When Capcom created Mega Man X, it had clearly done something right. Many fans loved finally getting a refreshing take on the series, rather than what was essentially the same thing over and over, and it became quite popular. While the Classic Mega Man series went on a break for a few years, Capcom churned out a few more X games, obviously hoping to ride the wave of success. It took us quite a while to receive the first of this series on Virtual Console, but thankfully it hasn't taken as long to get the second.
Much like the standard Mega Man series before it, the changes in X2 have been kept to a bare minimum. A couple of months after the first Mega Man X, peace has not yet returned, so X sets out to destroy another set of eight Maverick Hunters in the hope that everything will end up peachy this time. Each Hunter's weapon is another's weakness, and when you've beaten them all you unlock a set of final stages which you must beat in a row. Simple, right?
X2 still has all the unique features that set its series apart from the originals. A slightly darker storyline, the ability to dash and wall jump as well as lots of hidden collectibles, like reserve energy tanks, life extensions and armour upgrades that improve or grant new abilities, such as the ability to dash in mid-air.
There's only really one significant change this time around. In addition to collectibles, three of the Maverick Hunter stages also contain hidden rooms where you get to do battle with three special bosses called the X-Hunters. Beating them all will affect the ending, so it's something to look out for. Another minor addition is that aside from the battle mechs from the first game, some stages now also include hoverbikes you can ride, but apart from the latter being lighter and more maneuverable there's not a huge difference between the two. Amusingly, while the first game had a secret hadouken move to find which could annihilate enemies in record time, this one includes the natural other option - a shoryuken!
One minor thing that you could either love or hate is that X2 seems to focus a lot more on platforming. In the first game, most stages generally had about an equal amount of action and platforming, but this time around there just seems to be a lot more focus on getting around rather than shooting enemies and avoiding their attacks. Wall jumping especially is something you can expect to be doing a lot this time.
Like the title before it, X2 features big, colourful levels with lots of great spritework, though we can't help but shake the feeling that the backgrounds seem a bit less detailed this time around. They weren't overly detailed in the first game to begin with, but they just seem a bit bland here. Likewise, the music is also not as catchy as that from the previous game, though this can likely be attributed to the fact that while the first release had a team of five composers, only one of them worked on X2 and she did it all by herself.
Overall, while there's nothing wrong with Mega Man X2, there's also nothing that really stands out about it. It's a fairly run of the mill sequel that doesn't really add or change anything of impact, and for the most part, it feels like a simple extension of the first game featuring some more levels. The result is another solid game, and, well, what more could you ask for? If it ain't broke, don't fix it.