After a very mixed reaction to Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8 was released on the Playstation and Sega Saturn in 1996. Mega Man 8 is the first 32-bit Mega Man game, and is another one with sort of a mixed reaction. Is Mega Man’s jump into the future of gaming in the 90s a smash hit that’s overlooked or will it suffer the same fate as Mega Man 7?
Mega Man 8’s story is similar to 7’s. No BS, just go fight the robot masters and then Wily. This game’s robot masters are Tengu Man, Astro Man, Aqua Man, Sword Man, Clown Man, Search Man, Grenade Man, and Frost Man. Mega Man 8’s stages are a little different this time around. Aside from the intro stage middle stage, and wily stages, each stage is separated into two parts. I don’t really understand this, since when you get a game over, you start at the second half still, so what’s the point of having lives in the first place? Your weapon energy gets filled at the start of these halves, which is good, because for the first time since Mega Man 1, there are no Energy Tanks. I really don’t understand this, as it makes the game a lot harder for no reason. This game is generally considered to be an easy Mega Man game, but I have always had trouble when playing it. I don’t know why, but I always struggle with 8. The choice to not include Energy Tanks is very strange. Even though there are no E Tanks, there are still plenty of other abilities to use. Along with all of the robot master abilities, the shop is back, however bolts are found in levels instead of collecting them from defeated enemies. You can buy abilities in the shop, but most of the time they’re unnecessary. Do you want to climb ladders faster? Do you want to fire three shots instead of one? Most of them just improve the Mega Buster, but one helpful powerup gets rid of knockback when Mega Man is hit. There are four new Rush abilities in this game as well. Rush Cycle, which is a hoverbike, Rush Bomber which is essentially a screen nuke, Rush Health, which drops a ton of health for Mega Man to recover with, and Rush Charger, which gives you a random item. There is also a Mega Ball, which lets Mega Man kick a ball as a weapon in the strangest callback to Mega Man Soccer ever. These new items are nice but feel unnecessary. I don’t ever use any of these except for Rush Health, because I honestly forget they’re here. One nice touch is the ability to change weapons without pausing the game. You can use the shoulder buttons to switch weapons and items, which was also an ability in 7. Along with this awesome feature, you can have an ability equipped and fire the Mega Buster without switching back, which is a very nice addition. The level design is very interesting. A lot of the levels have gimmicks. Tengu Man’s stage has Mega Man ride Rush through a bullet hell segment. Astro Man’s stage is a maze. Sword Man’s stage has Mega Man complete trials in a temple. Aqua Man’s stage as a cool Waterfall battle. Clown Man’s stage is all about timing and avoiding being tricked by the ever changing platforms. Frost Man’s stage has a snowboarding segment that is infamous. This snowboarding segment tests your reaction time and can be incredibly frustrating as you have to jump and slide to avoid death in fast succession. This boarding section comes back in a Wily Castle stage and when I first played it, I wanted to break my controller. I was playing the PS2 version of this game on the Mega Man Anniversary Collection, which has input delay, I don’t recommend anybody play this version. Besides these gimmicks, the level design is fine, but I really can’t remember anything from the individual levels. I said a lot of negative things about the gameplay, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, it’s just not super interesting. The controls are pretty solid, but the momentum is a bit different. The game is in a new engine, so it’ll take some time to get used to the momentum, or lack thereof, but it’s still fine. Mega Man can swim for the first time ever, and the swimming controls are fine. The hit boxes aren’t as good as they were in the 8 bit games, but are an improvement over 7. I feel that often times when I die, it’s my fault, not the game’s, but that isn’t always the case. Those damn boarding segments have weird hitboxes as well. Overall, the gameplay is just average today, but honestly, I don’t think it was ever considered great.
The music and graphics are great. The PS1’s CD sound quality shines here, and Mega Man 8 has some great tunes. The graphics are amazing. Since the game is 2D, nothing looks blocky or jagged like most late 90s games. The game also has anime cutscenes, which are hilariously bad. The animation quality is okay, but the voice acting is god awful. Voice acting is something I never really talk about, but man is it bad in this game. It’s so bad that people make fun of the scenes where Dr. Light talks. Besides the voice acting, the music and graphics are fine.
Mega Man 8 has never been a contender for my favorite Mega Man game. The graphics and music are great, but the gameplay is super average. I would honestly say that gameplay holds up worse than Mega Man 7’s. This was the only Mega Man Classic Series game released on the PS1/Saturn, and it’s a shame that it wasn’t great. If you need to play the game to get your Mega Man fix, fine, but Mega Man 8 has not aged well.