Review by Demonic Gerbil
"A Better Game than the Original"
The sequel to the first Mega Man X game on the Super NES, Mega Man X2 is worth heir to the throne claimed by its predecessor. Once again X is sent into battle against the Maverick menace, this time without his ally and friend, Zero.
A mysterious trio of "X-Hunters" is conspiring... for something. They send out eight Maverick robots to slow X down until the completion of their evil scheme. Unfortunately for them, X proves to be more than a match for the Mavericks. This forces the X-Hunters to engage X directly as mini-bosses in the various stages. To lure X in for a fight, they offer him one thing he can't pass up... Zero's parts.
And so X goes into battle. The stage design in X2 is superb. The designers took what they did in X and improved it subtly, working in hard to reach secrets and the X-hunter areas seamlessly. Some stages make good use of vehicles, such as the hover bike in Overdrive Ostrich's stage or the Ride Armor in Wheel Gator's stage, giving a short break from the typical platforming action with a little something different.
X has a small bag of tricks he can bust out from the beginning of the game. He can fire his X-buster, charge it up and fire a bigger blast, he retains the dash ability from the first Mega Man X game which is essential for navigating some stages. He also retains the ability to use his enemy's weapons when he defeats them.
As X goes through the various stages he can collect power ups of various sorts. Often times, the power ups are extremely difficult to reach, requiring perfect timing to acquire. Heart Tanks expand X's life bar, allowing him to take more and more punishment. Sub Tanks give him the ability to refill his life bar at any point in time - provided there's energy in the Sub Tank.
And then there are the upgrades, which range from an upgraded X-buster to the ability to perform the Dash maneuver in mid-air. The upgraded X-buster allows X to charge up an even more powerful blast of energy with his regular weapon, or to charge up the special weapons collected by defeating the bosses and unleash a special attack with them. These attacks tend to not be very useful, but some of them are the only way possible to reach some of the power ups scattered through the stages.
There's also a hidden upgrade in the game. If X has acquired all the other upgrades, then during the final stages of the game, when he goes up against the X-Hunters, X can find a capsule that gives him access to Ken's (yes, that Ken) Shoryuken move. It's a very powerful attack that can kill just about any enemy except for the last boss in a single hit, though X needs full health to use it. I didn't find it too useful, but just for fun it's a nice addition.
Once X is upgraded, things get fairly easy for him, and the final stages are a cinch except for some jumps and such that require near-perfect reflexes. I'm thinking of the second final stage here, specifically, with its preponderance of spikes and jumps onto and from moving targets. In fact, the second final stage is probably the most difficult part of the game.
The bosses are generally tough, and even with perfect knowledge of their attack patterns and great timing, it's still possible to get hit. Wheel Gator is a great example of that: his attack pattern is simple, but messing up the timing, which is easy to do against him, is going to get X hit. The X-Hunters are generally tougher opponents than the Mavericks. Agile's first form, where he appears as a mini-boss in a Maverick's stage, is ferocious and can catch a player off-guard. Serges when he appears in the final stages is terribly difficult opponent, probably harder than the last boss is. There's a lot of difficulty to go around, here, but it's never impossible.
The controls are tight, the enemies strike a good balance between tough and not so tough, and it's possible to get through the game without trying for some of the really difficult things, like getting all of the Heart Tanks. The platforming is tough, the bosses are tough, and the game handles well enough that it's possible to get through them. There's nothing really to find flawed here, except maybe the designer's love of instant-death spikes.
The game looks good. Things are pretty detailed, and nicely animated. The colors pop off of the screen. For its day, this was a great looking Super NES cart. I actually prefer the appearance of this game to X's Playstation outings.
Everything is solid or above average in the sound department. The music is perhaps not the best, but it's far from annoying. The sound effects get the point across. Nothing too special.
This is the Mega Man X game I personally have played more than any other. It has multiple ending variations, lots of fun and hard fights to go through, alternate strategies to try, etc. It's good times even after playing for a long time, that in itself says a lot about the game.
I'm still trying to figure out if there's a pattern in the X-Hunters names, or if they were just randomly chosen. I know, from other Mega Man games that there's probably a pattern there, but I just don't see it - they're named Violen, Agile, and Serges. Yeah, this is a minor thing, it just piques my curiosity.
This is a great game all around. Capcom took what they did in Mega Man X and improved on it all around. It's everything a sequel should be - more bosses, tougher bosses, more cool things to do. It's more than worthy of a few hours of your time spent playing the game, so I whole heartedly recommend borrowing a friend's copy, buying an old used one, and giving a try. You'll like it if you like platforming games.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/05/06
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