Capcom hit another homerun with Mega Man X2, as they changed very little from the first entry in the X series, and added a couple of new features and different power-ups that make the game just as enjoyable as the first one. It’s not as big of a jump as Mega Man 2 was from the original Mega Man, but it certainly doesn’t mess anything up, either, and that’s a great thing.
The story is quite standard, but with a couple twists, just as you would expect from a sequel. Six months after Sigma is defeated in the first X game, X goes to investigate a reploid factory, defeats a large intro boss, and then we are introduced to the three X-Hunters, Serges, Violin, and Agile. Of course, we all know that Sigma is pulling the strings of these three like the puppet master he is. All Mavericks even have the Sigma symbol (Ʃ) under their life bars, so there can be no doubt about Sigma’s involvement from the beginning. After defeating two of the eight Mavericks, the X-Hunters issue a challenge to X and offer up the three parts of Zero if he can defeat them. Zero, who was destroyed in the previous game by sacrificing himself to help X defeat Vile, plays a pivotal role at the end of the game, but more on that in a little bit.
X2 looks and plays exactly like the first one, with classic 16-bit sprites, solid and responsive controls, an excellent soundtrack to go with it, and the password system to continue from where you left off. There’s the intro stage, eight Mavericks to choose from, eight heart tanks and four sub-tanks to collect, and the four armor capsule upgrades. This time X starts with the basic ground dash, but the dash boots cause him to be able to dash in mid-air. The X-buster upgrade still gives a more powerful charge shot and enables charging of special weapons. The best addition is probably the body armor, as it not only reduces damage but also enables a Giga Crush attack, which is very useful in certain situations. Then there is the helmet, which can find hidden items and passages. Finally, there is the secret shouryuken (dragon punch) attack which can be found in the third stage of the X-Hunter’s fortress, and it too one-shot kills bosses like the hadouken in X1.
After defeating all the Mavericks and getting to the X-Hunter base, which is conveniently located at the North Pole, you must defeat the X-Hunters in each of the three stages before facing off against all eight Mavericks again in the famous teleport capsule room. The three X-Hunters have different moves and attack styles than when/if you fought them previously. Serges is in a massive machine with four cannons on it, as opposed to his simple hovering pod with shield. Agile ditches his sword and is this giant capsule thing that drops spike and shoots missiles, but it’s an interesting fight. Violin still fights mostly the same way with his ball and chain and energy shots, but teleports blocks in randomly.
Finally, X heads on back to Magna Centipede’s stage for the epic showdown with Sigma. Here’s where it gets interesting, though. If you got all of Zero’s parts, Sigma has a fake Zero, taunts you, and then, in one of the most awesome moments in the whole series, you hear that familiar charge sound and Zero blasts the fake apart with his famous triple combo (charge shot, charge shot, sword wave)! This is the first time we ever see this move, but it certainly won’t be the last. Sometimes I play through the whole game just to see this one scene, and it’s awesome every time. If you did not get Zero’s parts, or just want a challenge, Sigma unleashes the real Zero on you and he will abuse that triple combo, block X’s shots, and pound the ground if you cling to the walls for too long. There is a simple pattern to beating him, but it takes some practice. Sigma’s first form utilizes claws, dashing and teleporting around the room, and also throwing energy balls and shooting out an electric wave. His final form, the Sigma virus, which is a wire frame of his head, makes its first appearance in this game. Once it’s defeated, Sigma gives his usual warning that he will be back again, but the virus will make key appearances later in the series.
All in all, X2 delivers a solid experience that should not be overlooked, and sets the framework for more staples in the series. Next time I’ll tackle X3 to finish off the Mega Man X trilogy for SNES.