Tag Archives: Capcom

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers Review

*This review originally appeared at Miketendo64.com*

One of the most popular and iconic video games of all time, Street Fighter II, returns once again, this time on the Nintendo Switch. Ultra Street fighter II: The Final Challengers brings the beloved fighter to Nintendo’s current hardware with a lavish transition, though it does come with a few caveats.

In terms of gameplay, this is very much the Street Fighter II we all know and love. Capcom has claimed they made a few balance tweaks, but only the really dedicated competitive players will probably notice. Otherwise, it plays just as well as Street Fighter II always did, which is both a good and bad thing.

It’s good because, for the most part, Street Fighter II has aged pretty well. This is the fighter that gave us combos, and added so much intricacy to the genre’s mechanics. It’s still a satisfying fighter. But this is bad because (unpopular opinion approaching), while it has aged well, Street Fighter II is much stiffer and less fluid than its successors. Ultra Street Fighter II works like Street Fighter II always did. It certainly gives the game an authentic feel, but if you’re more used to Street Fighter III or IV, it’s going to feel a little bumpy by comparison.

You can play the game in two different visual styles: the classic, pixelated style found in the original, or a modern, HD look. Though it’s nice to have the retro look available, there’s a smoothness and visual pop to the contemporary look that makes it my preferred mode.

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers does bring a few new tricks to the classic, with the most obvious being the additions of two “new” characters in the form of Evil Ryu and the hilariously-named Violent Ken. Though it’s nice to have additional characters brought to a new version of a decades-old game, it is a bit disappointing that the new characters are just alternate versions of ones that already existed in Street Fighter II. I understand that Capcom wants to keep the game close to its original incarnations, so I wouldn’t expect them to go all out and add a whole roster’s worth of new characters, but it would have been far more interesting if they pulled one or two characters from the Street Fighter sequels and placed them into this most iconic installment, instead of simply popping out two re-skins of the two most ubiquitous characters in the series.

Of course, being on a modern console, Street Fighter II now features online play, with ranked and casual matches available. It’s your standard online features for a fighter, but no doubt the ability to face people from all over the world for a few rounds of Street Fighter II is enticing.

One of the more enjoyable new features is the ability to create your own custom colors for the characters, though this too has a few drawbacks. Each character has ten different color sets, which you can alter however you like. On the downside, you can only equip one of your custom colors for any given character at a time. So you can’t show off your rainbow of Zangiefs to a single player online. Instead, you have to go back to the main menu, return to the color editor, select the character, and then equip one of the other color sets. It doesn’t really make much sense, since the characters have so many color sets to begin with, why can’t you equip more of your custom colors and swap them out in between matches? Still, being able to play as blue Cammy is always awesome.

There is one new feature that the game could have (and probably should have) done entirely without: The Way of the Hado. While the base game can use different control methods, the Way of the Hado mode uses the motion controls of the joycons, as players take control of Ryu from a first-person perspective to defeat onslaughts of Shadaloo soldiers. Simply put, it’s poorly-implemented, with the motion controls hardly ever working as they should. Ryu can perform a variety of moves in this mode, but it seemed like no matter what I did, he just threw Hadoukens at opponents. Only by sheer, random luck did I ever perform anything different.

When all is said and done, Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is another fun iteration of Street Fighter II’s unique “brand within a brand.” It core fighting plays as well as it ever did, the new visuals and updated music are a pleasure, and you can definitely have fun playing online or at home in the game’s multiplayer modes. But perhaps a little more tweaking to make things move a little smoother might have brought it a little more up-to-date (at least with the new visual mode, the game could have used a little more modernization in gameplay). The “new” characters are also a tad disappointing, and some of the new features aren’t fully-realized, with the Way of the Hado mode being a complete mess.

Still, Street Fighter II is Street Fighter II. No matter how many versions it’s seen over the years, it still remains one of the most playable games of its era, and is still a surprisingly deep fighter even by contemporary standards.

 

7.0

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Street Fighter: The Movie (Sega Saturn) Review

One of the great anomalies of the video game medium is Street Fighter: The Movie…the video game. Yes, it’s a video game, based on a movie, based on a video game.

Street Fighter II remains one of the most influential video games of all time, and during the 90s, it was everywhere. The 1994 film adaptation was one of the first “video game movies,” following in the footsteps of Super Mario Bros. a year earlier. Like the Super Mario Bros. movie, Street Fighter’s film adaptation is certainly no critical darling, but has a campy, guilty pleasure appeal about it, and the same can be applied to the game.

Street Fighter: The Movie… the video game is just a generic copy of the game that inspired the film that inspired it. It uses digitized actors a la Mortal Kombat, with most of the actors from the film reprising their roles (except, sadly, for Raul Julia as M. Bison, as his grave illness was taking its toll at the time).

You have a selection of most of Street Fighter 2’s roster (sans Dhalsim, who was – for whatever reason – a scientist and not a fighter in the movie). Additionally, you can play as Captain Sawada, an original character from the film whose role was so small, you may not even recognize him even if you’ve seen the movie.

“I approve of this!”

I have to admit, it’s actually pretty humorous seeing the game in motion. A match between Guile and Chun-Li becomes a battle between Jean-Claude Van Damme and Ming-Na Wen. Most of the characters retain the exact look they had in the movie, but some  now have clothing that more closely resembles their original video game appearances (we get to see Kylie Minogue in Cammy’s original gear, which is definitely a bonus).

It’s really just a fun game to look at. Obviously, the whole “digitized actor” thing hasn’t exactly aged well, but the simple fact that it looks like Street Fighter: The Movie is entertaining in its own way.

As stated, the gameplay is nothing special. It’s just a basic 2D fighter, and nowhere near as intricate or fluid as the “real” Street Fighter games. Though in all honesty, I’ve played worse. The biggest problem here is that the gameplay is bland and flavorless, but at least it isn’t flat-out broken.

“Praise be unto Sawada.”

You have a few game modes to choose from: Movie Mode is essentially a story mode, where players take control of Guile and follow the events of the movie. Street Battle is a more traditional arcade-style mode, where you can select your character and battle a series of opponents. Trial Mode sees players gunning for a high score against every opponent. Finally, Vs. Mode gives you the two-player battles you would expect from Street Fighter.

In the end, Street Fighter: The Movie… the game is, as you might suspect, not very good. But like the film on which it’s based, it has its own ironic appeal. It’s the kind of game you can break out with a friend, play a few rounds, and have a good laugh. I mean, you can play as Captain Sawada! Doesn’t that just say it all?

 

4.0

Luigi’s Mansion Arcade Review

Luigi's Mansion Arcade

In 2015, Nintendo released an arcade iteration of their Luigi’s Mansion franchise to arcades in Japan, courtesy of developer Capcom. The game has since made its way to select arcades stateside, as something of a test run to see how well it fares outside of its native Japan. Hopefully this test run turns into something more, as Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is the best of the recent arcade transitions of Nintendo franchises.

The first highlight of Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is the setup itself. The game is featured in an enclosed cabinet, giving it a darker, more isolated feeling that fits the game’s haunted house theme. The cabinet features a seat for two players, each of which use a controller modeled after Luigi’s Poltergust 5000 vacuum.

Unlike the GameCube original or the 3DS sequel, Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is presented in a first-person view, meaning that players see everything from Luigi’s viewpoint. The players can select from a small set of mansions, each of which are played in a linear, on-rails style, with players progressing to the next room of every mansion once they clear out every ghost in a given chamber.

The game utilizes motion-controls, with players aiming their vacuum controllers at the ghosts, holding and releasing a button at its top to shine a flash at the ghosts to stun them, and then pulling a trigger on the controller to begin vacuuming the ghosts up. It actually controls pretty well, and it may leave you wondering why Nintendo didn’t make a game like this on the Wii.

Admittedly, one awkward piece of controls is present in the form of the Flash Bomb, a limited ability that more easily stuns every ghost on-screen. The Flash Bomb is used by pressing a button in the middle of the cabinet itself, as opposed to being featured on the gun. This can become a bit cumbersome in some of the more hectic sections, and can kind of break the flow of the game’s control scheme.

Additional fun is added to the game by the way the levels feature branching paths. Although the levels are played in fixed paths, certain rooms can lead to alternate paths (either by finding a hidden item or shining your light to reveal a secret pathway). This adds a little more variety to the experience, and also gives players the chance to earn extra coins, which means a higher score after the mansion is complete.

Luigi’s Mansion Arcade adopts the visual style (and even the mansions) from the 3DS game. This means that the game has a nice, cartoony look to it that’s visually appealing, but also means that it lacks the gloomy atmosphere of the GameCube original.

Although Luigi’s Mansion Arcade simplifies the series’ formula to fit the “quick fun” nature of arcades, it makes for a worthy place to spend your arcade points. Luigi’s Mansion Arcade is simple but addictive fun that provides a good deal of enjoyment for two players.

 

7.0

Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts Review

Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts

Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is the third entry in Capcom’s Ghosts ‘N Goblins series, which is infamous for its high difficulty curve. Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was originally released on the SNES in 1991, and while it holds up strongly in terms of overall gameplay, its intense difficulty may alienate some modern players.

Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts sees players once again take control of Arthur, a brave knight trying to save a princess from hordes of monsters. Players will travel across eight levels as they run, jump, and destroy every enemy in sight (provided the enemies don’t destroy you first).

The gameplay itself is simple enough. Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is essentially a run ‘N gun style platformer, where the player simply runs through the level, shooting everything in sight. Arthur’s standard weapon is a throwing lance, though you can pick up other weapons like the throwing knife, the torch, the crossbow, the throwing axe, the scythe and the tri-blade.

Of the lot, the knife is certainly the most useful. It essentially works the same as the lance, but it can be thrown at a much faster rate, which comes in handy as every level features an enemy type that is almost constantly spawning (the first stage has zombies appear out of coffins at pretty much every turn). Though the crossbow (which shoots three arrows diagonally) also comes in handy. Meanwhile, the torch (which throws a small flame onto the ground) rarely feels worth it.

You may think it would be simple to just stick with the good weapons, unfortunately, Arthur can only hold one weapon at a time, and he automatically picks up a weapon when he passes over it. Arthur even keeps his current weapon after receiving a game over, so you better hope you’re holding one of the better ones when you lose all of your lives (and make no mistake, you will get plenty of game overs).

These weapons can be upgraded by finding emerald armor. But be warned, if you take one hit while wearing the armor, it goes flying off and you lose your supercharged weapons. Speaking of losing armor, Arthur’s health is simply determined by whether or not he’s wearing any armor. Taking one hit removes Arthur’s armor (leaving him in his underwear, which showcases the game’s sense of humor), and a second hit kills him. Unfortunately, the emerald armor only powers up weapons, and doesn’t give Arthur any additional hit points (you can find shields to deflect a set number of projectiles, but they are exceedingly rare).

Super Ghouls 'N GhostsLike any self-respecting platforming hero, Arthur will do a lot of jumping during his adventure. Though Arthur’s jumping is much stiffer than Mario’s, as he is unable to change direction while in air, leaving the platforming to be ridiculously precise. Furthermore, Arthur can double-jump, with Arthur’s first and second jumps being able to go in different directions (defying all physics), but once again, neither jump can be altered after the starting direction is chosen. This may not sound like much, but it really adds to the game’s unforgiving difficulty.

Speaking of that difficulty…wow. Just wow. There are constantly enemies coming at you, the levels contain countless hazards, and many elements are entirely trial-and-error, forcing you to learn how to best an obstacle only after you’ve fallen to it.

Super Ghouls 'N GhostsOn the plus side, each level contains a checkpoint, which Arthur will resume from not only after dying, but even after a game over. Better still, continues seem to be a non-issue, so you really can just keep playing and playing until you have all the tricks and traps memorized. On the downside, there is no save feature, so if you want to beat the game, you have to do it all in one go (unless you’re playing one of the re-releases, such as on the Wii U Virtual Console, in which you can save your progress at any point when you exit the game). This is one of the hardest video games I have ever played, and it demands that you run the gauntlet in order to best it.

In terms of aesthetics, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts still looks and sounds fantastic. The character sprites are detailed and well designed, and the environments are both colorful and grim. The soundtrack is pretty incredible, with each stage containing its own memorable tune that matches their themes.

Overall, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is a whole lot of fun, but it can also lead to a whole lot of frustration. Those who love a steep challenge will have a great time, but any other gamer may just find themselves throwing their controllers and turning off the game in aggravated defeat.

 

7.5

The Misadventures of Tron Bonne Review

The Misadventures of Tron Bonne

There are few entries in the Mega Man franchise as obscure as The Misadventures of Tron Bonne. Mega Man Legends is something of a cult classic, but it was never exactly as popular as the original series or Mega Man X. A spinoff of Mega Man Legends starring the game’s antagonists released mere months before Mega Man Legends 2 with very little fanfare was therefore never going to be a very big hit. That’s unfortunate, because there are also few entries in the Mega Man franchise as fun or original as The Misadventures of Tron Bonne.

The Bonne Family is a band of pirates that includes not only Tron, but her older brother Teisel (the leader of the gang), her younger brother Bon, and Tron’s forty Servbot henchmen. While the Bonnes played the role of comical antagonists in Mega Man Legends, here they’re depicted as more sympathetic anti-heroes.

The Misadventures of Tron BonneAs the title suggests, Tron is the star of the game. The Bonnes have recently finished construction on their new airship, the Gesellschaft. Unbeknownst to the rest of the Bonnes, Teisel financed the Gesellschaft’s construction with the aide of a loan shark named Lex Loath. Teisel owes a debt of one million Zenny to Loath, but before he and Bon can nab a treasure that will pay off his debt, they are kidnapped by Loath’s right hand man, Glyde.

Tron and the Servbots then make it their mission to collect the one million Zenny to pay back the debt and rescue Tron’s brothers. It’s a fun, simple story that really shines thanks to how entertaining the characters’ personalities are.

What really makes The Misadventures of Tron Bonne stand out, however, is the gameplay. The game uses a similar setup to Mega Mans 7 and 8, with a quick introductory stage leading into selectable stages (four to start with, with two additional levels unlocked later). These stages take on three different gameplay styles.

Misadventures of Tron BonneThe first style sees Tron piloting her mecha suit, the Gustaff, in action-based stages. She is accompanied by six Servbots of the player’s choosing, with a seventh Servbot serving as a “sniper” to help power up the Gustaff’s weaponry. These stages play similarly to Mega Man Legends, as Tron navigates 3D environments and destroys everything in sight to collect Zenny.

Puzzle stages see Tron piloting a weaponless version of the Gustaff, where she must lift giant crates from a grid-like dock and place them onto a ship. These stages can be real head-scratchers, as the Gustaff can only move a certain amount of spaces on the grid when carrying crates.

Finally, the RPG stage is played in a first-person perspective, as Tron remotely controls a small robot and commands three Servbots as they navigate caverns, talk to local Diggers, fight enemies, disarm traps and collect treasure.

Every level in the game has three missions, with one of the game’s drawbacks being that completed missions can’t be replayed in the same playthrough, with the exception of one of the action stages that sees Tron making return visits to ancient ruins with Metroid-esque exploration (this stage doesn’t have multiple missions as it requires players to progress incrementally).

The three play styles of stages are all fun and give the game a unique sense of variety as it meshes genres together. But it doesn’t end with the levels. In between your missions you get to spend some time on the Gesellschaft, and this is where things get even more interesting.

Aboard the Gesellschaft, Tron can not only communicate with all forty Servbots within the ship’s various chambers, but talking to each one of them unlocks new features within the game. Most of them have a special skill, whether it’s combat related (like grenades or slingshots) or focused on improving the Gustaff. Some Servbots have unique skills, with one simply painting the Gustaff different colors while another changes the background music in the Gesellschaft, to name a couple of examples.The Misadventures of Tron Bonne

These skills are unlocked in various ways. You can find special items on missions or from talking to certain Servbots, and giving these items to other Servbots will unlock their abilities. Others will need to have their stats trained to a certain point in order to realize their skill (strength and speed are improved in mini-games aboard the Gesellschaft, while a Servbot’s “brain” stats go up when they go on missions with the player).

The Gustaff can also gradually be upgraded with new armor and even a couple of weapons by finding materials within the game’s stages and finding the right Servbot for the job. New areas of the Gesellschaft are also unlocked as you progress through the game or when certain requirements are meant, and you can send up to three Servbots at a time to go on scouting missions, where they can retrieve more items. You even have the option to select a favorite Servbot, which has an impact on the game’s finale.

The interaction between Tron and the Servbots, as well as leveling them all up (which is optional) adds a whole new layer to an already versatile game. By the end of it all, Tron and a team of fully-trained Servbots can feel next to unstoppable.

Being a PSOne title, the graphics have understandably aged a bit, but the anime-inspired character designs and colors prevent it from looking too much like a relic. One way in which the game has benefitted with age is that the dialogue between characters is displayed through animated character windows. At the time, it was probably a sign of the game’s relatively small production values, but the character windows are certainly more fun to look at than most of gaming’s cinematics from that generation.

The music is another highlight. Although it’s never been acknowledged as an all-time great, I’ll happily say that the soundtrack to The Misadventures of Tron Bonne was one of the finest in the Playstation’s library. It’s certainly one of the most energetic and fun.

The icing on the cake are the characters. The voice acting is appropriately animated and lively (Teisel is particularly hilarious just to listen to), and each character has a great deal of personality, from rambunctious Tron herself to snidely Lex Loath. Even the minor characters you run across add to the game’s sense of humor and overall character. Few games are swimming in so much personality.

The Misadventures of Tron BonneI hate to admit it, but The Misadventures of Tron Bonne does have some drawbacks. The inability to replay missions is a bit disappointing, especially once you’ve built up the Gustaff and your Servbots, as you may feel you don’t have enough chances to show off what you’ve worked for. The aforementioned mini-games used to boost a Servbot’s stats, while fun, are ridiculously hard in their highest difficulty. That might not seem too bad at first, since the mini-games are just fine in lower difficulty settings. But if you want to max out a Servbot, you’ll need to play the highest difficulty, and it can get frustrating (the speed-based mini-game in particular requires almost pitch-perfect execution in order to succeed).

Then of course, there’s the camera, which can become bothersome at times. The RPG stage, though a personal favorite, is especially affected by the aged camerawork due to its cramped spaces, tight corridors, and first-person view.

When all is said and done though, the good far more than outweighs the bad. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne is simply a delight to play. Even today, I can’t say I’ve played too many games that feel as unique in their execution. It’s a wonderful clash of genres that tie together in a way that’s all its own. And it’s brought to life by a consistently entertaining cast of characters, a fun plot, and a sharp sense of humor.

You’d have to be Lex Loath himself to not get a kick out of it.

 

8.5

The Misadventures Of Tron Bonne Memories

Misadventures of Tron Bonne

The Misadventures of Tron Bonne was released on the Playstation Network recently. This is no small deal, considering the game is one of the rarest PSOne titles ever made (and thus one of the most expensive). It also happens to be one of my favorite Playstation games. Ever.

In case you’re unaware (don’t feel too bad, most people are when it comes to this game), The Misadventures of Tron Bonne is a spinoff of Mega Man Legends, making it a likely candidate for the title of most obscure game in the Mega Man franchise (except maybe Mega Man Soccer).

The Misadventures of Tron Bonne takes place before the events of Mega Man Legends, and turns comical antagonist Tron Bonne into the protagonist, as she tries to raise enough money to save her brothers from a loan shark.

The story is simple and filled with humor, but what makes The Misadventures of Tron Bonne stand out is what a unique game it is. Tron Bonne pilots a robot suit in action-adventure based stages, guides her henchmen through caverns in RPG stages, and even partakes in puzzle-based stages that can become pretty head-scratching. All the while she is joined by the Servbots who, along with Tron’s robot suit, can level up and gain new abilities as the game progresses.

To this day, I’ve never played another game quite like it. Its gameplay meshes genres together in very fun ways, and its story is a fun offshoot of Mega Man Legends, with the villains becoming the heroes as they fight actual heroes and more sinister villains. And it’s swimming in personality.

Misadventures of Tron BonneI have many fond memories of this game back when it was released in 2000. I had recently got Mega Man 8 (after having rented it countless times since 1997), so I was on one of my many Mega Man kicks at the time. I didn’t even know The Misadventures of Tron Bonne existed, since I didn’t see it advertised in any magazines. I went on vacation with my family at around that time, and during this vacation I went into a Gamestop (or EB Games or something, there was more variety back then). That’s when I saw a weird little game called The Misadventures of Tron Bonne on one of the shelves.

I recognized Tron Bonne from Mega Man Legends, so I was immediately curious. I was allowed to get a gift during this vacation, so naturally I picked this video game (even on vacation I couldn’t say no to video games). I had no means of playing it at the time because I was far away from my Playstation, which was still sitting comfortably at home. But I peered through that instruction manual (and player’s guide) countless times during that vacation until I got home (I was ten, okay).

I adored the game so much. Even as a kid, there were some games I hyped myself for but eventually got bored with. But I can’t recall ever being bored with Tron Bonne. It was one of those games that just grabbed my imagination. I would try to draw the characters, or draw my own characters who were really just ripoffs of the characters. I’ll still call it a strong creative influence for me. I loved Mega Man Legends, but I think I always loved this spinoff more.

As the years went by and gaming changed, The Misadventures of Tron Bonne still held a special place in my heart. I came to realize just a few short years ago that the game only received modest reviews from critics, much to my disappointment. But the critics were simply wrong, as far as I was concerned. The game was great, as far as I remembered.

Misadventures of Tron BonneI admit, until a few short days ago, I hadn’t played The Misadventures of Tron Bonne since at least 2002 (though it was probably 2001). I hate to say it, but I began to wonder if perhaps my feelings for the game were simply my ten-year old enthusiasm. I would need to play it again to see if it held up to my memories.

I am not currently in possession of a PSOne, so the news of The Misadventures of Tron Bonne coming to the Playstation Network was a great opportunity to revisit a favorite.

I admit I was a bit skeptical. The game was, after all, from the Playstation/N64 generation, a time that may have been important in my gaming life, but not one that has aged particularly well (Oh Goldeneye, I knew thee well). I was concerned more and more that childhood memories may have been dampened by poor aging. It was a month after I downloaded the game that I finally decided to take the plunge.

I’m glad I did. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne has held up wonderfully, all things considered (there are some camera issues and the mini-games can get pretty difficult, but nothing that affects the game’s appeal too much). I’m having a whole lot of fun playing through this overlooked gem once again, and rediscovering just how unique it really was.

My ten-year old self was right, the critics were wrong. The Misadventures of Tron Bonne may not be the most widely remembered game out there. But for me, it’s simply unforgettable (expect a review down the road). It may not be perfect, but The Misadventures of Tron Bonne remains a fun and unique game, and one of my favorites in Capcom’s illustrious catalogue.

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.

 

8.5