|Publisher & Designer:||Capcom|
|Release Date:||March 1997|
Contrary to popular opinion, I thought that Mega Man 8 was an exceptional game in every respect and a fantastic way to celebrate the Blue Bomber's 10th anniversary! I mean, what better way to celebrate ten years of success than to create a brand new game? Although it was the first core Mega Man game to be released for a console other than "Nintendo", you could still feel the same magic that has pervaded the series since the beginning. Featuring wonderful graphics, a unique musical score, and the same crisp play control and gameplay that we've all come to love, the eighth Mega Man installment is simply not to be missed.
Overview: Unless you're new to the series or just happened to come across this review before reading my other Mega Man critiques, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect in Mega Man 8. Like its predecessors, MM8 is a classic, 2-D side-scroller in which Mega Man must battle the evil robots of Dr. Wily (you expected the Addams Family?) For the most part, the levels are linear although there are probably more out-of-the-way secrets that can be discovered in MM8 than any previous Mega Man game (MM7 is the only game that comes close.) Overall, Mega Man 8 is really nothing new in terms of gameplay...but that's certainly not a bad thing! If you enjoyed playing any other Mega Man games in the series, it's pretty safe to say that you'll have a blast with this one as well.
Like Mega Man 7, there are a whole plethora of valuable bolts scattered throughout the game which allow you to obtain cool items like the Laser Shot, Energy Balancer, and Power Shield. Unlike MM7, however, these bolts are not obtained by defeating enemies. They can only be found by exploring each and every level thoroughly and are often hidden in places that can only be reached by using one of the special weapons in the game. For example, you might have to use the Astro Crush or Flash Bomb to destroy barriers in order to reach them. Or you might need to utilize the power of the Tornado Hold to push a deadly spike ball out of harm's way or grasp circular ledges with the Thunder Claw to reach said platform(s). This adds a real strategic, almost adventure-game element to MM8 and gives it more replay value than your average MM game for sure. This is a great thing too! I personally love this aspect of MM8! The only drawback is that the number of bolts available is limited; you can only build so many items before you run out of bolts. And considering that there are a lot of items worth purchasing, making wise selections is definitely recommended.
Another feature in Mega Man 8 that is a first is that the game actually contains a plethora of anime-style movies (with voices) which advance the game's story! The intro movie is a real beauty as well with its wealth of characters and nostalgia that essentially is a celebration of the series. It shows Mega Man in his previous adventures fighting a myriad of classic foes like Quick Man, the Yellow Devil, and even the dragon from MM2! This feature was well done...for the most part (see the Music category for more).
Graphics: For an early-generation Playstation One game, I thought that Capcom did a fantastic job with Mega Man 8! Granted, it didn't really test the full 3-D capabilities of this wonderful machine but the hand-drawn graphics and beautiful backgrounds made me forget all about technical specs and state-of-the-art designs. If you've been reading through my other Mega Man reviews, you've probably noticed a recurring theme regarding this category. But honestly, Capcom was incredibly consistent with all of their classic Mega Man games. Every single one of them features sensational graphics...and the eighth Mega Man game was certainly no exception.
The graphics themselves are just very vivid and colorful (pastel is probably the word I want to use) and just kind of flow throughout the game. The attention to detail is simply mesmerizing and, like me, you'll probably find yourself just camping at various points in the game and enjoying those little things that few gamers probably notice...like the beautiful night background in the second half of Frost Man's stage (the room with the "smoke screen" enemies has a gorgeous view of the Moon in the window), the treasure trove of cameos in Clown Man's stage (I still laugh everytime those Guts Man and Cut Man dolls fall on top of Mega Man!), or the simple flow of water in Aqua Man's world. Due to the power of the PSone, there is a ton of parallax-scrolling as well; a rarity for the original Mega Man series.
Equally impressive was the game's various little animations. Even the little mets walk around very fluidly (and they are cuter than ever...lol) with Mega Man himself moving very fluidly as well. I really like the opening stage where countless birds fly past Mega Man (they are all smiling too; it's pretty cool). Frost Man's level was pretty cool too (no pun intended!) with snow falling in various proportions. As can be expected in a Mega Man game, some of the bosses really stood out as well. The "jello" monster in Wily's Tower was one of the best bosses in the game and was a fitting tribute to the original Mega Man epic.
Lastly, any review of Mega Man 8 would be incomplete without discussing the various FMVs that play throughout the game. Visually, the movies are amazing! As I mentioned earlier, they are very cartoon-ish and have a distinct anime feel which I thought was appropriate for a Mega Man game. While the opening movie is probably the best one, I thought that virtually all of the movies were pleasant and fun to watch. They added a real story element to the game which was honestly little more than a side note throughout most of the previous seven games. Unfortunately, the epically bad voice acting probably caused the movies to be a one-time appearance...at least for the original MM series anyway.
Music: The Mega Man 8 soundtrack was a bit of a gamble on Capcom's part. As you can see in my reviews of the NES Mega Man games, I have always been a huge fan of the music. However, Capcom really changed the style with Mega Man 8's score. Although I was thoroughly impressed and love this game's soundtrack more than most, it was different enough to turn off a fair share of Mega Man fans.
After trekking through the game a multitude of times, I must say that I have come to enjoy MM8's soundtrack a lot! It's probably not quite in the same league as the second or third Mega Man masterpieces mind you but then again, what is? And heck, you could probably make a pretty strong argument that this soundtrack is indeed the best one since MM3! (only MM5 would offer any resistance regarding this debate) The best way to describe this game's soundtrack, in a nutshell, is that it is a brilliant combination of jazz, techno, and some electronica. That may be hard to imagine but once you play the game, you'll see it makes sense.
Compared to past Mega Man hits, I felt that the music in MM8 was a bit more on the relaxing side. The Intro Stage theme is one of my personal favorites with its nice beat and catchy theme. It is somehow so fitting for a Mega Man game and sets the perfect tone being the opening stage and all. The Aqua Man track is a gem as well; it almost puts you to sleep with its relaxing, beautiful melody. Frost Man's track with its icy background sounds was perfect for the stage's theme as well. For those of you who are falling asleep as you read this, don't fret because Tengu Man track should suffice. Tengu Man's theme is fun, friendly, and upbeat and it just gives you a wonderful sense of freedom under the wide open skies. Even the Grenade Man and Search Man tracks were very nice and both just feel like Mega Man music. Certain instruments just feel like almost updated NES instruments with the Capcom composers just doing their thing.
Lastly, I must mention that I like the Opening Movie music...a lot; the part in the song where you hear the whistle (Protoman appears on-screen at this time.) is a really nice touch. Capcom really showed a lot of heart in this area; it brought back a lot of memories of the good old days and once again, was the perfect way to go about celebrating the tenth anniversary of Mega Man. :)
On a different note, the various sound effects are pretty average fanfare. I thought it funny that when Mega Man lands on the ground, he sounds more like jello than a robot; I really liked the NES clanking sound effect better. The Mega Buster sounds pretty cool and some of the weapons are okay so it's not all bad. I also like some of the voices during actual gameplay (e.g. Auto's "Let's do it!" and Rush's howl is cool...and funny!).
This, unfortunately, brings us to probably the biggest flaw in Mega Man 8: the voice acting. Ho boy...the voices were laughably bad in this game. Although I had some qualms with the Mega Man cartoon that appeared a few years before Mega Man 8 (Proto Man was evil in the cartoons and yet he's good in the games!! What gives?!), I liked Mega Man's voice a lot. It's most unfortunate that the same can not be said for Mega Man 8. Mega Man not only sounds like a girl; the part was actually played by a girl! That is a great travesty; we all came to think of the Blue Bomber as a heroic fighter of truth and justice; an underdog figure with a feisty twinkle in his eye. When discussing Mega Man, a wimpy "Mega Girl" is the last thing that comes to mind.
Okay, so Mega Man has an awful voice. Surely the other characters were done by professionals right? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that's not the case with Dr. Light. He sounds more like Elmer Fudd than the genius who built Mega Man along with a host of other robots. You just wouldn't expect someone like Dr. Light to say "Dr. Wowie" now would you?
As you can see, the English voices had some major issues. Perhaps I was a little harsh but I was expecting far more from Capcom. However, I must admit that Duo and Protoman sound very good. And actually, the various robot masters like Frost Man, Tengu Man, and Clown Man sounded fantastic and really gave their characters different personalities which I really liked! All of the robot masters would say something when selected, when you met them in their lairs, and also when you defeated them. And this was a really cool feature in MM8! If only the others sounded better...
Play Control: Although the overall pacing of this game seems slightly slower than usual, the play control in MM8 is smooth, responsive, and darn near perfect! Jumping, shooting, sliding, and selecting weapons/Rush Options from the sub-screen couldn't be easier! The controls are probably not quite as sharp as, say Mega Man 5, but they are still very good.
I really like the fact that you can select weapons on the spot in this game (thanks to the handy L1/R1 buttons). This makes it much easier to select your weapons in the midst of battle. You don't have to worry about pausing, getting the right weapon, using it once, then pausing again to select another weapon. I love it!
Challenge: I honestly thought that Capcom really found the perfect balance in this game regarding the challenge level along with the replay value. For Mega Man vets, this game is probably slightly more challenging than your typical Mega Man game but it's nothing that can't be overcome with a swift trigger hand and timely jumping. One reason for MM8 being more difficult is because the valuable energy tanks from previous games have been eliminated altogether in this installment. This forces you to be a little more resourceful (and careful!) than usual in MM8. I admit that it can be frustrating to trek through a stage just to end up at the robot master with one sliver of life left. However, there seems to be just enough energy capsules to offset this problem. Personally, I like the game's challenge level. Beginners to the series might have a major beef with this but overall, I thought that Capcom found the perfect balance.
The replay value is simply through the roof as well! Because of the bolt system along with never possessing enough bolts to buy everything in Dr. Light's Lab, you'll need to play this game more than once to collect everything and to even learn which items complement each other better than others! In other words, Mega Man 8 is a fantastic game if you're a perfectionist/completionist who loves trying to obtain everything in the game. While most Mega Man games are simply fun enough to keep you coming back, MM8 throws a nifty element into the mix. And believe me, it works!
Storyline: As I said earlier in this review, the FMVs that play throughout MM8 really help the game in terms of getting you into the main story. The intro movie is simply wonderful and really gets your Mega Man juices flowing with its impressive array of nostalgia and classic moments in the series. And the opening movie feels like something out of a sci-fi movie! It's actually quite interesting for a Mega Man game; two mysterious beings (one good and the other evil) have what's supposed to be their final confrontation in the depths of space. However, their powers seem to offset each other leaving both beings battered and beaten. Unconscious and nearly destroyed, the two mysterious characters begin drifting towards the Earth (imagine that!) and later crash onto an uncharted island.
You're probably wondering how in the world this involves Mega Man. It all begins when Dr. Light receives a strange signal from this mysterious island. He then sends Mega Man to search the island for clues of any kind. Unbeknownst to the Blue Bomber, he will make some very interesting discoveries on this island and meet someone he didn't expect (but that we did!)
Although the plot isn't exactly Chrono Cross-esque, it has to be one of the best of the series. Mega Man doesn't simply battle Dr. Wily (although he does fight the mad doctor later on); he has to contend with the mysterious "Evil Energy" as well. And there's the mysterious robot that he brought to Dr. Light's lab as well. Overall, the storyline is a little dicey in places but it gets the job done. Heck, at least Capcom placed more emphasis on the story for a change. It was nice to see them at least put forth a decent attempt.
Funfactor: Okay, you've heard the good and the bad about Mega Man 8. However, as you can see, the good far outweighs the bad because Mega Man 8 is truly an excellent addition to an already legendary series. More importantly, the game is extremely fun and incredibly addictive! Thanks to the beautiful graphics, unique-in-a-good-way music, and all-important atmosphere, the game truly feels like a Mega Man game. The play control is fantastic, the story actually draws you in for a game of this nature, and some of the voices, particular the robot master voices, were charming and a welcome addition to this game. The beautiful (and lengthy!) stages and varied gameplay (despite my jokes, I actually enjoyed those Jump! Jump! Slide! Slide! areas) keep me coming back as do the many secrets hidden away in MM8. I honestly think that MM8 is a top-tier Mega Man game that would wind up somewhere after MM2 & 3 on my list. But don't take my word for it...give the game a go yourself!
Negatives: While the movies were a great addition to the series, some of the voice acting was simply atrocious! The greatest outrage involves Mega Man's voice; he sounds like a girl for crying out loud! It would have been great to let the guy who did Mega Man's voice in the cartoon series have a crack at it. He did a much better job. Dr. Light's goofy voice wasn't much better either.
And while I did enjoy certain aspects of the game's story, I am getting weary of fighting Dr. Wily time and time again. He has always been the main villain for sure, but it would be cool to see Capcom mix things up just once in the original series somehow.
Ratings: Graphics: 4.5 Music: 4.4 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 4.7 Storyline: 4.2 Funfactor: 4.8 Overall Score: 27.1 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!
Back to Playstation PowerLast Updated: February 12, 2011