Mega Man 8
by Polly


Fuck you.

And fuck you if you think that shit's still funny. It's not! It stopped being funny after the first time you and your friends saw it, only your stupid ass somehow didn't realize it. And now, all these years later, your impossibly stupid brain tells you to continue laughing (FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS) at internet tardmos who still make "Jill Sandwich" and Portal references and think they're being so god damn refreshingly relevant, clever, and entertaining. Go die in a fire, you putrid sacks of dog dick warts. I hope every fucking whale in the world takes a big dump on you. EVERY GOD DAMN WHALE, YOU FUCKING HEAR ME?

Anyway, let's get into this thing before I have my 47th recorded rage-induced stroke since starting this site, SHALL WE?

Now, this may come as a surprise to most of you, because this is fairly uncommon knowledge, but Mega Man 8 is the eighth (8th) installment of the famed Mega Man multi-million selling videogame franchise and it was released after Mega Man 7, which appeared on the SNES in 1995. Mega Man 7 was a technological step up for the Blue Bomber (*every Mega Man review ever has to use this term by law. Fucking lawyers!), but to many (read: me) it simply failed to deliver. It wasn't a bad game, not even horrible. For me, it's just kinda there in the mainline series, much like Mega Man 5 and 6. It had some neat ideas, but it never felt right. It's really hard to explain, I guess. The sprites and everything just felt too big for the screen, the controls felt a bit too tight, and the last boss can SUCK MY AMAZINGLY LARGE COCK!

Mega Man 8 is a bit of an oddball itself. Its release was a tad weird, being unleashed on both the Sega Saturn and Sony's new bitchin' piece of hardware, whatever it was called. At the time, Sony wasn't all that jazzed about having icky 2D games with sprites on their behemoth console, so Capcom threw 'em a bone and included a fancy pants 10th Anniversary booklet of some sort (I don't have this version of the release.) In the end, however, it seems that Sony's the one that actually got a bit shafted here, because the Saturn version had a neater set of special bonus features including a few better tunes and some throw-back bosses from earlier in the series that could be found in certain stages. Man, that information isn't nearly as interesting as I thought it'd be, but hey, you don't come here to be informed. Why the fuck DO you come here anyway, don't you have anything better to do with your time?

I really should start this review over because I feel I'm losing my focus a bit...naaaah. WE CAN HOWEVER, ACTUALLY TALK ABOUT MEGA MAN 8 NOW!

Mega Man 8 is the eighth....nope, did that one already... Okay, let's try this one...

Mega Man 8 is a Mega Man game. (THERE WE GO! GOOD START, POLLY! YOU GOT THIS SHIT LOCKED THE FUCK DOWN!) As you'd expect from any Mega Man game you throw into your console and play, it's all fairly simple and you all know it by now. Select a themed Robot Master to fight, run through a themed stage, defeat themed Robot Master, receive themed bacon. The flavor of bacon you receive is closely tied to the flavor of Robot Master you just shot. Megaman's reason for eating bacon this time around has something to do with a dumb meteor and Dr. Wily (WAHWY XDXDXD!) doing that stuff he does in every Mega Man game.

Almost instantly, this game feels a hell of a lot better than the previous. The controls and jumping have been loosened up just enough for it to feel almost perfect. All general platforming and managing incoming attacks and bosses feels about as slick as it did in the Mega Man X series of games. Still no fancy wall jump, but what they added to Megaman's arsenal does make the game feel like the next logical evolution of the mainline series.

Capcom didn't just stop at making the controls feel right, they also added a couple of new conveniences for players. The first big improvement is that Megaman can now fire both his Mega Buster and any special weapon at any time. One button is always mapped for using special weapons (it will default to the Mega Buster if one isn't active) and the other attack button fires your Buster, avoiding those embarrassing "Oh shit, I'm out of ammo" moments. A minor tweak, but it's actually pretty helpful. The second addition is a little strange considering series history, but Megaman can also properly swim by pressing the Jump button while underwater. It's not used that often however, and I actually always kinda liked those super floaty underwater jumps areas and their almost inevitably spiked ceilings. It's clear that with this game they wanted to try and move things a bit more forward than they had previously, so points for trying, I suppose.

Perhaps the big new toy Megaman acquires is the Power Ball. To most it may seem utterly worthless at times. You drop a ball on the ground and can kick it to bounce it all over the place. Bouncy weapons are always screwy though and learning to use it in a pinch can take practice, but it's nothing you won't get the hang of. The Power Ball's true shining purpose is how instead of kicking the ball away, you can jump onto it and get bounced up a bit further than you would a normal jump. If you're really good, you can drop another one in the air, and if timed perfectly, as Megaman descends he'll get another boost upward. Using this technique is essential to grabbing lots of out of reach power-ups and bolts earlier than intended and it's honestly just damn fun to use. Again, this technique takes practice, but the timing is fairly easy to pin down once you've accidentally done it a few times.

The Shop function returns as well. Scattered throughout every stage of this game are bolts that you can use to purchase upgrades from Roll's shop. This time around however, bolts are limited, so in the early going you've got to collect and spend wisely, as they don't reappear and aren't dropped by enemies. Instead you have to scour every nook and cranny of a stage to find them, and I personally enjoyed this part of the game. Some are in plain sight maybe only requiring a specific weapon to nab, while others require tricky use of the Power Ball or spot-on dangerous platforming to claim.

Megaman's other cool new features come in the form of a couple of stage gimmicks, one of which has become almost universally reviled due to its difficulty. Of course, I'm talking about the snowboard, which takes center stage in Frost Man's stage as well as a later portion in Wily's Castle (OH MY GOD, SPOILERS!). These portions of the game have Megaman speeding through intense platforming areas while a little robotic voice and on-screen prompt instruct the player on how to deal with them. JUMP, JUMP! SLIDE, SLIDE! These areas start out fairly easy, but quickly ramp up in difficulty, with the prompts and voice becoming almost a blur, forcing the player to just memorize the stage themselves. Perhaps it'd have been easier if the voice didn't call out the command twice. It's unfortunate that these sections of the game, which make up so very little of the entire experience, have turned so many people off to the game. I have a friend who won't even touch it, because after an entire hour he still couldn't complete the second short snowboarding section of Frost Man's stage. Polly's friends suck at videroogames!

The next stage gimmick worth mentioning is the fairly basic shmup gimmick that appears in Tengu Man's stage as well as Wily's Castle. This is essentially the only time in the game that you'll get to use the classic Rush Jet at all. In these sections, Megaman rides on Rush's back, firing at enemy threats that appear from various sides of the screen. He can also collect power-up icons that appear in party balloons to not only give Rush Jet some firepower of its own, but to call a few allies into battle as well, each with their own unique weapons. These portions of the game aren't really all that difficult, but I feel are worth mentioning, because it transitions into my next point that Mega Man 8 features some of the best stage designs the series has seen.

It's fairly rare in this game that you'll spend much time simply running to the right, jumping over holes or spiked pits, and shooting shit. Those activities are still very much a core part of the gameplay, but there's a better balance of combat and stage gimmicks. Though previous games in the series have tried with varying degrees of success to implement a Robot Master's theme into their stage, I don't think any game has done it quite as well or with as much consistency as Mega Man 8. Every stage has you doing something unique and almost always fun, and helping this matter even further is that most of the Robot Master weapons you can collect almost always serve a secondary utility purpose, such as Clown Man's "Bionic Arm"-like Thunder Claw (which proves to be the most useful). Clown Man's stage is a messed up circus and funhouse where you'll navigating a maze of blocks activated by an NPC in the background, Search Man's stage is a dense forest with lots of trees and other foliage obfuscating the your view forcing you to search for the next platform or set of enemies, and Sword Man's stage is a temple of various trials that will test your combat and platforming abilities before you can actually confront him. The variety of shit you get to do really works in the game's favor if you find yourself stuck on one stage and want to jump to another.

That's not likely to happen though, as Mega Man 8 isn't really that tough of a game. It's likely the second or third easiest in the mainline series (behind 2 and 5), and other than the snowboarding bits, never really seems to challenge the player all that much. Not that the game needed to be ball-bustingly hard to be good, but going into any Mega Man. game you have an expectation of getting your shit trashed until you catch on, but back in the day, I beat the game on one rental. Boss patterns are terribly easy to predict and there aren't really any truly devious portions to stages that the series has become almost infamous for. On top of that, at any halfway point in a stage or when the game needs to load new data, your health is always topped off regardless of damage sustained getting there. A few of the upgrades in Roll's shop can completely break the game even further, almost turning it into a bit of a joke, but these upgrades are optional, so it's up to you how easy you want your Mega Man 8 experience to be.

Mega Man 8's visuals continue the trend set by Mega Man 7's. Bright and colorful backgrounds mixed with nicely detailed and animated character sprites. The style is given much more room to shine in 32-bits, what without all the palette and memory limitations, and it's clear that the artists went all-out in upgrading Mega Man's newer and more anime-inspired in-game visuals. Megaman himself, the normal fodder stage enemies, and especially all Robot Masters feature a wide range of animations and little nuanced details, giving them the slickest-looking desings the series had seen up to that point. Okay, some of the Robot Masters are more than a little goofy, but they still look great in motion, and that's what counts here. The sprite work just kicks all kinds of ass. The background work truly stands head and shoulders above the previous iterations here, with every environment just bursting with color and minute detail, a lot of which will keep Mega Man buffs busy searching out various cameos and nods to previous installments of the series. There's also interesting use of pre-rendered 3D objects such as the hammers that swing toward and away from the screen in Grenade Man's stage that sorta gives the game a really balanced "old and new" feel. There's an undeniable charm to the whole package that the series has never really fully replicated, but with today's High-Definition tech cranking out sexcellent-looking sprite-based games like BlazBlue, this is a visual style the series could definitely return to and create something absolutely amazing.

Mega Man 8's audio style may seem a bit strange of a departure from the norm to most. Prior to this game, most Mega Man music had pretty obvious rock influences (given the character's Japanese name and the series' long-running musical themes), however Mega Man 8's musical stylings are of the soft techno variety. Melodies and dancey bass riffs are the main focus focus of the musical soundscape, and though the tunes themselves seem a radical departure from the series norm, there are tunes spread across the soundtrack that are just as catchy as any that came before. Rather than suiting the action, the music is happy to just chill in the background and tickle the senses with the parts of songs that truly stand out. My only real chief criticism of the game's tuneage is that I'd say maybe for an action game, the soundtrack is just a little too chilled out at times. Still very enjoyable, though.

And, of course, I guess I'll HAVE to mention those fucking voices in a serious manner at least once, but I'm only touching on the fact that Megaman's voice clips play way too god damn often. With nearly every jump, buster shot, or successful enemy strike, Megaman yelps, calls out attack names, and SCREECHES ANNOYINGLY UPON DEATH, and with his voice already possessing the ability to shatter eardrums in just normal conversation, hearing these clips so often is just god damn irritating. You may be able to tune them out after a while, but they're still there....gnawing... at... your... god... damn... brain... AUGLHGLHLSDHFL:HJ!

Mega Man 8 would definitely be in my Top 5 list for the mainline series of games. The amount of character and charm sell it so well and it's genuinely a fun game to play. It may not be quite as rewarding as other games in the series, what with its lackluster difficulty, but I guess having a Mega Man game you can chill out with (the music REALLY helps with this) and just roll through isn't really all that bad. I hate that this game gets so much shit for things that aren't even gameplay related. If you're one of those people that never gave this game a chance because of all the stupid voice acting crap, I say do the right thing and give it a fair shake. You may be pleasantly surprised.

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