Mega Man 8 (Steam, 15 hours)

This Mega Man game actually corrects a lot of the mistakes that detracted from the previous Mega Man game. If I had to sum up MM7, I would say that it has easy levels and difficult bosses.  In MM8, I would say there are challenging levels and easy bosses. MM8 also features great 2D graphics, a sweet soundtrack, and anime cut-scenes. If you’re up for a laugh, some of the voice acting in the cut-scenes is laugh-out-loud terrible. Though intimidating at first, Mega Man 8 hits a sweet spot with being difficult but not too difficult. That said, the final boss is way too hard, which is really my only major complaint.

Mega Man 8 starts on a beach, and you acquire a special weapon without ever facing a boss. You get a ball that you can kick and that damages enemies. Right away, when the game starts, you’re going to notice great graphics, a fun jazzy soundtrack, and a fresh take on the Mega Man formula we all know and love. Unlike MM7, this game isn’t trying to be Mega Man X. MM8 seems to be aware that duplicating the ultra-retro formula of the first six games isn’t a good use of the powerful PlayStation, so it builds on what MM7 did right, and adds a light layer of polish to everything.

As is standard, there are eight stages and eight bosses–although now there are also two mini-stages, and Mega Man acquires ten overall weapons. There are no energy tanks this time around, and Rush cannot be jumped on top of. There is an item shop where you can spend the bolts you collect in the levels on upgrades, but I picked up only enough bolts for one of the upgrades. I am happy to report the Dr. Wily stages are pretty easy, right up until the very last part, where the challenge gets exponentially more difficult. I played on Twitch, and I got help from a couple of Mega Man pros who were watching. Shout out to LickTheBishop and moonpiejenkins.

Sony seemed to not care a whole heck of a lot when people released 2D games on the powerful and 3D-capable PlayStation. Mega Man 8 is one of those 2D games, and it’s really pushing beyond what the Super Nintendo was capable of. There is voice-acting and there are anime cut-scenes. But really, the sprites and the game-play achieve a level of polish that the previous generation just couldn’t do. We now live in an era where a 2D game can look as good as your monitor makes it look (in other words, the chipboard isn’t a limiting factor), but Capcom deserves credit for making a great looking PS1 game here. Funny the next numbered game would be a deliberate throwback to the original Nintendo.

Once again, the final boss fight in this game is too darn hard. It’s a shame, because I feel the people who made the game really balanced the levels and bosses so that the other sections of the title are never too hard. Still, this Mega Man game is a new favorite of mine. It probably gets overlooked too because not many people emulate PlayStation games, with massive ISO files instead of tidy and small ROM files. I played the game as part of the Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 on Steam, part of my philosophy to support the developer whenever possible. This is the last numbered Mega Man game for the next eleven years, though the X series would stay strong for a while longer. Overall, I recommend Mega Man 8.

4/5

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