Despite lackluster sales for the inaugural Mega Man title, Capcom pushed forward on a sequel that allied the titular blue bomber to continue his battle against the evil Dr. Wily. The result, Mega Man 2, breathed life into what would become one of Capcom’s most popular franchises of all time.
The title released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in December 1988 in Japan before making its way to the west in the summer of ’89. It followed Mega Man as he must once again fight against Dr. Wily; Wily, following his defeat at the end of the first game, creates his own set of Robot Masters to try and take down Mega Man. These baddies were Metal Man, Air Man, Bubble Man, Quick Man, Crash Man, Flash Man, Wood Man, and Heat Man. After Mega Man defeats the eight Robot Masters (and learns each of their signature powers along the way), he tracks down Dr. Wily at his lair and emerges victorious once more.
Like the inaugural entry, Mega Man 2 is an action-platformer in which the player controls the title character, who must jump and fight his way through each stage on his way to defeat each Robot Master. After defeating a boss, Mega Man learns their signature move – and with each Robot Master having a critical weakness to another’s signature ability, it allows for the player to choose which order to face them to design a route through the game to success.
As mentioned, the first Mega Man was not a commercial success, and Capcom was not initially interested in pursuing a sequel. The company only relented after the development team agreed to concurrently work on other projects in addition to Mega Man 2. Fortunately for Capcom and all involved in the game’s development, Mega Man 2 was a massive success, and despite many sequels it remains the best-selling entry in the franchise. The game’s soundtrack in particular remains a standout, with the title theme and Air Man’s theme among fan favorites even 30 years later. It also saw praise for improved gameplay over its predecessor that was overall more balanced.
Mega Man has gone on to become a gaming icon, starring in dozens of sequels and spinoffs as well as cameoing in other franchises as well. Though his first game didn’t make a splash, Mega Man 2 cemented the legacy that he’s carried on to today.