We finally come back to my playthrough of the core Mega Man games and reach the infamous Mega Man 8. The series reaches the PS1 and gets an “upgrade” with FMV, voice “acting” and smoother animations, but generally the game seems far cheaper than its predecessors and it featured a stage so monumentally frustrating that I took a break from trying to complete it for about a month before returning… Let’s take a closer look…
Since there are two different robot master selection screens, I’ve just got for an in-game shot of a maze-like level. Hooray?!
Mega Man 8 was released on the PS1 in Japan on December 17th 1996, with a US release February 28th 1997, and a PAL territories release soon after that. The game was ported over to the Sega Saturn in 1997 (getting a simultaneous release with the PS1 game in America) and has appeared in multiple compilations and the like since then (plus a stand-alone PC release in 2017, oddly…)
As for the Robot Masters? Well, you have Tengu Man (fires whirlwinds while flying about… and looks vaguely like the Japanese demon/myth), Clown Man (Looks like a clown, has a few different attacks involving giant balls and such…killing him gets you an electric whip-like weapon!), Grenade Man (Yep… Grenade man. Looks like a pumpkin. No wait, a grenade, sorry.), Frost Man (Ice once again!), Aqua Man (Water once again!), Sword Man (Has a sword for an arm, and can split in two!), Search Man (has two heads and hides in bushes and the like to attack you with missiles) and Astro Man (UFO-based, has a meteor storm move) So… it’s an odd mix. Several of the designs comes from a fan contest, to be fair.
As the game was released Mega Man hit its 10th Anniversary, though this celebration would lead to everyone waiting over a decade for Mega Man 9 (not that was any real shortage of Mega Man games in general during that decade, but there you go…)
An example of a side-scrolling shooter level.
The gameplay is pretty much the same again. Walk right, shoot, slide, jump, charge your mega buster or use the weapons you collect by defeating the eight robot masters. Each Robot Master has a weakness to another Master’s weapon, and there are several other bosses and a couple of Dr. Wiley machines at the end of a long Wiley Castle run. Your faithful robo-dog Rush is also back with his transformations (though the Rush Jet can only be used a specific times), and being able to buy items and upgrades in a shop with collectible bolts is back from Mega Man 7, though now you only have limited slots.
I think the thing that jumped out at me the most was the lack of pick up-able items, like energy tanks. You can still pick up health and energy from enemies, and Rush has forms that act in a similar fashion, but it still felt like quite the departure (well, as much as you can for Mega Man anyway…) There are also stages that play out exactly like horizontal shooters, complete with lines of enemies floating around in zig-zag patterns and a big boss to blast at the end. There are also levels based around being on some sort of rocket propelled snowboard and… ARGH!!!!!!! *ahem* What I mean to say is, they were quite frustrating, not just being difficult, but have a really annoying voice shout “JUMP! JUMP!” and “SLIDE! SLIDE!” all the damn time. Wiley Castle 1 is mostly made up of one such stage, and it was that stage that made me quit for a month…
An example of HELL!!!!!!!!!!!
One more change that I really liked this time was that you can now shoot your mega buster while having a Robot Master weapon equipped. This was extremely handy, and added a lot to the gameplay. Less frantic weapon changing.
Graphics and Sound:
Oh yeah, during Aqua Man’s stage, Mega Man actually swims! Apparently, he’ll never swim again… Ah well.
The graphics are good, not amazing. It’s often a tad over-colourful, and the animations, especially on Mega Man, just look… odd. Very digitised and… I don’t know, just not as pleasing as traditional 2D sprite animation. It’s hard to explain. You soon get used to it, mind you… The FMVs are actually good, though very grainy in the case of the Mega Man collection I had, anyway…
Yeah… Okay, well, let’s get the big one out of the way: the voice work is HORRENDOUS. It makes Resident Evil look like a top-flight Shakespeare performance. It’s clearly a voice group of non-English speakers just reading lines and not knowing how emote, and … yeah. I mean, it’s so bad its funny, but be prepared! The music is good, with one or two themes being very catchy indeed (including Wiley Stage 1, though that theme soon became a trigger to… get me to KILL!!!!!!)
Duo, as he appears in the one of the FMV cutscenes. He… doesn’t really do much, now I think about it…
A mysterious robot falls to Earth and with it an equally mysterious energy, an energy of pure evil that Dr. Wah-Wee, I mean, Wiley, uses to… create eight robot masters and try to conquer the world. Mega Man, his friends and the aforementioned space robot named Duo set out and eventually defeat Wiley, and Bass, who also returned here. It’s… got ever so slightly more plot than usual!
Ah, what’s the old adage? Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me eight times…?
Ignoring the jet-snowboard sections, it was fine. I can’t help but not particularly like a lot of the presentation though, something constantly feels off about it. The gameplay is still good though, so I didn’t hate it… well, apart from one section…. HATE…. SECTION…. *sigh*, but overall I won’t be in a rush to play it again…