Running on nearly 22 years now, there are a lot of Mega Man games out there. A lot are good, some are legendary, and some just kind of stink. However, there is an unwritten rule, so to speak, that Mega Man gets better the second time around. The most obvious of these examples is Mega Man 2. Mega Man likely would not be Mega Man without Mega Man 2. Another example is MegaMan Battle Network 2, which brought many improvements to the battle system, had better designed maps and even more interesting characters. But there are exceptions to the rule! Not every number two in Mega Man is gold, but is more of a... number two. Yes, we may be Mega Man fans here, but it's not all milk and honey. We're discerning! Thus, I've picked three Mega Man successors that just don't live up to the original that came before it, starting with the one I feel is the most abhorrent.
Mega Man II For: Game Boy Released: 1992
Mega Man II (we use Roman numerals to denote the Game Boy titles) is possibly the first example of a truly awful Mega Man game in the series history, but since action platformers were so popular at the time, people may not have realized it right away. Granted, I can't see anyone arguing that Mega Man II is awesome. Even Keiji Inafune admits that the game was outsourced to people who just didn't "get" Mega Man, and apologizes for its awfulness.
Man, where to begin on this one? The game controls feel strange and sluggish, even compared to the rest of the Game Boy titles which could not be as fast paced as the NES games due to the restricted screen size. Hit detection is a bit off, making it impossible to avoid enemies sometimes. And this despite the fact that a lot of the enemies and bosses are oddly shrunken down in size, although Mega Man himself remains the same size. On the other hand, some oddities work in your favor: power up items restore more of your health than before, and bosses don't have any period of invincibility when damaged. Many of the bosses can quickly be slaughtered with the Mega Buster. You can even shoot through Wood Man's shield!
One of the worst points of the game is its sound. Almost none of the music is from the games Mega Man II borrows its content from, and all of it is high pitched and grating (though the melodies themselves aren't horrible, and can be done more justice). Many sound effects suffer the same fate. They're much too high pitched, or just sound otherwise lame.
However, the thing I despise most about Mega Man II is Quint. He is, in my opinion, the worst character in the entire Mega Man franchise. I could write a whole article just on how stupid I think Quint is. But instead I'll just explain the story behind Quint. He's actually Mega Man from the future, who Dr. Wily kidnapped by using a time machine and modified him into his own battle robot. Oh, and he uses a pogo stick to fight. Who honestly thought this was a good idea? Mega Man from the future? A pogo stick? I can see what it is they were going for. They wanted to make another enigmatic character with a surprising background to mirror Proto Man's role in Mega Man 3. But seriously, a POGO STICK?
And if that weren't enough, Bandai later made their own Mega Man game for their Wonderswan handheld where Quint is actually the main enemy. Except he's not Quint, but the rejected robot Dr. Wily produced while trying to modify the future Mega Man. In other words, he's the robot that was too crappy to be Quint. This makes Mega Man II worse by association.
The only good thing I can say about Mega Man II is that it ended up being the first Mega Man game I ever beat, and increased my confidence toward beating the others. MegaMan Star Force 2 For: Nintendo DS Released: 2008
The Star Force series really got it rough. It was rejected by many classic Mega Man fans for being different, and because so many classic fans are cynical, crotchety old men anymore. But it was also rejected by a good deal of Battle Network fans for simply not being Battle Network, even though the series is very similar. However, I thought the original MegaMan Star Force was a delightful game. It had an interesting storyline, a battle system that let people set up attacks more easily compared to Battle Network, and it still had vestiges from Battle Network such as Navis and being able to go inside of machines. Say what you will about Star Force, the game still managed to sell nearly a million copies worldwide, and that's pretty good for a first time.
But then came MegaMan Star Force 2. What I dislike about Star Force 2 is how much it disregards what came before it. There are no more Navis, but instead weird, cartoony looking material wave things. There's also no more going inside of machines - everything takes place on the wave road. While this might not seem like a big deal, it takes away from the game's theme of how advancements in technology can also be dangerous.
Moreover, though, it disrgards its own predecessor. One of the neat things about the first Star Force is how we could watch Geo grow as a character as he helped other characters. They all came off as pretty integral characters, but now suddenly they're either gone or unimportant. Remember what a big deal it was for Geo to start going to school? Well there is no school in this game! What about Aaron, who was a close friend of Geo's father's and the remaining link Geo had to his father? He just stands around now and offers little bits of advice. Oh, and then there's Sonia. She wanted to create music from her heart, not to be a part of the industry. She was inspired by her mother, who had passed away. Geo showed her that that was alright. Well, now she's fully back in the industry, and even appears on advertisements all over the place. Good going, you sell out.
Instead of characters which Geo had close relations with, we get dopey villain characters who like to be bad simply for the sake of being bad. And while the UMA angle was interesting, ultimately they're characters no one's really going to care about or remember. Even Rogue, who's just a rip off of Bass, who wasn't terribly interesting to begin with.
That aside, everything else just feels mediocre. They removed most of the touch screen aspect to game missions that the original had. The music is bland and cartoonish. There's nothing really even space themed about the game. What happened to the satellites that governed the Earth? What happened to connection with the FM planet?
If there's one thing I can say in defense of Star Force 2, it had a good battle system. Being able to combine the Tribe transformations was a neat idea, and it's also the first game that lets people play wi-fi battles together. Furthermore, Star Force 3 would eventually come along and pull the weight of practically all of Star Force 2's shortcomings. It was that much better of a game, and yet it failed to attract people to the series, probably because of how bad Star Force 2 was. Many stores didn't even sell Star Force 3 because they still had copies of 2 sitting around in the bargain bin. It also doesn't help that Capcom of Europe decided not to localize Star Force 3.
I truly believe Star Force 2 is what killed the series.
Mega Man ZX Advent For: Nintendo DS Released: 2007
I'm certain I'm going to catch some flack on this one, and truthfully ZX Advent isn't a horrible game. But it does nothing to go beyond being medicore. Besides that, I feel like the ZX series was little more than a haven for die hard Mega Man X fans who weren't going to join the Battle Network/Star Force crowd, so they took what they could get.
Yet, ZXA's major let down is similar to that of Star Force 2's: a lack of continuity. Rather than expanding on what happened in ZX directly, ZXA takes place years later and stars all new protagonists. And rather than use the new characters and settings to explain more about ZX's history, it just adds more questions. At what point did Axl become a Biometal? How is it that Albert's data got into the other Biometals? Weren't they created by the original leader of Guardian? And why are the other Biometals working with Albert's henchmen? When and how did they get stolen?
The boss copy feature was also kind of a letdown. While a neat idea in theory, many of the boss characters were no fun to play as. Their only real functions were for getting across specific areas made specially for them. Outside of those parts, I'm pretty sure everyone played as Model H or Z the rest of the time.
Everything else about ZXA is just meh. It's music was good, but coming 20 years into the series it has a lot of other great Mega Man music to stand up against. The characters were interesting, but outside of Vulturon perhaps, none of them are very memorable. What probably stands out the most about ZXA is its Mega Man a minigame, which would serve as a harbinger for Mega Man 9.
But ultimately, ZXA's major failing is that it didn't do enough to warrent its continuation. It's clear Inti Creates intended to continue on with the series, but the game was too bland for many people to care enough. Thanks to this, ZX takes the crown from MegaMan Legends of being the shortest lived Mega Man series.
Mega Man X2 For: Super Nintendo Released: 1994
No, Mega Man X2 is not a bad game. But is it any better than Mega Man X? It doesn't really feel like it. The music isn't quite as good. Sigma's new henchmen aren't as cool as Vile was (arguably the coolest of the three ends up turning into a hot dog). Don't get me wrong, X2 is very fun, and is certainly way better than a lot of the more recent X titles, which really jumped the shark. But I don't know if I can find anyone who thinks it's better than the first X. That's all I'm saying.