Mega Man II
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.
I own this game for the NES and have beaten it on normal difficulty.
- Overall: 9/10
- Best Version: NES
- 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.
- 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 Mecha-Dragon is especially terrifying, well-drawn, and a good challenge.
- The ending cut scene and staff roll is a fantastic way to finish the game.
- 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.
- A lot of the game uses instant-death spikes, pits, lava, etc. which is a cheap way of increasing difficulty.
- Not replenishing weapon power in the Dr. Wily stages makes it pretty much impossible to beat the game fairly without first dying several times to find out which weapons you need to save for the bosses. Kind of a lame move.
- The Dr. Wily boss stages are pretty uninspired using drab colors and using mostly repeated enemies.
- Nothing, this game rocks.
This is my running commentary on the design of the game for each stage.
|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. The Air Shooter has limited use in the game. It's good against the Sniper Armor and Crashman, and that's about it.|
|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 (Anko) that spits prawns (Shrink) 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, though I don't care much for the sickly green color. The starting two rooms with Telly inching slowly toward Mega Man is a pain without the Metal Blade, as it the three platform rooms (Item-1 can speed up these screens). Like most other stages, Metal Blade is encouraged. I like the tall climb with the Neo Metall hanging out on a precarious edge because if you do take a hit, there are blocks to catch you, and even if you miss them, you still don't die, you just have to take the damage. I like how the stage slowly turns darker as you climb past the atmosphere in the ladder maze. The Pipis and Shotman keeps this part interesting, and an Energy tank and 1-up can be picked up (Item-1 makes this easier). The Prop Tops just before the boss are easily killed with Metal Blade. This level, again, has fantastic music, and doesn't suffer from tons of instant-death. Crashman is probably the most difficult boss to defeat with the Mega Buster, but he's especially easy to kill with the Air Shooter. The Crash Bomb is useful on one boss, entirely necessary on another, and helpful for taking out obstructive walls elsewhere in the game. However, its slow fuse means it's not very helpful as a general weapon.|
|Flashman Stage||I don't quite understand why Flashman's stage has an icy floor, but it certainly adds a nice layer of complexity. Most of the stage is pretty bereft of enemies, which is kind of nice when you're slipping all over. The first section just has a few Crazy Canons adding to the complexity. Metal Blade is preferred for the bulk of the stage. Having Item-1 or 3 will get you a 1-up and if you also have Crash Bombs, you can skip a Sniper Armor. You will memorize the optimal fall path down the several screens after a few attempts. I like to avoid the Blocky and Crazy Canon and take the Scworm route while staying above the second Sniper Armor. The last section rewards careful jumping. If you fall, you're stuck facing several Sniper Armors, but if you succeed, you win an energy tank. No matter what, you'll have to face at least one Sniper Armor. Air Shooter takes out the armor, and several weapons work on Sniper Joe. Overall, I'm not a huge fan of this level. I like the color palette and changing lights, but the entire level uses a single tile set. The music is good, but not one of my favorites. Like most of the enemies in the game, Flashman is easily annihilated with Metal Blade. His Time Stopper weapon is useful in Quickman's stage and for fighting Quickman himself, but not much else.|
|Heatman Stage||This is another stage with a lot of instant death from pits, although the lava pits aren't quite as bad because if you take a hit before falling into them, you won't immediately die. The beginning with the Prop Tops and Tellies is a nice introduction and isn't too difficult. As usual, Metal Blade is the preferred weapon. Once you pass the large gap, you have to deal with a few Spring Heads which can easily be killed with Bubble Lead. Down the ladder you will encounter the disappearing bricks. You can bypass them with Items 1 or 3, or just learn the pattern, it's not too tough. Just be sure to kill the Spring Head first! The next section is like the first, only with more deadly jumps (it's good design to teach the player earlier, give them a respite, and then increase the difficulty). Crash Bombs will make it a bit safer. Next, there is a large section of disappearing blocks over lava and a pit. Item-2 can skip this mess, or you can risk it. It's not too difficult to learn. Take out the Sniper Armor with Air Shooter, and then prepare for Heatman. Overall, I find that stage to be a bit bland with the same tile set and enemies throughout, and all the falling death is rather cheap. The music is alright, nothing special, and Heatman is pretty easy with Bubble Lead. Without it though, he's not much harder, it just takes a lot longer. Atomic Fire has a couple uses on bosses in the game, and the charging ability is a nice feature, but it depletes too rapidly to be fun to use.|
|Metalman Stage||I love the animated background gears and pistons as well as the foreground gear tiles. The conveyor belts definitely fit with the mechanic style of the level and the first energy tank is a nice freebie. It was an interesting design choice not to feature an enemy for the first couple sections, just the pits and the Presses, and even the Mole screws don't feel like enemies as much as hazards. Since players often use the Moles as a place to recharge their hit points, it's kind of a funny jab that the designers end the section with the conveyor which makes avoiding them much harder, so they often can't leave unscathed. The Pierobots are a fun enemy, but a little too weak to ever pose a threat. If you have Item-1 you can get the 1-up here. More easy Pierobots and a tough jump. The stairs with Blockies is a great spot for them. The energy tank near the pit is a trap if you don't have Item-1 or 2. I like how they designed several sections to make use of the Items throughout the game. The placement of the Spring Heads near the door is nice, and I often take a hit if I'm rushing. I like this stage because it has a fair amount of difficult enemies and jumps, without overdoing it on either. Unfortunately, the tileset never changes, the color scheme is a bit ugly, and the music is only so-so. Metal Man himself is one of the best boss robots. The changing conveyor makes the battle dynamic, and his Metal Blades are tough to avoid. Unfortunately, his weapon is so useful it almost breaks the game.|
|Quickman Stage||I like the cyan on dark read, and the tile set is pretty good looking, even if it's plain. Good use of a bonus for those who enter with an Item. Like pretty much every other stage, the Scworms encourage Metal Blade from the start. The lasers are fun at first, but they very quickly become tedious. Until the player memorizes the order, they will probably use the Time Stopper, which means they won't have it for Quickman, kind of a douche move. The Hotheads lighting up the dark tunnel is quite creative, but they're not exactly difficult to defeat. More lasers that are even harder than before are not welcome. I would prefer something other than Sniper Armors before the boss gate to help replenish the Time Stopper. This is my least-favorite of the eight boss stages because there isn't much to do but avoid lasers, even the music isn't that great. Quickman is a killer boss. The Time Stopper will cut his life in half, but even then, he's very hard to avoid with his speed and Quick Boomerangs. The Mega Buster is my preferred weapon. His weapon is kind of nice because it depletes so slowly, there just aren't that many thinks weak to it.|
|Woodman Stage||Great multi-layered background here, and the brown and green are a nice palette. The Bubble Bats once again encourage Metal Blade. The Robo-Rabbits are an odd enemy, but a decent challenge. The Hot Dogs are a great large robot, but once you find a safe place to shoot from, they're super easy. I like how you keep moving in and out of the trees, great tile swap. Mecha Monkey is easily thwarted with the Metal Blade, as are the Pipis. Heading down the three screens with the Robo-Rabbits is a good choice, as they're not so easily defeated this way. The Atomic Chickens are a pretty dangerous enemy, especially since they are immune to Metal Blade. Overall, this is one of my favorite stages. Lots of different enemies, varied backgrounds, and good music. Woodman isn't too tough with Metal Blade, and his Leaf Shield has several uses throughout the game, especially farming lives in a Pipi area.|
|Dr. Wily Stage 1||First of all, the music. Oh my god, the music! This is my favorite song on the entire NES platform. The dark cyan sky with the orange foreground is a great palette even if the tile set is a bit plain to begin with. It's a safe practice to farm 1-ups here with the Pipis dropping eggs. Then, the wall, and later with the ladders, I like that the designers force the player to get used to using the Items. I would like to see something other than Scworms here, but, oh well. More requiring Items. Sniper Joe is well-protected from Mega Man jumping his bullets, so hiding on the ladder is a must. The Spring Head on the next screen is well-positioned to hit players as they fall from the empty screen above. The height here requires the player to use Item-1 on the ladder first, which usually takes a few failures to realize, a good puzzle element. Telly is useless here, simply climb up past him. Next, you find yourself having to jump across precarious pits, then the screen begins to pan on its own and you're terrified by the giant Mecha-Dragon popping up behind you! This is an amazing technological feat on the NES because the dragon isn't a sprite, he's the background, and the tiles you jump on are the sprites! The PPU's name table moves around to simulate the dragon flying around. Very clever, but it does create a lot of flickering when Mecha-Dragon breathes fire. Mecha-Dragon, which is beautifully drawn, is weakest to Atomic Fire, which takes awhile to figure out, and even then, you probably won't kill him with it on difficult mode. I really love this stage, not just because of the music, but the layout makes it feel like you're actually infiltrating Dr. Wily's hideout. I dislike the fact that your weapon energy doesn't replenish from this point on, as it requires a lot of boring grinding in later levels.|
|Dr. Wily Stage 2||I like the brown and cyan foreground in this stage, but the dark brown background is rather ugly. The huge animated fans are a nice background effect. The Prop Tops here may seem weak, but they will interfere with using Item-2 to cross the spike pit if you're not careful. The spikes are large and well-drawn, better than most other NES games. Having two ladders was a nice design. The ladder that is more risky to reach rewards you, actually a little too well, with 2 free guys and an energy tanks. Having Moles here is very helpful as it allows the player to refill their weapon energy. The Press at the top of the well which needs an Item to climb is in a perfect spot to require a well-timed jump. The falls are simple enough for a safe passage on the first attempt, but tricky enough to possibly kill you. Overall, I like the level, but I don't like the background scheme. The final boss, Picopico-kun, is pretty creative, and requires expert use of Metal Blades (although, by now, the player better be an expert!). My only gripe is that not all of the tiles get used before it dies.|
|Dr. Wily Stage 3||Brown and dark green is a pretty awful color palette, but it fits the sewer motif. The new music is rather blah, but the beginning section is nice for charging up weapon power. However, it tricks you into using up your Crash Bombs which you will need later, kind of a dick move. The spike pits are pretty easy to avoid thanks to the slower water movement, and I like that you can jump partially out of the water. Nice color-change on the background with the water as well. The Big Fish are nice for scaring the player, but as long as you keep moving they can't hit you. I don't like the fall through the spikes, but it's not too difficult after a few times. I like the room with the Crazy Cannons because they're pretty difficult to avoid here. The Guts Tank is a very impressive looking boss, but a little dull in practice. Stand on the ledge, shoot with Quick Boomerang, problem solved.|
|Dr. Wily Stage 4||Ugh, this level. Firstly, magenta and blue isn't horrible, but it isn't great either. Annoyingly, the stage is just a bunch of hidden traps. It begins harmless enough with some ladders and a sneaky pit that drops you onto a Neo Metall, but they keep on doing it. One is even above a spike pit (although its location is kind of obvious by the time you reach it). Then there are rooms with Tellies and slow moving platforms like in Crashman's Stage, but now there are spikes on the ground. This is a good recall of an earlier room, but again, they overdo it with four consecutive rooms. Finally, you have to defeat two Sniper Armors and two Sniper Joes in low-ceiling halls. You're basically being tenderized for the kill. The boss, Boobeam Trap, is a pain in the ass. Not only are the beams difficult to avoid, but the turrets can only be killed with Crash Bombs, and even with full energy, you don't have enough Crash Bombs to take out all the turrets and walls, just the mandatory ones. You're forced to use your Items to get around the walls, which is annoying for a second reason because you can't change between the Items or Crash Bombs until either has dissipated! If you die, all the Boobeam Traps will recover when you reenter, so you must fill up your weapon power. The only trouble is, there are no easy places to grind in the entire stage! If you're pretty confident you're going to die, one good strategy is to shoot out all the walls, die, then climb back up to the Tellies and restock there. The walls will still be gone when you come back, so you can just focus on the turrets. This is my least-favorite level in the entire game.|
|Dr. Wily Stage 5||While revisiting the old bosses has become a bit of a trope these days--it was also done in the first Mega Man--I do kind of enjoy it when it's done right. And here, it's done right. Not only do you now have all the weapons and items at your disposal (minus Crash Bombs which aren't really needed), but each boss's lair has a flat ground which makes takes away some of their sting. The downside here, is you don't get to replenish your weapons each time, instead you get an energy bonus. There is an annoyance where, if you kill the boss while standing on the exit, you will leave the room without getting the energy bonus. That probably should have been fixed with a delay. Depending on which weapons you exhaust, you may not have enough energy For Dr. Wily's ship. Again, this is kind of annoying, because he's extremely difficult to beat with just the Mega Blaster. The first Dr. Wily incarnation is fair; the energy balls aren't simple to avoid, but not impossible. The second incarnation is practically impossible to defeat without taking a hit. Defeating him is kind of cool though, the floor falls out from under you and you head to stage 6. Great backdrop for the room, by the way, very nice animation.|
|Dr. Wily Stage 6||This room is ugly looking, but the lack of music mixed with the cavernous echo of the acid drips adds to the ambiance. The acid itself is extremely dangerous to touch, and not entirely easy to avoid. A nice bit of difficulty before the final boss. However, if you just push to the right as you fall, and are quick with your jumps, you can get ahead of them, and not have to worry about it. They probably should have fixed this. When you get to Dr. Wily you find that he is actually a space alien! As you scramble to find a weapon that will hurt him (if you have any left by this time), he moves all over the screen, often out of your reach, and fires fast bullets at you with great precision. You'll have to get good at avoiding these because the battle is quite long. When you finally discover he's completely immune to all weapons except the Bubble Lead, you still have to hit him 7 times (14 in difficult mode) before he dies! Then, you find out that you were actually fighting a hologram generator! I like how the stars fade away and you see the generator moving along its course before it finally falls to the ground, which helps explain what was going on.|
|Ending||This game has one of the best endings on the NES. First, Dr. Wily begs for forgiveness and you get the All Stage Clear tune. Next, you watch Mega Man slowly walk home as the weather changes and he uses his various suits to stay warm and dry. Finally, Mega Man ditches his helmet to go back to being a house robot. I really love the color palettes used for this sequence and the various particle sprites. The landscape is also very nicely drawn. Follow it up with a robot roll call and credits to more great music, and my heart melts!|
- mobygames.com/game/mega-man-2 - MobyGames.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mega_Man_2 - Wikipedia.
- gamefaqs.com/nes/563442-mega-man-2 - GameFAQs.
- vgmpf.com/Wiki/index.php/Mega_Man_II_(NES) - Music.
- strategywiki.org/wiki/Mega_Man_2 - Strategy Wiki.
- thealmightyguru.com/Games/Hacking/Wiki/index.php/Mega_Man_II - NES Hacker Database.
- spriters-resource.com/nes/mm2/ - Sprite Sheets.
- youtube.com/watch?v=vn3UiC-kkjc - Title sequence.
- youtube.com/watch?v=Ys7CC9oP8mU - Ending sequence.
- youtube.com/watch?v=g_7rmGlo-1U - Brentalfloss - Title.
- youtube.com/watch?v=ykkdvYThT_Y - Brentalfloss - Dr. Wily Stage 1.