Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mega Man 8 (Playstation, 1996)

 This one is a little bittersweet, because it was the last original series Mega Man game for a very, very long time. 12 years, if I'm not mistaken.

 The intro cutscene is fantastic, with some rockin' music.

 Another cutscene shows robots fighting in space. No word on if they're related to the Stardroids from Mega Man V on the Game Boy, given how this and the previous console game seem to follow in MMV's footsteps.

The mysterious space-droids crash-land on Earth as the theme from The Thing plays. Capcom got Ennio Morricone? WHAT A COUP!

 Meanwhile, Mega Man and Bass fight. Mega Man has THE WORST VOICE ACTING EVER. Actually, all of the voice acting here is pretty bad, but Mega Man is the worst. He has a squeaky girl voice (and actually had a female voice actor). Why? I don't know. Japan loves androgynous girlboys, but this takes it to a new level of silliness.

The voice acting in general is pretty much the worst I've ever heard in anything; I remember being embarassed to play this around other people back in 1998.

The first stage has great, great music. It doesn't look that different from Mega Man 7, but it's definitely higher-resolution.

 Before too long, Rush appears and rants profusely about Obama. I remember when he used to just be a helpful, friendly dog! What happened to you, man?

 New in this game is the Mega Ball, which is literally just a ball that you kick into enemies. It's pretty cool, but it's a bit unwieldy as a weapon.

 The first miniboss is a giant mechanical mollusk. Why did anyone ever build this? What purpose does it serve? Why did Freeze Man's stage have mechanical dinosaur skeletons fossilized in the background? IT DOESN'T MAKE SENNNNNSE

It's worth noting that the mini-boss tune in this game is really good, at least. Unfortunately, given its intensity, it's wildly incongruous with most of the rest of this game.

 "It'soverwily!" squeaks Mega Man in one big syllable as he confronts his nemesis. Wily then makes off with the core of one of those crashed space-bots, no doubt to use it for an era of peace and prosperity for all peoples.

"Well, in that case!" says Mega Man before helping Wily load it into his saucer., not this time. Fool him six times and he won't be fooled again!

 The stage select has four choices right off the bat, like the previous game. The other two are the intro stage and Dr. Light's base. The stage select music is awesome, but I could be a broken record constantly mentioning how good the music in this game is. The music absolutely elevates it past the last few entries in the series, even if the gameplay doesn't innovate.

 "I'MTENGAMAN!" says the horrible voice acting as I choose my first stage. This guy is Gyro Man 2.0, and his whole stage is aerial-themed.

First, our hero must deal with the HARD HAT ARMY! One of the first things I notice about this game is that enemies drop TONS of health restores. This is the case in some games in this series, while others are woefully short on health (Mega Man X3). This game has more of them than I think I've ever seen in this series. As a result, it isn't particularly difficult outside of the boss fights. At least, until the Wily stages.

This stage has a pretty great auto-scrolling shooter section where you have a number of allies fly alongside you and fire at the enemies. Good to see Mega Man getting some help.

Like the previous game, you can collect bolts to buy items. Unlike the previous game, this one has a finite number of them (30, I believe) and they're worth a lot more (5 for a special item rather than hundreds) so you can conceivably collect them all. I should probably grab that one before it scrolls away...

Tengu Man himself likes to do a lot of swooping attacks. He can also knock you off the platform with wind attacks. In a way, he's more like Storm Eagle 2.0 even though this is a different series.

Clown Man's stage is a circus. That's bad enough, but then...

 ...Little gnomes attack en masse. I... I don't want to talk about it.

 At least the rad miniboss music returns as I fight this... this... wheel? Not even sure. The Mega Ball makes short work of it, since the ball ricochets all around the room and seems to do a lot of damage. Hmm, guess it's turning out to be good after all.

 Clown Man... the less said the better. He opens the fight by going "Yo! Geeky!"

Does he have me confused with Geeko, of Dragonball Evolution fame?

 Hit him with Tengu Man's weapon (which is basically a vertical version of Storm Eagle's weapon) and he yells "MOMMY!"

...did Capcom forget that these are supposed to be robots?

In any case, that's another one down. Was easy with the special weapon. The first boss is usually the toughest in these games... one of the things Mega Man X5 got right was that it starts bosses with smaller life meters and has them get longer as you progress. Means the first boss you fight isn't much of a challenge, but other than that the scaling difficulty makes a lot of sense. In most of the series, the difficulty starts high and then plummets until you reach the fortress levels.

Next up: Grenade Man. This stage falls into the "war-themed boss" subcategory.

Grenade Man, you guessed it, throws grenades. He's weak to Clown Man's weapon, which as it turns out is an electric grappling beam.

Sweet 1997 3D and super-hyped music accompanies the weapon-get screen.

Frost Man's stage has a fairly notorious sledding section where you have to jump and slide with little warning as the screen rapidly scrolls to the right. It's nowhere near as difficult as the similar section in Wily Stage 1, which is bar none the most difficult thing in this game. It does trip up a lot of new players, though.

 At the end you get to plow through a bunch of snow! This is creative stuff, I like it.

You get a bit of normal stage, but then it's right back to snowboarding. The second round is much worse than the first, culminating with a spot where you have to slide and then jump in succession. This is frustrating because the controls don't really allow you to do that easily, so you're likely to lose a bunch of lives trying to get the timing exact so the finicky controls don't kill you.

After that ordeal, Frost Man himself is simple to defeat. He fears explosives. His voice is just as offensive as the others, since they made him sound dumb. "AH WILL BEET YOO." I'm pretty sure all of this voice acting was recorded by random hobos off the street in the bathroom at Capcom. Making a good translation for the North American version of the game? Not high on their priorities.

We get a cutscene now, complete with EXTREME CLOSEUPS of Dr. Light. His voice acting is slightly less awful than everyone else, as he talks about "da battawees wecharge" and the evil plans of "Docta Wawee". Unfortunately, no one can be told just how bad the voice acting is. have to see it for yourself.

One of the stardroids awakens and flees for his life. The sweet intro stage music plays again as we get an intermediate stage.

At this point, Mega Man has to do battle with the mysterious Duo. Both guys then proceed to power up for 20-30 minutes while grunting a lot, DBZ-style. Well, no, but it's pretty clear that Capcom was drawing on DBZ quite a bit with this game. Duo gets an aura when he flies around, for instance.

 Protoman arrives with some sobering news. Wily's new castle... is... is... a tower!

Mega Man descends into what is apparently Hell to find the tower...

 ...only to get electrocuted by Wily, which he responds to with GIRLISH SCREAMING that just goes on and on and on. I don't usually advocate skipping cutscenes, but this one is just the worst thing ever. So lame and irritating.

 Second stage select, with four new bosses: The water-themed Aqua Man, the space-themed Astro Man, the ruins-themed Sword Man (Finally! A sword boss!), and... whatever the completely-forgettable Search Man is.

I'm taking on Aqua Man first, because he's the weak link of the Justice League and must be stopped.

First third of the game is in the can. So far, this is a fun little excursion. In most regards it's superior to Mega Man 7, and debatably superior to the couple of games before that (especially Mega Man 6). The only real problem is the goofiness and the atrocious voice acting, which really drags it down.

I take my first trip to the shop. Gonna grab the Laser Shot (an upgrade to your fully charged shot) and Super Recover (increases the strength of healing/weapon pellets that you pick up). They cost 10 altogether, so I need to go find a bolt.

 Once that's done, I'm off to Aqua Man's stage. The laser is pretty much a plasma beam from Super Metroid, and cuts through enemy defenses. Now I just need to get the bolts for the powerup that lets you charge up faster, and I should be set.

Aqua Man's stage has amazing music...and this ridiculous miniboss fight where it follows you down a vertical corridor with dropping platforms.

 "I'm Aquaman! But you call me handsome, KAYYY?"


 Mega Man takes Aqua Man's quickening... and instantly becomes flamboyantly homosexual! It's like Squaresoft suddenly took control of the game! Look at the Blue Bomber rocking that midriff-jacket with luxurious blonde hair and stylish pumps!

 My favorite stage theme is probably Sword Man's stage. It's this eerie tune that fits the jungle ruins theme well. It vaguely resembles FFVII's Temple of the Ancients theme... vaguely.

The ruins are split into four sections, and you can take on the four sections in any order. Makes this the least-linear stage in the game, by far.

 The second half of this stage is heavily fire-themed, making it the only real fire level in this game.

 Sword Man (or "Swordsman!" as the voice actor introduces himself) is a pretty rad fight. He can detach his upper half from his lower half and go on the attack with both. He's weak to Aqua Man's water balloons, and with them the fight is over quickly. ...yeah, Aqua Man's special attack is "water balloon". No need for badass-sounding names here! THIS is Mega Man 8!

Capcom Exec 1: "We've decided to Kirbify Mega Man for the next game in the series, 8. It will be as cutesy as humanly possible!"

Capcom Exec 2: "And also, in the next X game, X5, we're going to change all of the cool boss names into silly rock and roll references at the last minute!"

Capcom Exec 3: "A new Capcom for the new millennium! The kids will love it!"

I go bolt-hunting at this point to find the last three bolts that I need for rapid charge. Sword Man's weapon is a fiery sword; a sword-type weapon has been notably missing from this series up to now. Unfortunately the sword doesn't allow much for agility, and you can't move while swinging. You definitely won't see Mega Man doing any Zero-style spin-jump slashes.

 The super-forgettable Search Man has two heads. He's another military weapon themed boss, like Grenade Man. Pretty weird to have two of those in one game...

 His stage is a colorful forest, and the music ain't bad either. Surprised that I completely forgot this guy existed.

 This guy is the weapon-themed boss to end all weapon themed bosses. He hides in bushes and snipes at you.

I don't beat around the bush, and light him up with the Flame Sword. (That was a very Nintendo Power-ish line)

 Astro Man's stage has catchy music and cool outdoor visuals, but the actual stage design sucks. It's all either disappearing/reappearing platforms...

 ...or super-confusing mazes that you might need a walkthrough for. I already linked the catchy stage theme, but here's an even catchier Sega Genesis remix!

The fight with Astro Man has a sweet background. As a space-thusiast, I dig this. I take him down with Search Man's Homing Missiles, which function almost exactly like Launch Octopus' weapon in Mega Man X. He doesn't even fight back if you keep hitting him point-blank with it.

With all eight bosses defeated, it's time for Wily's Tower... IN HELL.

Down here, people Kane has chokeslammed rain from the sky.

The first Wily stage is the most frustrating, difficult stage in the game. It's another snowboard-type level, but it's much harder than the two sections in Frost Man's stage. It actually ended my first couple of runs at this game because I got sick of it after failing at this level 20+ times. It's the Turbo Tunnel of Mega Man levels. The only solution... is to Git Gud.

Fast forward past that hellish stage. The boss here is a weird ceiling-bot that pops in with a bunch of decoys. The Mega Ball finally makes a triumphant return, as punting it towards the non-decoy bot works very effectively. Still, this is a very difficult fight, and if you game over here... that's right, you go back to the beginning of the stage.

This would be a good time to mention that this game completely lacks E-Tanks, for the first time since the very first game in the series. You can summon Rush to drop health, once per stage... which is the closest you get to an E-Tank. You can get a full heal and a half out of that health drop, but once it's used, you're SOL for more restores in that stage.

Unfortunately, said healing-drop doesn't work too well here, since most of the energy pellets get stuck on all that stuff at the top of the screen.

Rush also has a bomber form that pays dividends on this battle, since it damages the boss AND takes out the decoys. It lasts a while, too, enough for a bunch of waves.

 Wily Stage 2 is much easier, and has another one of these fun Rush shooter stages. They probably could have flipped this and Wily Stage 1... then again, putting the hardest stage first makes a lot of sense when you have to start over at the beginning if you quit. This way, rather than someone playing for a while and hitting a brick wall with the last stage, then losing all their fortress progress, one can hit a brick wall right off the bat and quit in frustration without losing progress. When they eventually get past that wall, the rest of the fortress flies by.

Speaking of which, how antiquated is the "restart at the beginning of the Wily Fortress if you turn the game off" mechanic in all of these games? Even in 1994 I was shocked when Mega Man X did it.

The next boss is this flying ship. It's a pain in the ass until you realize that it only has two moves, much like Goldberg.
Astro Man's wave of comets makes short work of this one, but it has to be used at the right times. Whenever the gun pods "open up", that's when the meteors have to land. Gotta hit the fire button as soon as they even begin to open.

 "YOUUUUUU!!" says Bass.

 This time, he's powered up by the dark matter from the Stardroids. Or something along those lines.

 The annoying thing about this fight is that Bass yells "what?" every time you hit him. It gets old VERY quickly. This game would be much better if they had simply omitted the voice acting altogether.

 Next up is Wily's greatest creation, Dark Moon. This latest version is a made out of green gelatin, meaning you need to blast your way through to the core just to damage it. The Laser Beam makes quick work of him, and he isn't as difficult as his Mega Man X5 incarnation, much less MM1 and MM3's versions.

This game's version of the capsule room looks more like an X series capsule room.

"I'LL BE NICE ON YOOU" says Grenade Man. Uh... no thanks, sir.

I roll through the eight bosses again en route to...

Wily, whose skull tank looks more malevolent than ever. He traps Our Mega Hero and almost blasts him away, but Duo saves the day. Stuff happens.

The fight itself isn't too bad, and I make use of Rush Cycle to absorb some of the damage he dishes out (saving the healing drops for the next fight).

Wily Saucer mk. MMLXVII is much, much easier than the one in Mega Man 7, but it's still a close fight. The lack of E-Tanks is the main thing making these fights tricky; if there were E-Tanks (even with a limit of four like the previous game) it's safe to say none of them would be any problem at all.

At the end, Wily begs for mercy as usual. Mega Man proceeds to blast him into oblivion, but then after the credits roll we discover that, using the dark energy, Wily has created an AI of himself so that he can "live on". That AI then triggers the release of Zero, the doom of our time. Not until decades later would the people of Earth finally put a stop to Wily's dark matter powered AI, or as it would be known to the people of the future, the "Maverick Virus"...

...strike out ALL of the above, because instead NOTHING HAPPENS! Roll credits!
Well, no. Things did happen, just not the things I wanted to happen. The dark matter tried to "possess" Mega Man, but he mentally fought it off due to all of the light in his heart. And Wily got away, of course. Go to 4:00 to see the ending cutscene.

This was the last original series Mega Man game for a very long time, though we did get two retro continuations over a decade later in the form of Mega Man 9 and 10. Both were created in the style of the very early games in the series. It's a shame they didn't ever give the series a real ending or connect it to Mega Man X, but so it goes. Can say the same about Mega Man X8, the last entry in the X series. That series never got a real ending either.


  1. Good ol' Mega Man 8. You gotta admit that you wouldn't expect to find a tower underground.

    If you think Mega Man 8 is cute, you should played Mega Man Powered Up! ...actually, that would be a sweet game to cover on here.

    I see we're back to the small-character dimensions of the NES games, but with PSX graphics and the Game Boy team. Interesting.
    I had an online friend back in the day who used the handle Tengu Man.
    The early days of voice acting, lol, showing how little they cared about us (or how little resources they had). Dr. Light being a New Yorker is kinda cool though.
    It would be so infuriating this play this and hear Mega Man's voice be something completely different from what you wanted and imagined your whole life.
    All the cutesiness must have been jarring to play, but these images were all a real treat to see. Glad the game was good, and now we can release a hack with the voice acting eliminated.