When it comes to pleasing nostalgic fans, the Mega Man series has definitely strayed a few times. Although Mega Man 8 is one of these installments, it's certainly by no means a bad game. So, let's charge our Mega Busters and rock on with the review.
Mega Man 8's plot is slightly more elaborate than in previous games. After two robots battle in space, they crash down to Earth. Meanwhile, Bass tries to prove his mettle by fighting Mega Man when they are both interrupted by Dr. Light and Roll. They inform our hero of odd energy readings from an island where he soon finds both Dr. Wily escaping with a purple orb and one of the crashed space robots. As the story unfolds, it predictably devolves into a final battle between Mega Man and Dr. Wily. All of this being said, I hope you're not interested in this game for its story because when it comes to Mega Man; the gameplay is where it's at.
The first noticeable difference from the classic 8-bit Mega Man games is the vibrant and beautiful graphics where everything is colourful and animated seamlessly. The diverse assortment of enemies come alive with their own personalities and every environment does a fantastic job of creating a distinct atmosphere. However, the cutesy overtones simply become too much for hardcore fans to swallow after a while. To illustrate the story, a handful of anime video sequences are included which look great but are unfortunately weighed down by some of the worst voice acting in video game history. Not only are these videos affected by this, but Mega Man and his enemies' lines throughout the journey are almost always delivered in an excruciatingly embarrassing way. Mega Man himself sounds very effeminate and even blasts from his Mega Buster emit adorable little sounds. If you grew up playing Mega Man on the NES thinking he was a tough hero of justice then the way he's portrayed here will make your jaw drop with disappointment. The included soundtrack isn't as catchy as the chiptunes of old, but it's solid with a few great songs spread throughout. Overall, Mega Man 8's lively visuals and smooth animations look incredible but its soundscape is a mediocre mix of decent tunes, a truly terrible voice cast, and unsatisfying effects.
Gameplay basics are the same as what you would expect. You run, jump, and shoot your way through eight stages with matching robot masters that are broken up into two groups of four for some reason. Bosses provide you with unique weapons upon defeating them that actually don't deviate much from previous games. However, there's definitely more here than meets the eye.
Mega Man 8 features many segments that you would have never expected to see. At times, Mega Man swims, rides a snowboard with rhythm game mechanics, flies on Rush just like in an automatically scrolling shoot 'em up, swings across gaps with a whip as if he's Simon Belmont, and kicks a ball at his enemies (he probably learned this during his short-lived soccer career). These new elements do a great job of mixing up the classic gameplay that you're used to. That being said, not everyone will enjoy these newly introduced innovations, but if you're not jaded then you'll find many reasons to thoroughly enjoy Mega Man 8. A fitting example of gameplay diversity comes in the form of Sword Man's stage which consists of multiple trials that test how effectively you use the four weapons that you've recently acquired. You also have the ability to upgrade Mega Man by purchasing parts from Roll with your found giant bolts. Considering there are a limited number of these bolts, deciding which items to buy becomes an interesting dilemma. In the end, Mega Man 8 is a huge departure with plenty of new features that will delight open-minded players but may alienate series veterans.
Long-time fans will find it easy to pick out Mega Man 8's imperfections since there is a wealth of them. Some previously established mechanics such as E Tanks are simply missing from the equation and replaced with less ideal counterparts. Probably the most significant drawback is the fact that this installment is missing that classic Mega Man feel. Ultimately, it comes off as a solid 2D action platform game but it lacks the pixel-perfect precision and uncompromised gameplay of its initial 8-bit run. It really is the epitome of dividing a fan base.
Simply put, Mega Man 8 is a very good 2D action platformer, but it's not much of a Mega Man game. If you're willing to cast your preconceptions aside then you'll definitely have an enjoyable time, but critical fans will find too many reasons to complain and happily give this sequel a pass. Whatever group you belong to, Mega Man 8 is at least worth trying as long as you go in with an open mind.
- + Tons of fun gameplay segments add diversity to the established 2D action formula
- + Beautifully vibrant visuals and animations
- + Interesting upgrade system
- - Missing that classic Mega Man feel
- - Embarrassingly awful voice acting
- - Cutesy presentation counteracts how fans previously envisioned the series