Mega Man 8 Review

Mega Man 8

Mega Man 8 is a terribly underappreciated game. It was originally released in 1997 to celebrate Mega Man’s tenth anniversary, but gaming was changing at that time, and Mega Man 8 was seen as old hat. As the years have gone by its gained a small following, but still remains largely dismissed. Its reputation doesn’t begin to do it justice, as Mega Man 8 – while not perfect – remains one of the series’ best entries.

Mega Man 8 was originally released on the Sega Saturn and Sony Playstation, so it goes without saying that this was the biggest leap in visuals for the series yet. Given that its sequels revived the 8-bit visuals of the NES games, Mega Man 8 is still the ‘newest’ looking title in the core series.

While a lot of PSOne and Saturn games have aged for the worse, time has been kind to Mega Man 8. The lovingly animated character sprites and colorful visuals still look lively. It expands on the art direction of Mega Man 7 and makes the series feel like an interactive cartoon.

Mega Man 8The game even featured fully animated cutscenes that have a similar charm to the anime of the late 80s and early 90s. On the downside, the game’s English voice acting is so bad it ranks among the worst in any video game (Dr. Light in particular sounds like Elmer Fudd, but even less eloquent). That’s quite a dubious achievement. But you could also say the bad voice acting gives the cutscenes a campy charm.

Mega Man 8 didn’t just overhaul the presentation however, as it made some meaningful (and largely overlooked) tweaks to gameplay and level design as well.

Similar to Mega Man 7, 8 separates the selectable Robot Master stages into two halves. After an introductory stage, four selectable levels open up, followed by an intermission stage, then four more Robot Master levels, culminating, of course, with Dr. Wily’s castle.

While the setup remains similar to Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8 built on its sense of exploration while also adding some fun variety to the gameplay, making its levels some of the deepest in the series.

Mega Man 8 includes Bolts similar to Mega Man 7, but they are no longer dropped by enemies. Instead they are hidden throughout each stage, with some requiring you to replay levels after gaining new powers in order to reach them. The Bolts are used as currency in Dr. Light’s laboratory, where Mega Man can purchase new upgrades to his Mega Buster, among other fun new power-ups. Finding the Bolts and acquiring these upgrades is completely optional, but those seeking a good challenge and full completion should have a good time tracking them all down.

Mega Man 8It’s in the levels themselves that Mega Man 8 differentiates itself from its predecessors. Although it’s classic Mega Man for the most part, various levels will suddenly throw the Blue Bomber into a rail shooter (where Rush, Beat, Eddie and Auto can help Mega Man blast away enemies) or he’ll be sledding through a stage at increasing speed, with a robot sign informing him of when to jump and when to slide to avoid obstacles. The levels themselves are some of the most fun in the series, but segments like these make Mega Man 8 one of the most versatile gameplay experiences in the franchise.

It’s easy to say that Mega Man 8 has some of the weaker Robot Masters in the series, with the likes of Clown Man and the trademark-infringing Aqua Man being downright goofy. But on the plus side, the powers Mega Man gains from them are among the more unique in the series. Mega Man gains weapons like an electrical grappling hook, an icy shockwave, a miniature tornado that sends Mega Man skyward, and a sword made out of fire. The introductory stage even gives Mega Man a soccer ball power! Not all the powers are great, but they all come in handy throughout the game in either combat or exploration. This is also one of the only instances in which Mega Man 2’s Leaf Shield isn’t reskinned and passed off as a new ability.

The fact that Mega Man 8 separates its Robot Master stages in two halves also means that the first four abilities are really emphasized in the latter four levels (Sword Man’s stage in particular is built around them). Not everyone likes the change of segmenting the levels, but it actually gave Capcom a means to better utilize the Robot Master abilities. It also gave them the opportunity to further emphasize the story.

In Mega Man 8, a strange meteor has crashed onto Earth, emitting a powerful, dark energy. Mega Man goes to investigate, but Dr. Wily has beat him to the punch, and is using this energy to power his new Robot Masters and a returning Bass in a plot to take over the world. Mega Man, true to his nature, sets out to stop Wily’s plans, but also encounters a new figure in Duo, a robot from outer space.

It’s the usual simple plot of Mega Man, but it gets some appreciated extra attention. The aforementioned animated sequences add to the stronger attempt at narrative, but are also undermined by the comically bad voice acting.

Mega Man 8Mega Man 8 ups the difficulty from Mega Man 7, and has one of the better difficulty curves in the series. The first four stages have their challenging moments, but shouldn’t take too many attempts to complete. The latter four stages turn things up a notch with some precise platforming and waves of enemies. Once Mega Man makes his way to Dr. Wily’s newest castle, things become reminiscent of Mega Man’s earliest entries. It’s never as hard as Mega Man 3 or 4, but Mega Man 8 is nonetheless satisfyingly difficult.

Another plus is that Mega Man 8 has one of the best soundtracks in the series, and that’s no small feat considering the quality of Mega Man’s soundtracks. Its techno-inspired tunes are as catchy as the best Mega Man tracks, and they each have a distinct personality to fit their respective stages. Much like the rest of the game, Mega Man 8’s music largely goes underrated, but it should be ranked alongside Mega Mans 2, 3 and 9 as being among the best soundtracks in the series.

As a whole, Mega Man 8 is one of the Blue Bomber’s most polished games. It has creative level design, fun powers, a good sense of depth and challenge, it has a killer soundtrack and the visuals haven’t aged a day. It might not have the same level of excellence as Mega Man 2 or 3, and the voice acting almost seems to be making fun of itself. But Mega Man 8 has always been, secretly, one of Mega Man’s finest.

 

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Author: themancalledscott

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining, the man called Scott is an ancient sorcerer from a long-forgotten realm. He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil. Or, you know, he could just be some guy who loves video games, animations and cinema who just wanted to write about such things.

13 thoughts on “Mega Man 8 Review”

  1. Megaman 7 and 8 had the misfortune of being preceded by the X series, which at the time felt like the greater evolution of the franchise at the time. That said, they’re great games and great additions into the franchise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Can’t believe there were 7 Megaman games pre-32bit generation and then none after 8 until Wiiware. I’m a Megaman noob – only played 1 and 2 – but I’ll have to try and track this one down. Did you play the PS1 or Saturn version? PS1 is more affordable but I much prefer the Saturn controller!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly, I have never played the Saturn version of Mega Man 8. I grew up playing the Playstation version (though I did own a Saturn), and for this review I downloaded it on PS3. Every subsequent release for the game has been a reissue of the Playstation version, but the Saturn version actually had even more content (two returning bosses from Mega Man 1 and 2, more enemies, bonus content, etc.). I would like to get the Saturn version (I still have a Saturn), but its rarity makes that version quite pricey.

      You should hop on the Mega Man bandwagon. It’s one of the great classic series in my book.

      Like

      1. Hmm, that’s really interesting that the inferior PS1 version is always ported. Probably has to do with the difficulty of emulating Saturn stuff, but still weird. Yeah, I really enjoyed the Megaman games I’ve played, and I did intend to continue with the series on the Wii’s Virtual Console and Wiiware but I wasn’t able to at the time. It doesn’t help that the Megaman series isn’t especially accessible in the UK – the MM and X collections on PS2 and Gamecube never came out here for instance, and neither did the Saturn version of MM8.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. To be honest, Mega Man 8 is the only game in the classic series (not counting Mega Man & Bass) I have yet to complete. I have seen others play through the game and I do like how long and elaborate the levels are; there’s a lot of ambition to be found. For instance, I thought it was awesome in Tengu Man’s stage when it became a Gradius-style shoot ’em up. Mega Man 8 probably gets dismissed simply because of the awful voice acting. In fact, I’ve heard more criticisms lodged toward that than the actual gameplay, which makes assessing the quality of this title a bit tricky for the uninformed.

    Actually, what game would you say has the worst voice acting (or second-worst if you think it’s this game)?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s a shame the voice acting seems to be Mega Man 8’s legacy. It deserves so much better.

      Gosh, it’s hard to say which game I think has the worst voice acting. Mega Man 8 is definitely up there. Resident Evil is another top contender. Even Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, one of the best games ever made, has really bad acting. I’ll have to give this some thought…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It seems like that was a problem with a lot of games in the mid-to-late nineties. I remember seeing a video somewhere on YouTube that was a montage of horrible voice acting in various games and a good chunk of them were PS1 releases. Then again, it’s not like now where even obscure games have professional voice acting.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Star Ocean: The Second Story has some terrible voice acting if you’ve played that. Final Fantasy X is another contender as well, what with Tidus’ laughing scene…Yeah. Mega Man X4 is another contender, and I’d say it’s voice acting is even worse than MM8’s – Remember Iris’ death scene with Zero crying? Oh, one more would be Deep Fear on Saturn, Sega’s answer to Resident Evil 2 which never came out in the states. I would say Xenogears, even though it’s arguably the best RPG on the PS1, but the voice acting in that game at least tries not to sound terrible – I’d say it’s voice acting is mediocre.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I actually have very little experience with the Mega Man X titles after X3, but I’ve heard the voice acting is the stuff of bad acting legend. If some of these games are on the Playstation store I’ll check them out.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’ll second Deep Fear as some of the worst voice acting. It’s not the absolute worst but it is pretty terrible and it’s fairly obscure so doesn’t get a whole lot of hate/love. Still there’s that line (is it from this game or one of the X series?), “Let’s go find Doctor Wahwee”, which is astoundingly bad and it cracks me up every time. That one line plus the entirety of House of the Dead 2 – just unbelievable. I absolutely love bad voice acting in videogames.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. “Doctah Wahwee” is a staple of Mega Man 8. The most infamous line (due to the voice “actor’s” obvious flub) is “We must wecover all the energy immediately, W…Mega Man!”

        It’s odd enough that they decided to make Dr. Light talk like Elmer Fudd, but then they seemingly had the “actor” do one take and called it a day.

        Liked by 1 person

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