Basic Idea: Defeat Dr. Wily for the second of infinity times.
Review: I feel kind of dirty ranking this game all the way down at #20. Most people have it in their top five, and many more have it as their favorite game of all time. It is probably hurt by the fact I didn’t have this game as a child and couldn’t obsess over it for years. I can’t really explain why the game doesn’t move me like it moves others. But the game is more or less perfect at what it does, and I did enjoy myself quite a bit while playing, so I have no qualms about having it in my top 20.
For those who aren’t aware, you basically control a robotic man equipped with a laser cannon for an arm. You must traverse several levels in standard platformer style, defeat a boss, then defeat the big bad boss at the end. What pleased a lot of people (and something I don’t personally care about) is that you can tackle the levels in any order you wish. There is more than one optimal path through the game, as finishing some levels sooner will give you power-ups that will make other levels easier. While this gives the game replayability in a sense, it doesn’t do much for me as once I win a game, I have little desire to do so in a different manner unless there’s a true alternate path. For an extreme example, there is a FAQ on how to win Final Fantasy VI while not giving equipment to any player. If I’m going to play the game again, I’d rather just play it regular and enjoy the story. Finding a slightly different way to get to the end just for a different challenge does not intrigue me.
That said, the game mechanics are flawless. Mega Man always does everything you ask him to. It is a difficult game. If you have trouble with Super Mario Bros. this game will give you fits. But it’s not impossible, and way more fair than the first game in the series. Patience is rewarded, as taking time to use your special abilities (such as levitating platforms) while also conserving them is key to making progress.
The level designs are very creative, the colors bright and inviting. The music is consistently amazing and a perfect fit for the game. I am not alone in feeling the series peaked on the NES with this game, and the final four games are mostly derivative. You certainly don’t need to play the first game in the series to enjoy Mega Man II; in fact, you’re better off skipping it altogether.