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Review by tankMage (July 2015)
Mega Man 8 is a somewhat unique entry in the classic series that really doesn’t fit in with it’s predecessors. As a long time fan of both the Mega Man and Mega Man X series, I found the PlayStation installment odd. It separates itself from older games in the franchise in some interesting ways without changing the formula too much, but also suffers from some problems with localization and design that are unusual for later games in the series. Overall, it is a good game that has some interesting elements incorporated into it, but fails to shine and becomes irritating at times.
The story, while slightly more interesting than the usual Mega Man plot, is mangled by a bad translation and worse voice overs. Dr. Light’s voice was hilariously inappropriate and there were times when I was confused by the awkward translation. On the bright side it’s good for a laugh and the animation has a charming hand drawn quality to it that reminded me of the Mega Man cartoons I watched as a kid.
Music and Sound
Don’t expect any of the awesome rock inspired BGMs that helped make the earlier titles such a great experience. Instead the player is treated to bland J-pop. I’ve already ranted about MM8’s voice acting, but it’s not all bad and hearing MegaMan shout “Power shot!” when firing the charged up MegaBuster was a nice touch.
MM8 certainly looks nice and has aged very well compared to many 3D games from this era. The graphics are smooth, cartoonish (if you are playing on an SDTV or use a filter) and capture the spirit of the game. The video sequences are not terribly well drawn, but they have a lot of charm that would not be present if they were done differently.
As far as gameplay goes, MM8 is fairly solid and even offers some nice surprises. The bolt system offers a number of upgrades that the player can choose from. These upgrades can help Mega Man climb ladders faster, avoid knock back from being hit, and even change charged up shots into laser beams. Players can only use a few powerups at one time, which makes Mega Man feel more customizable than he did in earlier games.
Rush also had a variety of modes that are obtainable throughout the game. Most of them are not terribly interesting with the exception of the Rush jet which is only available in certain levels. The Rush jet sequences are reminiscent of arcade style shooters like R-Type and Gradius. Mega Man can get upgrades from enemies in jet mode that call in allies like Beat to increase his firepower. There are also some tough snowboarding scenarios that scroll very quickly. Floating signs prompt the player to jump or slide to avoid obstacles, which I found to be distracting and even misleading at times. The snowboarding scenes could be challenging and even frustrating, but mastering them was gratifying.
MM8 does fall short in some instances, primarily boss fights, which are a mixed bag. Some bosses provide a decent challenge and you have to be careful even with the right weapon, while others are complete jokes. In the case of Astro Man, I was able to stun lock him with the right weapon and win with ease. On the other hand, Tengu Man was tricky even with the proper weapon and I had to learn his patterns in order to win. Level designs are also hit or miss. Some levels feature the cool Rush Jet sequences or some challenging platforming, while others are tedious mazes or filled with irritating puzzles. Astro Man’s stage was particularly tiresome since it consisted of two areas that required some smooth platforming moves to clear with an annoying maze sandwiched in between them.
The user interface for this game is good, but not as clean and responsive as other titles in the series. It seemed that there was a very minute input delay and it was very easy to slide by accident (which lead to my demise several times).
Mega Man 8 was one of those titles I never got around to playing and I always wondered what it was like, now I know. It’s certainly not the best Mega Man title and the dreadful VOs make it feel dated and not in a good way. As a game it isn’t bad, however, and it had a few shining moments. MM8 was also a sidescroller in an era where they were becoming increasingly rare.
Anyone looking to break into the Mega Man series should start elsewhere and return to this game later on. Fans and those looking for a decent sidescrolling platforming game on the original PlayStation will probably see some value in Mega Man 8.