|By Russell Mantilla||Tuesday, 7 Aug 2007|
I came across this game at the bargain bin section at the local Game Stop. Not having played a Mega Man game for a number of years, i decided to pick it up and see how much this classic series has evolved, and not, in a 3d gaming age.
First thing that i was pleasantly surprised to find was the angle this game took. 2D platformers unfortunately a dying breed, and Mega Man 8 is one of the few titles of that remind us how beautiful a hand drawn game can be. Granted that X series of game has kept the 2D love alive too (X8 is the red headed step child). Mega Man 8 is more a homage to the original series of games appearing on the NES, adopting a more light hearted, colorful cartoony styled visuals than the recent titles. It’s also noticeable that much emphasis was also paid to the sprite animation of all the characters (I get a kick out of just watching the hardhat pop up and swagger around). They also added anime-styled cut scenes here and there, which suffer from bad video encoding, but such is the way of most attempts of this on the PS1. This is still one the most beautiful sprite based games on the PS1 that I’ve played.
The music is composed by Syusaku Uchiyama, who also composed the score for Megaman X3 and Resident Evil 2. The music fits very well with the theme, sometimes a little too well. Some of the tracks are borderline corny(not surprisingly its Clownman…..DAMN YOU CLOWNMAN!!!). Regardless, the music is quite good, and in my opinion the most memorable since Mega Man 3(You can find mp3′s here: Mega Man 8 soundtrack). The sound effects, on the other hand, are quite annoying. Particularly the voice overs for some of the robots, to the point that if you heard someone talking like that in real life, you’d want to punch them in the face, repeatedly(yes, Clownman). Dr. Light also got the shaft, and ended up sounding like Elmer Fudd. But some did manage to grow on me, like Frost Man and Roll, which fulfilled the characters quite well.
Mega Man 8 controls pretty well. Some of the older titles on the NES are a bit slow for my liking nowadays, with newer incarnations adding the ability to dash and wall grab. This game being a homage older predecessors, remains simple in that way. But many of the levels include hoverboard and shooter styled sub-levels, which increase the pace of the game quite dramatically.
The game play is one of the few aspects that are not like the older incarnations of this series on the NES. You’re able to purchase upgrades with bolts that are found through out the entire game. There’s a set number, and even when you find all of them, there arent enough to purchase all the upgrades available. So its up to you which combination works the best for you. Some of these upgrades are quite necessary for the later levels, as the difficult goes up. And despite the saccharinated veneer, it gets quite difficult towards the end. But level progression leading up to the end is all pretty much standard Mega Man fare (find one boss that you can beat with your main weapon, then find which baddie is weak to the newly acquired weapon from the previous boss, rinse, repeat).
I very much enjoyed this game, and if you can look past the kiddie treatment they did on Mega Man himself, and shitty English voice overs, then you will find a very beautifully solid and challenging game that we’ve all played before, but can’t seem to get enough of.