With the recent release of Megaman 9, I felt it necessary to explore the game that inspired it, Megaman2. To say I played this game a lot as a child would be a serious understatement. Ironically enough I never actually owned the game, but it was almost always in my possession due to my generous (and forgetful) friend.
Though the franchise as we know it today did indeed begin with the original Megaman, it was launched by its superior sequel. For the Megaman illiterate, I will briefly explain the concept of the game and its impact on video games in general. From the main menu, you are given a choice of eight (up from six) different robot master to fight. After beating the Robot Masters and their respective stages, you would in turn receive the very weapons they once used against you in combat. ie: If a boss used a flame attack in combat you would generally receive a flame weapon. The brilliant addition to the gameplay was that each boss, had a weakness to a corresponding weapon. This led to a sort of Rock-Paper-Scissor mechanic that has been a staple since the original. After defeating all 8 robots, Megaman would then journey to the main antagonist, Dr. Wily. Wily's castle would generally be the hardest area of any Megaman game and would challenge the player with a multitude of traps and enemies. After making it all the way to Wily, and his many forms, you would have to utilize the weapons acquired throughout the game to defeat him (though this could be done using Megman's normal weapon). Aside from the novel idea of actually CHOOSING which level to play in a game, there was also a handy password system that would allow you to pick up where you left off on a later date.
Now that you understand the concept its important to understand what sets Megaman 2 apart from all of the others. I can break this down into 3 major categories:
1-Level Design: From the sky-platforms of Air-Man's level to the dastardly design of Wily's castle, Megman 2's stage layouts are incredible. The astonishing gameplay of the series enabled Megaman to jump and shoot his way through the majority of levels unhindered by frame-loss. The stages felt smooth and the jumps and obstacles were well placed. All of the stages were challenging, rewarding and most importantly fun.
2-Enemy Design: All enemies big and small, play an integral role in challenging the player to work his/her hardest. Though admittedly the enemy spawns could be inconvenient sometimes, for the most part it never got out of hand. The Boss design was also outstanding and some of the weapons they used on your were quite ingenious for their time. I mean Flashman was a bit of a push-over but his time stopper was quite effective. I think its important to mention Heatman's weapon too because his weapon would serve as a precursor for the megabuster we would see in Megaman 4. Megaman2 has arguable the most memorable bosses as well, I mean who doesn't like woodman?
3-Music: The most memorable, and arguably important element which sets this game above all the rest is its soundtrack. There is literally no piece of music in the entire game which isn't astonishing in its own right. When you think that all of these tracks were composed using 8-bit sounds it truly is an amazing achievement. Sure some of the songs are short and just loop continually but the offer so much emotion for even though they are essentially rhythms and beeps. Some of my personal favorites include Flashman's stage, Airman's stage and Wily Castle 1.
In conclusion, I just don't think I can fully express how important this game was to my childhood and to games in general. Though undoubtedly some of you DO share this common sentiment, I hope that this article has given some who haven't, an opportunity to try and enjoy one of the greatest video games of all time.