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Mega Man 2

Mega Man 2: Wood Man

An appreciation of Dr. Wily’s clumsy, oaken black sheep.

By Drew Toal • May 9, 2013

It’s Mega Man 2 Day on The Gameological Society! In honor of its release in Japan 25 years ago, today we’re paying tribute to Mega Man 2—and all things Mega Man.

Not all robots are created equal. After the events of the first Mega Man game—when Dr. Light’s robot assistant Rock became the hero known to the Western world as Mega Man—the evil Dr. Wily went back to the drawing board. How to defeat this mechanical boy with an arm cannon for an arm? Wily’s solution was to construct eight Robot Masters, each imbued with an elemental, destructive ability. These were introduced in Mega Man 2. There is Metal Man, who rapidly fires circular saw blades in any direction, and Flash Man, who can stop time. Heat Man harnesses the power of the atom. Fearsome opponents, all. All that is, except Wood Man.

Wood Man. The robot who isn’t a robot. The robot whose ammunition is a delicate leaf. Wood Man, whose robot armor makes him resemble a Niagara Falls barrel diver.

Who is to blame for the embarrassment of Wood Man? Dr. Wily, obviously. But how did this shop-class nightmare even come to exist? Did Wily’s research assistants, distracted by adjunct teaching duties at Evil Scientist University, just phone it in? And I don’t want to hear any arguments that Bubble Man is equally pathetic. Bubble Man is a master of undersea combat, and anyone concerned with the quality of drinking water knows that his lead bubbles are deadly.

Mega Man 2: Wood Man

Wood Man, the black sheep. Wood Man, the freak. Like the hero of T.H. White’s classic children’s tale, The Trumpet Of The Swan, Wood Man’s lack of qualities common to the species make him an outcast. You don’t really think he gets invited to Quick Man’s swanky parties, do you?

Wood Man’s level is a sprawling jungle. In keeping with his general impotence, though, it’s more a petting zoo in the woods than it is Lost City Of Z. Instead of sending elephant-sized robot Bengal tigers with electrified stripes and lightsabers for teeth, Wood Man sends his army of carrot-shooting rabbits to wear down Mega Man. His air force is even less impressive. Instead of a bionic pterodactyl or suicidal metal eagles with cruise missiles for wings, a little flying sparrow guy drops eggs from above. Flash Man gets all the good minions. Wood Man gets the robots Wily invented during the brief period he found Jesus and got addicted to painkillers.

After defeating a Robot Master, Mega Man assumes his vanquished opponent’s weapon, to be used at his leisure. It’s his great power, to absorb abilities and make them his own. Each Robot Master is vulnerable to one of his siblings’ abilities. Crash Man, for instance, wilts in the face Air Man’s air shooter. Flash Man, like most of us, is susceptible to sharpened saw blades fired at high velocity. Wood Man, as expected, lives in fear of a number of weapons, including those of Metal Man, Air Man and Heat Man.

It’s a crucial design flaw on Dr. Wily’s part. He creates all of these amazing robots for the sole purpose of defeating Mega Man, but then he makes them vulnerable to each other’s weapons, which Mega Man can commandeer at will?

Mega Man walks into Wood Man’s inner sanctum. The music shifts. Wood Man pounds his chest to power up. If he doesn’t believe in himself, who will? He doesn’t possess the agility of Tarzan—or even that of a common, inert forest rock—but no one can accuse Wood Man of lacking élan. His fighting spirit comes from the forest, likely from some robot bunny’s metal heart that he consumed to possess its soul. Even Wood Man’s sluggish oak brain must comprehend that he’s moments from his death, that he’s no match for the burgeoning power of Mega Man. Mega Man, that blue vampire robot with the terrific head of hair, is stalking the Robot Masters one by one, and Wood Man—never the strongest of his brethren—is moments from oblivion.

He’s just not going without a fight. Wood Man throws up his leaf shield, an impenetrable wall of lovely foliage that can block anything Mega Man throws at it. Unfortunately, neither can Wood Man attack through his wall, so he must lower it to bring leaf death from above onto that little blue tree hater. Mega Man will be buried under a lethal leaf pile. Wood Man is victorious! No, wait. Mega Man is no longer blue. He’s a familiar red. No, no, NOOOO!!! A ball of fire turns Wood Man into ash, and his soul becomes part of the Mega Man collective.

I choose to remember Wood Man for his good qualities, and not his obvious and numerous failings. For instance, Wood Man’s organic interface likely made him fairly immune to computer viruses that would otherwise shut down normal robots. It’s not part of the Mega Man canon (history is written by the victors), but I imagine that Wood Man enjoyed whittling parts of himself into toys for disadvantaged children. When Dr. Wily took all the Robot Masters on a canoeing trip, there was only one robot that they wanted to be their canoe. Woody didn’t look much like Wily’s other children, but he was, in his way, the finest Robot Master of them all.

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26 Responses to “Mega Man 2: Wood Man”

  1. PugsMalone says:

    Huh huh, you said “wood.”

    The Doc Robot with Wood Man’s powers in MM3 is a considerable improvement, though, since none of the weapons in that game can penetrate the Leaf Shield.

    • Enkidum says:

      “wood”.

    • Uncle Roundy says:

      Also, the leaves on the Leaf Shield are much larger in 3. It’s barely short enough to jump over; plus, they fall much faster and out of sync with the time he throws the shield at you, so it’s EXTREMELY difficult to avoid getting hit every time he does his attacks. Him, Heat Man, and Air Man are the three most likely things to ruin any up-to-that-point solid run of Mega Man 3.

      I hate how hard Inafune is on Mega Man 3. It’s easily my favorite NES Mega Man game, and the one I consider the best. Yes, there are signs that it was rushed (no pun intended), but Capcom never topped it (another unintended pun) on the NES. It’s got the best Robot Masters, the best levels, the best music, the best everything. It’s still talked about a lot, but in my perfect world, 3 would be the one everyone goes on and on and on and on about, not 2.

  2. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    All Wood Man really wanted was to be a real robot.
       His fatal mistake was one of confused semantics in turning to the Blue Bomber instead of the Blue Fairy for help.

  3. duwease says:

    I like to think Wood Man had a standout career as a miniboss, but when Wily promoted him to actual boss, he found that his skillset just didn’t transfer.  It’s the Peter Principle in effect.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

         “So I lied a bit on my resume.  I don’t actually have any experience fighting heroic androids.  But I talked with the other bosses and they say the job is, like, 99% standing in a single room.  None of them have even been in battle!  Most of ’em tell me they just work on their signature poses all day.  So what the hell, I figure.  And sure enough, I got the job!
         Oh, wait.  Can you hold on a moment?  There’s someone at the door.”

    • PugsMalone says:

      Did Dr. Wily even employ any minibosses in Mega Man 1?

  4. Tyler Mills says:

    “Wood Man, as expected, lives in fear of a number of weapons, including those of Metal Man, Air Man and Heat Man.”

    Something I consider to be a hilarious aspect of MM2 is that Metal Man, when you fight him again, is highly susceptible to his own weapon. On normal mode you can beat the re-hash of Metal Man in just one shot! This makes sense to me, as I imaging the intense carnage that would result from smashing two spinning metal sawblades together.

  5. NakedSnake says:

    Give this man a Pulitzer.

  6. PaganPoet says:

    This article is slanderous, hateful, and full of lies! Shame on you, Mr. Toal, for the things that you have said here today! Get yourself a good lawyer, ’cause we’ll see you in court!

  7. Strangely enough, Wood Man was one of the most frequently recurring robot masters in later games.

    • The_Juggernaut_Bitch says:

       Cheapest to mass produce.  Just need some trimmings from one model and some fertile soil.

  8. Girard says:

    Wood Man was the boss that taught me that most fundamental of lessons about MegaMan: using acquired weapons against other bosses. I remember being about 7 and realizing, “Hey, that guy’s made of wood…I have a weapon that shoots saw blades…I wonder if….WOOOOOOOOW!!!!” Suddenly the design of the game clicked into place, and I realized what a thoughtful, cool, interesting thing I was engaging with.

  9. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    Wood Man also had two brothers, Brick Man and Straw Man.

    Straw Man was vulnerable to Air Man’s weapons as well as arguments misrepresenting an opponent’s position.

    Brick Man was vulnerable to Frost Man and impressive booties.

  10. Cloks says:

    Wood Man is actually a homophonic error and a wily one at that. Wood Man is meant to be the imperative “would man?”, a Sartre-esque villain that challenges Mega-Man to face the realities he accepts as commonplace. He is Mega-Man but he does things so far beyond the scope of “man” in his world that “would man?” forces him to confront if the actions he takes are truly one a man would or if he has abandoned that part of his name and become entirely too mega.

    Would Man? Mega-Man would, Wood Man.

    • WarrenPeace says:

      The philosophical tenets of the series are evident in the Nietzschian Mega-Man’s manner of seizing the will to power through his confiscation of other robots’ abilities in order to exert his nihilism, ensuring the death of the robots’ “god”, Dr. Wily. He learns that if one gazes into the bottomless pit, the pit also gazes into him.

  11. Justin Leeper says:

    Always liked Wood Man’s music the best. I even made a very despised song/music video using its music. Essentially, I play Dr. Wily telling Mega Man he’s going to die. Wanna see it? No? Oh… Still… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4ISFO1tjW4

  12. James Ouyang says:

    i wonder how hard wood man is

  13. All that side, Wood Man’s level is goddam HARD! Those bouncy springs at the end drove me crazy.

    What drove me even crazier is why Mega Man wouldn’t just murder Dr. Wily.