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Mega Man X2 is kind of a letdown

Some background: I grew up playing Mega Man 2 at my childhood friend's house, and also read some of the Archie comics. A while ago I brought the first Legacy Collection, and although it did help me beat MM2 none of the other games really struck the same chord with me. However, just around 6 months ago I did some research on the X series, saw that their Legacy Collection was on sale, and brought it. Mega Man X wound up becoming one of my favorite games, due to the satisfying mobility, phenomenal weapon balancing, and a refreshing story. However, X2 wound up being a different story.

For some positives, I will say that having the dash upgrade from the start is a great idea, as well as introducing the air dash. Although I'm still more accustomed to the dash jump, having extra mobility is what set X apart from the classic series the most, in my opinion. The Speed Burner's charged variation was also a blast to use when the time came. Additionally, the music is just as great as the first game, with my personal favorites being Wheel Gator and Bubble Crab's stage themes.

But what the hell are these weapons? So many of them feel like they're either niche or downright useless. The Spin Wheel and Speed Burner are just straight-up inferior versions of a charged X buster that are only useful in finding secrets, and even then it's only for the ones that require them in the first place. The Strike Chain is so unsatisfying to use, and it's pretty much useless when you get either the legs or arms upgrade and have the air dash and charged Speed Burner available. I praised X1 for how all of the weapons were fun to use, and then X2 just throws it straight out the window. Maybe the developers were concerned about how the weapons may have made the levels too easy, but in that case, balance the levels better instead of making the weapons bad! Honestly, the only weapons I found myself frequently using were the Silk Shot and Sonic Slicer.

Also, there's the thing that everyone criticizes, the secrets. Personally, I'm the filthy type who uses guides, so it didn't bother me as much. However, it was definitely noticeable, especially with the heart capsules. Some of them I wound up never finding, even with the helmet upgrade. Speaking of which, I preferred the armor upgrades of the first game a lot more aside from the helmet and legs. The charged buster in the 1st game was easier and more satisfying to use than a janky 1-2 shot, and having the armor upgrade just reduce damage, while more boring, felt a lot more valuable compared to a super move that only works after you've taken enough damage.

Finally on my list of things that made the experience disappointing, the visuals. Something about them feels so much more… compressed. They look more colorful, but it just doesn't feel like it matches with what I'm used to playing with. Same with the soundfont, although the music tracks are still great, the soundfont feels repetitive. The story doesn't really work for me, either. Instead of the "all-out war" feeling of the first game, or even the "quest for justice" of the classic games, it just feels kind of pointless especially since I never bothered to fight the X hunters until the final level. With the absence of Sigma, Zero, and Vile, it feels so lonely. I have hope that the subsequent games improve on this, however. But I'm glad that I can finally leave X2 behind me.

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