A Critical Look at Mega Man 2 Stages: Bubble Man

Bubble Man's Stage and music

Our first threat here is Kerog, who immediately spits three baby robot frogs at us. These move only by jumping in high arcs, and Kerog itself does nothing except spit more out if you kill them all. The great thing about this setup is that one baby falls off right away, followed by a second on the next jump. You get a preview of how dangerous this fight is going to be on more solid ground, while avoiding most of the danger on the first one. Mega Man's normal shots go right over the babies on the ground, so you have to catch them mid-jump.

On the next two, only one baby will fall right away, and the last one forces the action into a more confined space. Great start to the level so far.

...and then it has to go and ruin it. These blocks drop a fraction of a second after landing on them, and Mega Man goes into his falling animation once they do, so there's no way to jump off of them after they move. There's no warning at all, so it's just a gotcha for new players. Awful.

The short drop here has a high chance of dropping us right onto a Tanishi, so there's some more pain we couldn't see coming. Tanishi moves slowly back and forth. Shooting it once will remove the shell, and a second shot kills it. The catch is, it moves faster without the shell and your shots go over it.

The waterfall and surface of the water here is animated, which looks really nice. The platform invites us to jump in to the left, leading to yet another collision we couldn't see coming. Mega Man jumps higher underwater, and the same applies to the shells. This makes them more dangerous since they can hurt you, but they can be destroyed in two hits.

Shrink here moves towards us in individual movements, similar to a Blooper. He's easy enough to deal with alone, taking only three hits, but they're much scarier when we see where they're coming from. Anko continuously spits out Shrinks, takes ten hits, and can only be shot in the lure. It's a tough fight, and the spikes on the ceiling will kill Mega Man instantly if he touches them.

The corridor then gets much tighter, while M-445 rains from above. These fall straight down until they're level with you, then move sideways in a sine wave pattern. They only take one hit, but can be quite a hassle alongside the spikes.

The next Anko fight forces us against a wall of spikes, and we're then treated to two more Keros. The babies also jump higher underwater and there's no pits for them to fall into. The second one also puts us in a tighter corridor, so the babies can't be avoided as easily.

The last section brings us back out to the waterfall, while Claws fall from the sky. Claw falls, bounces once, then walks forward slowly. They die in one hit, but since the platforms are close to the top of the screen, they come with little warning.

Aside from the falling platforms and bad enemy placement during the drop into the water, I like this one. There's a nice variety of enemies and while none of them are mixed, some of them make their own backup helpers while the others are used well with the terrain. Repeating certain enemies underwater was brilliant, since the new physics change up the fights.

It uses the space it has very well, while looking and sounding great. It could have used something in the background during the underwater segment, but if you look at the stage map you'll notice a cool fishnet background for the boss fight. It's a shame that the flaws it has are such bad ones, but unlike the forced damage in Crash Man's stage, they can be easily overcome once a player has seen them.