A Critical Look at Mega Man 2 Stages: Crash Man

Crash Man's Stage and Music

The first screen is just beautiful. At first glance it seems like one could just blast the Tellys and move on, but the top one spawns right over the ladder you need to climb to get out. Plenty of the game's special weapons could get a player past it right away, but someone coming into this stage without them will need to spend a little time figuring out how they work before climbing up safely. The solution is to draw them away without killing them, and the fact that players can climb the ladder on the right or jump straight to the middle one allow for different ways of dealing with it. This is a great setup for teaching new players all about how Tellys work.

More of the same, though this time there's less leg room but the Tellys can be bypassed with little trouble.

There are three Neo Metalls in this hallway, distinguished from those in the first game by having feet and being able to walk forward after shooting. As with many rooms in the first game, I feel they could have varied the terrain a bit if they're just going to have you fight multiples of the same enemy in sequence.

This screen introduces moving platforms. Not much going on here.

A slightly more complex one. If the player jumps on right away, he'll have to shoot one Telly and jump over another. Repeatedly shooting any that get in the way works fine too.

This one is longer, and the Tellys remain within range the whole time, so just shoot them. Considering that the very first screen made it important to observe where Tellys spawn and lead them out of the way if necessary, it's a shame that the rest of this isn't building on that. Each of them appears at the edges of the screen and they're almost always in shot range.

This is Blocky, who can only be shot in the eyes and breaks apart when you do. A second shot kills him. He's the only danger on these two screens.

The next screen is mostly for effect, though players can land on the platforms if the Met above gives them trouble. It's situated in a way that forces players to jump right into its line of fire, and can walk over the gap to the middle platform if it isn't killed. Jumping over the shots as soon as you land is another option. Not a bad setup for one otherwise minor enemy.

We're given the choice of two ladders to climb. On the next screen, a Pipi flies in, drops an egg, and a whole bunch of birds swarm their way into Mega Man's face. Now, this only takes two health bars, but I'm pretty sure it's unavoidable without special weapons no matter which ladder you take, and unavoidable damage is the worst kind.

The next screen does the same thing, but this time there's enough room between ladders to jump to the side and avoid the birds, since they target wherever Mega Man was when they hatched. Another interesting trick is that the birds appear from whichever way Mega Man is facing. You can change this on a ladder by shooting to the left or right. From the far right ladder here, making the Pipi enter from the right makes it drop the egg into empty air.

That will continue to be useful for the next screen. We also see Shotman for the first time, who fires shots in groups of six, alternating between forward and high angles. After that we reach the end of the split path. Taking the other side won't allow the player to progress (without certain items anyway) but it at least leads to an E-Tank, which Mega Man can carry with him to restore all his health from the menu screen once per tank. It's a good reward for players taking the other path even if it means they have to climb up the other side, and one could jump down from here to grab it instead of climbing back down.

From here, Mega Man can climb the ladder right in front of him or take a riskier jump for an extra life. At the top are three spawn areas for Fly Boys, with a nicely staggered terrain to make it difficult.

I'm not impressed with this one. The first screen introduces the possibility of using Tellys to make the player do something other than shoot everything in front of him, but never follows it up. The moving platforms could also have worked well for a more puzzle-oriented stage, but the Tellys don't get in the way much and there's nothing else there to put the player in danger.

There's one good Met placement after that, then ladders with birds that force the player to take damage unless he has certain special weapons or knows a trick that shouldn't be required. The actual design of the split path is okay, since it at least gives a great reward for taking the wrong path and allows players who chose the other side to get it anyway if they're willing to make the climb once more.

The last couple screens are pretty good. The tangled pipe design is interesting, but the pipes are mostly all there is (why weren't those tubes in the first couple screens used elsewhere?), and many of the screens just have a flat blue background, which looks more on par with the quality of the first game. The transition from day to night (or sky to space?) is a cool idea though. Overall, it seems like this stage was a bit rushed.