Nintendo Consoles

Nintendo Consoles

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mega Man II

As a member of the Long Island Retro Video Game community, I constantly find myself surrounded by older gamers discussing the glory of their older games. Many of these veteran gamers I know grew up on the Nintendo Entertainment System the same way I grew up on the Gamecube. I have spent a lot of time discussing why Gamecube games are still a fun option for the gamer with nothing else to play, but what about the titles my fellow retro gamers grew up on? What about the classics?

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?

Mega Man II - NES/ Nintendo 3DS

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.

The most remarkable aspect of this collection of levels is that the player is free to attempt each one in any order they desire. That being said, there are definitely recommended level sequences. You see, each boss you defeat earns you a specific new ability, and some levels are MUCH easier to complete after having been awarded certain specific abilities. So while the player is always free to choose which level they'd like to attempt next, they are also free to determine which weapons they need in order to progress through the game as easily as possible. To some extent, this results in a bit of trial-and-error playing, but it also encourages creativity that runs parallel to the nurturing of your Mega Man skillz.

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.

By the end of the 1-2 hour game, not only will Mega Man himself be equipped with a large assortment of different moves and weapons, but you, as the player, will have gained the cleverness needed to use them all when appropriate. The gradual acquisition of each new moves eases players into and out of a gaming experience for which they are required to master each of the title's nuances. Walking away from any game after having mastered the controls feels exhilarating, which is why it is extra sweet that Mega Man II seems to have been designed with this satisfaction in mind. In the end, Mega Man II comes so highly recommended because it leaves the player with the feeling of mastery, fluency, and unrivaled satisfaction.

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