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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Favorite Robot Masters: Mega Man 2

Mega Man's "You got 'X' weapon" sprite is on the loose!
Well, like Arnold before me, I said I'd be back with more of these; to make up for the delay (and because it was hard to pick just 2 from what really amounts to my favorite Mega Man game) this edition is going to be an over sized 2 parts long!

Oh Mega Man 2, how we all love you. A franchise watermark almost a quarter of a century later, this is still the one to beat in my mind. Sure there's no Rush or Proto Man. You can't use the Mega Buster charge shot or the slide move. But you can thrill to 8 of the best Robot Masters made for a Mega Man game and some of the best music of the 8-bit era.

Is he throwing the Metal Blade or trying to catch it before it destroys him?
Metal Man
Apparently Metal Man is Keiji Inafune's least favorite Robot Master because he's so easily beaten with his own weapon. Sure that only comes up during your rematch in Dr. Wily's castle but I suppose he has a valid point. Still, poor Metal Man here is at a disadvantage in general: he's themed pretty obviously for a robot, he's usually the first Master in the game you take on (unless you prefer the Air Man route), his level is not extremely difficult etc...

So why is he so great? Because of those reasons! His level is fun with catchy music, he draws you into the game with a quick victory (something lacking in the original games frequently difficult first steps) and the Metal Blade is a totally sweet weapon! Just in light of the weapon being cribbed for other future Robot Masters is a sign that ol' MB here deserves the love.
Are they gears? Or are they lids having gone through a can opener?

When you get down to it the Metal Blade is a pretty good weapon against most of the Robot Masters; makes sense because they're all at least partially metal right? So you can hardly blame MM here for being doubly vulnerable as a result of having that weakness squared. Don't hate him for being a victim of cruel logic!

There's enough challenge to be found to make him interesting and it's not like there aren't other Robot Masters that can't be one-shot kills.

Which brings me to...

He's kind of like that episode of Futurama where Bender goes organic. Except Wood Man aged better.
Wood Man
Fun fact: in the normal difficulty of Mega Man 2 in the US, you can OHKO Woodman with a fully charged shot from the Atomic Fire. Obviously that's not quite as goofy as being so easily defeated with your own weapon but I'm not here to split hairs; the Metal Blade works decently well on everyone but the Atomic Fire just seems obvious to anyone fighting a robot with a delicious bark coating.

So why Wood Man? Well for one, the idea behind him is outrageous. But he also plays into a fun theme of some of the robot masters being based on the four elements along with cohorts Heat Man, Bubble Man and Air Man. Sure we already got Guts Man, who was technically 'earth', in the first game but the age of the truly bizarre Robot Masters was away and there only seemed like a certain number of sane choices for themes (don't get me started on Fire Man). Plus they really went crazy with Wood Man's level: it's got some of the best themed enemies in the game, great (as always) music and nothing annoying like those floating heads in Air Man's level that I hate so very much.

I really love those goofy rabbits with their carrot missiles though. Plus the gorilla bots and those crazy road runner things at the end

I digress.

It'd have been great if the Dragon in Wily's Castle was super vulnerable to the Leaf Shield; you'd never be able to stand still long enough to use it accurately so it would have been an extra special bastard kind of move to have in there.
The Wood Shield is a very special weapon because it's got a ton of unique qualities. The first shield type in the franchise, it was followed by skills like the Plant Barrier or Jewel Satellite; however, it stands out from them by being useless against all other Masters in the game excusing Air Man.

You heard right: the Wood Shield is useful against one boss in the game and chances are you've already beaten him before going after Wood Man. All the others, even the bosses in Wily's Castle, are immune to the thing. That leaves only the eventual rematch as your opportunity to get some boss related mileage out of this thing.

Admittedly I never thought of the leaves having rockets in them. It's the ultimate fusion of organics and technology!
Oh Wood Man: you are utterly preposterous as a concept for a robot and yet I love you. The fact that such a crazy choice for a themed robot showed up this early in the franchise is a testament to Capcom's ability to have fun with the game. The bizarre greatness of Wood Man continues in his appearances in other games like his use in Mega Man: the Power Battles. There, he's resistant to the Rolling Cutter and the Leaf Shield is actually the best weapon to use against Cut Man. Crazy.

So, that's all for now. Tune in sometime soon when I break down 2 more of the Masters from MM2 in the way that best selfishly reflects how I champion the game over its brethren!

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