Friday, May 20, 2016

Rockman 8 FC (PC, 2010)

 Today I'm taking a very special look at a de-make of Mega Man 8. The original was released on the Sony Playstation and Sega Saturn in 1996 and 1997 respectively, so this 8-bit styled de-make was likely even more difficult to make than the Rockman 7 FC de-make. At least that one only had to jump from 16-bit to 8-bit. This is also a very recent release, launching in 2010 and undergoing numerous revisions since then. I believe this is the third version of it. It's a lot of fun and worth checking out if you can get PC controller support to work, but be warned, it's SUPER difficult.



 The anime cutscene from the original game is replaced by a set of stills for this version. What's with that planet having two rings? Is that a real thing that can happen? What solar system is this? As a student of astronomy, I want some proof, dammit!


Obviously in this version it's more chiptune-y than the above link, but it's still good. Here's the new, NES-ized version of the song, which is also super-sweet.

In this game, Dr. Wily has acquired Dark Matter from the depths of space, and he plans to use it to become Super Sailor Moon. ...because his outfit is kinda Sailor-esque...

...alright, this post is going to be short on jokes and heavy on protips. It was difficult to find any real information on this particular version of the game, and considering this version is harder than the original 32-bit Mega Man 8, there were a lot of things that would have made the game much easier had I known them in advance. Especially pertaining to the Wily Castle stages, which I've got a ton of advice to impart for.

We jump right into things, with all eight stages unlocked at the outset (as opposed to four and four in the original version). This means no mid-point level between the two boss sets. The intro stage is missing, too, which is a shame because it had really good music.

Auto's shop is accessible from the stage select, and he has some good items. E-Tanks, which didn't exist in the 32-bit version, are thankfully value-priced. Most of the items here are single-use buffs, most notably the Super Recover (fourth in top row) which doubles the effectiveness of healing pellets for that stage. The last three items on the bottom row are all permanent innate passives: Exchanger, Energy Balancer, and Energy Saver. Respectively, they: Convert healing pellets to weapon energy if your health is full (mildly useful), recharge your lowest-ammo weapon even if you don't have a weapon out (good), and reduce the ammo costs of weapons (very good). It's wise to buy all three of the permanent items. E-Tanks are also a good purchase, but they can be farmed from Search Man's stage once you have Tornado Hold.

In the original version of the game there were a limited number of bolts in the game; in this version bolts can be farmed from enemies. There are two Big Bolts fairly early in their stages that can be farmed by grabbing them and dying: One in Clown Man's stage that requires Clown Man's weapon, and one in Search Man's stage that requires Flame Sword. The latter is better since you can farm E-Tanks from the same area. That right there is a humongous protip if you're planning to seriously tackle this game.

In the original version it was best to tackle Tengu Man first, but in this one Tengu Man is actually one of the tougher bosses. I went with Clown Man, who was never all that tough and still isn't. He can be a pain though, and I had to farm enough chips for an E-Tank before I was able to get a W over him.

His stage is some sort of weird funhouse with angry trains that insta-kill you if they bump into you. I don't remember THAT happening in the original version.

Later, the stage has some time-based block traps that are interesting to negotiate. These stage layouts are well-done even though the boss designs are generally pretty bad. I mean, Clown Man?

Speaking of which, here he is. Tornado Hold makes quick work of this guy, but the arm cannon works too. Already mentioned that I had to farm up an E-Tank to beat him; going for two to be safe might be a good idea too. This is the only Mega Man game I've ever played where it was a good idea to stop and farm at the beginning. Well, I'd advise that for Mega Man 9 as well but it's more difficult to farm there early-on.

As usual, you get boss special weapons for winning. They did a reasonably good job re-creating the 32-bit weapon-get screens here with 8-bit stills.

 Aside from getting boss weapons, you start with the Mega Ball. This odd weapon can be kicked upwards and bounces off of walls like a superball. It also has a second function that I didn't know about until I found it by accident: If you drop the ball without kicking it, it can be used as a springboard to jump higher.

Next up is Grenade Man's stage. It's kinda boring and un-memorable. Everything blows up. Moving on.

The miniboss here is one of the tougher ones. Mega Ball does a good job against it.

Grenade Man has a weird head-tentacle like Majin Buu. Thunder Claw does a lot of damage to him and the depressions in the floor can be advantageous. I like when boss fights in these games aren't just square rooms.

Third stage I tackle is Frost Man, some sort of post-apocalyptic nuclear winter highway. Someone thaw out that city! 

Ice levels in Mega Man games often have a dark tone to them. The stages of Blizzard Buffalo in Mega Man X3 and Frost Walrus in Mega Man X4 both felt apocalyptic.

Later in the stage it becomes a quickly-autoscrolling sled challenge. This might be the toughest section of any of the first eight stages until you get the hang of it. It's an easier version of the sled level in Wily's Castle.

Frost Man himself is big and beefy like a Texas Longhorn. Grenade Man's weapon does a lot of damage to him, but he's formidable. He attacks by dropping ice blocks from the ceiling and throwing them your way, which reminds me of that one ice block throwing guy from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.

...yeah.

Tengu Man's stage used to be the first one to tackle, but now it's #4. It's a tricky stage this time, with some wind elements that can mess up your day.

 The odd bubble section involves a lot of spike-dodging. This definitely looks like it belongs in Aqua Man's stage, weird.

Later in the stage, our hero boards Rush Jet as the game transforms temporarily into a bullet-hell side-scrolling shooter. It's a lot of fun and it isn't too difficult, aside from the tricky midpoint boss-wall thing.

Tengu Man is a pain because he attacks from high in the air, and his weakness - the ice weapon - travels along the floor. There are points where he telegraphs when he'll be low to the floor, and those are the times to strike.

This version of the game uses a password system (with too many dots!)

One thing that I can see being a major issue for people: Select Stage is the default option at game over, and you DO NOT want to accidentally hit that while doing the Wily Castle stages. It'd put you back at the beginning of the first one.

Aqua Man is next, and I'll take a moment to say that I'm really happy the Famicom couldn't do voice acting. The voices for these bosses (and the cutscenes, and...everything) in the 32-bit version were pretty atrocious.

Aqua Man's stage is your typical water level where you can jump higher than normal. Good stuff. In the original version, this level introduced swimming to the Mega Man series; to my knowledge it's the only level in said series where you can swim around freely. Since swimming isn't really an option in this 8-bit version, they reworked Aqua Man's stage to play more like a normal level.

This is a miniboss fight I particularly enjoyed in the PSX version, since you're falling down a long vertical tunnel the entire time.

Here's the PSX version for a graphics comparison.

Oddly enough, the sweet miniboss music from the PSX version is missing in the Famicom de-make, which is unfortunate. Instead the stage music just keeps playing over the fights.

Aqua Man himself has odd attack patterns, like this water jet that gives you safe places to stand. Since we're now on the second set of four bosses from the original, none of my weapons are particularly great against Aqua Man. He's part of the second weakness-circle and weak to Astro Crush, which I don't have yet. As a result, I had to use the arm cannon. I won without too much trouble, meaning this guy is another possibility for first boss. Might be an easier foe than Clown Man, not sure.

...My God, I'm in my thirties and talking about "Clown Man" on a blog.

Sword Man's stage has nice visuals for 8-bit. It starts out as a Transylvania-like countryside at sunset, then continues into...

...a set of ruins with a number of mini-challenges that need to be completed and branch off of the central area, eventually unlocking the way forward. It's exactly like the final stage of Yoshi's Woolly World, for the ten people who played that fun game.

The ice weapon works wonders here, freezing the instant-death fire jets that are all over these ruins.

Sword Man himself is interesting because he's taller than most of the bosses and can only be damaged by attacks to the head. While most of his attacks are sword-related, he can also throw fire blasts that float forward on a slight delay. They're exactly like Air Man's tornado attack in Mega Man 2, actually. This guy is probably the most well-designed of the eight bosses in this one. He's definitely the only one that I'd actively like to play as. His weapon is Flame Sword, which is a short-range slash that does a lot of damage. It's bargain bin Zero Sabre, but I'll take it.

Fun Fact: The Flame Sword appears in the Super Smash Bros series.

Now that I have Tornado Hold and Flame Sword, I can farm Search Man's stage for E-Tanks and Big Bolts. This is crucial going forward.

The stage itself reminds me of Napalm Man's stage. Search Man is sorta a military-themed boss, which is a little odd when we already got Grenade Man.

But wait! Search Man has two heads, so there's that setting him apart. Flame Sword makes quick work of him.

The eighth and final stage I tackle is Astro Man. It's a very weird one, with giant sunflowers in the background. The music is fun and memorable, though.

There are two maze sections to negotiate in this stage, and while they're time-consuming, once you know the route they're about the easiest level sections in the game. Protip: Use the Mega Ball jump-boost to bounce up to higher places here.

Get through the first maze, and you're rewarded with a vertical autoscrolling lava-chase. Yargh. This game loves to kick you in the pants right when you think you're out of the woods.

 Astro Man is space-themed, and attacks by launching meteors. He's weak to Search Man's weapon, a homing missile exactly like the homing missile in Mega Man X.

This version fixes the AI for this fight; previously you could stun-lock him with homing missiles. Now, there are no stun animations, so the fight continues as normal while you pelt him with shots.

 Astro Man's weapon, the Astro Crush, is one of my favorites. It clears the room with a rain of meteors. It's basically Rain Flush only awesomer.

With all eight bosses down, I thought I was pretty close to the end. Little did I know that the Wily Castle stages would be an epic battle for the ages, one that required careful planning and a healthy stock of items.

Here's a full inventory screen heading in. Full on weapons and permanent passive items, that is. I could use two more energy tanks (the max is five) and nine lives, but other than that I'm fairly set.

Editor's Note: I also should have brought more Super Recovers. Seriously. Bring Super Recovers. Almost a necessity for the boss rush, since they make big energy capsules give you back twice as much health for the duration of a stage.

Wily does his usual snickering while hovering around in a capsule. This guy is more formulaic than Law and Order.

Wily's Castle bears an odd resemblance to Dr. Robotnik's head...with a pig nose. For comparison, let's see how the castle looked in the original PSX version:

Looks very different in 3-D...not so pig-esque. It's like when the Martian Face turned out to be a boulder.

Wily Stage 1 is almost entirely an autoscrolling sled level, and for a long time I thought this was the most difficult single level in the entire original series. After beating it nine times today, I can safely say it isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was, and is actually somewhat fun.

...yes, I beat this level nine times today.

Until you finish this level once and realize it's beatable, it can be quite rough. The autoscrolling picks up speed and gets fast and furious by the end.

After you finally get through the sled portion of the level, you have to swing from these tiny hooks via the thunder chain weapon. I don't remember it being this bad in the PSX version, but in this version it's WAY too difficult to actually hit the hooks; your thunder chain is more likely to just pass through them while you fall into a pit. Luckily you don't need to repeat the sled part if you die here...unless you run out of lives and return to the beginning of the level, of course. Unfortunately, that's pretty likely. These hooks are awful, and one of the reasons why I had to replay this level so many times.

 The first boss is easily defeated with the Mega Ball. The cannons that drop down to fire at Mega Man can be dispatched with rapid arm cannon shots, so it's a good idea to do that quickly and then launch a Mega Ball at the boss before it disappears offscreen. Keep in mind that when you switch weapons, your shots disappear from the screen. This makes it hard to launch a Mega Ball and then switch to the arm cannon to blast the adds; chances are the ball won't get to the boss in time. Using the ball after the adds are gone is a better idea, but it all has to happen quickly.

After beating this stage I tried exiting out to the stage select to hit the shop, but doing so starts you back at the beginning of the castle. That's right, whatever you start the castle with has to last you all the way through it. This makes proper E-Tank use (or lack of use) absolutely critical for making it to the end.

The second Wily stage is considerably easier, but it has a bit of a snag as well in the form of another Rush Jet section. This is nothing compared to the sled level before this, but there are a couple of parts where you can get squashed by the autoscrolling if you don't know what's happening next.

The boss is a ship that initially seemed really challenging until I remembered that Astro Crush totally fries it on all of its weak points simultaneously with the unavoidable meteor swarm.

 Unfortunately, after using Astro Crush, Mega Man dies.

The third Wily stage is a real test, and it's crucial to get here without using any E-Tanks. That isn't as tall of an order as it might seem because both of the previous two bosses can be beaten without even taking a hit if you're careful.

Stage 3 has two bosses; the first is midway through and it's our old pal Bass. He isn't easy and it's likely that an E-Tank will be needed to get past here. Problem is that there's a second half to the level, and game overing on that means your E-Tank got wasted because you have to do THIS fight again... this is easily the most annoying part of the game, and another reason I had to restart the castle so many times.

 As for defeating Bass, the Homing Missile does a lot of damage AND removes the need to concentrate on aiming, freeing you up to dodge like crazy. Like most of the bosses in the game, he has specific "tells" right before he does his main attacks, so you can usually tell what he's going to do. Doesn't mean it's easy to dodge those attacks, though.

Cool thing of note: Bass' awesome theme music made it in for this fight. I was worried that it wouldn't show up since a fair amount of good lesser-used tracks didn't make it into this de-make.

The later parts of Wily Castle 3 are VERY cheap, with heavy-duty robots knocking you off of the tiny platforms every chance they get. Saving a couple shots of Astro Crush is crucial for this section, since it one-shots the robots. Losing all your lives here after using an E-Tank to get past Bass is the WORST.

Speaking of the worst, the Green Devil / Rock Monster is probably my least-favorite Mega Man boss. In this version it isn't TOO bad, but it's likely to take two more of your E-Tanks just to ensure a victory. Since you can't repeat the fight until you Get Good due to the presence of Bass during the stage, this fight puts you in a bit of a predicament in terms of E-Tank preservation.

It follows the usual attack patterns while giving you very little room. The good news is that the blocks always travel in the same pattern across. Flash Bomb does the most damage, but it still takes a while to bring him down.

Next up is the boss capsule room, and since I don't have any E-Tanks to spare (two left total), it's the roughest capsule room ever. The bosses in this game are tougher than the average Mega Man already, too.

Fast forward about two hours...

HAW. Destroyed them all without using any E-Tanks or running out of lives. Need to have at least 01 lives at the end, too, so you have room to die on purpose and get your health back to max for the final fight.

Another Protip: The Super Recover item is the only particularly useful consumable item from the shop, and it's useful mainly due to this stage. Every boss drops an energy capsule with a 33% health restore, and if a Super Recover is activated for this stage, those capsules give two-thirds of your health back. That makes the stage MUCH easier. Unfortunately, I ran out of Super Recovers (due to barely bringing any) and had to do the stage with the restores giving me their normal amount. 

Again, success in this game towards the end all comes down to planning. Need to make sure you have enough of the right weapon ammo at the right times, bring the right items, and conserve E-Tanks for the times when they're needed.

The final fight with Wily is a lot easier than the boss rush, surprisingly. Aqua Man's weapon makes really quick work of the Skull Tank form, which is important because you want to take as little damage as possible on this part. After my two hours spent on the boss rush, I HAD to get this right on the first try.

Wily's saucer form is notably more difficult, but it pales in comparison to the one from Mega Man 7. Flame Sword does a ton of damage if you can get close enough to hit with it, and if not F-Bomb does decent damage too. Tornado Hold can also hit him when he's high in the air. It's a fight where you need to maximize your DPS and outlast him, since even under ideal conditions it's hard to have many E-Tanks to fall back on. I still had the two at this point, and needed both of them to win.

...phew. That was my hardest-fought win over a game in a loooong time. Well, besides every Souls series game I've played. Those games are also all about planning and being super-careful above all else. Plan well and you're set. Twitch reflexes aren't necessary.

BUT WAIT! Wily goes all malevolent and blasts Mega Man with the Maverick Virus Dark Matter before making his escape.

Duo shows up and heals Mega Man, bringing him back to life.

Duo: Robot Jesus?

Mega Man's entire life flashes before his eyes, with shots from the eight games up to this point. Pretty cool that since I've finished this and Rockman 7 FC, I've now played all ten original series Mega Man games in an NES format. The weird thing is that all of these shots are iconic at best and recognizable at worst...except for the shots from Mega Man 4 and Mega Man 6, which are both generic. Weird.

Everyone is overjoyed that Mega Man is alive, and they lived happily ever after...

...until Zero murdered them. Murdered them good. Especially Auto. He was just a boy, damn it! HE WAS JUST A BOY!

But what of Robot Jesus?

He's out there somewhere, Rush. Somewhere among the stars.



9 comments:

  1. Couldn't agree more about the intro music. I really like the 8-bit soundtrack for this game too.

    I usually do Grenade Man first and kinda wing the boss fight with Rush Bike absorbing some damage, but of course things are different here.

    I wish this and 7 FC were a little more accessible because they're SO COOL. Really well put together too.

    Whoa, those are supposed to be mountains in the background of Tengu Man's stage, I thought for a moment that it was underwater for some reason.

    When I played this the other day I'm sorry to say that the voice acting was still there. ...in my head. I can't get it out. Even now looking at this picture I hear "I'm Aqua Man!"

    Now I'm interested in starting with Aqua Man. Of course that'd mean Sword Man next, but I suppose those stages already had to be redesigned to be clearable without the "first" four weapons.

    "After beating it nine times today, I can safely say it isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was, and is actually somewhat fun." - Right? I had the same experience with the snowboard in this game. Brutality that turned into something doable and kind of cool after enough training.

    The Thunder Claw hooks could be a bit tricky in the original game, the last thing they needed was to be less responsive.

    The montage screen seems to have been inspired by the one in MM9 which is cool, and with the exception of 4 and 6 they chose some excellent stills. Look how awesome Mega Man and Bass facing off in 7 is there.

    Just one question, was Proto Man in the ending, or anywhere in the game at all? I missed him.

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    1. Yep, Sword Man's stage is clearable without any weapons. ...I think. It was one of the last ones I did.

      And nope, no sign of Protoman.

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  2. My god, Eddie looks soulless in that second to last panel. He doesn't have any pupils.

    As a child, playing this on the Gamecube, I remember spending FOREVER on the Astro Man stage. I wasn't very smart, so getting through mazes was something I wasn't good at. In fact I'm still not good with mazes.

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    1. I played this for the first time on the Gamecube as well, I think. I had the Anniversary Collection on there, but then I sold the Collection to get the PS2 version instead. The GC controller was just weird for a game like this, needed something more traditional.

      The Astro Man mazes are actually way smaller than they seem because they loop onto themselves. This means the solution is always close by and usually you can just Tornado Hold up to it. They're definitely confusing though. I had to look up the answer to one of them.

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    2. From what I can tell it looks like Eddie's eyes are closed as he leaps happily.

      Auto's eyes on the other hand...

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    3. Impressive stuff. It's awesome what the global game-fan community is capable of. Nice job getting through this too--having played as many Mega Man games as you have this must be REALLY difficult so beating this is something to be proud of. You should give the Mega Man-Street Fighter mashup a try too!

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  3. I wonder when they are actually going to finish the classic series. I enjoy playing them very much, they are the best but I want to know what will really happen, how they will all die and how X will be created. Is he a new robot? Is he made from Megaman?

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    1. At this point I've accepted that we're never going to find out any of those things, even though a huge portion of the fanbase still wants answers to this day. Oh well.

      Tune in for my coverage of the Mega Man X series (and classic reposts) in March.

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    2. Also you should try Rockman No constancy (hard mode) and Rockman 4 MI, they are really neat romhacks.
      As for Zero killing everyone for fun I'm guessing he was made with Rush. Damn you Zero.

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