Review by Sour
"Better than 7, but drops the ball compared to the rest"
1996, Mega Man's tenth anniversary. Capcom decided that in celebration, they should bring the series into the next generation of consoles. What we got was Mega Man 8, which often gets a lot of hate. Like Mega Man 7, it's not a bad game really, but suffers from a few issues. The graphics were at least much improved from Mega Man 7, resulting in more smoothness and less meshing together of gigantic sprites. Even voice acting made it's way into this game, unfortunately, it's terrible, which has lead to a few good laughs.
Story: 7/10: The game opens with a pretty cool Anime intro movie. Upon starting up the game, however, it just gets really bad. Mega Man and his rival, Bass are doing battle in a city. Bass is bested, and Mega Man returns to Dr. Light, who's getting some strange energy readings from an island. Before all of that however, we are shown a battle between two robots in space, one light blue and one dark purple. They take each other out, and both of them crash land on Earth. Rush and Mega Man head to the island where the energy readings are coming from, and Mega Man discovers a robot lying in a crater developed by the crash landing. Dr. Wily swoops in and his UFO is holding a mysterious purple sphere. He makes off the the orb, and Mega Man takes the newly discovered robot back to Dr. Light's lab for repairs. Dr. Wily then unleashes more robot masters for Mega Man to defeat, and each one is powered by one of the purple orbs. After receiving a few of them, Mega Man comes back to check on the robot. The robot sees the orbs and goes ballistic, and flies off. Mega Man gives chase, and meets up with the robot in front of Wily's new fortress. It is revealed that the robot's name is Duo and he's on a mission to eradicate "evil energy", the purple orbs that Mega Man has been collecting, as well as Wily. Mega Man will have to destroy Wily to restore peace to the world once again and help Duo take out the evil energy in the process, as well as fighting his rival Bass on the way. This story felt like they could have done so much more with it, and just never went anywhere with it. They should have kept the plot bare bones or made something huge out of it, instead of just using the evil energy as a McGuffin.
Gameplay: 9/10: Much like Mega Man 7, you only start off with 4 stages to choose from in the beginning, after completing the intro stage that is. You get to choose whatever order you want to go in. Each stage is indicated by a mugshot of the robot master to be defeated in that stage. Each level plays like previous Mega Man games, it's a side-scrolling shoot-em-up and at the end of each stage, you'll face a robot master, or "boss". Each robot master has their own unique abilities, and upon beating them, you'll gain their special power for future use whenever you see fit, weapon energy permitting of course. Each robot master is weak to another robot master's weapon, so there are boss "orders" so to speak that will make the game easier if you go in order of weaknesses. After the first four robot masters are defeated, you'll have a stage for halfway through the game, then you'll be able to fight the other four robot masters, as well as visiting older stages if you so choose. The shop from Mega Man 7 makes it's return in this game as well. Unfortunately, the number of bolts in this game is set in stone. If you pick one up from a stage, it's gone forever. So the amount of currency in this game is extremely limited, especially since enemies don't drop bolts either. The items in the sop are pretty useful themselves, often powering up your buster shot in some ways, such as the arrow shot. The arrow shot will explode upon hitting an enemy and send energy shards flying backwards and take out enemies that may be behind you. Another upgrade is the laser which is extremely useful for enemies that have armor like Sniper Joes. Even getting every bolt won't allow you to buy everything however, so you have to be really careful and selective with what you choose to purchase. Some of the levels have auto-scrolling segments, such as Frost Man's much-lamented snowboarding section. Tengu Man has a segment where you fly on Rush and can call upon Beat, Eddie, and Auto to assist you in combat. Both of these segments are also revamped for Wily stages later on. I actually liked these segments but they often get a lot of hate for being difficult or annoying. For instance, in the snowboarding sections, you'll have warnings popping up constantly, yelling at you to "Jump! Jump!" or "Slide! Slide!". It's particularly thicker in the first Wily stage where they pop in so often that the shouts mesh together. I can see how that would be frustrating, but once you learn the segments, they won't be a problem a future play throughs.
Audio: 5/10: The game really, really, and I mean REALLY suffers here. Let's talk about the voice acting first. Mega Man is presumably voiced by a girl, though he's a male. The voice actors sound like they're trying to read their lines, making one think that perhaps they attempted this all in day. Dr. Light by far has the voice voice acting, as he sounds exactly like Elmer Fudd and even stumbles over his own words, stuttering. Wily's voice is actually not that bad, amazingly. There's a reason this game is well known for it's bad voice acting, just go listen to some audio clips on YouTube. The music in this game feels pretty uninspired, and is neither atmospheric nor catchy. Everybody on the team simply didn't try hard enough in this game and it definitely shows. There are a few good tunes, but none of them are memorable. Thankfully Mega Man 9 would rectify this situation as we were worried that we'd be stuck with the final classic Mega Man game being a thrown together at the last minute mess.
Graphics: 10/10: This is where the game really shines, and it's a dramatic improvement over Mega Man 7's god awful graphics. The sprites are no longer over-sized, so it's much easier to dodge incoming attacks and make jumps over chasms. The level design and the artwork behind it is all simply fantastic as well. It's not classic 8-bit Mega Man, but at least they got the sprite size about right this time. In addition to the gameplay graphics, there are several well-animated cut-scenes throughout the game (though unfortunately overshadowed by the horrendous voice acting). The animators did a great job in this department and the robot master designs were fantastic as well, which were once again submissions from various fans, though a few robot masters were designed entirely by Capcom staff, but they all look good.
Overall: 7/10: The god awful voice acting brings this game down a peg, as well as the uninspired soundtrack. Capcom could have done much, much better for this game, though at least the graphical issues from Mega Man 7 were totally nixed. It's still a decent Mega Man game, it just felt like it could have been more, tried to be more, but at the same time, failed. It's still worth a play, and you can either find a used copy at your local used games store, or you can buy the Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox. Maybe you'll even find this game to be a lot better than I think it is!
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 06/17/10
Game Release: Mega Man 8 Anniversary Edition (US, 02/28/97)
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