Mega Man 2 (NES)

Game Review

Mega Man 2 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Get Equipped With an All-Time Classic

In 1987, Capcom released the original Mega Man. It was well-received by both gamers and critics, but it was not much of a financial success. Over the course of the next year, however, Mega Man 2 was developed as a labour of love by Keiji Inafune and his team, alongside other projects that were expected to be more profitable. Little did Capcom realise the masterpiece it had on its hands.

To put it flatly, Mega Man 2 was a worldwide smash. Its extraordinary soundtrack, colourful comic-book graphics and plethora of fun weapons and items cemented the Blue Bomber's place in video game history; playing it again now, all these years later, it's impossible not to see why.

Mega Man 2 builds upon the sturdy foundation of its predecessor, yet makes improvements at every step of the way. You can still choose your own path through the game, but now you have eight main stages to choose from rather than six. You still acquire weapons from defeated robot masters, but now they are more versatile and fun to use. And of course you still spend the bulk of the game jumping over pits and blasting robots, but legendary twists complicate that formula surprisingly well, such as Flash Man's maze, Quick Man's mandatory speedrun, and Air Man's patience-demanding floating platforms.

It's a fantastic experience, every bit as challenging and compelling as it was upon release, and every bit as rewarding to master.

As in the previous game, each of the robot masters are weak to the weapons you earn by defeating other robot masters. This means that even though the bulk of the game is non-linear, there's always a sense of gradual empowerment as every completed stage makes you that much more capable of handling the others. And that's a good thing, because many sections are brutally hard.

Take, for instance, the disappearing blocks in Heat Man's stage. While you get to practice a bit over firm ground, once you take that fateful leap forward over the lava you're in it for a long and difficult haul. Savvy gamers will of course know how to skip the sequence entirely, but that's one of the best things about Mega Man 2: its difficulty is customisable.

On the title screen you'll be able to choose between Normal and Difficult modes, but Normal is actually unique to the Western markets, and is easier than the standard Japanese difficulty. But what's more, you can use items and special weapons to either make the most challenging sections of the game easier, or avoid them entirely. It's this versatility that has helped this game — and the Mega Man series as a whole — to retain such a rabid fanbase for so long. After all, with so many ways to play the game, so many weapons to try, enemy AI to master and challenging sequences to either power through or avoid, you never have to play through Mega Man 2 the same way twice.

Fans of the first game will be happy to see that there are more stages, weapons and items here to enjoy, as well as a brilliant and complex soundtrack that easily ranks among the best on the NES. They'll also be happy to know that this game introduces E-Tanks, which are one-time use items that allow you to refill your health. Our hats come off to you, by the way, if you manage to complete this game without them!

What's more, the sequel refines the sometimes slippery and dodgy physics of the first game, making for tighter and more fair gameplay...as well as allowing for even more harrowing battles and evasions.

The 3DS Virtual Console release makes the game portable, which is something we're absolutely happy to have, and also adds restore points, which will give struggling players the opportunity to retry difficult segments without having to start over from a checkpoint, and will allow advanced gamers to try over and over again to master some of this game's very satisfying boss battles. Go ahead, try to beat them all without taking damage!

Mega Man 2 is often cited as the best game in the series, and we certainly can't argue very hard against that. It's fun, quirky, and endlessly replayable. And if you don't find yourself humming these songs long after you take down the persistent Dr. Wily, you've got no soul.


Mega Man 2 is the textbook example of a sequel done right. It retains the best features of the first game, tightens up the physics, retools the enemy AI, and adds a slew of new features and challenges. Its front-to-back brilliant soundtrack doesn't hurt, either. Having it on the go is even better, as the short stages are perfect for quick bursts of frantic gaming, and the restore points give you the perfect opportunity to square off again and again with these bosses, practising until you learn their patterns inside and out. That feature alone makes this version of Mega Man 2 worth a download for long-time fans, and if you've never played it before, prepare to fall in love with one of the all-time NES classics.

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User Comments (67)



naut said:

Mega Man 2 is less than perfect. It definitely has its share of poor game design flaws (Boobeam Trap, anyone?). It's still an NES legend, though. I'd be more inclined to give it something more like an 8.



CanisWolfred said:

This was the game that truly made me a gamer, back when I played it on the Anniversary Collection. I recently got it for the Wii VC, though, but getting it for the Wii U sounds very tempting.



CanisWolfred said:

@NintendoNaut Um, how are those poor design decisions? Those "boobeams" happen to be done just right, IMO. We're not talking about the Yellow Devil here or anything. I can't think of any flaws in the game, except that the Metal Man weapon is overpowered (which isn't a bad flaw, at least).



DreamOn said:

Virtual console is best for on the go i agree. It's my first time playing a classic mega man. 5 bosses down so far!



rayword45 said:

10/10? I disagree with that. The game isn't lengthy, it requires a bit of guessing without any help (since certain stages you have to know the tricks and powers needed), and at times the level design could use polish. I realize the first 2 are part of the style of Mega Man in general but still, don't think guess-and-check gameplay should be rewarded.

That's not me hating, as I still love this game (and Mega Man 3 moreso), it's just trying to provide a somewhat objective point of view. The music is still top-notch I'll give you that.

Also, just pointing out you didn't talk about Dr. Wily's Castle.



naut said:

@CanisWolfred So you walk into the room and there's a whole bunch of cannons on the wall that rip into you every couple of seconds. You have to destroy them all. Fair enough. It doesn't help that there's like 5 Sniper Armor's outside the room but whatever.

Point is, you can only use Crash Bombs to destroy the cannons and that's pretty screwed up in more ways than one. Firstly, if you didn't know that you need Crash Bombs ahead of time and used some earlier, you're screwed. You either have to die and restart or go ammo mining which sucks. Then on top of that, there's really only a couple ways to go about getting the cannons because you have the blow up a couple of the walls too. And those "ways" aren't really what you'd call "easy."

First of all, it's hard to even distinguish how the heck to go about doing it because you can't pause and take a look to map out a plan. I had to take a picture of the screen when I played the game and spend five minutes mapping out a plan. And then you have to execute that plan in one shot, or else, once again, you're either gonna go mining or you just have to suicide.

So basically you have know somehow ahead of time you need Crash Bombs, know somehow what walls you can and can't destroy without spending too much ammo without pausing, and you have to do it perfectly in one shot or else you're either going all the way back or grinding. Poor game design.

Don't get me wrong, I love Mega Man 2--But that boss always gets me riled up.



GN0LAUM said:

@rayword45: I'm fine with the fact that you disagree on the score, I really am. However, since when has game length a) been anything but subjective and b) had anything to do with the quality of the game as it is, on it's own terms? Length is simply context for comparison. The whole confusion of trial and error gameplay with poor game design is also troubling. Trial and error gameplay is not only typical for this era, it's typical for the genre. Platformers require quick reflexes, memorization and repetition. There are no exceptions to these tropes. Mega Man 2 also requires you to play through a level in order to learn it's "tricks". That is part of the fun of discovery, as is the feeling of accomplishment that comes from triumphing over these obstacles. Such game design choices are also found in contemporary games, if they so choose, re: Dark Souls. I find your criticisms of "length" and "trial and error" to be made entirely irrelevant by your next statement: "I realize the first 2 are part of the style of Mega Man in general...".

Finally, I think we get to the heart of the matter. You don't care for this particular style of game: "[I] don't think guess-and-check gameplay should be rewarded.". That's honest, and you're certainly welcome to that opinion, but it doesn't make the game bad, or flawed. I for one love Dark Souls, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Super Meat Boy. I love "guess-and-check gameplay" because I love the challenge.

Now, having said that, Mega Man 2 is not perfect. It is extremely close, but I feel the Laser Cannon boss in stage 4 of Dr. Wily's Castle to be unfair and downright frustrating. The fact that you can only defeat it with the Crash Bombs (a weapon with barely any ammo stock) is very limiting in terms of strategy. What's more, you need to re-traverse most of the level once you die. The music in that level is also pretty terrible. The only track in the entire game I dislike.

I don't begrudge the 10/10; I personally think it's a 9.5, but I'm fine with rounding up.



MrGawain said:

To my Nephew:

'Lad, yer don't even know yer wer born with yer save points and yer P Tanouki auto complete. Back in my day we completed Megaman without saves- we had passwords we had to write down on the back of old newspapers in berol pen which May or May not have worked if we didn't put them in properly. If you fell 1/16th of an inch too far you'd die, you couldn't crouch, run, or look up cheats on tinternet. The controller were square and made yer 'ands bruise and bleed, and were plugged into yer NES so you had to sit two foot away from the telly on the cold concrete floor.

And all this after a twenty five hour day at tut' mill sweeping glass with yer' bare feet.'

Ahh, memories of a simpler time....

'Dadaladaladaa duh duh duh duh duh da lala dah, dadaladaladaa duh duh duh duh duh duh....'



GN0LAUM said:

Yeah, NintendoNaut basically just backed me up on the Laser Cannon boss. Freaky timing, that.



Geonjaha said:

The scoring system in Mega Man was useless, but it didn't take anything away from the game. The worse gravity mechanic was strange, but didn't really affect gameplay (you fall and you're dead anyway). Falling on spikes just after getting hit still killed you, but that was simply a different design decision. The music was arguably just as good, the graphics are very similar, and the length is alright in both.

Mega Man 2 had bad weapon balancing, with Metal Man's ability being simply overpowered. It let you choose the difficulty to play on, which can be nice, but it's also quite lazy - meaning less attention to enemy balancing and what they actually wanted the game to be.

Lets not pretend the levels were all perfectly designed either. 'Patience demanding platforms' are not good game design - especially when the level isn't encouraging you to slow down for any good reason. Having hard sections of level that can be skipped with a simple ability isn't good game design - it's lazy game design (The game already has two difficulty settings - and not taking those into account for sections like Heat Man's stage is just lazy). The fact that a large section of Heat Man's stage can be completed as such is comparable to NSMB's White Tanooki suit that people (with good reason) seem to hate - so lets not forget that the issue exists here as well.

Mega Man II is a great game, but I disagree with reviewers relying a little too much on personal preference in games to mention its flaws, or why other people might not just see it as an amazing must-play title.



SammyOfMobius said:

Totally agree with this review score. The restore points make this game much more playable, the controls are amazing, and the gameplay is perfection. Normal Mode is easy, but Difficult Mode is a challenging second quest.



Haxonberik said:

Ive never played any classic mega man games, so Im going to get on this game soon enough



rayword45 said:

@GN0LAUM That's where you're wrong. I love the mega Man series (or at least the first 3 games). I'm just trying to offer a perspective.

Game length is a major factor, how is it not/ Even though it's an NES game, it's quite short by modern standards.

And yes, guess-and-check is a problem in any game even when it's enjoyable. Guessing shouldn't be a factor especially in cases like this when you can be completely screwed by it.

That, and as I said before, the level design isn't always the best. Mega Man 3 had much better level design IMO.



Kevin said:

Predictable score. I hope you guys give 3 a 10 too. It's the better game of the two.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Game length is a major factor

I won't get too deeply into this debate — as it's already been gone over by commenters above — but I'm sure the amount of time I've spent with this game in my life is in the hundreds of hours. It may well be short, but that's not an inherently bad thing. I'll take a short game that I'll play forever over a long game that I'll play once any day!



rayword45 said:

@Philip_J_Reed What's the replay value you see in this game? I don't recall any alternate paths or anything.

Also, what's your opinion of Wily's Castle in this game?



Philip_J_Reed said:


I answer your first question in paragraph 7 of the review. Your mileage may vary of course but this is one of the games I've had the most fun trying to perfect, and there's more to replayability than alternate paths. (How many alternate paths does Donkey Kong have again?) And it's always great to go back and try the same stages with different weapons and approaches.

Also...I like it? Not sure what you're looking for with the Wily question.



CanisWolfred said:

@Raywords Sheer funfactor is my guess. Seriously, I used to replay through a Mega Man game every year between 2004 and 2011, and I almost never replay anything, even if it has reasons to replay it. They're just damn fun, and it's cool to see myself get better each time. I seriously think it's the reason why people will play through Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda a bazillion times, even if they've seen everything already.




This game is a classic alongside 3 and 9 (the better of the series in my opinion is 3), it deserves the 10 even though the part with the laser cannons boss on wily's lair is JUST FRUSTRATING. I really think the game deserves the 10, the first 3 games on the saga are just that: classics; too bad capcom decided to downgrade the series on the awful mega man 4....



rayword45 said:

@Philip_J_Reed You didn't really go over it in the review. That's what I'm getting at, since that's like a third of the game.

Also, Donkey Kong was an arcade game, meaning high-scores were a major factor.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Donkey Kong was an arcade game, meaning high-scores were a major factor.

I'd argue that fun was even more of a factor. But once again, I already explained it in the review AND in my answer to your question, so I think my point's been made pretty clearly by now!

And we typically try not to spoil later stages and bosses in our reviews.



Chrono_Cross said:

Game length is not always a required aspect for games. Replay value is, on the other hand. Mega Man 2 has a lot of replay value as you can play through it many times in different ways and Philip's Youtube channel is a great example of this. Solely play the game with the mega buster, no damage runs, no item runs, speed runs, etcetera.

And "by today's standards" is an irrelevant term to be used when discussing replay value and length. Many games do not have an overabundance of game length such as Mass Effect 2 because it's not required. It never was and Mega Man 2 is an example of this.

Journey was nominated and received many awards all across the board from multiple websites as being a masterpiece yet, it was only two hours long and released in 2012, mind you.



GeminiSaint said:

@NintendoNaut: One small detail you are missing. If you die during the boobeam boss fight and you still have at least one extra life left, walls that were destroyed won't reappear, which means in the next try you'll have some more crash bombs at your disposal (provided you don't forget to refill it before entering the boss room, of course!).

However, walls will reappear if it's your last life and you get a Game Over.



NintyMan said:

This was my first Mega Man game when I decided to get the one most claimed to be the best for the Wii VC, and I instantly understood why. The soundtrack is brilliant (Bubble Man's stage and the early Dr. Wily stages come to mind quickly), the challenge is good, and the gameplay is fun. Now that I just got it for the 3DS, I expect it'll be even better when portable.



naut said:

@GeminiSaint You make a good point, but you still would have to go ammo mining which is a serious pain in the rear.

I want to clarify, once again--I love Mega Man 2 and think it's an amazing game. It's just that one stage where I have some serious issues, mostly stemming from some terrible childhood memories of rage and anguish.



DashDG said:

This game is great, but is faaaaar away from being a perfect 10. Sorry, looks like youre reviewing via personal tastes and great memories from the past. People can be decieved by this kind of scores...



Mickey said:

"And if you don't find yourself humming these songs long after you take down the persistent Dr. Wily, you've got no soul."

Why thank you Phil. Thank you for reminding me I HAVE NO SOUL!



Tasuki said:

Great review and I totally agree with the score. I just completed this game last night doing a buster only run except for the turret boss in Wily's castle, now I think I am going to try a no death run.

Also I love how all the haters are part of the younger generation. So sorry that you actually have to think to play Megaman. Its not like freakin COD or GTA where they hold your hand through out the game.



hendie001 said:

This was one of the first games that made me fall in love with the hobbie we share. The sound track is amazing. I still have my original copy but its cool to have on my 3ds too.



sinalefa said:

This is one of those classics I have never played. Restore points make the thing more viable now.



Ickaser said:

On a spur of the moment, I just downloaded this. I've never played any Mega Man games before, so this is a dive for me. After playing for 20 minutes or so, I can see why so many people love the game.



KnightRider666 said:

While Mega Man 2 is an awesome game, I don't feel it deserves a perfect score(an 8 or 9). I like Mega Man 3 the best, and I'm guessing it will be available mid March since MM1 and MM2 were released 5 weeks apart.




This was of only 3 or so Mega Mans I played. Wouldn't say it was a 10 at all though I appreciate why its so liked a series I guess.



chewytapeworm said:

Never actually played this Mega Man... What better time to start after reading a review as glowing as this one?



Mok said:

This is Day 1 once it comes to Europe. I absolutely loved the old Mega Man games to my NES and have many fond memories.



Rensch said:

Damn fine game, but a ten? For that to be justified the weapons are too imbalanced. Once you have the Metal Blade, you can destroy half of all the bosses with relative ease.



Zeldalover said:

Had never played this one before. I was amazed at how good the level design is for it's time. My score would be something in between an 8 and a 9. I need to spend more time playing it in order to be more conclusive, but it's more likely to be a 9/10. And the music leaves a lasting impression on me. It's absolutely one of the greatest platformers of all-time, that's for sure!



Nintenjoe64 said:

I had this on my NES, it was my favourite out of my grand collection of 3 games!

I still can't believe how hard it is and that I ever managed to get to the Dr Wily stage when I was about 7!



CrissCross87 said:

Fantastic game! Well written review! For those complaining about the review, don't forget, it's his opinion. You could always make your own site and toss out review score.

Personally, I would give this game a 10. It just has an it-factor to it in my opinion. Mega Man 3 didn't feel as special to me tho. But still a great game too.



DaveGX said:

I coulda swore i remember sliding in this 1, unls that was introduced in 3, and it didn't work. Oher than that I really don't see much any other difference.



Tasuki said:

I love how everyone says that the Metalblade is unbalanced and that it makes the game too easy. Well you know you dont have to use the Metalblade, I didn't.

@DaveGX: Yeah the slide was in 3 through 8.



Pro-N-Gamer said:

This is exactly the score that Mega Man 2 deserves. As a kid i played this over and over. Truly one of the best Mega Man games ever made.



CanisWolfred said:

@Tasuki I never use Metal Blade, either. It's still a flaw in the design, though, whether you use it or not. Kinda like the zillions of imbalances in FFVI that you love so dearly, can easily be seen as blemishes in its design.



Chomposaur said:

Can anyone confirm that the NES games are in 60Hz on the 3ds ? and how is the upscalling on the 3DS XL ? like are the NES game blurry due to it being on a larger screen



Tasuki said:

@Five-seveN: They probably will only release up to six on the 3DS maybe 7 if we are lucky. I doubt we will get 8 due to the fact that it was only a PS/Dreamcast release and 9 and 10 since they are Wiiware/XBLA/PSN.



Azikira said:

I would love to see 9/10 on eShop! Insta-buys.

Heck, even WiiU Ware would be good




@Five-seveN As much as I love megaman 9 and 10 (specially 9) I really don't think they're gonna be ported to the 3ds; I really recommend the series to you my friend if you haven't played none of them. I would suggest you play the series in the following order so you can better appreciate it :
first play the first 3 (wait for the third one to be ported to the 3ds, by my standards is the best one and also the longest), then skip to 9 and 10, then skip to megaman 7 and megaman and bass if you can, then skip to megaman 5 and 6, and finally megaman 8 and 4. The problem with the following 3 in the nes series (4,5 and 6) is that capcom kinda lost inspiration by then (I consider 4 to be the worst of the series) and they really revived the 8 bit megaman difficulty and feel with 9 and 10. Happy Gaming!!!!



Xjarnold said:

I have a confession to make. The only mega man game I have ever played was the petit computer demo



RetrogamerFan said:

@Jogurt, i would expect this is 60Hz as all other 3DS VC NES games (i've played the ambassador games and a couple of the other releases e.g. Blaster Master) have been 60Hz so far, i've not tried MM2 yet though.
Generally i like the look of NES games on the 3DS screen (i only have a standard 3DS), the only game i thought looked bad on 3DS was NES open Golf (the shot-meter was too small).
I hope the 50Hz issue on Wii U VC is sorted, although I can remember playing games like that back in the day, i can see a massive difference between playing balloon fight on 3DS VC and Wii U VC. After practicing on 3DS (getting scores around 100k - 150k), i smashed my personal best on Wii U (around 260k). Sorry to go off topic.
Good review, although a ten is always going to cause a bit of debate. Long time since i played MM2 (on an NES), i remember it being good so i'm looking forward to playing it again, especailly with save states to help me see more of the game this time.



hiptanaka said:

It has weak boss (gameplay) design and it's a bit on the easy side, but it's still the best in the series, with the best music in the series.




@Five-seveN 7 is pretty good actually, it has tons and tons of stuff for you to find, and is very dynamic, most didn't like the transition to 16 bits but I think it's actually a pretty cool game. 8 is ok, not bad, but it lost that special touch 7 had, but I really don't think those 2 will be ported to the 3ds or wii though. I hear ya with the dlc for 9 and 10, capcom's a bit greedy when it comes to that. For 9 I only got protoman and hard mode and for 10 I only downloaded bass because he is my favorite robot in the series.




@Five-seveN There is a cheat to kill that b-stard pretty quickly so you don't have to fight with him forever but I don't know if the cheat was retained on the 3ds version: use the elecman weapon against him on its eye, once the lightning strikes him QUICKLY PAUSE AND UNPAUSE THE GAME like 4 or 5 times, this trick will make that instead the lightning hits him once, it will hit him from 3 to 5 times in a row killing him asap. I also highly recommend using it against the megaman clone on the next level and dr. wily phase 2. Hope I was helpful.

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