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CONSOLE: Game Boy DEVELOPER: Biox PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): February 1992 GENRE: Platformer
// review by Jeff

Return of the Blue Blah-mer.

If the first Mega Man game on Game Boy was a Monet, this is a Save-Your-Monet.

After a fairly successful excursion on the monochrome screen, Mega Man was revived a second time for the ever-popular Game Boy, but for whatever reason, Capcom decided to switch their outsourcing developer from Minakuchi Engineering, whose employees were big fans of the franchise, to Biox, whose employees knew nothing about it. Yes, "Biox", with a company name that sounds more like a facial injection treatment than a game developer, and a resumé with equally sagging results. Among other games, they developed the Game Gear versions of Streets of Rage II, Ristar, and Ninja Gaiden, as well as the almighty Game Boy Color title extraordinaire "Burger Burger Pocket: Hamburger Simulator". I kid you not on that last one. And the results of Capcom's dubious selection shows: this game is just lacking somewhere.

Our hero now faces a strange new threat. The evil Dr. Wily, not yet willing to part with his world-domination scheme, has somehow managed to steal a time machine. Traveling forward in time a mere 37-and-a-half years, probably looking for advanced technology that could defeat Mega Man once and for all, he stumbles on the one weapon that could prove useful... Meanwhile, "current" Mega Man has to battle against four Robot Masters (the four from Mega Man 2 not previously recycled) before he can contend with Dr. Wily at his fortress. Upon arrival, Mega Man discovers he has to fight four MORE Robot Masters (Mega Man 3 delivers these ones) before finally facing off with Quint, also known as Mega Man from the future. (Are you following this? Did someone write this?) Fortunately, Quint is the least menacing robot ever built, simply hopping around on a large pogo stick, and is easily subdued before Mega Man chases down Dr. Wily in a space station with melting clocks everywhere as though Salvador Dalí vomited everywhere.

...No, seriously, let's talk about Quint. He's green, he looks "kinda" mean, and literally, his only move is to try and leap on you with a drilling pogo stick... that ALSO has a face. Quint is the only new character here, and he's a toned-down version of Commander Keen without even the ability to shoot. Upon his destruction — or not even that, his sudden warp out upon taking enough punishment — you earn yourself the ability to use the drill-stick itself, the "Sakugarne". But you never will because by the time you've actually faced off with this emerald endoscopy, there's only one stage left, and nowhere inside will you ever need this.


This week's lineup...

Whereas the first portable Mega Man game provided a solid degree of challenge, this sequel swings in the opposite direction, resulting in arguably the easiest Mega Man game to date, including every spin-off imaginable, including the always tantalizing mobile phone exclusive "Rockman Rocket Christmas". Honestly, pretty much all bosses in this game can easily be downed by the Mega Buster, making the inheritance of new weapons — one of the primary staples of the series — a waste of time. And Mega Man takes far less damage from enemies this time around, not to mention that health energy drops are more prolific here. (Actually, I DID just mention that.)

That's not to say Mega Man II doesn't push the series forward. In fact, many of the amenities I lamented not being present in the first game are implemented here. He can hold up to four E-Tanks, more than are really necessary for the painless quest ahead. The slide move makes a triumphant return. Mega Man II also marks the portable debut of Rush, Mega Man's loyal dogbot, who can transform into a springy coil, rideable jet, or leak-proof submarine at the push of a button. These additions, though nothing new to players of the NES games, definitely steer the Game Boy titles in the right direction. They also seriously toned down the number of spikes in the game, something we can all be thankful for.

Graphically, there's little as far as advances go. In fact, Biox did their best to try and make this as close to the relative NES games as possible, right down to the stage design that doesn't do much for innovation. Only the final stage is really "new", and there's as much revolution there as in a carton of eggs at the grocery store...

...Eggs haven't really changed much over the years.


Looks can be deceiving.

And the music... oh my goodness. Whoever arranged these needs to be forced to listen to their own soundtrack for days. I had no idea the sound chip could produce notes that high. Clearly that's a bit of an exaggeration, but the music does reach plateaus of cringe the other games don't dare touch. The brutalization of classic Nintendo songs makes me sad and all fetal-position-ey. Not to mention, drums aren't supposed to sound like TV static mixed with crinkling aluminum foil right by your ears.

While Mega Man II itself isn't terribly broken from a gameplay perspective, it just doesn't feel like it was properly done justice. The difficulty is way too low and the presentation is shy of satisfactory. Despite this, the game joined Nintendo's "Player's Choice" lineup, which means it sold rather well for a Game Boy title. I can't imagine why, considering the box's dismal backside:

First of all, when one out of your two screenshots is the TITLE SCREEN, and the other is the stage select screen, that doesn't bode well for your game when you can't even boast actual gameplay on the packaging itself! Second, bullet-points are supposed to outline the best features of your game. Having nine levels and being a single-player experience hardly qualify as selling points. Plus, when your tagline is "It's Quint'n Time", I just want to give up.

I think it's Quint'n time for me as well. I need an Alka-Seltzer.


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