maanantai 7. tammikuuta 2013

REVIEW - Mega Man II | GB | 1991

GENRE(S): Action / Platform
RELEASED: December 20, 1991
PUBLISHER(S): Capcom, Nintendo

Less than five months after the release of Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge and just in time for Christmas, another outsourced Mega Man title for the Game Boy hit the shelves in Japan. Mega Man II was released to very poor reception, most of it stemming from a nearly effortless level of difficulty and awful design. I disagree to some degree: I think Mega Man II is quite all right by design, but I do acknowledge the fact that it's damn easy - probably the easiest Mega Man game I've ever played, especially in comparison to its infernal predecessor - and it has its own bulk of flaws. But, it is a Mega Man game, and I think fans will enjoy it to at least some extent. Very brief extent, literally.

A flash of blue... in black and white

I never thought of using Wood
Shield here before. I'm a f'n
Dr. Wily steals a time machine from Chronos Institute and travels nearly 40,000 years into the future, to capture and remodel the one robot he considers powerful enough to face Mega Man - a future model of Mega Man himself. As always, he pulls into preparation and lets eight of his earlier creations loose on the Blue Bomber.

Going into Mega Man II, I was still a little torn in half on what to really make of the previous Game Boy title. It was a decent enough game, but it suffered from bad design and notorious difficulty for a lot of wrong reasons - including the bad design. For once in the history of the whole series and all its spin-off material, I really didn't know what to expect from Mega Man II. The moment I started the game up, it was like a revelation. It felt like a bright light. And not a very flickering one, either.

Simmer down, Garfield.
The graphics are pretty much the same on the surface, but here we have some good level design. Still pretty random when it comes to environments suddenly changing and having whatnot from past games scattered all over the place as enemies or background items, or platforms, but I respect porting whole rooms straight off the NES games way more than I respected those awkward original creations in the previous game. There are a few technical bumps, such as platforms not appearing until you jump towards them, but surprisingly, nothing too lethal even if they're platforms on open sky. Since a lot of the action takes place outdoors this time around, the pain of narrow hallways is not that present even if Mega Man still feels like a giant. Not too much small, annoying enemies either. No lag or flicker, a much smoother frame rate. We're off to a good start...

...Which almost comes to an immediate halt with the music. It's horrible, simply abysmal, throughout the line. There's some vintage melody in there - somewhere - sure. It just sounds like it's all recorded in a toilet, and (note: and) played from an LP at double speed. Terrible sequencing is the cherry on the top of the crap cake. The music is seriously so bad that it will make you angry, drive you borderline insane, give you a dastardly headache and finally, it will break your concentration in half. You will need to pause the game every once in a while, and you can't take it for very long unless you mute the system. I can't emphasize enough how severely bad music hurts a Mega Man game. The previous one sounded a bit sucky, but still dozens of times better than the noise this one produces.

I was really anxious to meet
"Dali Man".
Well, on to the gameplay. First of all, I'd like to make a positive statement about the controls. The Game Boy was never known for having good controls, but Mega Man II actually works better than its source title, Mega Man 3 on the NES. Mega Man's slide ability works more fluid, Rush works perfectly despite having such tiny capacity on his side, the menu is less of a drag to toggle and Mega Man has decent traction to his backward thrust whenever he's hit; I didn't fall off one damn edge during the whole game! I truly hope no one considered this game "too easy" just for having better controls.

Mega Man II has a similar structure as the last game, but once again, it differs from every other Mega Man game. First, there are four bosses from Mega Man 2 to defeat. They're the ones that were missing from the previous one; namely Wood Man, Air Man, Metal Man and Crash Man, who's for some reason called Clash Man in this game. There's no particular path for you to follow. Although one weapon works on each boss better than any other one, they're fairly easy to just blast through with your standard arm cannon. The levels are also very easy, and relatively short, unlike in the last game in which they represented the planes of hell, and carried on for eternities.

Instead, I met Wilyzilla.
After you've beaten each of the four bosses, you're treated to a "cutscene", and a room that looks very much like a standard boss survival room. Actually, it's a Stage Select screen for four more levels, and you have no way of knowing (the first time around), which stage and boss lurks on the other side of each teleport. Kinda dumb. And it just so happens that the following bosses are harder than the previous ones - takes some good luck to hit pay dirt on the first try, and face a mystery boss with a proper weapon, since your arm cannon will no longer work that well to your advantage.

Anyway, as you might've guessed, the following four bosses are from Mega Man 3 - Magnet Man, Hard Man, Top Man and Needle Man, to be precise. Not the worst bosses from that game by any measure, but still, the first two were never ones to mess with, especially not in the extremely small spaces this game offers for boss rooms. Top and Needle are quite pathetic if you have enough luck or knowledge to leave 'em standing last. After these four bosses, you'll meet the assigned "Mega Man Killer" of the game, who's equally powerless as his predecessor Enker. One more level later, you'll meet Dr. Wily in the easiest series of final confrontation phases ever. Thank you for playing - presented by Capcom.

...Wait, what?

Wow. My fastest run in a
Mega Man game in well
over ever.
Yes. It's amazing how Capcom seemed to take such serious offense of the criticism concerning the previous game's difficulty, that they drove their new developmental team to create this much of a polar opposite - an absolutely effortless game on the series' usual scale, and just a brief walk in the park in comparison to the previous Game Boy installment. I understand that overseeing the development of Mega Man II to the last day wasn't on the top of their priority list, but hell, they could've at least seen it through enough to judge if it was properly balanced. I was entertained by the game, sure, but I expected to sweat even a little. It's Mega Man.

As far as challenge goes, it's from one extreme to another, the previous game and this one. However... I must say I don't understand all of the critics, since despite being such an effortless run (one that sounds absolutely rancid), Mega Man II is notably more comfortable to play than Dr. Wily's Revenge and the technically superior game. The next game was made by the same team, and once again, I have no idea what I'm heading into. But, I expect a good game, and HOPE for good balance, as well. Decent music wouldn't hurt, either.

+ Not too innovative and still very random, but fair level design
+ The most severe technical problems are harvested
+ Good controls, dare I say better than in Mega Man 3 on the NES
+ Balanced item drops

- The music is nothing less of abysmal; horribly composed, repetitive and most of all, sequenced by apparent amateurs
- A little too easy on the franchise's scale; over in an hour
- All of my favourite bosses from Mega Man 3 are saved for another day

< 7.6 >

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