Game Developers on Acid: Megaman 2

Probably not the developers' fault. Still terrible, though.

Probably not the developers' fault. Still terrible, though.

Look, I’m not here to bash Megaman 2. Far from it. It’s one of my favourite games of all-time, and it is undoubtedly the crowning moment of awesomeness for the entire Megaman series (with Megaman 3 a close second, naturally).

While we’ve all heard the tale that Keiji Inafune and his team at Capcom somehow managed to produce this epic masterpiece during their spare time — a true labour of love, if you will — that doesn’t mean that the developers are completely infallible, however. In fact, some of the stuff in Megaman 2 is absolutely batshit insane, enough to make you scratch your head (although probably not literally, unless you have lice or something) and mutter to yourself, “just what in the blue hell were they thinking?

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Subterranean Fire-Breathing Dogs

Woodman, wanting to stay close to his roots, lives in a forest. Okay, makes sense to me. Forests usually contain animals. Yup, I’m with you there. One of the animals featured in Woodman’s menagerie of arboreal terror is a wolf. Nothing out of the ordinary. Things start getting a little bit fuzzy, however, when you realize that these wolves can only be found in underground caves. Oh, and they spit fireballs, too.

There are many things wrong with this picture.

There are many things wrong with this picture.

Okay, the kickass dragon at the end of the first Wily Castle level, it makes perfect sense for that guy to shoot fireballs. You know why? Because it’s a freakin’ dragon. But a dog? That lives in a cave? And shoots fireballs in a perfect parabolic arc? That just makes my brain hurt.

Forest, Rainforest … What’s the Difference?

Wrong type of forest, jerk.

Wrong type of forest, jerk.

While we’re on the topic of retarded enemies found in Woodman’s stage, there’s one bad guy that just doesn’t seem to fit in with all of the others. I can imagine the conversion between Inafune and his crew going something along these lines:

Inafune: “Okay, so we’ve got bats, rabbits, subterranean fire-breathing dogs, and rampaging chickens … but we still need some more enemies in this level. What other animals live in a forest?”

Developer: “Gorillas?”

Inafune: “Yeah, sure, why the fuck not.”

Dr. Wily’s Greatest Creation — Flying Hamburgers

These guys didn’t make any sense when I was in the second grade, and they sure as hell don’t make any sense now. Yes, I’m talking about the ridiculous rotating robots that hover about the territories of Heatman and Crashman and can only be described as flying hamburgers.

Would you like fries with that?

Would you like fries with that?

Could Dr. Wily have created a patrol drone that was any less threatening? Well, probably. Maybe flying robo-kittens wrapped in pink ribbons, perhaps. But at least they would theoretically have claws and mouths with which to shoot fireballs at you. The flying hamburger, on the other hand, just spins and slow bumps into you. Truly terrifying.

The Fish That Shoots Shrimp

Not as bad as the robotic Richard Simmons, of course.

Not as bad as the robotic Richard Simmons, of course.

Bubbleman: “I suggest you leave immediately.”

Megaman: “Or what? You’ll release the fish, or the shrimp, or the fish with shrimp in their mouths so when they bark they shoot shrimp at you? Well go ahead, do your worst!”

Yes, it’s true. The Simpsons outright stole the idea of dogs with bees in their mouths from Keiji Inafune and Megaman 2.

Like any giant enemy in the Megamaniverse, the fish has to shoot something, but since it lives underwater, even the developers realized that fireballs were out of the question. But why rocket-propelled shrimp? I would have accepted other fish (in the same vein as the frogs that spit little tiny frogs at you), or bubbles, or even electricity from its hanging bulb. But shrimp? Really?

Suicide Crabs

I went to Bubbleman's stage and all I got was a bunch of crabs.

I went to Bubbleman's stage and all I got was a bunch of crabs.

Still in Bubbleman’s realm for a moment, at the very end of the level you encounter a rather odd enemy — the rare flying crab. At least, it’s possible that they’re flying crabs, descending from the heavens to destroy Megaman like a bunch of avenging crustacean angels.

Of course, it could be that the crabs simply possess lemming-like qualities, causing them to leaping en masse over the edge of the waterfall that is prominently featured in the background of the level. They don’t even try to land on Megaman’s platform (but if they do, hey, whatever), instead choosing to blissfully plunge to their watery graves. If this is indeed the case, it would make the suicide crabs perhaps the stupidest AI Dr. Wily has ever programmed.

Yes, even dumber than the flying hamburgers. At least those make a conscious effort to annoy Megaman.

Hothead Gets Lost

Alright, let’s take a long, hard look at the following enemy:

Hey guys, I'm here for the party. Guys? Hello?

Hey guys, I'm here for the party. Guys? Hello?

He’s red. He’s got a big flame on his head. He throws angry little fireballs at you. His name is Hothead. So naturally he’s found in Heatman’s level, right?

Bahahaha! Keiji Inafune laughs at your pathetic logic!

Hothead, the enemy robot that perhaps fully captures the essence of heat and fire (yes, even moreso than Zippoman — er, I mean, Heatman), is actually only found in Quickman’s level. Buh? That would be like having the fat guys with fans in their stomachs appear not in Airman’s stage, but in Woodman’s. Was this a programming error? Deliberate mistake? Inside joke? Seriously, what’s the deal here?

Wily’s Not Even Trying Anymore

Wily intended to sell these in Australia.

Wily intended to sell these in Australia.

What is this thing? A boomerang dispenser? Sentient springs? Wobbly lasers? Come on, Dr. Wily, have a little pride in your work and at least construct something useful for a change.

Indeed, there’s a lot of crazy stuff in Megaman 2, and I’m fairly certain that not everything can be attributed to Japanese / North American cultural differences. But hey, the game turned out to be one of the greatest of all-time, so who am I to tell the developers at Capcom what to and what not to smoke while they create their masterpieces?