Mega Man 2
|Mega Man 2|
North American box art portraying the protagonist, Mega Man, battling with rivals Quick Man and Crash Man in a futuristic setting.
Mega Man 2, known in Japan as Rockman 2: Dr. Wily no Nazo (ロックマン2 Dr.ワイリーの謎 Rokkuman 2 Dr. Wairī no Nazo?, lit. "Rockman 2: The Mystery of Dr. Wily"), is a platform game developed and published by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It is the second installment in the original Mega Man series. The game was released in Japan in 1988, and in North America and PAL regions the following years. Mega Man 2 continues the titular protagonist's battle against the evil Dr. Wily and his rogue robots. The game features graphical and gameplay changes from the first Mega Man game, many of which have remained throughout the series.
Although sales for Mega Man were unimpressive, Capcom allowed the Rockman team to create a sequel. They worked concurrently on other Capcom projects, using their free time to develop the game. Unused content from the previous title was integrated into Mega Man 2. Takashi Tateishi composed the soundtrack, with Yoshihiro Sakaguchi serving as a sound programmer.
With more than 1.5 million copies sold, the game is the best-selling Mega Man title. Critics praised its audio, visuals and gameplay as an improvement over the first game. Many publications rank Mega Man 2 as the best title in the series, and as one of the greatest video games of all time. The game has been re-released on several consoles and mobile phones.
Mega Man 2 takes place after the original Mega Man, which is set in an unspecified year during the 21st century (the year 2004, as seen in the opening shot on the PlayStation 2 15th Anniversary Collection version). Dr. Wily, the series' main antagonist, builds a new fortress and army of robotic henchmen, led by eight new Robot Masters of his design: Metal Man, Air Man, Bubble Man, Quick Man, Crash Man, Flash Man, Heat Man, and Wood Man. Mega Man is sent by his creator, Dr. Light, to defeat Dr. Wily and his Robot Masters. Mega Man crushes the eight new Robot Masters and then challenges Wily himself. In the final fight, Mega Man defeats Dr. Wily's holographic projection device. After the scientist begs for mercy, Mega Man spares Wily and returns home.
Mega Man 2 is a platform and action game like its predecessor, Mega Man. The player controls Mega Man as he traverses eight stages to defeat the bosses, Dr. Wily's Robot Masters: Metal Man, Air Man, Bubble Man, Quick Man, Crash Man, Flash Man, Heat Man, and Wood Man. Each Robot Master features a unique weapon and a stage related to their weapon's power. For example, Air Man shoots small tornadoes and is fought in a sky-themed level, while Wood Man can use a shield of leaves and is found in a forest-themed stage. After defeating a boss, their signature weapon becomes available to the player. The Robot Masters have weaknesses to the weapons of certain other Robot Masters; therefore, choosing the order in which the levels are played is a vital component of the gameplay. After completing certain stages, Mega Man receives a special item. These items create platforms that allow Mega Man to access areas that he otherwise could not.
After defeating the eight Robot Masters, the player proceeds to Dr. Wily's fortress, which consists of six levels that are played linearly. As in the first title, the player is required to fight each Robot Master a second time in Dr. Wily's fortress. However, these battles take place in a single room rather than a series of linearly connected rooms. The room contains teleportation devices that lead to each Robot Master. The devices can be entered in any order, but are not labeled. Once the bosses are defeated again, the player must fight Dr. Wily.
Mega Man 2 features a few gameplay changes from the original Mega Man. A new item, the Energy Tank, allows a player to refill Mega Man’s health at any time. Also introduced is a password system. After defeating each Robot Master a password is displayed, allowing the player to return to that particular point in the game after restarting the system. The password stores the particular list of completed Robot Masters, as well as the number of accumulated Energy Tanks. Unlike the first game, Mega Man 2 does not feature a score counter, and the player is unable to return to Robot Master levels once completed.
Mega Man 2 was developed and published by Capcom. In retrospect, series producer Keiji Inafune, who was credited as Inafking, described the game's development as a "rogue effort". The first Mega Man game—released in 1987—was not successful enough to justify the immediate development of a sequel. Capcom allowed the development team to create a sequel on the condition that they work concurrently on other projects as well. The staff spent their own time on the project to improve upon the original by adding more levels and weapons, as well as improving the graphics. The project supervisor of the first Mega Man invited Inafune to the sequel's development crew; Inafune was working on a separate game at the time. In the previous title, Inafune worked as an artist and character designer, but became more involved in the production process of the sequel. "Working on [Mega Man 2] marked my second year at this, and I even got to mentor a 'new kid', which opened up a whole new world of stress for me," Inafune recounted. The development time for the game was only three to four months.
Due to the limited amount of cartridge space available for the first game, content was omitted from the final product. The unused elements were later transferred to Mega Man 2. The team was limited by the graphical capabilities of the console, and designed characters as pixel art to maintain consistency between the designs and final product; some design elements, however, were lost in the transition. The gameplay system from the original game was kept for Mega Man 2, but the team included more traps for the player to navigate. The game's three support items were added to aid the player because of complaints from consumers and Capcom's marketing department regarding the original game's high difficulty. Inafune's supervisor was "especially unsure" about the usefulness of the Energy Tanks. The developers allowed input from the public by including boss designs created by fans. Capcom received 8,370 boss submissions for the game, although even the designs for the final eight Robot Masters were "tweaked". Inafune intended his artwork for Mega Man 2 to be more "anime-ish" than in the first game. A second difficulty setting was added for the North American release. The original version was labeled "difficult", and a "normal" setting was created that made the "arm cannon" and boss weapons more powerful.
The soundtrack for Mega Man 2 was composed by Takashi Tateishi, credited as Ogeretsu Kun. Manami Matsumae, who had composed the music for the first Mega Man, contributed the music for Air Man's stage. As with the previous game, the sound programming was handled by Yoshihiro Sakaguchi, credited as Yuukichan's Papa.
Veteran video game cover illustrator Marc Ericksen painted the North American box art, which included Mega Man firing a pistol instead of his trademark Mega Buster. Ericksen explained, "I didn't know anything about Mega Man, and [after looking at the character in action] I said to the art director, 'What is he shooting with?' ... He said, 'Well, he must have a pistol, because I don't see a rifle.' ... I said, 'So, a pistol? Do you want me to do a pistol?' And he said, 'Yeah, let's put a pistol in there.' So I did what I was told and I put the pistol in there. Add to the fact that they only had, like, a day and a half for me to do the painting and what you wound up with was not the greatest result. But certainly a result that was not my fault. I mean, they told me to put the pistol in his hand!"
Though the first Mega Man game had relatively low sales, Mega Man 2 was a huge success. Since its 1988 release, Mega Man 2 has sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide. The game is the highest selling in the Mega Man series and is Capcom's 30th highest selling title. Mega Man 2 was well received by critics. Electronic Gaming Monthly's four reviewers—Steve Harris, Ed Semrad, Donn Nauert, and Jim Allee—rated the game favorably. They stated that it was better than the first Mega Man, citing the improved audio-visuals, new power-ups, and password system. Nauert and Allee, however, expressed disappointment that the game was less difficult than the first game. Nadia Oxford of 1UP.com complimented its aesthetics and gameplay. She further stated that Mega Man 2 improved the gameplay of its predecessor by removing excessively difficult elements. Mean Machines' two reviewers, Julian Rignall and Matt Regan, praised several aspects of the game. Rignall lauded the gameplay, citing its addictiveness and the puzzles. Regan praised the difficulty and called the gameplay balanced. Both reviewers complimented the graphics, calling them detailed and stunning, and described it as a great platform game. Retro Gamer editor Richard Burton described it as a "must-have" title for the system, comments echoed by two of Electronic Gaming Monthly's reviewers. Zach Miller writing for Game Informer attributed the success of the game to the players' option to defeat the stages in the order of their choosing. He praised the simple control scheme and variety of weapons and items. GamesRadar ranked it the third best NES game ever made. The staff called it the "pinnacle" of the 8-bit Mega Man games.
The game's soundtrack has been well received by critics. Joey Becht of IGN listed three stage themes from Mega Man 2 along with the main title song among the best in the series. In 2008, Game Informer listed Mega Man 2's introduction sequence as the fifth-best video game opening, citing the build up of excitement that the music and appearance of the character instills. The "Doctor Wily Stage Theme" was ranked second in ScrewAttack's "Top 10 Video Game Themes Ever" video. Nintendo Power' editorial staff praised the music in 2008, stating it is among the best on the platform. In 2009, Gamasutra's Brandon Sheffield describe the music as easily recognizable, and lamented that contemporary video game music lacked that trait.
Mega Man 2 is a favorite among Mega Man fans, with many calling it the best in the series. Critics have also referred to the game as the series' best title. Oxford considered it one of the most memorable titles in the series, and Burton called the game the best in the series. IGN's Levi Buchanan listed three of the game's bosses among the "Top 10 Mega Man Robot Masters". Several publications consider the game a critical success and have listed it high on "top game" lists. At the end of 1989, it was the top ranked game on Nintendo Power's Top 30 list. In August 2008, Nintendo Power listed Mega Man 2 as the third best Nintendo Entertainment System video game. The editorial staff praised the polished improvements over the previous game. GameSpot named Mega Man 2 as one of "The Greatest Games of All Time". It ranked number 33 in Nintendo Power's "Top 200 Nintendo Games Ever" list and number 60 in Official Nintendo Magazine's "100 Best Nintendo Games" list. Miller considered it one of the greatest games of all time. In 2007, IGN's three editorial offices—United States, United Kingdom, and Australia—compiled a list of top 100 games. They listed Mega Man 2 as number 67, citing the action and strategic elements along with the impact it had on the series. Mega Man 2 was placed 4th on IGN's list of the Top 100 NES Games.
Keiji Inafune claims the success of Mega Man 2 is what made the Mega Man series a hit that continues to spawn sequels. 1UP.com commented that the game helped establish the series as a prominent and commercially successful video game franchise. IGN cited Mega Man 2 as a title that helped define the action-platforming genre. Retro Gamer credited it with helping the series obtain the global presence that allowed spin-offs and more sequels to be created. Many of the conventions of the original Mega Man series were defined by the first title, but Mega Man 2 added conventions that were retained. The traditional number of Robot Masters for the series is eight as used in Mega Man 2, rather than the six used in the original. It was the first in the series to include an opening cinematic. Mega Man 2 also introduced the Energy Tank item, special movement items, teleporter room, and password system, which became staples in future titles. The Energy Tank became the series' iconic health refill item and later served as inspiration for a promotional "Rockman E-Can" drink. In developing Mega Man 9, producer Inafune and Hironobu Takeshita looked to the first two games in the series for inspiration, with Mega Man 2 serving as a standard to surpass in order to meet fans' expectations. Mega Man Universe was to feature a remake of Mega Man 2's story campaign, as well as feature customizable characters and levels. However, Capcom has officially announced the game's cancellation due to "various circumstances."  In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, Wily Castle, as depicted in Mega Man 2, appears as a selectable stage in both versions of the game.
Rereleases and adaptations
In 1990, Tiger Electronics produced a handheld electronic version with abridged gameplay. In 1999, Mega Man 2 was rereleased for the Sony PlayStation as the second of six Rockman Complete Works discs, though only in Japan and under the original title Rockman 2. It is largely identical to the original NES release, but had a number of bonuses, such as a "navi mode" for beginners that presents the player with a slightly re-made version of the game, detailed encyclopedic content, image galleries, and remixed music. Mega Man 2 was included with nine other games in the series in Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the Sony PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Microsoft's Xbox, released between 2004 and 2005. The game's emulation is identical to the rerelease contained in Rockman Complete Works. Also in 2005, Mega Man 2 was released alongside other Capcom games as part of a "Plug It In & Play TV Games" peripheral by Jakks Pacific. Mega Man 2 made its way to mobile phones in 2007. The game was added as a part of the Wii Virtual Console service in PAL regions on December 14, 2007. In celebration of the ninth title's release in September 2008, Capcom Japan released the game in Japan on August 26, 2008 and a North American release on September 15, 2008. In March 2009, Capcom released the game for iOS, while in September of the same year the Complete Works version of Mega Man 2 was released on the Japanese PlayStation Store, making it available for download on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. Inafune expressed a desire to remake Mega Man 2, similar to Mega Man Powered Up, but stated that such a project was dependent on the commercial success of the latter. A tech demo for the Nintendo 3DS called Classic Games was shown at E3 2010, displaying more than a dozen classic games, including Mega Man 2, using 3D effects. Reggie Fils-Aime announced that the titles were slated for release on the 3DS and would possibly use the 3DS' features, such as 3D effects, analog control, or camera support. The game was released on the 3DS via the Virtual Console in Japan on August 8, 2012 and was released in Europe and North America on February 7, 2013.
Mega Man 2 was novelized in the Worlds of Power series published by Scholastic in 1990. The novel mostly follows the game, even offering game hints at the end of some chapters. Besides the added dialogue, the one major variation in the novel is that Dr. Light fears Mega Man's chances against Dr. Wily's more powerful new robots and while attempting to duplicate him, accidentally turns him into a human being, a difficulty Mega Man must endure throughout the story. The book's cover also lacks the gun depicted on the North American boxart of the game, due to a "no weapons" policy that Worlds of Power writers had to abide by.
The game was also adapted into the third story arc for the Archie Comics Mega Man comic, "The Return of Dr. Wily." In the arc, the Robot Masters are intended to either defeat Mega Man or infect him with a virus bit by bit as he absorbs their Special Weapons. All the Robot Masters are defeated but Mega Man ends up under Dr. Wily's control, until the Mega Man Powered Up Robot Masters come to his rescue. Dr. Wily manages to escape and sets his course for the Lanfront Ruins in South America, foreshadowing an adaptation of Super Adventure Rockman.
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