Surprisingly, the original Mega Man (or Rockman, as the series is known in Japan) did not perform very well. Initially reluctant, Capcom allowed its creator Keiji Inafune to create a sequel as a side-project in his own spare time, however, and with the effort of a few colleagues and a lot of time, he created Mega Man 2: a much bigger and better game than the original.
This time, there are eight Robot Masters instead of six, which has remained the standard for every game since. Instead of designing them himself, Keiji Inafune asked children around Japan to create their own designs and send them in. Out of these, he picked Metal Man, Air Man, Bubble Man, Quick Man, Crash Man, Flash Man, Heat Man and Wood Man.
The original Japanese release only had one difficulty mode, which was extremely hard; if you thought the first game was hard, try this! Thankfully, for the American and European release, players could pick between "Normal" (easier than the Japanese version) and "Difficult" (the same as the Japanese version).
Unlike its predecessor, in which all Robot Masters had a clear weakness to one of the others' weapons, Mega Man 2's a bit more open-ended. Most Robot Masters can be killed with the Mega Buster with no trouble. Some have more than one weakness: Metal Man's is his own weapon (obviously you can't use it on him until you battle him again in the final stages), and if you use the Crash Bomber on Heat Man, you refill his health!
Alongside the Robot Master weapons, there are also three special items (conveniently called "Item-1", "Item-2" and "Item-3") that create platforms for you to stand on so that you can reach high ledges and cross gaps more easily. In various stages you can also find a blue box with an E on it — the E-Tank. Using this item at any time completely refills your life.
This time you're unable to revisit Robot Master stages after clearing them, although this would be useless anyhow, as there are no secrets here. There's also a password feature, so that you can continue where you left off — though of course, this should not be needed with the Virtual Console's suspend feature. After clearing the eight stages, just like in Mega Man, you battle through five stages of Dr. Wily's fortress, facing new and old bosses until you finally have a showdown with Wily himself.
Mega Man 2 is generally noted as the best of the series, and for many good reasons. It's the only Mega Man with a difficulty setting, meaning both new players and veterans alike can enjoy it, and the Robot Master weapons and level designs are also quite good. But the thing most people love the game for is the music: each and every stage has an unforgettable 8-bit tune. If you want a good platformer, look no further than this, this is classic Capcom platforming action at its very best.