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RELEASE DATE (NA): November 2001 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb

Another portable kick in the Xtremities.

As with the first Mega Man Xtreme game, Mega Man Xtreme 2 basically took the fast-paced action of the SNES Mega Man X games and shrunk them down into a delicious, snackable, portable format while trying to maintain all of the high-octane blasting. The first game was an interesting attempt, but much was lost in the translation. Did Mega Man Xtreme 2 also falter? Read on, dear Mega Fan...

We arrive on the scene in 21XX, as usual, after the events of Mega Man X3, though they are not specifically referred to in any major capacity. The brief introductory storyline we are shown gives us one new bit of information that I certainly never knew before: Reploids, the sentient robots that have attempted to co-exist with humans, actually have souls. Not souls in the Biblical sense, but their functional programs are now referred to as "DNA Souls". Robots have DNA. Science! Anyway, Reploids are having their souls erased by Berkana, a former Reploid researcher. The DNA Souls are now being used to give both Berkana and her knightly pal-in-arms, Gareth, extra power for reasons that will probably be a mystery for a while. Or it's just Sigma. (Spoiler Alert That Is Too Late But It Doesn't Matter Because Sigma Is In Every X Game)

Anyhow, X and Zero are called to Laguz Island where the source of the Erasure is identified. Some of the deactivated Reploids have been turned Maverick and reactivated, so there's definitely going to be trouble there. You can tell that this is going to be a bit of a bumpy ride when you immediately notice that they refer to the Reploid Research Laboratory as the "Reploid Research Lavatory". Maybe someone did an awful lot of the localization process in the bathroom. It's slightly more humorous than the other gaffe I spotted which appears later on: "Now is not the time for talk, now is the time to destroyed!"

The first noticeable difference is that Zero is a fully playable character. He doesn't just pop in now and again like in Mega Man X3; you can play as Zero the entire time if you like. I do not recommend this at all, however; the range of his Beam Saber is incredibly short (much shorter than in console titles) and feels generally weaker. He's also a bit less mobile than X. It was pretty clear from the get-go who the superior Maverick Hunter was. Unless it was mandatory to use Zero, I opted for X.

Enemies sometimes drop DNA Souls when you defeat them. This doesn't really make much sense since their souls were erased... weren't they? It's best not to think about these things; it makes the brain boil like a Klondike chili. Anyway, the DNA Souls (which I thought were programs, but now you can see them) are diamond-shaped items that come in sets of one, two, or three, giving you 4, 8, or 12 souls respectively. You can use these DNA Souls to purchase new parts for X and Zero, aside from the usual enhancements that Dr. Light throws out there. (As a sidenote, I'm convinced that Dr. Light is alive because now he's creating enhancements for Zero, whose construction he had no part in.) X and Zero each can have power-ups for their main weapon, or you can build parts for both of them. I love X in this case, because once you have equipped several Buster parts at once, Mavericks aren't really an issue for X because he can just mow them down while barely suffering a scratch. Special weapons aren't really that special when I never need use them, eh?

In the "Normal" versions of the game, you have to select whether to be X or Zero. Each has their own set of Mavericks, seemingly randomly pulled from the first three Mega Man X titles. to battle and their respective stages. Most seem built with X in mind. Once you finish them off and gain their powers, you must directly visit the Reploid Research Lavat—I mean, Laboratory to hunt down Berkana and Gareth (that's the worst robot name I've ever heard). At this point, X and Zero team up, and you can switch freely between them, even in the heat of a boss battle. The standard set of "fortress stages" apply where you have to face off with a few lesser Mavericks before going after the main antagonist. I cannot tell a lie: Berkana and Gareth are a joke. Don't even worry about those two jokers.

By either using DNA Souls to purchase it or by unlocking it, you can also play in "Extreme Mode", which has you tackle all eight Mavericks in one playthrough, but you can use either X or Zero to do so and switch between them freely. It's a bit more of a balancing act, however, as defeating a Maverick with one character prevents the other one from obtaining that particular special weapon. The same goes for the Heart Tanks found in each stage (to lengthen your life meter). You have the option to push X's life meter to the max or Zero's. Perhaps you want to evenly distribute them. It's up to you. Extreme Mode also adds a little bit extra after the Berkana/Gareth battle: you'll have to re-fight the eight Mavericks and also deal with Sigma at the end. He's nasty. Aside from a few irksome platforming sections in this game, Sigma's final form is likely the only boss that will give you serious trouble.

You can also purchase/unlock Boss Attack Mode, which lets you fight eight different Mavericks to see how fast you can defeat them all. There are two transporter rooms to visit: one with all the Mavericks from Xtreme 2, and one with all the Mavericks from the original Xtreme! That's a nice touch, although you don't have the special weapons from that game to tackle their weak points. (Where did they GO, exactly?) But again, X's Buster, combined with the Parts in your inventory, will make quick work of them.

Switch out the helmets for afros, and you have yourself an episode of Starsky & Hutch.

As far as controls are concerned, it's about the same as before: not entirely precise, but not outright terrible, either. The characters occasionally had a mind of their own and dashed in the wrong direction a few times, but nothing strange happened that drove me bananas. X and Zero's ability to air-dash is a blessing, considering the fiascos I have had trying to pull off a dash-jump on a handheld in the past. As well, like in Xtreme, getting hurt does cause your character to pull a quick 180°, and you'll be a bit surprised when you find yourself shooting in the opposite direction. It's not a game breaker, though; just turn around! I will say this: the level designers went out of their way a few times to create situations with difficult jumps. On the plus side, they allowed you to choose whether you want to be able to auto-charge and use rapid fire on the Options menu. Generous.

Mega Man Xtreme 2 isn't overly difficult. In fact, it's one of the easier Mega Man games out there... provided you're playing as X. If you decide to take the plunge and release your inner/outer Zero, expect a tough time. A few spots will make you scratch your head, but nothing is so frustrating as to cause you to throw your Game Boy into the river in agony. Oh yeah! Don't forget: rushing water in random levels kills you instantly. I guess Reploids aren't considered waterproof when the wet stuff rushes at you at high speeds.

The game looks about as good as one could get on the Game Boy Color. Yes, it's about as advanced as an abacus, but the surroundings and characters are indeed colourful. A few things swap colours when you switch between X and Zero due to the palette change, but otherwise, everything is functional. I think Zero looks cute as a chibi character. Must be those thick legs. Can't get enough of them thick legs. Flicker is minimal, but it does exist. Likewise, the audio is mainly comprised of remixes from the SNES trilogy, but far shorter. I was saddened when I started to hear songs I liked, but they cut parts out due to technical limitations. The introduction to Overdrive Ostrich's stage music is actually rather impressive and calming, simple though it is. That part stood out above the rest.

Mega Man Xtreme 2 gives you a little more bang for your buck with Zero mixed into the formula. Still, although it's a superior title to Mega Man Xtreme, it's not quite the golden saviour of gaming either. The game itself is rather fair, though it won't give you the level of challenge experienced X-ers may be seeking. With the ability to purchase upgrades in ADDITION to Dr. Light's improvements, the game becomes basically a cakewalk. That's not what X games are about. But I didn't throw anything across the room this time around, and that has to count for something.

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