I remember playing video games in my cousins’ dark basement when I was a little kid. My family had the Sega Master System, his had the Nintendo Entertainment System. We had Alex Kidd and Shinobi, they had Mega Man and Mario. Mega Man 2 specifically wowed me. I was wowed the first time I saw the big, beautiful, cartoonish robot jungle dogs in Wood Man’s level, breathing fire at my older cousin while he played. My young brain wanted more Mega Man instantly, but unlocking Mega Man 2’s boss order myself solidified my fandom.

Years later, I purchased my own battered NES and a sticky, grungy copy of Mega Man 2. Miraculously, they both worked. I started with Wood Man’s stage, remembering his catchy level music and the big fire dogs. After powering through the difficult stage, Wood Man humiliated me. After more trial and error I finally gave up and went after Metal Man next. Despite the conveyor belts and infinitely spawning drill-bots, his level was much more manageable. Metal Man himself was a pushover compared to his bark-covered brother. I memorized his simple patterns and quickly earned his Metal Blade power. Armed with a new, multidirectional weapon, I went after Wood Man again. Each saw blade shaved off huge swaths from Wood Man’s health, and before long he exploded into balls of light. Thus, my respect and reverence for the Robot Masters’ vulnerabilities was set.

"The Mega Man 2 Troop" by CyberMoonStudios on deviantart

Some weaknesses were obvious, like quenching Heat Man’s flames with Bubble Lead, or stopping Quick Man dead in his tracks with Time Stopper. However, I didn’t decipher the full, cyclical Robot Master order until the boss rush in Dr. Wily’s fortress. Sure, fighting all those hard-won battles over again was frustrating, but testing each weapon on each Robot Master was an important process. Any Mega Man fan worth their salt should be able to tell you the Robot Master weaknesses of Mega Man 2. After I learned their secrets, I never forgot, and pushed through the rest of the series with the desire to discover the Achilles’ Heels of the rest of Wily’s creations.

The rest of the classic and X series hit similar notes, but Mega Man 2 sealed the deal for me (watch us play it on Replay). Mega Man 9’s boss order also struck me as incredibly satisfying. Which Mega Man game did it for you?