The Least Impressive Adventure?

Mega Man 2 Tiger Electronics Handheld

Anyone that has spent any time playing video games can easily attest that there are good games and there are bad games. What qualifies for each category does depend, at least up to a certain point, on the players, but you'll find a whole host of generally accepted games that can fit on one side or the other. There is, however, a third category to go alongside "good" and "bad" and that is "Tiger Electronics". For anyone that grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, that name will send just a little chill down the spine.

Coming out at a time when the hand held gaming market was still coming into its own, the Tiger Electronics games could only charitably be called games, really. They were little devices with LCD screens and barely any memory. They could only display fixed, one-color (black) graphical sprites. The way the game's provided "color" was to have a color background on the device itself, all the graphics superimposed on top, but that wasn't really the same as real graphics and real color. And they absolutely didn't provide anything more than a couple of screening bleeps and bloops for sound.

Now, in fairness to Tiger, their handhelds grew out of a market that existed long before these specific devices came around. Handheld games from the 1970s and 1980s were rudimentary at best. They played a single game, usually something like Pong or Tic-Tac-Toe. Invariably they used some kind of basic digital screen, with only a few being able to do even a single vector sprite. You could get games like Football, but it was more like playing a remixed version of Pong.

In comparison to those very crude games, Tiger's games did, at least, offer something more in the way of graphics and controls. In essence they saw what Nintendo was doing with the Game and Watch series and elected to do the same. Only cheaper. And it worked. Kids could go to a toy store and get a game (so to speak) for ten bucks or so. Or, more likely, they'd say to their parents, "I want the new Mega ManIn 1987, Capcom released Mega Man on the NES, a game featuring a blue robot that fought other robots and took their powers (so that he could then fight other robots with those powers, and on, and on). The series went on to release over 50 games in 30 years and become one of the most famous gaming franchises in the world. game." The parent would go, see the Tiger edition of Mega Man 2, and pick that up. Then, when presented to their child, they would get nothing but disappointment in response.

Growing up, I had one of these devices: Castlevania II. I played it for a few minutes here and there just to see if I could finish it. I never did, but that was because the game was poorly programmed and stupidly cheap. That was the way of a lot of these, mind you; either they were so easy you could play them without thinking or they had some flaw that kept the game from being playable at all. These were all abysmal.

What Tiger was good at, though, was snatching up licenses from major game companies so they could make their own "interpretations" of the games. The grabbed the Mega Man license from Capcom and unleashed not one but two horrible games on the market. The first of these titles was Mega Man 2 and, well, it's bad. It's about as bad as you expect if you know just enough about Tier Electronics to understand the kind of "game" they made. Calling it a game is giving it a lot of credit.

This game does have more programming to it than I would have expected, mind you. Like most games from Tiger, Mega Man 2 features a four-direction D-Pad along with two action buttons. Lest you think that will provide a lot of control, though, it doesn't. The character moves forward at what has to be 1 frame a second movement, and you can really only move them into two positions horizontally. The up on the pad makes Mega Man jump. The down is just there.

The one thing that impressed me was that the game does actually feature weapon selection. Mirroring the game play from the NES edition, each time Mega Man kills one of the six robot masters (Heat Man, Air Man, Bubble Man, Quick Man, Flash Man, Metal Man) they will gain their weapon. Then they can use that weapon in the next stages to fight the boss. It works like you expect, sort of. The weapons don't really have any special properties and just act like more powerful ammo (which is why you don't see Flash Man and his Flash Stopper in this game). And, well, you don't really get a lot of ammo in this game.

Not having a lot to shoot with isn't a big deal because you also don't have a lot to shoot at. The enemies are sparse in the game, consisting of basically just some robo-bats and little walkers that will just come at you. You do have a jump button, but that's only used if you want to shoot at things in the air as there's absolutely no platforming to speak of. Just run forward as fast as you can, then shoot the boss until it dies. And the repeat for another eight stages or so.

If we're being kind, the Tiger version of Mega Man 2 is just about the best version of the game you could expect from this company. It's rudimentary to a fault, like all their titles, and frankly not that fun to play. Hell, if you know what you're doing you can finish the game in three minutes or so. And, let's be clear, that's three minutes you'll absolutely want back once you're done. The Tiger version of Mega Man 2 is a numbing experience that makes you regret spending money on this crappy little device.

But name recognition alone was enough to power sales, leading to an "adaptation" of Mega Man 3 a short while later. The world didn't deserve that kind of pain.