Hello Source Gaming readers, and welcome to “A Winner is You,” a new Source Gaming series where we examine the results of various polls that we have run. This past week I conducted a poll on my personal Twitter account to determine which, out of the first four Mega Man titles, was the consensus favorite. Without further ado, here are results of said poll:
— David Krane (@8bit_Spazzy) January 20, 2016
To the surprise of no one, Mega Man 2 ran away with this poll with a commanding 64% lead. Why, exactly, is this? What makes Mega Man 2 so much better than it’s peers?
The original Mega Man was a rough game when compared to its more polished sequels. The game only had 6 robot masters, it had a relatively short Wily’s Castle, and the graphics and presentation were not up to par with what fans would come to expect of the series. The game did not, in fact, even sell well enough for Capcom to greenlight a sequel.
Mega Man 2, then, was a rogue effort from the original team to create a superior sequel. What they created was a game that would go on to be one of Capcom’s best selling games, and the best selling game in the Mega Man series with over 1.5 million copies sold.
The plot was fun and simple. The year is 200X, and the evil Dr. Wily has created an army of Robotic henchmen, known as Robot Masters, in order to take over the world. It’s up to Mega Man, the surrogate son of benevolent scientist Dr. Light, to stop these robots. Mega Man’s main power – and Mega Man’s main mechanic – is that he gains the powers of the Robots he defeats along the way, which both makes the character stronger and adds an extra layer of strategy to the game.
The game itself improved on virtually every aspect of the original. It was a longer game, with better graphics and better sounds. The balance was also improved, with the game having a more steady difficulty level. In other words, the game didn’t suffer from as many random difficulty spikes as the first game, and the Robot Master weapons could actually make the game easier…. if you chose to use them in that fashion. Take the following for example:
Quick Man’s stage is one of the most iconic platforming stages not just for Mega Man, but for video games in general. Note how the lasers are first introduced in easily avoidable segments. The game teaches you how navigate the hazard as soon as it is introduced. This is a great example of the tight level design Mega Man 2 is known for. The stage can be quite challenging the first few times a player attempts it. If a fledgling player wants an easier time, however, they can use Flash Man’s weapon, the Flash Stopper, and the lasers will be frozen in place. Similarly, difficult platforming segments could be skipped using Mega Man’s Item upgrades. In this way, Mega Man 2 used in game mechanics to allow players to alter the difficulty to a level that suited them.
Mega-Setting the Standard
Mega Man 2 introduced many of the staples of the series. It was the first game to include 8 Robot Masters (since the first game had 6), it was the first to include the teleporting boss room in Wily’s Castle, and it was the first to include a variety of items that would help Mega Man traverse dangerous terrain. While the first game’s Mega Beam – which allowed players to build platforms throughout stages – was an almost unrivaled tool and mechanic, Mega Man 2‘s item selection is much more in line with what players would expect from mobility items in future games. Mega Man’s classic red and white color scheme when using this style of item was also introduced in this game.
The game also introduced the first underwater segment in the series (with Bubble Man’s stage), as well as the E-Tank item that was used to fully refill Mega Man’s health whenever the player chose. The E-Tank was another example of Capcom allowing players to make the game as difficult (or as easy) as they wanted.
What makes Mega Man 2 stand out most, however, are the myriad of memorable moments. It was the first game in the series to include a cinematic intro, and what an intro is was:
Ah, yes, and that music! Mega Man 2 has some of the catchiest tunes to ever grace a video game console. It’s no wonder that Mega Man‘s most prominent Smash theme is the “Mega Man 2 Medley” – Sakurai himself openly noted how so much of that game’s content explicitly and specifically drew from that 2. His victory jingle is even a remix of the Mega Man 2 title theme heard above!
Also, as most Mega Man fans would tell you, each installment is only as good as the weapons Mega Man can collect. Mega Man 2 has plenty of fun weapons…and it also has one of the most infamous weapon in the entire series: Metal Blade.
Metal Blade can be fired in 8 directions, uses very little Ammo, and is super powerful. It’s a very effective against several Robot Masters, and, if used against Metal Man in Wily’s Castle, it does this:
— Ʀε†Ʀ❤️GιfM👾π$†εƦ (@RetroGifMonster) January 29, 2016
Special thanks to @RetroGifmaster for the Gif! Follow him on Twitter!
While Mega Man 2 was great, I would personally rank 3 as a better game. The game was longer, it had more content, and it introduced two of “classic” Mega Man‘s most important supporting characters in Rush and Proto Man. It’s often overlooked in comparison to 2, but its use of newly introduced mechanics like the slide roll made it just as evolutionary. However, the earlier game remains the definitive one for both general and “hardcore” audiences, and elements of its design are still used in side-scrolling action games.
So, what do you think? Is Mega Man 2 the greatest of the early Mega Man games? Let us know what you think in the comments below!