Instead of having another six games on the Super Nintendo, the classic Mega Man franchise only had one–not including games such as Mega Man Soccer. The next time we’d meet the Blue Bomber, we would have to travel another generation ahead to the PlayStation 1. This is actually the first time I’m playing and beating this game because like the 7th game, prices are rather expensive and emulation is not preferred. So join me today as we take a look at the 8th entry into the franchise, Mega Man 8!
Mega Man 8 was released in 1997 for the PlayStation 1 and Sega Saturn, though the latter did not have a PAL release. This is the first game that actually stars one of Mega Man’s fathers Keiji Inafune as the producer. Before this title, he has mostly been the designer while also being a leading guidance to other members who joined the many projects the franchise had. Notable about this game however, is that it’s the first mainline game (not counting Wily Wars) not on a Nintendo console. The PlayStation–and to an extent the Sega Saturn–were far more powerful than the Nintendo 64 that still used cartridges. Sony initially refused the game however, as they were pushing for 3D releases. Sony are kinda d*cks after all, we’ve seen that many times before and only after the announcement was made that the game would also be on the Saturn did they reconsider. Mega Man 8 also marks the 10th anniversary of the franchise.
Wily managed to escape the bloodlusty Rock with the help of Bass in the nick of time. Bass still challenges the not-so-bloodlusty-anymore Rock occasionally. Meanwhile, two robots duking it out in space fall towards earth and crash on a skull-shaped island. There might be some foreshadowing here and low and behold, who else but Wily is on the island! Wily is a fair man though, and only claims one of the robots for himself which contains something called ”evil energy”, while Rock claims the other. Though forget about being fair; he orders four Robot Masters to attack all kinds of places on the globe to keep Rock busy for a while. What’s the deal with these extraterrestrial robots and the energy they carry with them, or who even are those robots? Will Wily be captured this time? Probably not.
After a short introductory stage, Mega Man 8 yet again continues the trend of only four Robot Masters available from the start. This was implemented better than Mega Man 7 did it however, which I’ll come back to later. The weakness chart still applies to both set of four Robot Masters though, so finding out weaknesses isn’t that difficult. Rock still controls the same as previous games with the ability to slide, charge his shots etcetera. But this time, he can also swim! Weird to introduce that mechanic in the 8th game but hey, I’ll gladly take it. The best feature however is the ability to use the Mega Buster while having a weapon equipped due to the added buttons. Now you can use both the Mega Buster and a weapon at the same time with different buttons, which is especially useful for weapons that also have environmental uses. Rock also gets Mega Balls ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) right from the start which functions as a football. It’s fun to use but not very functional, which is proven even more so in a boss battle that pretty much demands you to use it.
Stages this time around have been split up into two, which is great since you start at the second part of the stage whenever you lose all lives. I feel like the stages take inspiration the most from Mega Man 5 with more gimmicky sections like a shoot-em-up and snowboarding part. I always like it when stages differentiate themselves from others through means like these and while they aren’t necessarily the best designed, I do appreciate them. Minibosses also still make a more frequent and welcome appearance, like the robot you have to fight while falling down a waterfall, jumping between logs. Most importantly, the gimmicks it did have weren’t a hindrance like the invisible platforms in Mega Man 7.
I really like this set of Robot Masters. It’s not my favourite set, but there weren’t any I would call downright bad. Tengu Man and Sword Man are easy contenders for best Robot Masters of the game for me. And the reason I like them comes down to not only design, but their weapons as well. The first four weapons in particular have been created so that they have more uses in the latter stages. The Thunder Claw functions as a grappling hook, the Ice Wave can freeze lava etcetera. This is very noticeable in Sword Man’s stage, which has a puzzle chamber for each of the first four weapons. Outside of environmental uses they are still useful, not too special but they get the job done. Yet again I’m giving major props to the Flame Sword for being a great close-range attack. I didn’t use these weapons too much outside of bosses because the Mega Buster is still the best alternative, but if I was forced to use them I wouldn’t complain.
Rush though.. what have they done to you my boy. The Rush Jet or power adaptors are no longer present, and instead Rush has been reduced to providing items in stages. The Rush Question gives you an item.. if Rush wants to that is, and the Rush Bike is a speedy vehicle that I never felt the need to use because it just isn’t that good. The Rush Charger on the other hand is great, because you can let Rush fly in some healing items at any given point, even during a boss battle. The latter is especially useful since e-tanks are also gone. Not that I really miss them in this game since the difficulty is decently low but it’s still weird to see a staple from Mega Man 2 onwards being gone out of nowhere. Auto’s shop has also been replaced by Roll’s shop, and bolts aren’t normal drops anymore and instead special collectables found in stages. There are a total of fourty which can be exchanged for useful upgrades such as no knock-back and the energy balancer from last game. I like this mechanic, but you can’t try out some or refund them so if you pick one, you’re stuck with that one since you can’t have every single upgrade. The game also doesn’t let you know what stages still have unfound bolts, which does suck because some bolts demand you to use a special weapon to get them. Replayability there is, but you’ll have to find out yourself which bolts are missing and where.
Like I’ve said before, the difficulty here isn’t too high due to the game being pretty forgiving with the split-up stages. The e-tanks are absent but I don’t miss them here. Bosses still get stunned when hit by their weakness, but even without their weakness they’re pretty easy to take down. There aren’t really any tough platforming sections either, though the jet sections can be a pain at times due to specific ports having input lag. Replayability is there in spades because if you want all bolts, you have to revisit levels for them. But do keep in mind what I’ve mentioned before: the game doesn’t let you know what bolts you are missing. The game takes about four to five hours to beat, and about two hours more for completion if you can memorize which bolts you missed and where.
Presentation.. oh boy, everyone’s been waiting for this part. Graphics and music wise there is nothing to complain about here, they both look fine and there are even some anime cutscenes. But Mega Man 8 is infamous for the atrocious voice acting. This is not just bad, it’s far worse than that. Sword’s Man sounds like the most emotionless person out there, Rock has a super high girly voice and dr. Light.. well, that one speaks for itself. Despite that, I’m getting a laugh every time a single character opens their mouth so.. at least there are some advantages to it? Real talk, the worse voice acting gets the more funny it is and this game is pretty dang funny because of it. For this review’s soundtrack, I picked Frost Man’s stage. This game’s soundtrack overall is pretty.. relaxing I’d say? Except for the boss battle music, that sounds like the whole world is at stake or something.
Mega Man 8 is usually seen as the black sheep of the classic franchise and why is that? The atrocious but funny voice acting? Because other than that, I don’t feel like this game deserves that title. Nothing has changed to Rock to make him worse, and instead he got the ability to shoot regularly while having a weapon equipped which is great. The stage design overall is good with more gimmicks and environmental uses for weapons, and the new bolt systems allow for exploring stages multiple times. While the concept of the latter is great, the execution leaves some things to be desired. The Robot Masters and their weapons are good overall too. Rush has seen a major change and e-tanks are no more, but due to how the stages are designed and the game’s low difficulty it doesn’t matter too much. And with that, here is my final verdict for Mega Man 8:
I was pleasantly surprised by my Mega Man 8 visit. I always go into games with a fresh mindset, trying to avoid any judgement beforehand. And when I do well.. I usually don’t play said game for a while because it will only ruin the experience for me. Mega Man 8 is always seen as the worst game in the classic franchise not counting Mega Man & Bass, but in this day and age I definitely disagree with that statement. Is it top 5 material? Probably, probably not. At the moment I can’t say for certain, but maybe we’ll find out soon? Anyway, Mega Man 8 is available for the PlayStation which isn’t too expensive if you get the Greatest Hits version but I ain’t getting that ugly green label in my closet no thank you. The only other options are PlayStation Network or the many collections.