Fans of the blue bomber tend to forget about Mega Man 8. Mega Man’s 32-bit debut is most infamous for its goofy anime movies and the silly voice acting that went along with them. There are other issues with it, too. But for some reason, I find it to be one of my favorites in the entire Mega Man franchise. There’s something endearing about Mega Man 8 that is hard to quantify. The fact that it’s simply a fun game doesn’t hurt matters, either.
Mega Man 8 begins after an explosion in space hurls two meteors towards the earth. Dr. Wily takes one while Mega Man hopes to find the other. Of course, doing so won’t be easy for Mega Man. Dr. Wily has influence new boss robots and enemies to stop Mega Man in his tracks. The secret behind these meteors will be revealed as Mega Man gets closer to Dr. Wily. Mega Man 8’s story can be overlooked. I appreciate Capcom’s attempt, and there’s no denying the cheesy cut scenes help drive the story forward, but there’s nothing compelling that’s worth paying attention to.
Mega Man 8’s main draw is the classic gameplay that has been modified for the 32-bit generation. His usual abilities are available: running, sliding, the Mega Buster and the Mega Buster’s charged shot. Things start to get different within the first minutes of gameplay when Mega Man receives his first weapon: the Mega Ball. Mega Man will drop a metallic ball that he can kick at massive speed at a 45-degree angle. With the right timing and placement, the Mega Ball can be used to boost Mega Man’s jump. Nearly every stage that Mega Man explores has its own unique gimmick. Some can be frustrating such as the snowboards in Frost Man’s stage or the looping areas in Astro Man’s stage. Others are highly enjoyable such as the shmup inspired Tengu Man’s stage and the explosive platforms in Grenade Man’s stage. Every stage has enemies to blast away, but there’s enough variety to keep them from being samey. At the end of each stage is a boss robot.
One of the fun things about Mega Man 8 is that each stage has bolts to collect. You can take these to Roll to give Mega Man various upgrades and perks. Most bolts are easy to find, but some will take clever usage of Mega Man’s acquired special weapons. Actually, the special weapons are just as important to use as the Mega Buster. I really enjoy going through each stage and swapping between weapons on the fly to fit the situation. Finally, Mega Man can summon his pal Rush for extra help. Like Mega Man’s special weapons, Rush’s techniques have their own energy meter.
Mega Man 8 is still one of the best-looking games. The animations are fluid, the backgrounds are detailed, and the colors are bountiful. I’ve gone through the game multiple times, but I still get excited when I take everything in. The anime scenes are choppy and have some horrible dubbing, but I think that adds to the game’s overall charm. The music is perfection; an example of what video game and Japanese anime music from the late 1990s should sound like. Like the graphics, I get excited at the prospect of listening to the music when I replay the game.
The game’s replay ability is another one of the highlights. Mega Man is no stranger to being fun time after time, and Mega Man 8 is no exception. There are multiple ways to go through the game: different boss orders, not using special weapons, collecting every bolt, etc. Nowadays, I can go through the game in about two hours. If you’re new to Mega Man 8, it might take you longer. The PlayStation version lets you save your progress on a memory card so you can pick up where you left off. Mega Man 8 is not perfect, but it’s grossly underappreciated. I hope this review gives someone the idea to check it out and see that there’s a great game beneath the poor voice acting and low-quality movies.
Overall, 8/10: Appreciate the 8. Mega Man 8 is a bright, classic game that serves the blue bomber well for his 32-bit inauguration.