Mega Man II originally released for the Nintendo Entertainment System on December 24, 1988 (24th? REALLY? Hahahahahahahahaha). This game is considered not only to be one of the best games sold on the console, but one of the best action games of all time.
Already we have a problem.
This game came out almost 30 years ago and I still hear people praising it for its quality. I encourage thee to realize, when discussing games, that there is an enormous difference between a title that is perfect, a title that is perfect considering its age, and a title that actually stands the test of time. Having never played Mega Man II before, I decided to investigate; is this game actually good, or does nostalgia play too big of a factor when discussing Mega Man II?
Okay no need to dance around this: Mega Man II is fantastic. It totally stands the test of time. Which is awesome! Because that means that the opinion of older gamers is still valuable to us young-punk gamers who think we know everything about what makes a good game.
The magic of Mega Man II comes in the form of variety. MMII is broken up into 10 levels, each with a different tactical and aesthetic theme. Not only do each of the 10 levels feature different colors, enemies, and music, but they each demand totally different playing strategies. At the end of each of the 5-8 minute (if you die as often as I do) levels, is a boss fight. None of the bosses are too hard, though they certainly provide a fair challenge. Once each boss is defeated, Mega Man gains a new ability, usually a new offensive or tactical weapon. Essentially, the more bosses you defeat, the stronger you become.
This side-scrolling shooter/platformer is hard. But not too hard. It's also unfair. But not too unfair. Games of this time period had to be kept small due to hardware limitations, but they also had to have lasting appeal since there were fewer developers to pump out new games every week. An old game had to be kept small, but still last. How do you do that? Make it hard, but not so hard that it will keep people from playing it. Man, what a nightmarish challenge it must have been to get everything just right. Very few games balanced the equation perfectly, but Mega Man II did.