perjantai 20. elokuuta 2010

REVIEW - Mega Man X2 (1994)

Genre(s): Action / Platform
Released: 1994
Available on: SNES
Developer(s): Capcom
Publisher(s): Capcom
Players: 1

Mega Man X2 was released an exact year after the arrival of the first multi-million selling installment in the X spin-off series. In 1988, Mega Man 2 practically ignited the spark that burst into the Mega Man franchise, and I guess some people were expecting X2 to blow everyone away in the same fashion. It didn’t happen. With its very few changes to the original winning formula, X2 doesn’t quite thrive, but should please those into the first game to some extent.

Relax, it’s only the second one

It’s been six months since X destroyed the Mavericks and their leader Sigma, restoring peace, but also lost his partner Zero in the process. The once inferior Maverick Hunter X has assumed leadership of the unit. Despite Sigma’s demise, the Maverick rebellion is ongoing. Three Maverick leaders form a unit dubbed X-Hunters and take control of the North Pole, taunting X and his mentor Dr. Cain with the mere possibility of reconstructing Zero to a whole new purpose. No time to rest for X.

Actually, the game is somewhat grainier than the first one, but introduces a shitload of new graphical effects which will blow your mind. The first boss fight, in the introductory stage, might not be the most epic one ever, but damn it looks awesome. The boss is huge – as in GOD DAMN – and in smooth, Cx4 enabled 3D. The design is technically top notch once again, however the Mavericks themselves are not quite as impressive as in the first game – Wire Sponge and Overdrive Ostrich will rest my case. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is perfect. Yuki Iwai, one of the five composers that worked on the previous game single-handedly made this game one of the best sounding titles in the whole SNES library. Flame Stag’s theme is an absolute killer, and kind of reminds of me Deep Purple’s “Burn”, one of the best hard rock tunes in history.

Why do I get the feeling the walls are watching
Everything’s going mighty well until you realize that ultimately, if you’ve played the first game, you’ve played this one. Very disappointing indeed, and in the actual meaning of the word. It’s depressive. The health utilities at hand are exactly the same – heart tanks and subtanks are still hidden or placed in hard-to-reach areas, quite damn well I might add – across all main stages. The upgrades are slightly different. First of all the power dash gained as an upgrade in the previous game is now one of X’s basic and most needed abilities. The helmet upgrade gives X laser sight, which practically means that you can see secret paths and items by using it as you would use any weapon – this means it has its own energy meter. Same goes for an ability called Giga Crush, which comes with the armor upgrade. Neither one of these abilities works too well. The laser sight’s optical information is quite random and vague, and Giga Crush depletes all of its weapon energy in one blow and doesn’t really do much damage when it’s actually needed. The X-Buster upgrade is quite cool, and surprisingly handy. Not only does it give X the ability to charge and fire two devastating, consecutive shots, but when charged, it also brings out secret features in some extra weapons, which prove useful in getting some of the secret items at the very least. What’s even more important for that purpose is the boot upgrade, which grants X the ability to do a power dash in mid-air.

As hinted, the game progresses exactly the same way as Mega Man X, or who am I kidding, pretty much as any other game in the whole franchise. Eight Mavericks, each with a notable weakness, some really grueling ultimate stages with their own boss fights, a boss survival and the last capital T with a few consecutive, incredibly tough duels. This time, there’s a quite major twist to the last ones. There are two different ways the game can go down, depending on how much time you are willing to spend with it. Before the very final stages, you are given the choice to go straight down to North Pole with all guns blazing, but in that case you’ll have to fight a ridiculously strong and fast “extra” boss. Nothing to it, I know, but you get no rest, you’re taken straight to slaughter conducted by the final boss – the previous battle is very taxing and I don’t doubt that you’re going to use a lot of your subtanks just to survive through that one. If you lose to the final boss, you’ll have to do the whole stage all over again. I know, it’s crap. What you should do at this point is return to some Maverick stages and fight additional, moderately easy but hidden bosses to collect items that would’ve kept the second to last battle from ever taking place. But again, if you don't, good luck. Kind of stupid, don’t you think? The game practically forces you to find everything on the first run. What’s left of the replay value?

Back the hell away from me, you big, mean
demolisher you.
This is the first time in the series that the stages have their own names instead of simply being named after the bosses. The Mavericks in the game are indeed a disappointment to the cavalcade in the first X game. There are only a couple of really cool ones, starting with Wheel Gator. The level design’s quite random, too, as there are absolutely no signs of rock solid themes between the Mavericks and their stages. But, the stages do look very nice, and as I mentioned, the graphical effects are indeed impressive. Who am I kidding here, really? You know you can’t help but enjoy the game if you dug the previous installment. Yet, it is a different thing to pay for something this identical and/or inferior than to like it.

Challenge-wise, the game is absolute hell. The stages themselves are a lot more difficult than those in the first game and require some almighty fingerwork. Yet again, it’s incredibly hard to get started; each boss can be destroyed by just using the X-Buster, but how easy that is, that’s a whole different question. There is one true order for beating the bosses if you want to do it as easy as possible. The hidden items are not as hard to find as they are to actually obtain, and getting them is pretty much mandatory. Feel free to count the days instead of hours.

Mega Man X2 is a good game, but I never thought the X series would go down the same path as the original franchise this fast. Plus, it is an extremely difficult, downright unfair game, as if the first one wasn’t hard enough. It practically demands the player to do everything in one single playthrough, and even succeeding in that ain’t too fun in my books; I always want to fully enjoy a good game at least twice before (possibly) laying it to rest.
Graphics : 8.9
Sound : 9.6
Playability : 7.8
Challenge : 9.2
Overall : 8.0


a.k.a. Mega Man X2: Versus X-Hunters, Rockman X2: Versus Counter-Hunters (JAP)

GameRankings: 74.00%

The game was re-released in its original form as part of the Mega Man X Collection on Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2 in 2006.

Like in the previous game, a hidden weapon spoofing Capcom's Street Fighter II can be found; the Shoryuken, also known as the Dragon Punch, used by Ryu and Ken in the classic series of fighting games. The move's original button combo is used to fire it.

When Dr. Light presents X with the Shoryuken, he yells "You're so cool! I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!". This is a reference to the famous catchphrase of Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) from the comedy Wayne's World.

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