While innovation is the keystone of almost all successful franchises, there are times when such evolution sends one completely off the rails. It’s just my opinion, but this is what I believe to be the case with the Mega Man X series. Each successive entry added more insipid story elements (eventually with horrendous voice acting), more complex requirements for hidden extras, and eventually a frustrating collection system masquerading as equippable perks. There are reasons for this, but it doesn’t change how I feel: Aside from X4, this complexity is inversely related to the quality of the games. Each is worse than the last.
That said, let’s focus on X2. As the first step away from the stellar original game, it stands as ‘acceptably worse.’ The bosses have decent enough patterns that are fun to learn to buster-only. The stages are a slight bit more lackluster but passable enough, even if there aren’t any cross-stage changes, as there were in the first game. The extras only require you to quickly take out three additional Mavericks, which can appear in any of the stages. The armor upgrades make sense and two are exquisite. The air-dash is indispensable and when combined with a charged-up boss weapon can be extended greatly. This mechanic is utilized often and even very cleverly in one spot, which appropriately leads to the greatest reward in the game.
The music didn’t stand out to me, to be honest. However, this is also true of X1, so I can hardly hold it against this particular sequel. The X series' music just pales in comparison to the classic series’ giant collection of unique and identifiable stage themes. In the end, literally, the Sigma stages are short and overly easy once you’ve been through them fully. The final area is even a direct copy/paste of a Maverick stage. Seriously? At least Mega Man 3 remixed the four stages used for Doc Robot battles. Ultimately, the Sigma fights are far less memorable this time around, but the duel with an old friend that proceeds them is genuinely a blast to buster.
I have a very love/hate relationship with the X series, but if you like the original, and find X2 (or the X collection) at a flea market, you might as well. There are far worse games you can play. Some are just much closer at hand to it than others.
Buyer's Guide: Originally available on the SNES. Your """best""" bets are the Mega Man X collection on PS2 and GameCube, or the Virtual Console, however. If for some reason you have an "i-mode" or "EZweb" compatible phone, and live in Japan, you can get it that way, as well.