If you've been playing Mega Man for as long as I have, it's obvious that Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 are the stand-out titles in the original series. However, that isn't necessarily a good thing so let's take an in-depth look at these 2 underappreciated games.
The core gameplay of both Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 isn't far removed from the classic 2D action formula. That said, they do feel like very different games. For starters, Mega Man 7 features a couple of familiar Rush transformations including Rush Coil and Rush Jet. There's also the quirky Rush Search which can be used to hopefully dig up a useful item including a handful of secret unlockables. Mega Man also gets the Super Adaptor which is very similar to the Rush Adaptors in Mega Man 6. Overall, Mega Man 7's gameplay is solid and these extra abilities (including the cool Proto Shield which can block projectiles) are welcome although jumping is kind of floaty.
Mega Man 8 is less like a traditional Mega Man game. First of all, its core gameplay is slightly tighter than Mega Man 7 but it also takes a few too many liberties. For example, having to snowboard while responding to "jump, jump, slide, slide" audio cues and playing through easy shoot 'em up segments simply doesn't feel like Mega Man. That doesn't mean that it's bad, though, and it remains one of the most diverse Mega Man games when it comes to gameplay, that's for sure. The Rush transformations are quite unique and include Rush Bike (which I personally never use), Rush Question that has the little guy give Mega Man an item, Rush Bomber which has him drop bombs while flying back and forth, and Rush Charger which is the same thing but with heal items. I must say, I miss the classic Rush transformations as these are pretty lame. Because it's truer to the series, I'll have to give this category to Mega Man 7.
When it comes to Mega Man, stage designs are a very important aspect. Mega Man 7 has very memorable, enjoyable, and challenging stages including the haunting Shade Man stage, Junk Man's filthy cockroach-ridden stage, the weather-changing Cloud Man stage, and the super-bouncy Spring Man stage. Mega Man 8's stages are memorable as well but many of them go on for far too long such as Sword Man's stage complete with plenty of tedious challenges and Astro Man's labyrinthine lair. There are some great stages such as Frost Man's slippery stage and Clown Man's colourful funfair but overall, it's safe to say that Mega Man 7's stages are superior.
Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 look very different. Mega Man's sprite is quite large in Mega Man 7 which appears odd to say the least while in Mega Man 8, he's much more appropriately sized and very well animated. Mega Man 8's environments are vivid and detailed while the stages in Mega Man 7 look somewhat generic and pale in comparison. The enemies in both games are fantastic but Mega Man 8's are so superbly animated that it makes them really come to life. In the end, I think the visuals in Mega Man 8 are a step above.
Music and sound
Mega Man music is some of the best in gaming history and the soundtracks of these 2 games definitely stand out. Mega Man 7 features bubbly synthesizer-heavy tunes that I find to be incredibly catchy while the music in Mega Man 8 is quite cutesy and charming. Speaking of which, the sound effects in Mega Man 8 are far too cute which actually takes away from the fun factor. I don't want to hear an adorable little "pew pew pew" whenever I shoot; I want to hear satisfying blasts like in Mega Man 7! Simply because its music gets stuck in my head more often and it has more gratifying sound effects, I'll award this category to Mega Man 7.
Robot Masters and weapons
By the time Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 came out, Capcom already created many memorable Robot Masters and weapons but they still managed to churn out a bunch of great new ones for these 2 games. Mega Man 7's transforming Turbo Man is definitely a clever boss fight while Burst Man's spike ceiling alone makes for one challenging battle. However, many of the bosses are too predictable to be fun. Additionally, the weapons in Mega Man 7 feel like rehashes of ones in previous games such as the Junk Shield being similar to the Leaf Shield and Skull Barrier. Also, a few weapons are downright irritating to use like the Scorch Wheel, Wild Coil, and Danger Wrap.
Meanwhile, Mega Man 8's boss fights are more enjoyable such as the rotating Clown Man, the two-headed Search Man, the enormous Frost Man, and the overly flamboyant Aqua Man. That being said, the weapons in Mega Man 8 are rather lame including the gimmicky Mega Ball although swinging around with the Thunder Claw and floating via Tornado Hold is undeniably fun. I should mention that the Dr. Wily fights in both games are fairly similar although the giant skull Wily Machine that stomps around in Mega Man 7 is distinct enough to give it a slight edge. This is a tough one but I'll give this to Mega Man 8 because its Robot Masters are a bit more fun to fight.
Secrets and extras
Secrets in Mega Man games can be a ton of fun. I'll start with Mega Man 8 as the only real secrets are hidden bolts that you can use to purchase equipment parts from Roll. Sure, they're cleverly hidden but the fact that you can't unlock everything due to the limited number of bolts is annoying and the power-ups themselves aren't particularly exciting except for the different Mega Buster shots.Mega Man 8: Bolt Locations Guide
Mega Man 7, on the other hand, is full of awesome secrets and collectibles that add a ton of fun to the campaign. For starters, bolts aren't limited so you can grind and buy whatever you want. The items at Auto and Eddie's shop are actually practical such as Beat Whistles to ensure that you don't perish when you fall down a hole, various tanks, and you can even buy the hidden items that can be found within the stages if you're lazy. Speaking of stages, there are so many cool secrets in them that it's ridiculous. Cloud Man's weather makers can be hit with Freeze Cracker to make it snow, the machinery in Junk Man's stage can be activated with the Thunder Bolt weapon, the mid-boss in Shade Man's stage can be defeated a certain way to unlock an alternate path, and you can even change the music in Shade Man's stage. That's just scratching the surface and of course, the coolest secret is the multiplayer Versus Mode.Mega Man 7: How to Unlock Versus Mode
Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8 offer very different experiences and if I had to pick one to be the winner, it would be...
Winner Mega Man 7
Although they're often thought of as the weakest links in the main Mega Man series, I thoroughly enjoy both Mega Man 7 and Mega Man 8. However, Mega Man 7 feels more like a traditional Mega Man game and for that reason, it's simply more fun for long-time Mega Man fans like me. On top of that, its catchy music and vast assortment of rewarding secrets to uncover make it one satisfying entry in the decades-old franchise. Mega Man 8 is still a very good game and features beautiful 2D visuals as well as varied gameplay and unique Robot Masters so if you enjoy the series, both are definitely worth playing.
That's just my opinion. Agree? Disagree? Vote now!