Mega Man Xtreme 2 works on the foundation of its predecessor, adding a number of new options and gameplay modes to the mix. However, it also suffers from some very bad design in places, leading to a two steps forward, one step back scenario.
As in Mega Man Xtreme, the game is divided into two modes, each with four bosses. However, rather than dividing the bosses into difficulty levels, they are divided by hero: one scenario is played with X, the other with Zero. Zero’s play is based on his Playstation incarnations, complete with Z-saber combos and a general lack of ranged attacks. As in the games his play is based on, playing as Zero is substantially different than playing as X, and usually a lot of fun. The melee-based gameplay of Zero is a big change for the Mega Man series, and it works pretty well on the Gameboy Color.
Also as in Xtreme, completing both of the first two modes unlocks Extreme mode, though the extra features of this version of the mode make it a lot more compelling than the original. In Extreme mode, you can freely switch between X and Zero at any time, and can upgrade both while fighting through all eight bosses. There’s even an extra final stage added leading to the one true ending. However, perfectionists may not like how the power-up system works here. Heart tanks and even boss weapons can only be earned by one of your two warriors. Depending on which one earns which weapon, certain other upgrades may end up inaccessible. You can power up one fully at the expense of the other, and can get through almost all of the game with the fighter of your choice, but that doesn’t seem to be the intent behind the mode. There’s no way to have a “perfect” playthrough for both characters at once, though.
Mega Man Xtreme 2’s new options are a lot of fun, and generally the game is well-designed. You’ll find bosses from all three SNES Mega Man X games here, with stages approximating the originals just like in the first Xtreme. The problem with Xtreme 2 is that several stages and bosses are extremely badly designed, resulting in immense frustration and repetition. In particular, the boss of the second endgame stage is one of the worst-realized boss fights I’ve ever seen, at least in the X Mode. Unfair instant death traps are also common, often killing you without warning on your first time through a stage.
Aside from the difficulty spikes, Xtreme 2 is a better game than its predecessor. However, they seriously hamper an otherwise fun experience. If you’re a serious Mega Man fan with a lot of patience, this is a compelling portable conversion of Mega Man X. It offers a lot of replay value between Extreme mode and an all-new boss rush that even features the eight bosses from Mega Man Xtreme. It also has a great upgrade system that lets you even the odds against some of the less fair bosses somewhat. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a good game.