(Game Boy)

Mega Man II (Game Boy)

Game Review

Mega Man II Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Get equipped with tarnished legacy

Ask any fan of the Blue Bomber to name their favourite game in the series and the odds are good that they will say either Mega Man 2 or Mega Man 3. That's to be expected, though; both of those games are among the best on the NES, a system that had no shortage of great platformers and action games.

What's less expected is the fact that a game that mashes up components of both titles results in less of a fun reprise of the two most popular games in the series, and in more of a double disappointment.

Mega Man II takes the formula laid down by Dr. Wily's Revenge, and illustrates for us that even though that was a significantly flawed experience, it could have been much, much worse.

Mega Man II, like its Game Boy predecessor, pulls elements from two NES games. It opens with four stages from Mega Man 2 (Metal Man, Wood Man, Air Man and, uh, "Clash Man"), and then zaps the super fighting robot to Dr. Wily's lair to square off against four bosses from Mega Man 3 (Hard Man, Needle Man, Top Man and Magnet Man). That sounds a lot like Dr. Wily's Revenge, but unfortunately the similarity does not extend to the game's quality.

Mega Man II plays almost like a parody of the classic NES game from which it takes its name, but it's not a joke. In any given stage, the problems will be apparent from the first screen, and everything's still downhill from there.

Visually speaking, it's wall-to-wall hideous. The Mega Man series is rightfully remembered for its excellent spritework, but that's due to a level of care and attention that simply was not given to the designs on display here. The only character that looks good is Mega Man himself, which is only due to the fact that his sprites were pulled from the previous game. Everything created for this game looks awful, including the single new frame of animation for our hero: a sliding posture that makes him look like a lifeless, microwaved action figure.

The proportions are also completely misjudged, with the formerly huge cats and giant springs being needlessly shrunken, while basic enemies like the little hard-hats and plunger enemies are significantly enlarged. Even the final boss, Dr. Wily himself, is embarrassingly out of scale, looking like a Mr. Potato Head toy lying helplessly on a platter, and not offering any more of a challenge than that would. The effect is bizarre enough to make it feel as though Mega Man is growing and shrinking like Alice in Wonderland, and it's a symptom of a lack of understanding of how Mega Man games work.

That's not an assumption; it's actual fact. Mega Man II was outsourced by Capcom to a new company that, after this, it chose never to work with again, and its lack of understanding of the flow, pacing, and design of Mega Man games is brutally apparent in the final product. The experience of playing it has not improved with age, and even Capcom seems to remember that, having the good sense to release this on the same day as the infinitely superior alternative, Mega Man III.

It's never quite clear how many small details of design shape the effectiveness of the games we love until, suddenly, they've been changed.

Mega Man II makes a lot of small changes that result in the game feeling like a title from a bizarro universe in which Mega Man was not an icon of classic gaming, but some no-name mascot for a series of cash-in cheapies. Little changes like a missing delay when picking up energy, 1-Ups making the sound of Mario's coins when they're collected, the scale issues mentioned above, and the ability to see past boss room doors all come together to remind us of how important the smallest aspects of design can be, and how they can either work together to draw us in, or clash and keep us completely un-engaged.

By far the worst aspect of Mega Man II is its soundtrack. As much as the original games are remembered for their great spritework, it would do the entire series a disservice not to also mention their legendary musical scores. While dedicated remixers have managed to bring some life into the compositions on offer in Mega Man II, their actual appearances in-game are shrill at best and painful at worst.

For whatever reason, these newer, terrible tunes take the place of the original music, and it's unquestionably a huge step down. From top-tier NES music to absolute bottom-tear Game Boy music, Mega Man II dishes out an aural punishment that gamers simply don't deserve.

The levels themselves don't offer much that's worth noting. They're not straight re-treads of the NES games, but the differences are all in service of making the game easier and less inspired. The evolving challenge of the classic series is lost here, and replaced with simplified gauntlets of minor enemies that are admittedly difficult to avoid, but who also do such a small amount of damage that there's never a sense of danger. Taking hits and walking brainlessly ahead is a much better strategy here than it should be in any self-respecting game, let alone one called Mega Man.

Even the bosses are weak. While their attack patterns haven't changed significantly, the smaller screen and slower pacing mean that you'll need to make at least some adjustment to your strategy. Or they would, except that even in boss chambers the attacks simply aren't powerful enough to require any real sense of caution. Toss in easy-to-grab E-Tanks for full health refills on command, and the game blasts well past "easy" and moves right along to "dull."

Speaking of bosses, the unique content in this game is no better, and may actually be worse. In Dr. Wily's Revenge we met the first Mega Man Killer, a boss called Enker whose defeat awarded players the innovative Mirror Buster. Here, that role is filled by Quint, who is ostensibly an evil Mega Man from the future. The big reveal, we guess, is that in the future all "evil" people hop around harmlessly on pogo sticks while you slowly shoot them to death.

The fight with Quint should be one of the highlights of the game, but it's even easier than most. He simply leaps from side to side on his jackhammer weapon, tossing up stones at an incredibly short range, allowing you to pick him off without ever putting yourself at even the smallest risk. He then leaves you with the Sakugarne, which allows you too to hop around like a harmless idiot, and seems to exist for the sole purpose of making the Top Spin look cool.

Quint's not exactly a memorable addition to the massive roster of Mega Man villains, and it's no surprise at all that when the unique Wily robots from the Game Boy series reunited for Mega Man 10, Quint was unceremoniously absent. Play this game and you'll see why nobody missed him.

In Mega Man II's defence, it can still be decently cathartic to blow robots apart, even without any kind of challenge to the activity. And while the soundtrack is abysmal, completing the game does give you the chance to hear its one worthwhile composition: a surprisingly sweet ending theme.

Beyond that, however, Mega Man II doesn't so much combine Mega Man 2 with Mega Man 3 as it does strip them of their challenge, their charm, and, ultimately, their fun. It's a rightfully forgotten entry in the Mega Man series, and we're glad to have it out of the way this early into Mega May.

Conclusion

Mega Man II is not just a bad Mega Man game — it's a pretty bad game, period. Removed from inevitable comparisons to the NES versions of Mega Man 2 and 3, judging the game on its own clunky, forgettable merits does it no favours, either. The level design is uninspired, the game is easy to the point of boredom, and the soundtrack ranks among the absolute worst the Game Boy has known. The unique content salvages nothing, as it's limited to a mindless new boss, a worthless new weapon, and perhaps the shortest Wily stage in history. Unless you're an absolute completionist — or afflicted with the same morbid curiosity we are — there's no reason to grab this stain on the series.

Oh well. At least there isn't a terrible game dragging Mega Man 3's name through the mud. Erm...nevermind.

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User Comments (68)

Action51

#2

Action51 said:

So many great memories of the Game Boy, but I never played any Megaman games on it. Why bother when the Megaman X series on SNES was so amazing!

sleepinglion

#3

sleepinglion said:

Does anyone else recall the overseas Mega Drive compilation of Mega Man 1, 2, and 3 (NES versions redone in 16-bit)? I think it was called Rockman: MEGAWORLD. I loved that title and it would make a worthy VC addition.

Warruz

#4

Warruz said:

If i remember correctly though the cartridge is worth some money.

River3636

#5

River3636 said:

This game is alright if you play one Mega Man you have played them all. Was it easier yes with a shorter levels yes doesn't merit a three absolutely not. If you love mega Man I totally recommend this it is worth it.

Discipledoctor

#6

Discipledoctor said:

Haha, I knew skipping this was a good idea. I've chosen to skip III as well unless the review changes my mind. IV, V, and Xtreme 2 are all gonna be day-one buys....as is MMBN3, which is totally definitely coming this month. Right...?

Capcom plzz

KFlow325

#7

KFlow325 said:

"Defence" is spelled wrong.
3/10? Granted, its much slower than any NES version or MM3 on GB, but 3/10?! How could u be so harsh on a remixed/original capcom score? I thought the music was pretty easy on the ears as a Mega Man fan. Gs up overall! @325music

JJtheTexan

#8

JJtheTexan said:

I must be the only person who really liked this game. I guess it's because I was a kid and it was so easy as to be very accessible to me, whereas most of the other Mega Man titles were too difficult for my liking. And I LOVE the soundtrack! I must have a brain injury or something.

TreesenHauser

#9

TreesenHauser said:

I found this cart at my local shop a while ago and was so excited to bring it home and play it. Played it and thought it was awful. The controls didn't feel right, and it was much too easy once you got a feel for the controls. The music is its only redeeming factor. I'm glad I have the physical cart though!

tj3dsXL

#10

tj3dsXL said:

@JJtheTexan
I think the game is cool & cute and im so glad there all coming out on the VC so i can keep buying them. I will admit i find the gameboy series of MegaMan rather hard but that pulls me into even more, and its all about watching how your blaster fires (speed..ect.) !

DrakeStaff

#11

Drake said:

I actually kind of like the music in this game, but the instrumentation for them is absolutely awful. Somebody redid them with NES sounds instead and they're pretty good.

IrateGamer

#12

IrateGamer said:

@KFlow325
Next you'll say "favourite" is spelled wrong too huh?

Or is your bias for this game having you lash out over the review?

Gridatttack

#13

Gridatttack said:

Am I the only one who really likes the music in this game? :P
Sure, the instrument selection is awful, but the tunes are really catchy (crashman, needleman, airman...) Not to mention the other renditions users has made on the internet. (like the NES versions)

KeeperBvK

#14

KeeperBvK said:

@sleepinglion It was released in Japan, NA and Europe. NA only got it as a download via SEGA channel, though.

Oh, and Mega Man II is not just a good Mega Man game, but a good game period. And I honestly can't see how this game is supposed to be ugly at all.

SuperMalleo

#15

SuperMalleo said:

Easily one of the worst, if not the worst in the GB series. Why would Capcom bother releasing this?

Giygas_95

#16

Giygas_95 said:

@Neko_Chan Well, apparently there are some that like even this one. I spoke to one on Miiverse.

Mega Man V and Xtreme 2 will be day 1 buys for me. I've been hearing a lot of praise for IV also, so I may get that one too. May also get III, who knows.

Einherjar

#17

Einherjar said:

To be honest, MM II was the only portable MM game i owned as a child and i loved and played it to death and even to this day, i really like the game for what it is. Sure, i doesnt even come close to its brethren, but it still has a certain place in my heart ;)

Oh, and it gave birth to THIS:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWBqC_ECtHA

IrateGamer

#18

IrateGamer said:

@Neko_Chan

uh so they don't skip games?

Regardless of what you think of the game, it's stupid if they released only the "good" ones...since that in itself is subjective.

Releasing them in order makes more sense.

Now if only Konami would follow suite. Still waiting on Contra and CV3.

Geonjaha

#19

Geonjaha said:

I played it when I was a lot younger, and enjoyed the fact that I could actually finish it. I disagree about the music being bad - this game actually has some great tunes. The problem is the instrumentation, as mentioned by someone already I see (At least in my case I have the nostalgia to overshadow the occasional screeching). Not as bad as a 3/10 in my eyes, but comparatively its one of the worse games of the series.

I'll still be picking it up to relive those memories from 14 years ago, and the same goes for Mega Man III, which I'm really looking forward to. Combining the levels and soundtracks from my favourite NES Mega man games? (3+4) - Yes please.

Mike1

#20

Mike1 said:

I liked this game and while it isn't perfect, you guys are way off with your 3/10 score!

MeddlingIdiotStaff

#22

MeddlingIdiot said:

I really want to try this out based on its three-star review. I love the NES games but I've not played the GB series apart from the first one, which was alright.

KnightRider666

#23

KnightRider666 said:

I will agree this is the weakest of the Game Boy Mega Man games, but not as bad as the reviewer is making it out to be. This game is by no means a 3. I'd give it a 6 or 7.

GloryQuestor

#26

GloryQuestor said:

I'd agree that 3/10 is a bit harsh for it. The static sliding sprite isn't much different from NES MM3 and above, and you still have to give CAPCOM props for fitting what they could on the original Game Boy, especially considering it's an early generation cartridge game. Sure, it's very far from the perfect MM game, but I thought the control was good and the graphics were cleanly presented on the Game Boy's original display, and are really crisp here on the VC version--the screenshots show that more than anything. It deserves at least a 5 for these reasons. >_>

Luigifan141

#28

Luigifan141 said:

I can't believe that you guys actually linked to SydLexia, that website is hilarious. They have some really good satire articles, but I wish that they would update more often.

SonataAndante

#29

SonataAndante said:

I bought the first 3 GB Mega Man games and beat them over the weekend. I think they're decent enough little games. Didn't look particularly bad to me (though I did recognize the scale problems mentioned). Music was a mixed bag too. I didn't expect a ton from some remixed content down ported, but I enjoyed them enough.

That said, maybe I'm a bit of a snob but, I felt the games did commit a few game design sins here and there. The free falling part right at the start of Metal Man's stage was absolutely terrible thanks to the spikes and blind jumps. Sometimes I'd bump into an enemy I would have no idea of knowing was coming before it was too late as well. Hopefully 4 is better. I assume it's up next, unless Xtreme 2 is.

Iggly

#31

Iggly said:

The game isn't that bad when you look at how much content the game has and the limitations of the Gameboy. Although I'd probably stick with the NES versions that are available on the 3DS Virtual Console.

KoiTenchi

#32

KoiTenchi said:

@HeroOfCybertron I really don't get the people saying they would give this up to a 7 out of 10...

I love all things Mega Man (as I'm sure is clear from my avatar) but this one is definitely a fun little game that is still more than a little flawed. I could understand someone making an argument of giving this MAYBE up to a 5, but something like a 7 is ridiculous.

If you'd give a 7 to Mega Man II on GB, then what would you give Mega Man V on GB? A 15 out of 10?

Philip_J_ReedStaff

#33

Philip_J_Reed said:

It's also worth pointing out that Capcom already proved with Dr. Wily's Revenge that it could provide a perfectly serviceable Mega Man experience on the Game Boy, so, no, I definitely don't give points for effort. In fact, it's a pretty large step backward in terms of effort.

Glad people are enjoying it, though!

@Geonjaha
"Combining the levels and soundtracks from my favourite NES Mega man games? (3+4)"

Stay tuned. III was quite a bit better than I remembered it being! I enjoyed it very much.

Ralizah

#34

Ralizah said:

It's pathetically easy, but it had some decent music, and the stages aren't THAT bad. Probably a 4 or 5 out of 10.

Lobster

#35

Lobster said:

"Tanking hits and walking brainlessly ahead"

Think you mean "taking."

"From top-tier NES music to absolute bottom-tear Game Boy music"

"Bottom-tier," unless that's a pun.

Gingadreadman

#37

Gingadreadman said:

As much as I love Mega Man. I gotta admit that this game really is a huge disappointment. You can't even compare it to Mega Man II for the NES.

WaveWarlock

#42

WaveWarlock said:

Still looks better than Mega Man 6. ;)
Anyways, i don't see the point in playing this. It looks like a much crappier portable rehash of MM2 with crappier physics, controls, messed up music, no color, you name it. At least Wily's Revenge had different stage layouts!

IrateGamer

#43

IrateGamer said:

@KFlow325
I see your point, but on the same token I don't see why you or anyone else is harping on the numeric score.

In the long run, the numeric score shouldn't dictate the verdict of the game. The content of the review should.

Additionally, this is on person's view on the game, and if they didn't like it, they didn't like it. If they felt the number was justified to themselves, that shouldn't be an issue overall.

KoiTenchi

#44

KoiTenchi said:

@KnightRider666 Well, as I already said in my first comment:

"I could understand someone making an argument of giving this MAYBE up to a 5, but something like a 7 is ridiculous.

If you'd give a 7 to Mega Man II on GB, then what would you give Mega Man V on GB? A 15 out of 10?""

retro_player_22

#45

retro_player_22 said:

I still got this game and enjoy it from time to time but the game is a bit of a letdown though definitely not a 3/10, a 6/10 or 7/10 would had been more deserving.

KoiTenchi

#47

KoiTenchi said:

@KnightRider666 I'm not hating but that's suggesting that Mega Man V is only a marginal improvement over this game. I disagree, I think it's a big improvement.

Giygas_95

#48

Giygas_95 said:

@WaveBoy I thought Mega Man 6 was actually quite a fun game. It's probably as easy as this one, but still very fun.

I'm hearing a lot of people saying this one is better than a 3 so I'm kind of tempted to try it...but I think I'll put my money on the games I'll be certain to enjoy: V and Xtreme 2.

Mahe

#49

Mahe said:

Can't agree with the review at all. This was better than either MM1 or MM3 on Gameboy. It was also great to hear alternative versions of the stages' music instead of just NES redux.

marc_max

#50

marc_max said:

Mega Man got a huge quality boost since MMIII in GB.

I agree that MMII is the worst in the series and its cheap soundtrack is forgivable. But it deserved at least a 5!

ThomasBW84Admin

#51

ThomasBW84 said:

@Guybrush20X6 The official Nintendo site only has three screens, and determining which are legit and ROM screens on the web is hazardous at best.

Luffymcduck

#52

Luffymcduck said:

Ah, the second MM I played trough (first was NES MM on Wii), after this I had almost a full year break before I discovered the awesomeness of the REAL Mega Man 2.

Funny how I predicted the score just by reading the text, well written review.

TG1

#53

TG1 said:

I like Mega Man II on the GB. I don't mind an easier Mega Man game.

Refurin

#55

Refurin said:

Meh. I liked it. Downloaded, played and beat it this weekend. Good times. Bring on the rest of Mega May!

SCAR392

#56

SCAR392 said:

This one of the first GB games I had. I thought it was fun. I've probably beaten it around 10 times.

Karakato

#57

Karakato said:

Yeah, kinda expected this kind of score from you, but I'd rate the game a 5/10. It's a bad game sure, but I had some fun with it. I guess the bad level design was clouded by the game's super-easy difficulty, I could just plow through the game in less than an hour just to listen to that sweet tune.

Speaking of which, as one member stated earlier, a good chunk of the music is not bad, it's just that the devs for whatever reason decided to use high pitched instruments.

Also, Glad you mentioned that awful pile that is the Mega Man DOS game. No player deserves to dare touch this.

Bass_X0

#58

Bass_X0 said:

Yeah, I'm still getting this when its released. Okay, so it is the worst in the series, but it is still far better than every GB game rated 3/10 or lower on NintendoLife. It still plays like every other Mega Man game even if it is uninspired.

Rect_Pola

#62

Rect_Pola said:

I really enjoyed Wily's revenge. The pace and your limitations made the weapons more necessary to survive stages as much as boss battles. It felt refreshing, if not stellar.

I'm glad you brought to light this mess of a game's development. Usually I'm of two minds between "remastered" versions of classics vs warts-&-all ports, though I'm usually not weighing "study in how not to make a game" vs polishing a turd. Ick...

From now on, I imagine a "The Real" in fancy script over the NES version.

SparkOfSpirit

#63

SparkOfSpirit said:

This is one of my least favorite Mega Man games (I still think X6, X7, and 6 are worse) but I actually kind of dig the soundtrack- instruments aside. Besides, I already have Mega Man 2 and 3 on my 3DS, I don't need the same soundtrack again.

Magrane

#64

Magrane said:

Completely disagree with this review. This game is just a downstep from Mega Man III on the Game Boy, but still as fun and challenging. I don't understand the review's emphasis on how horrible the scaling and music were (the boss fight music is perennially stuck in my head!); it was fine by me when you understand the Game Boy's technical limits. But I loved this game as a kid with a Game Boy and even now it holds up compared to the other sequels.

The reviewer's score doesn't do justice. A score of "3" keeps new Mega Man gamers away from this game. Give this game a shot, folks, for only $3.99 if you love the other Mega Man games.

Gridatttack

#65

Gridatttack said:

@ThomasBW84 I wonder...if this is the case why on other articles the screenshots repeat too?
If using emus screens is a concern, there's always the capture card thingy which can be used to printscreen the recording program.
Thought since its a mod of the hardware, I dunno if its ok :L

Keion

#66

Keion said:

"and the soundtrack ranks among the absolute worst the Game Boy has known" That's just YOUR opinion. I personally adore this soundtrack, and am offended by that comment.
What can I except though, this man ACTUALLY like's the Atari lol. The company that helped almost crash the game industry.
I do NOT respect your opinion.

Prizm

#68

Prizm said:

I bought Megaman II GB when it came out and I remember how disappointed I was. Not only did the first Megaman use the same music as MM1 for NES, but they actually improved the tunes. So I was on the edge of my seat waiting for MMII and to hear those classic MM2 NES tracks. I was DEVASTATED when I started the first level.
And as the reviewer said, most of the other aspects of the game were just plain weird.
To be fair, there are actually a couple memorable tunes if you can listen past the incessant high pitch and noisy racket. They just need a better arrangement.
The Title/Wily music is actually a great track. There's an awesome remix of it by Yuu (aka Phoenix Project): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_A55JbX_e4

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