Mania rolls on.