Writer’s Note: I only found out about this Review A Great Game Day event earlier this afternoon, so yes, I am writing this on extremely short notice. Not to mention, deciding on a game to write about was considerably harder than I thought. Thirdly, I have dabbled in writing various things about video games (mainly of the retro variety) but nothing ever completely finished and submitted for the world to see, but with this event…I guess now is a good time to try it out. Enjoy, and please excuse me for any grammatical errors, misspellings, and other typos that I may have overlooked in this written piece. My stomach is full of homemade tacos when I wrote this. Mmmmm, tacos. Anyway, enjoy:
For many video gamers, their exposure to the Mega Man series started on the NES. With a total of 6 entries on the NES alone, there were many choices as to which one people started off with, but for many, Mega Man 2 was their first choice, and not surprisingly, many of these gamers consider this entry to be their favorite one. An entry that expanded on the first Mega Man game, it became a smash hit and is still revered to this very day, as with a few of the others, such as Mega Man 3, and MAYBE the first one (outside of sheer difficulty). However, I have a confession to make:
I never played a Mega Man game on the NES as a kid. Ever. The first time I played a Mega Man game on the NES was Mega Man 3 and that happened in 2013. No joke.
On the contrary, MY first exposure to the Mega Man franchise was actually on the Super Nintendo, courtesy of the excellent Mega Man X. That is a game I almost considered for the RAGGD event, since it is almost my favorite Mega Man game. But…I decided not to. Instead I’m going to talk about the game that IS my favorite Mega Man game of all time, and one that needs more love these days, Mega Man X2.
Mega Man X2 is the second game in the Mega Man X series. Story-wise, it takes place several months after the events of the first MMX game (which sounds about right, given that MMX2 was released a year after the first one). Mega Man X is still reeling from what happened in the first game, in which he destroyed Maverick leader Sigma and his Maverick minions but lost his partner Zero in the process and is at odds with his actions and thoughts in the aftermath. He wants to do good, but doesn’t want to fight, yet he feels it’s only a matter of time before he does fight again. As it turns out, it doesn’t take long. There are reports of suspicious activity in an abandoned factory and it is later confirmed that the activity is caused by an uprising of Mavericks. Once again, Mega Man X (now the leader of the Maverick Hunters) goes over there to take out the Mavericks and see what’s really going on. What Mega Man X doesn’t know is that while he’s fighting them at the factory, a group called the X-Hunters (Serges, Agiles, and Violen), are keeping an eye on X to see what he’s doing, whilst they begin plans on resurrecting Zero with his leftover parts to use him against X and fight for them. After a short while, the X-Hunters realize that X is laying waste to the Mavericks so they end up intervening, by contacting X and Dr. Cain at Maverick Hunter Headquarters, challenging X to fight them for Zero’s parts. After fighting the Mavericks and the X-Hunters, X finds out that Sigma is also resurrected and was the main culprit in the Maverick uprising. X goes to the North Pole to take out the remaining Mavericks and the X-Hunters for good. After that, X heads to the Central Computer to confront Sigma and confront him once and for all. One thing to note about the story here before I continue, is that it changes somewhat depending on whether or not you get all of Zero’s parts. If you defeat all of the X-Hunters the first time, you get all of Zero’s parts and Zero is then put back together by Dr. Cain. Zero then joins X when he confronts Sigma and destroys the cloned Zero that Sigma introduces to X in the final segment. If X does NOT get all of Zero’s parts, then they are taken by the X-Hunters during an attack at Maverick Hunter HQ and Sigma unleashes the newly reformed Zero on X before the final battle. Once X defeats Sigma, he and Zero stand on a cliff and ponder what will happen next.
OK now that the story is taken care of, what about the game itself? Well, it’s….more of the same actually, which isn’t a bad thing. Seriously, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and that’s what this game does. It continues the same type of platforming, jumping, dashing, shooting, and looking for secrets that made the first game so much fun. It doesn’t add many new things to the mix, but there are a few new things added to the game, most of which is a plus. First however, is the familiar elements brought back. If you played the first MMX game, you pretty much know what to do here. You play an intro stage to get used to the mechanics of playing as MMX, doing the aforementioned things you do in a MMX game, and go from there. You get to choose from whatever Maverick stage you want to play. Then you go from the beginning of the stage to the end, blasting enemies, platforming, looking for things, and then fight the Maverick at the end of the stage, receiving its ability when you beat it. Like the first game, you start off as a regular Mega Man X with no enhancements, no other weapons other than your X-buster and a small health bar, but this time, you get to dash from the get go, unlike the first game. Your enhancements are the same but function slightly different than last time when acquiring them from the holographic Dr. Light capsules. You get a helmet enhancement that allows you to find secrets (instead of breaking bricks), your armor upgrade not only cuts damage received from enemies but also allows a Giga Attack that is awesome (and way better than the puny one in Mega Man X4), your X-Buster upgrade charges up acquired weapons but now gives your X-buster a two-pronged shot released one after another (instead of one bigger shot that looks like a Pepto Bismol blast of pink fireballs), and a boot upgrade that allows you to dash in mid-air. Yep. Dash in mid-air. It’s like the slide in Mega Man 3, except…better. This alone pushes Mega Man X2 above Mega Man X, for me at least. Mostly.
Like in the first game, you can find sub-tanks, which hold additional energy, as well as heart capsules that increase your health meter. Besides things you find to help you in your journey, there are also vehicles you can ride. Returning from MMX are robot rides scattered throughout the stages of the game and you can punch enemies with it or do a super-charged punch. This time though, your robot ride can float for a short period of time, which is very handy. In Overdrive Ostrich’s stage, there is a new vehicle, the hoverbike, which allows you to ride over spikes and shoot at enemies, as well as move at two different speeds. Be careful though, you can crash the bike into something and it will be destroyed. I do wish this hoverbike was used in more stages but it’s still really cool to use. The levels themselves are fun to play through, this time out, utilizing your acquired weapons more to really explore the stages more, which I like. Speaking of the weapons…when I first played MMX2 as a kid, I was initially disappointed with the weapons because they weren’t as big and flashy as those in MMX, but as I have gotten older, I realize…the weapons are considerably more inventive here, serving as much purpose in exploring the stages as much as they are in taking out enemies. Take for example the Crystal Hunter, It was probably my least favorite weapon to use. Now…well probably still my least favorite, but it’s cool in other aspects. You can use it to freeze certain enemies into these crystal blocks and use them as platforms and if you don’t want to do that, you can dash into them and they EXPLODE INTO PIECES! How cool is that? Other weapons allow you give you access to certain rooms (Spin Wheel), allow you to jump higher underwater (Bubble Shot), and shoot a pile of garbage at enemies (Silk Shot), because nothing satisfies the thirst for destruction (and angering environmentalists) like shooting a pile of garbage at robots. Overall, fun and inventive weapons to use. My personal favorite? Magnet Mines. Mainly for the ability to aim them however I want when I shoot them forward and they can stick to walls, floors, and ceilings. Those are cool.
As I mentioned before, you can access special rooms, some for recharging health and ammo and others to access the X-Hunters. After a couple of stages, the X-Hunters will disperse to fight you at random Maverick stages. Access certain rooms in these stages and you will fight the X-Hunter that is there. These are the hardest battles in the game, well, outside of clone Zero near the end), and you can recover the Zero parts if you’re able to defeat them. Get all three of Zero’s parts and you’ll resurrect him in time to fight Sigma. Fail at this and you’ll be fighting the clone Zero near the end, and it’s TOUGH. Possibly the toughest fight in the game. The Mavericks themselves are of different bug creatures this time out (mostly) and they tend to be a little easier than those in MMX, none as easy though as Spark Mandrill (seriously, the Shotgun Ice renders him completely useless). After traversing through Sigma’s fortress at the North Pole (seriously it’s at the North Pole. Seriously), you fight everybody again, but this time out, the X-Hunters have changed their attacks this time out (well, not really Violen, but his 2nd encounter has blocks now to shield you) to adapt to your updated moves and weapons. After all of this, you encounter Sigma (or clone Zero first if you didn’t get the parts) and he’s easier this time out, but still fun to fight. Afterwards you fight Neo Sigma, a wire-shaped face that attacks you (courtesy of a graphics chip I’ll talk about soon). While it’s technically easier than the final battle against the 2nd Sigma form in the first game, it is much more fun. The final battle in the first game makes you do a good amount of standing and waiting, a contradiction to everything that you did in that game prior to the battle. Here, you run, jump, dash, wall-cling, and shoot like your life depends on it, and it’s awesome. The end sequence is pretty good but I do wish there was a cool after-credits thing like the first Mega Man X game. That was awesome. BTW, for those who loved the cool Easter Egg in the first Mega Man X, there’s another one in X2 that’s awesome too. I won’t say it here, but you’ll get a punch out of it, oh wait, I mean kick…crap I’ve said too much…
As for the presentation, the graphics and sound are in excellent form here. The sprites are nice and colorful, the stages are cool to look at, and there are some neat graphical touches, courtesy of that graphics chip I mentioned. Mega Man X2 was the first game to utilize something Capcom called a CX4 chip, which allowed it to render 3D images, somewhat similar to the Super FX chip. Unfortunately, it wasn’t used very much and also made the game fairly expensive. While it is a cool touch, I think it either should have been used much more to offset the cost, or not used at all. Also there are some moments of slowdown as well, but from what I hear, that may have been an issue with the SNES itself and not the game. Otherwise though, the game looks nice. The music got changed up considerably here. While the first game has more of a fast-paced hard rock soundtrack, the one here is more varied and considerably more mellow. While I would have preferred a couple more rock tracks, this soundtrack is cool to listen to, fun, melodic, and severely underrated, and the songs that do rock, rock pretty hard (Flame Stag’s stage sounds like a combination of Machine Head and Iron Maiden). The controls I should mention, thankfully are about 98% the same as the first game (the other 2 percent pertaining to new abilities and rides) which means, spot on. Basically, if you screw up, it’s your fault, not the controls. Mega Man X controls wonderfully, and that mid-air dash is awesome and easy to pull off, as is using your other abilities and weapons.
I think I’ve covered everything thus far. So to summarize, it’s great. A great action game that can be played in one sitting (or multiple if it’s too hard, thanks returning password system!) and it’s fun. Fun weapons, fun stages, fun things to find, I pretty much have a blast with this game every time out, and it’s a guaranteed good time for me. Basically, that is why Mega Man X2 is my favorite Mega Man game of all time. As for finding the game, I did mention that because of the CX4 chip, it made the game more expensive, and that in turn prompted Capcom to make fewer copies. You could find a copy for the SNES for around 30-50 bucks a few years ago. Now it’s closer to 80-90 dollars. Don’t even get me started on Mega Man X3….thankfully, there are cheaper ways to acquire Mega Man X2. The game is included in the Mega Man X Collection for the Playstation 2 and Gamecube (the PS2 version got a 2nd reprint so it’s considerably cheaper than the Gamecube version). It’s also available on both the Wii and Wii U virtual consoles and if you still want to play it on your SNES without paying an arm and a leg, the Super Famicom copy goes for considerably cheaper (as long as you don’t care about text since it is all in Japanese). So go out there and get it. You won’t regret it.
Lastly, I do want to end on this note. I mention how to get the game, and it reminded me of how I actually got the game. Back when I was a 12 year old boy, I wanted Mega Man X2 for Christmas in 1995. I asked my parents for it, along with Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. I remember still asking them to look for it even after Christmas. Well, one day, I come back home one afternoon after school and my mom called me in the kitchen to show me something. That something...was Mega Man X2, complete with a 70 dollar price tag on the box. She then tells me, “You don’t know how many places I had to go to look for that game”. I said thank you and she tells me “Don’t ever make me do that again!”. Needless to say I didn’t bother her about Mega Man X3, since this was in February of 1996, a month after X3 was released.
But I still have my Mega Man X2, and I’m happy about that.