Mega Man II

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North American box art.

Mega Man II is an action platformer made by Capcom, released for the NES in 1988, and the the second game in the Mega Man series. Like the first, the game is broken up into stages, each ending with a boss. Dr. Wily was defeated by Mega Man in the first game, but he built eight new robots and is once again trying to conquer the world.

I first saw this game in a Nintendo strategy guide and thought it looked amazing, so I asked for it for Christmas and got it (around 1990). The first time I played it, I started in Quickman's stage, because the strategy guide suggested his weapon for a lot of the sections in the game. Naturally, I got my ass handed to me! After a lot of trial and error, I eventually learned a better stage order and now I prefer: Metalman, Bubbleman, Woodman, Flashman, Airman, Heatman, Crashman, Quickman.

Status

I own this game for the NES and have beaten it on both normal and difficult skill levels.

Review

  • Overall: 9/10
  • Best Version: NES

Good

  • The graphics are colorful, well-drawn, and highly detailed for such a low resolution.
  • The music is extremely good, some of the best for the platform.
  • The game is difficult without being unfair and even has a difficulty setting for less die-hard players.
  • The ending cut scenes and staff roll is a fantastic way to finish the game.
  • Each of the bosses, despite being quite primitive, has a unique style which can be felt in their stage, fighting style, and weapon.
  • The bosses in the first four Dr. Wily stages are quite clever. The Mechanical Dragon is especially terrifying, well-drawn, and a good challenge.

Bad

  • The boss weapons are very unbalanced. Some weapons, like Lead Bubble only have two real uses in the game, while Metal Blade is so versatile, it's best to use it for most of the game.
  • The disappearing platforms from the first game are back, and even worse than before. Luckily, the Items 1-3 make them a little easier to deal with.
  • Later in the game, you have to deal with a lot of instant-death spikes and pits which are a lame way of increasing difficulty.
  • The Dr. Wily boss stages are pretty uninspired using drab colors and using mostly repeated enemies.

Ugly

  • Nothing, this game rocks.

Box Art

Documentation

Maps

Screenshots

Gallery

Game Design

This is my running commentary on the design of the game for each stage.

Stage Commentary
Introduction This game has one of the best NES introductions. The music is not only phenomenal, but it hearkens back to the ending theme of the first Mega Man. The story is ridiculous, as 2000 didn't seem that far into the future even in the 1980s! The cityscape in the distance makes great use of the limited tile set. The stage select with closeups of the bosses is very attractive, and the music continues to be good.
Airman Stage When you first come in, the bright blue sky and the large animated clouds in the background really clue you into your location. The glassy look on the platforms is also a great artistic effect. I don't quite get the little red tikkis in the floor though. The giant floating Tikki (goblin) platforms are not only visually appealing, but make for a great test of patience. The Lightning Lords are really cool and are pretty difficult without a vertical weapon like Metal Blade (I suggest this weapon for the entire stage). There is a great moment of panic when you fly behind the cloud and lose your position as an enemy shoots at you. The egg-dropping bird (Pipi) fits perfectly here, and the obscuring clouds help make it more complicated. The vertical interlude with the Scworms seems unnecessary. Then, there is a nice change up where you have to jump from one Tikki platform directly to another. This requires a little bit of patience. The Fan Fiends are great enemies and make the pits here particularly treacherous, but there is a bug in the game where they often disappear. Ending the level with Pipi over pits adds to the difficulty of the first encounter. I love the music, it's one of the best electric guitars on the entire NES. The only thing I don't like about this stage is the amount of pits, they are a cheap way of increasing difficulty. Airman himself is a pretty straight-forward boss. His Air Shooter is very difficult to avoid, but he can be dispatched without too much trouble using the Mega Buster, but the Leaf Shield is the most useful as it stops his weapon and greatly hurts him.
Bubbleman Stage This one begins with a wonderful fully animated waterfall background (simulated through palette swapping). The Croakers are great large monsters, well drawn and kind of annoying with their tiny babies. The falling platforms are a cheap trap for the first time you play, but once you're aware of them, they're not too difficult. The designers did something special for the Crabbots, for those players favoring Metal Blade, hitting them knocks their shells off at you, a great trick. The spiked ceiling and walls for the majority of the rest of the level are pretty annoying, but they do teach precision control. The giant angler fish that spits prawns is very well-drawn. The robotic jellyfish which are definitely not Metroids (because they're M-445 not SR-388!) again encourage the Metal Blade. More pits with the Snappers, more cheap death. While I adore the music, the majority of the level is instant death, which I don't like in games. Bubbleman himself is a joke when faced with the Metal Blade, and his Bubble Lead is pretty useless in the game save two bosses.
Crashman Stage The mesh of pipes with the giant metal spheres is a great background tile set for this stage. The starting two rooms with Telly inching slowly toward Mega Man is a pain without the Metal Blade.
Flashman Stage
Heatman Stage
Metalman Stage
Quickman Stage
Woodman Stage
Dr. Wily Stage 1
Dr. Wily Stage 2
Dr. Wily Stage 3
Dr. Wily Stage 4
Dr. Wily Stage 5
Dr. Wily Stage 6

Links