Super Mario Galaxy 2 Review

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2, more so than any game I’ve played, loves video games. It loves video games in their purest form, putting gameplay and invention above all else, and polishing it all to the greatest of extents. Galaxy 2 takes many of the bells and whistles of modern game design, and tosses them out the window. That’s not to say that Galaxy 2 is a backwards game – that couldn’t be any further from the truth – but where most of today’s games are trying to prove they are more than just video games, Super Mario Galaxy 2 proudly lets players know that it is a pure, unadulterated video game, and that in itself is a beautiful thing.

The original Super Mario Galaxy was a triumph of design that showcased Nintendo’s abilities at their most imaginative. Galaxy 2 is nothing short of Nintendo trying to outdo themselves at their best. They succeeded.

The game’s sense of control is identical to its predecessor, and it remains one of the most fluid control schemes in gaming: Mario’s movement is performed with the Wii remote’s nunchuck attachment, with the remote itself being used to perform Mario’s signature jumping maneuvers. A quick shake of the remote has Mario performing an ever-important spin attack, which not only stuns enemies, but gives a vital boost to Mario’s jumps. Additionally, the Wii Remote’s motion controls are used to collect Star Bits, which can be used against enemies with an onscreen cursor as well as collected to unlock additional stages.

While Galaxy 2 controls similarly to the original, it’s in its design and progression that Galaxy 2 becomes its own creation.

The hub world of the previous 3D Mario games is abandoned. In its place is the simpler Starship Mario, a mini-planetoid that humorously resembles Mario himself. Starship Mario works closer to a miniature playground for players to test out their abilities than a traditional hub like Mario 64’s castle or Galaxy’s Comet Observatory. Through Starship Mario players traverse a world map akin to the 2D Marios, giving Galaxy 2 a more instantaneous sense of progression.Super Mario Galaxy 2

Mario must still collect Power Stars, which he gains from completing missions within the game’s many levels (referred to here as “Galaxies”). These Galaxies mostly consist of linear series of planetoids that tinker with various levels of gravity, but some larger, more grounded open worlds as well as 2D stages also show up from time to time. Acquiring Stars never becomes tedious or repetitive, as Galaxy 2 is constantly throwing new ideas into the mix to keep the game fresh throughout its entirety, never slowing down with its restless creativity.

Throughout his adventure, Mario will race down giant tree trunks, traverse a haunted pop-up book, and compete in a series of mini-games against a blue chimp, to name but a few of the odd ventures Mario partakes in.Super Mario Galaxy 2

Even the stages that house multiple Power Stars feel wonderfully varied within their return visits. One such galaxy initially has Mario braving an obstacle course of moons while avoiding the maws of giant lava hippos, but the second time around the famed plumber must use one of the game’s power-ups to become a bowling ball and make his way through a bowling alley suspended in the sky. Galaxy 2 even finds the time to recreate events from some of Mario’s past adventures, and add its own spin on them to make them feel new all over again. Super Mario Galaxy 2 upstages even its predecessor with its wondrous sense of invention.

It isn’t just the level design that separates Galaxy 2 from the original, however, as new elements are added to the core gameplay to ensure the experience is its own.

The most obvious addition to Galaxy 2 is the return of Yoshi, who was better utilized here than he had been in any Mario game since his debut in Super Mario World. Yoshi not only has a more floaty jump to help Mario across more dangerous chasms, but he also provides the game’s best use of motion controls, as Yoshi’s whiplike tongue is controlled by pointing the Wii remote to gobble up enemies or interact with objects.

Super Mario Galaxy 2Yoshi even gets three power-ups of his own this time around: The Dash Pepper allows Yoshi to run so fast he can sprint up walls and glide on water. The Blimp Fruit causes Yoshi to turn into a balloon to float to out of reach heights. Finally, the Bulb Berry is one of Galaxy 2’s greatest gameplay innovations, as it causes Yoshi to illuminate dark places and reveal ethereal platforms, which slowly disappear as the effects of the berry wear off.

Although Yoshi is not present in every stage, his addition to the game is used to its fullest, and he adds an even greater depth and variety to an already deep and varied game.

Besides Yoshi, a plethora of power-ups add to the gameplay, with most of the first Galaxy’s power-ups making a return: The ever-present Fire Flower allows Mario to throw fireballs, the Bee Mushroom gives Mario small bursts of flight and the ability to climb honeycombs, the Boo Mushroom grants Mario the ability to float and disappear through walls, the Spring Mushroom wraps Mario in a coil that – although humorously muddling his controls – allows him to jump to greater heights, and the Rainbow Star gives Mario temporary invincibility.

Three new power-ups were introduced here, however, giving Galaxy 2 Mario’s best array of abilities yet in the long-standing series.

Super Mario Galaxy 2The Cloud Flower, Galaxy 2’s most prominent power-up, allows Mario to create three cloud platforms, which becomes an invaluable contribution in more challenging stages. The Rock Mushroom turns Mario into a boulder that crushes everything in its path. Finally, the Spin Drill is used to dig through and into the ground, adding a whole new layer to Galaxy’s wonderfully dizzying level design.

Some power-ups are found far more frequently than others, but much like the other aspects of the game, Galaxy 2 brings out the best of its toybox of power-ups with their every use. You’ll rarely be using them the same way twice.

Super Mario Galaxy 2Galaxy 2 outdoes its predecessor in two other key areas: One is the difficulty, which has been upped from Mario’s first intergalactic adventure. It’s never painfully difficult, but it has a more notable difficulty curve than the first game. Then there’s the boss encounters, which are far more frequent, creative and challenging than the first Galaxy, with a new and inventive boss fight seemingly around every corner.

Some may lament that Galaxy 2 undoes much of what the first Super Mario Galaxy did in terms of narrative. Although the original didn’t have an Earth-shatteringly new story, it displayed it with a much stronger cinematic presentation, and the character addition of Rosalina provided not only the series’ most fleshed-out character, but also brought a genuinely touching side-story to the table. Galaxy 2 abandons these concepts, with the story now being minimized to the point of self-parody. Rosalina’s role is also largely reduced, being more or less replaced by the cute but basic Lubba, who provides little to the game outside of some light humor.

Galaxy 2 may not match the first game in terms of it cinematic approach or heartfelt side-stories – with Bowser seemingly invading the Mushroom Kingdom and taking the Princess to outer space on a mere whim this time around – but the change is ultimately for the best. Simply replicating those aspects from Galaxy may have felt recycled, and introducing a new character with a similar story to Rosalina would not only feel rehashed, but it would cheapen what the first game accomplished with Rosalina. Galaxy 2’s insistence of pure gameplay over all else differentiates it from its predecessor, thus not cheapening either title.

Super Mario Galaxy 2In terms of presentation, it’s hard to imagine Galaxy 2 could look or sound better. The visuals were the absolute best to come out of the Wii, pushing its hardware to its limit and even improving on the sheen of the first game’s graphics with more colorful visuals, fun character designs, detailed environments and ridiculously fluid animations. Its soundtrack stands as one of the very best in gaming, using most of the orchestrated tracks from the first game with a host of new ones by Nintendo’s orchestra man, Mahito Yokota. Galaxy 2’s soundtrack perfectly combines a sense of awe and beauty while still sounding distinctly Mario.

To say Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a hefty package of gaming is an understatement. The main adventure alone will take close to twenty hours to complete. Long after Bowser is defeated there are secret levels to unlock and more Power Stars to find. And once you’ve gained that 120th Power Star (traditionally the series’ maximum since Mario 64), a whole new, more challenging goal is unlocked within the game’s stages.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a triumph of game design and imagination: It’s constantly inventing, reinventing and perfecting not only what the original Galaxy started, but the very foundations of the Mario series itself. It never stops introducing new ideas and gameplay concepts, keeping them long enough to showcase their brilliance but never letting one of them overstay their welcome. Galaxy 2 takes the blueprints of its brilliant predecessor, turns them upside down, and scribbles all over them, coloring outside the lines.

Super Mario Galaxy 2The Super Mario series has remained a consistent force in gaming since its inception, producing some of the most memorable and beloved games of all time. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is so full of invention and exudes such quality in its execution that it puts up a strong argument to being the best game in the illustrious series. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a celebration of video games, and the end result is not only the best 3D platformer yet made, it’s also one of the finest video games of all time.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a video game through and through, and because of that, it’s so much more.

 

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Mega Man 3 Review

Mega Man 3

It’s not easy being the third entry in a popular series, no matter the medium. If the immediate sequel manages to live up to or surpass the original, then the threequel has an even steeper hill to climb. Mega Man 2 was the game that made Mega Man a bona fide video game icon, so Mega Man 3 had a lot expectations to meet in 1990. Thankfully, Mega Man 3 was up for the challenge, and is a sequel that is almost on par with the series’ sublime second entry.

Mega Man 3Mega Man 3 uses the same groundwork as the first two installments: Mega Man runs, jumps and shoots his way through eight selectable stages, gains a new power from defeating each Robot Master at the end of those stages (with each Robot Master’s power being particularly effective against another), and finally makes his way to a series of stages in Dr. Wily’s fortress.

The setup may sound very familiar, but Mega Man 3 brought some clever gameplay innovations and twists to the game’s progression to make it anything but a cookie cutter sequel.

The most simple such innovation is Mega Man’s new slide move. The slide allows Mega Man to make his way through small spaces as well as avoid a good deal of enemy attacks. It’s a seemingly basic mechanic that becomes an incredibly useful tool throughout the game.

Mega Man 3Mega Man 3 introduced two vital character additions to the franchise: Rush, Mega Man’s robotic canine, and Proto Man, the Blue Bomber’s morally ambiguous older brother.

Rush replaces the non-combat powers from Mega Man 2, and gains new abilities and transformations throughout the game, including a spring to give Mega Man a boost in his jump, a jet to fly over large gaps, and a submarine to maneuver in water.

Proto Man serves as a recurring mini-boss throughout the game. Although Mega Man 3 still has a simplistic story like the previous titles in the series, Proto Man’s presence was a good attempt at adding a new layer to the series’ narrative.Mega Man 3

Aside from new characters, Mega Man 3’s biggest innovation to the series was the twist that occurred after defeating the eight Robot Masters. In the two previous titles, Mega Man would automatically progress to Dr. Wily’s fortress after defeating the eight standard stages. But in Mega Man 3, after besting the Robot Masters, four of the stages must be completed again, with new, more challenging level designs.

During Mega Man’s first run through these stages, some areas might be closed off or out of Mega Man’s reach, but they become accessible during Mega Man’s return visits. Some areas see more enemies and traps pop up the second time around. And, in a brilliant little twist, all eight of Mega Man 2’s Robot Masters return, in spirit, as the boss fights of these revisited levels.

The four altered stages not only add a fun spin to the Mega Man formula, but also extend Mega Man 3’s total playtime, making it the lengthiest of the NES Mega Man titles.

Mega Man 3Mega Man 3  continues the series’ tradition of top notch presentation. The graphics are some of the most colorful on the NES, and the character designs give the game a great sense of personality. The music is on par with the second game’s as one of the NES’ best soundtracks.

The only notable drawback in Mega Man 3’s presentation is that it suffers from slowdowns a lot more than Mega Man 2 did. Mega Man 3’s stages are often filled with enemies and obstacles, and you may find that the game slows down considerably in more hectic moments. It may not be a big deal on its own, but with the extreme precision of Mega Man 3’s platforming, the slowdowns can lead to accidental game overs.

The game follows suite with the series’ trademark difficulty. Mega Man 3 is a very hard game, and although it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, there are a few instances that are so difficult they teeter on frustrating. Mega Man 2 was a hard game, but its challenge was never aggravating. Mega Man 3 seems tailor-made for those who mastered Mega Man 2, as those who aren’t Mega Man experts will have their patience tested.

But these are ultimately minor issues in an otherwise stellar game. Mega Man 3 continues what Mega Man 2 achieved with terrific level design, polished gameplay and a fantastic presentation, and did it all while introducing some wonderful new tricks of its own. Mega Man 3 remains one of the Blue Bomber’s finest, and a must-have for anyone who enjoys gaming in its purest form.

 

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New Super Mario Bros. Review

New Super Mario Bros.

When New Super Mario Bros. was first released on the Nintendo DS in 2006, it was something special. It was the first Mario sidescroller in nearly a decade and a half. NSMB resurrected the core Mario gameplay in its purest form, introducing a whole new generation to the fun of Mario sidescrollers. It’s no wonder that New Super Mario Bros. would become one of the best selling video games of all time.

Nine years and three sequels later, and New Super Mario Bros. has reemerged through the Wii U’s Virtual Console. Although it remains a fun game, time has proven that New Super Mario Bros. doesn’t quite measure up to Mario’s greater adventures.

New Super Mario Bros. takes the Mario series back to basics. Sidescrolling stages are complimented by a world map, with a fortress and a castle waiting in the middle and end of each world, respectively. Toad Houses return, where Mario can gain additional lives or power-ups. True to the series’ lineage, the game has a grand total of eight worlds to traverse, though NSMB added an original touch by making two of those worlds optional.

New Super Mario Bros.The core gameplay remains largely similar to the 2D Mario’s of old, though Mario has retained some of the moves he learned in Mario 64 such as the triple jump and wall jump. Power-ups include the returning Super Mushroom, Fire Flower and Starman, but New Super Mario Bros. also introduced three power-ups of its own.

The Mega Mushroom works like a more extravagant Starman, with Mario becoming an invincible giant who crushes anything in his path for an allotted time. The Mini Mushroom adds a fun twist to Mario’s power-ups by downsizing the plumber. Whereas the other power-ups make Mario more durable, the Mini Mushroom makes Mario even more vulnerable to enemy attacks. But Mini Mario also jumps farther, can run on water, fits in small spaces, and is required to unlock the aforementioned optional worlds, so it has its perks. The Blue Koopa Shell is New Super Mario Bros’ best addition to Mario’s arsenal, and it’s shocking it still has yet to make a return appearance in the series. Mario can withdraw into the Blue Shell to become an unstoppable force, bouncing off walls and plowing through enemies with ease.

The level design is fun and varied, with some later stages introducing fun gimmicks to keep things fresh. But it is with these levels that New Super Mario Bros. falls short of its predecessors. As fun as the game is, the stages lack the intricate challenge of Super Mario Bros. 3 or the boundless imagination of Super Mario World. The stages of New Super Mario Bros. boast the series’ trademark sense of polish, but lack the genius and creativity of Mario’s best.

New Super Mario Bros. also ranks as one of Mario’s easiest 2D platformers. You can get through the game in a few short hours with very little effort, with only the final world and some of the optional stages providing any notable difficulty.

The game’s real challenge comes from tracking down three Star Coins on every stage. The Star Coins become progressively more difficult to find, and in some later instances require some clever maneuvering in order to nab them. The Star Coins are used to open up branching pathways on the world map and gain access to the Toad Houses, so they’re necessary if you’re seeking one-hundred percent completion. Finding every last Star Coin adds some replay value to the package, but it’s a shame the stages themselves don’t have the depth to hold their own.

The game features some nice aesthetic touches, with the then-new 3D character models allowing for more dynamic animations than its 2D predecessors. The music, while one of the lesser Mario soundtracks, remains catchy nonetheless.New Super Mario Bros.

For those who want to take a break from the platforming adventure, New Super Mario Bros. also features an assortment of mini-games that provide some quick bursts of fun. A multiplayer Vs. mode is present in the game’s original DS incarnation, but absent from the Virtual Console release. It was a simple multiplayer addition, so its absence isn’t a game-breaking loss, but it is a downer nevertheless.

New Super Mario Bros. is still a very fun title for its tight gameplay and smooth progression, and it serves as a great introduction to Mario games for beginners. But for those who know what else Mario has to offer, there is a notable shallowness in its imagination. At the time of its original release we may not have noticed, we were just happy to see Mario return to his roots. But with a much meatier Wii U sequel available, and some of Mario’s best games at the ready on the Virtual Console, the nostalgia factor of New Super Mario Bros. can only benefit it so much. It remains an entertaining piece of game design, but it is humbled by Mario’s own past and future.

 

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Yoshi Touch & Go Review

Yoshi Touch & Go

Yoshi Touch & Go was one of the earlier games released on the Nintendo DS. As such, it fell under the category of early DS titles that were more about showcasing the DS’ capabilities than they were about delivering deeper gameplay experiences. The good news is that Yoshi Touch & Go provided a good example of touchscreen controls and took advantage of the DS’ duel screens in innovative ways. The bad news is that Yoshi Touch & Go can only hold your interest for so long, and its translation onto the Wii U’s Virtual Console can be a bit of a mixed bag.

 

Yoshi Touch & Go uses the setup and aesthetics of the SNES classic Yoshi’s Island, complete with cute visuals and simple but sweet music. Yoshi sets out to save a baby Mario from the clutches of Kamek and his minions, just as he did in the SNES original. The twist here is it places the events into a score attack game.

The gameplay is separated into two segments: One in which Baby Mario falls from the sky, with three balloons tied to his back, while the other sees Baby Mario riding on Yoshi’s back through a quasi-platformer.

The first segment has the top screen fixed on Baby Mario, with players needing to draw paths on the scrolling bottom screen to help guide where Baby Mario will go next, being sure to collect as many coins as possible for a higher score, and avoiding enemies so Baby Mario doesn’t lose any of his balloons.

The second segment turns things into a sidescroller, with Yoshi moving on his own on the bottom screen, requiring players to draw paths over gaps, tap the screen to throw eggs in order to defeat enemies and collect out of reach coins, and tap Yoshi himself to make him jump. Unlike Baby Mario in the first half of the gameplay, it only takes one hit to get a game over in Yoshi’s stage.

Both of these segments provide some fun, and no doubt they will have players trying to outdo their best scores. But the game has a distinct lack of variety. If you perform better during the Baby Mario portion, the Yoshi segment will see minor tweaks to make things more challenging for expert players, which is a nice touch. But you’re still more or less going through the same stage on repeat.

The game adds a little flair by including multiple modes: Score Attack sees things wrapped up in a complete little package, with Yoshi’s stage having a definitive end, leaving players to try and best their top scores within this miniature adventure. Marathon, on the other hand, has no end, and players are simply tested to see how far they can go.

Additionally, players can unlock Time Attack and Challenge modes, where they must continuously defeat enemies and grab coins to add time to a constantly ticking clock and put their skills to the test against enemy-riddled obstacle courses, respectively. The multiple modes all add nice spins to the formula, but the sheer lack of variety in the core gameplay prevents Yoshi Touch & Go from feeling like anything more than a fun little tech demo.

Yoshi Touch & GoIt should be noted that the game’s original release included a multiplayer Vs. mode, but that it is no longer functional in the Wii U Virtual Console release. So if you want to experience the game’s multiplayer mode, you and a buddy will need to play the game in its original form.

Another downside to playing the game on the Wii U is that Yoshi Touch & Go requires careful attention to what’s going on in both screens at all time. The Wii U features several play styles for DS rereleases, so look for the ones that put both screens onto the Gamepad, as anything else is more than a little tedious.

In the end, Yoshi Touch & Go can be a difficult recommendation today. Back in 2005 it was a nice showcase of the innovation the Nintendo DS brought to the table, and today its price of ten dollars is more reasonable than its full retail value of yesteryear. But given that you can download a classic like Super Mario 64 for the same price, Yoshi Touch & Go still costs more than it needs to.

Yoshi Touch & Go isn’t a bad game, it’s innovative and even provides some fun. But it’s an overall shallow experience that Nintendo could have expanded on to create a more complete game. A fun little diversion, but when you know what else the Virtual Console has to offer, Yoshi Touch & Go will probably be pushed to the back of the “must-haves” line.

 

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Electroplankton Review

Electroplankton

When the Nintendo DS was first released, many of its games were little more than technical displays of the DS’ features. One such game was Electroplankton, which ranks among the strangest titles Nintendo has ever made.

That’s not to say it’s strange in the usual Nintendo sense of whimsy and surrealism. Rather, Electroplankton is a strange game because it’s hardly a game at all. It’s a title that allows players to tamper with nine different sound tests (each categorized by a different Electroplankton) to create unique melodies and sound effects. You can even record your own voice.

The way the game goes about these “mini-games” can be creative: One Electroplankton allows you to record voice samples to four fish-like creatures, which then play the samples back in unison as they swim by. Another has players change the trajectory of arrows, and as four different colored Electroplankton follow them, they create different melodies. These are among the more fun experiences in Electroplankton, but to say that the fun is short lived is an understatement.

Other Electroplankton games are so simplistic it’s close to shocking that they got their own category, instead of complimenting another: One Electroplankton has five records that the player can spin with the stylus to create (admittedly lovely) sounds, but spinning these records one way or another can only hold one’s interest for so long. Another game has players tapping the touchscreen to make Electroplankton eggs appear, which hatch seconds later to produce sounds. It’s games like this that require so little input they’d be better suited among WarioWare’s myriads of micro-games.

Possibly the game’s biggest downside is that you can’t save any of your work. Even if you’ve managed to create a cool and catchy little musical number, you’ll lose it as soon as you hit the B button and exit the mini-game in question. It’s a baffling piece of game design. Electroplankton is a game about creating music and sound that doesn’t let you keep any of your creations.

ElectroplanktonAt the very least, Electroplankton has some interesting aesthetics going for it, with its visuals being colorful and almost ghost-like, and its sound design is appropriately catchy (one of the more memorable Electroplankton lets you tamper with the invincibility theme from Super Mario Bros.). Its look and sound is unique enough that Nintendo’s decision to adapt them into a Super Smash Bros. stage isn’t too surprising.

The problem is that Electroplankton, despite its honest intentions at making a creative and soothing gaming experience, is just far too shallow to succeed. Perhaps with a host of additional Electroplankton or the ability to combine the existing ones, the game may have been a little more hefty. But Electroplankton ultimately feels flat, and the inability to save what you create just makes it sting all the more. Even in its day, Electroplankton felt a bit unfulfilled. Today it would barely even pass as an app on the 3DS’ home menu.

 

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Mega Man 2 Review

Mega Man 2

Although Capcom’s 1987 classic “Mega Man” introduced the world to the titular Blue Bomber, it was with the series’ second entry in 1989 that Mega Man became a superstar. Playing it again today, it’s not hard to see why. Mega Man 2 is still an incredible achievement in gaming even today.

From the moment you first boot up the game, and the screen scrolls upward to reveal Mega Man (without his helmet!) standing atop a skyscraper, ready to take on the world, you know you’re in for a treat.

The overall setup of the game remains similar to the first game: You play as Mega Man, a good-natured robot out to save the world from the evil Dr. Wily and his band of Robot Masters. Players select the order they want to tackle the game’s stages, and at the end of each, Mega Man comes face-to-face with one of the Robot Masters. Each Robot Master grants Mega Man a new power upon defeat and, in an elaborate game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, each Robot Master’s ability is particularly useful against another.Mega Man 2

Mega Man 2 is a game that excels at virtually everything it sets out to do. It takes the foundation of the first game in the series, and expands and refines it in every regard. The original game’s six Robot Masters has been upped to eight, which remained the series’ standard from that point onward. It included new items like the rare, energy-refilling E Tanks to the mix. Mega Man gained some non-combat powers that were needed to reach every nook and cranny of the stages. And the Robot Master abilities introduced here were so well thought out that Capcom resorted to recycling most of them in subsequent games (just how many derivatives of Wood Man’s Leaf Shield have we seen over the years?).

Simply put, Mega Man 2 became the standard for the long-running series. You won’t find many sequels that so perfectly defined their franchise.

Mega Man 2Mega Man 2 retains much of the first game’s difficulty, but here it’s better balanced and more accessible. Healing items appear more frequently than they did in its predecessor, and the level design feels more fair. Mega Man 2 even features two difficulty modes, with Normal Mode giving Mega Man twice as much power against Robot Masters, and Hard Mode keeping the bosses at max difficulty. The tweaked difficulty curve ensures that Mega Man 2 remains a very challenging game, but a more welcoming one than its predecessor.

Mega Man 2 includes the gameplay of the series in its purest form. Mega Man wouldn’t get his sliding ability until the next entry, but here his simple mechanics of running, jumping and shooting were utilized to their very best thanks to the clever and varied level design. The Robot Master abilities were also well implemented. As fun as it was that later entries allowed Mega Man to charge his Mega Buster, it also largely overpowered Mega Man, leaving the Robot Master powers feeling downplayed. But here they were used to their fullest.

The game remains visually appealing thanks to some colorful graphics and creative character designs, though the game does suffer from some notable slowdowns when too much is going on onscreen. There are also some instances of “NES flickers” on the edges of the screen. But overall the game’s presentation is still impressive.Mega Man 2

Mega Man 2 also boasts what is arguably the greatest soundtrack in the entire NES library. Mega Man 2’s soundtrack, despite its technical limitations, managed to capture so much character and so much energy that it still goes toe-to-toe with the great scores in gaming. The theme music of Dr. Wily’s Castle is still one of the most iconic pieces of video game music for a reason.

 

Mega Man 2 succeeds in not only improving on its predecessor’s blueprints in virtually every way – from gameplay to level design to music to difficulty, and everything in between – but in being one of the best sidescrollers and NES titles ever made. Video games have come a long way since Mega Man 2 was first released in 1989. But in so many ways, Mega Man 2 is still one of the all-time greats.

 

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Mega Man Review

Mega Man

When it comes to third party titles on Nintendo consoles, few have had the impact of Capcom’s Mega Man. Back in its day, Mega Man was as synonymous with the NES as Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. Although it was Capcom’s first console exclusive title, it proved to be a successful debut. Mega Man spawned countless sequels, and its hero remains one of gaming’s most beloved characters. While the original Mega Man is not without its problems (which its two immediate sequels touched up), it remains a great game to play even today.

Mega Man was renowned for its non-linear structure, allowing players to choose between six different stages in whatever order they saw fit. At the end of each stage is a boss fight against a “Robot Master,” with each one giving Mega Man a new weapon upon defeat. Another unique aspect of the game was its rock-paper-scissors-like structure, with each Robot Master’s given weapon working especially effective against another one.

Mega ManPlayers take the role of the titular Mega Man, a young robot boy trying to save the world from the nefarious Dr. Wily, who corrupted the six Robot Masters created by Dr. Light and repurposed them for his evil schemes. It’s the kind of simple but honest-to-goodness setup of many games of the time that adds to the game’s charm, even if plot was rarely present in the game itself.

Mega Man’s gameplay remains tight and intricate. Mega Man can jump like Mario, but he must use his “Mega Buster” arm canon, or one of the Robot Masters’ weapons, to defeat enemies. The weapon-based gameplay added a new spin on the platforming gameplay, and it gives the Mega Man series a sense of uniqueness among other retro platformers.

Also of note is that this is the only Mega Man title with a scoring system, as Mega Man is awarded points for defeating enemies, picking up items and completing levels. It doesn’t add a whole lot to the experience, but those who want to beat their personal high scores may find reason to revisit the game numerous times.

The level design was some of the most difficult of its age, and the game arguably remains the most challenging entry in the series. The game is fun, but some players may find the difficulty close to unfair, as some of the stages’ challenges require such precision in their platforming they teeter on unforgiving. The bosses (and even some standard enemies) can take Mega Man down in a few quick hits, and replenishing items and extra lives seldom appear. The entire Mega Man series is known for its steep difficulty, but the original is the one that may be off-putting to some players for the sheer level of its challenge.

One retrospective drawback to the original game is knowing how the sequels improved on the formula, leaving some aspects of the original to feel less fleshed out. The sequels would add sliding moves, charged blasts, and even sidekicks to the mix. The original, by comparison, feels stripped down and straightforward. A fault only in hindsight perhaps, but the comparison to its sequels is inescapable by this point.Mega Man

Visually, the game is one of the more approachable NES titles to revisit. The colors and characters are simple, of course. But the game has a distinct, fun look about it, and the great character designs add to its retro charm. The music remains one of the better NES soundtracks. It may not reach the same heights as some later entries, but Mega Man’s soundtrack is still one of the most iconic in the NES library.

Mega Man remains a classic of the medium. Its sequels may have bettered it, with the two following installments still being considered the ‘definitive’ entries in the series, but the original Mega Man remains, in its own right, an absolute blast.

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