When I first started playing Mega Man Legends 2, I was shocked by how long the opening cutscene was, and then impressed by the first couple hours of gameplay. It was clearly focusing on building up a more epic plot than the first game, and it seemed pretty solid for a while.
Then things turned around, and I started to find myself less engrossed in the game. Namely due to some tedious gameplay elements and a world that felt fractured and less fun to explore. Also some other little things here and there. But the fact remains that I was spending more time feeling frustrated by MML2 than I was having fun with it. And that only got worse before it got better.
In the first Mega Man Legends, you gain better “digger licenses” as you progress through the story, allowing you to access new dungeons and explore more of the gigantic maze below Kattleox Island. MML2 has a similar feature, except it’s only used to access optional dungeons. And also all of the enemies in the game “level up” in a way, making them tougher, but also increasing how much money they drop. This is all fine. I’m on board. Also, instead of just getting them at certain points, you must take a test for each. It’s nice, because you can take all the tests right away to max out the difficulty and your earnings right at the start of the game.
The problem is that the S-Class test (the last one) is unbelievably hard. You need to make it through a half-dozen rooms and defeat every enemy in each in under 5 minutes. You’re also restricted to the default equipment set, so no buster power-ups or special weapons can be used. This makes it hard because every enemy is an unforgiving bullet sponge, and some of them can inflict a status effect that prevents you from shooting. Needles to say, if you get hit by that it’s essentially a forced retry. I could go into further detail, but the point is that I absolutely could not pass this test. I tried at least 25 times, and that’s a conservative estimate. It depends too much on perfect execution, and MML2’s control just aren’t tight enough for that. So I gave up, and whatever was in that final optional dungeon, I’ll never know.
Also, losing out on that last money boost hurt a lot. It seems like everything in Mega Man Legends 2 costs about twice what it should, with many of the later weapon upgrades coming in at a million zenny. For reference, the most any single enemy can drop at A-Class is 7,000 zenny. So that’s a lot of grinding if you’re a completionist. I, fortunately, am not. I focused most of my cash into powering up one of the cheaper weapons (which was still damn effective), but still needed to grind a whole bunch to afford some of the other upgrades. There’s also a whole sub-quest about buying furniture and junk for the Flutter to make Roll happy, but as much as I want Roll to be happy, it costs so much and just wasn’t worth the time.
To catch up from where I left off last time, the fourth dungeon was ice-themed, and you know how that goes. I was very upset that there was no boot upgrade that stopped Mega Man from slipping on the ice. Though maybe there is and it was just lost in the S-Class dungeon for all time.
The final dungeon was where it all turned around, though. It’s a pretty sweet space-station with a gravity-manipulating gimmick. There are also multiple areas, and there are some really cool visual shifts throughout. It ends in a boss rush, as is Mega Man tradition. I’m normally not overly excited for endgame boss rushes, but it was really satisfying to get a rematch with that damned frog boss now that I was sufficiently powered-up and was able to curb stomp it. Very theraputic.
Now, back in the day when I played MML2 for the very first time, the final boss completely stymied me and rendered me unable to finish the game. So I was a little apprehensive about the final showdown once I made it there. And my fears were vindicated! Her attack patterns are very difficult to dodge, she does a buttload of damage, and there aren’t a lot of openings to shoot back. But after only a couple tries, I was able to finally eke out a victory, with only a sliver of life left.
Then she transformed and I got wrecked. Because of course there’s a second phase.
So I went back down to Earth to upgrade my health canteen, which is the Legends stand-in for E-tanks. And this is where MML2 finally gives the player an advantage: it seems like you can just keep upgrading that health canteen as long as you can afford it. I got mine up to 40 units (4 full heals) and I could have kept going if I’d had the cash. I don’t know how far it goes, but that’s already more than enough to cheese your way past basically anything the game will throw at you.
And so it was, that I battled that final boss again, and won. I used up every drop in the health canteen to do it and still just scraped by, but I won. It was finally over. The shadow that had been looming over me for the last twenty years was finally dispelled, and I am free to move on with my life. Given the text above and published previously, I don’t think I’ll ever play Mega Man Legends 2 again. It’s just so… I want to use a softer word, but I think it might be bad. There’s a solid base there, but there are too many parts that are designed in such a way that they’re just frustrating to overcome. If the controls were tightened up and the money requirements eased up? I think that would go a long way. But it’s just not that much fun as-is.
Fortunately, the first game is still perfectly good, and I will happily go back to that one time and time again. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne, a mini-game focused spin-off, was also a lot of fun, so there are ways to get my MML fix. Just not this one. With the benefit of this hindsight, maybe it’s a good thing that Mega Man Legends 3 got canned before it ever really got off the ground. But I guess that’s something we’ll just never know.