Title :Megaman 8
Platforms :Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn
Publisher :Capcom
Game Rating :2.5 stars
Review by :Ken Gagne
Title: MEGAMAN 8
Platform: Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn
Publisher: Capcom
Game Rating: 2.5 stars
Review by: Ken Gagne


It's been a decade since a single robot appeared on the 8-bit Nintendo and started an enduring line of sequels. Capcom celebrates the ten year anniversary of the Blue Bomber with his first 32-bit appearance in Megaman 8, for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. [PSX version reviewed here] 

When two robots harm each other during an intergalactic battle and collide to Earth, it's up to Megaman and the team to ensure their technology doesn't fall into the hands of the evil Dr. Wily. This must be accomplished while fighting off Bass and Treble, misunderstood foes introduced in the previous title. Fortunately, Megaman will have the aid of Dr. Light, Protoman, his dog Rush, and a host of other friends. 

The game opens with an animated intro of Megaman in action in a variety of scenes, showing off enemies new and old. The clips look as though they were lifted directly from the television cartoon series. Voiceovers detract from the effect, though: Megaman sounds like a girl, and Dr. Light speaks with an odd lisp. Otherwise, such cinemas provide a fun interlude between action scenes. 

Megaman starts with a selection of four stages, and later moves on to four more. Each level is guarded by an end boss, such as Clownman, Grenademan, and Frostman. When defeated, these opponents will give up their weaponry to the Indigo Invader, giving him the strength to earn victory over other bosses. Within each stage are hidden bolts, which Megaman can collect to purchase equipment upgrades between levels. These add functionality such as increased speed, more powerful shots, or longer lives. There are only a finite number of bolts, so hardware must be chosen carefully. There is no password system, but progress can be saved on a memory card. 

The graphics are colorful and cheery, in sync with the cartoony feel of the Megaman series. There is some interaction with the various backgrounds and foregrounds, which is always a plus in a two-dimensional side-scroller. The sprites seem smaller than usual, but some important enemies take up a good portion of the screen. 

The music is also somewhat tame, never setting the mood for heart-racing shooting action. Nor are there many ear-splitting explosions or gunfire sounding. What's new are vocals for each of the main computer robots with which to taunt Megaman, or admit defeat. These add to their personalities and make the battles more entertaining 

Control is easy to pick up and learn. The main buttons are jump and shoot but an additional button now fires Megaman's special weapons. This means he can have his Mega Buster and an extra weapon active simultaneously, which veterans of the series should get used to. Finally can Megaman swim when he's plunged underwater. It's hardly ever a problem to get this mechanical man where he's going. 

The department in which Megaman 8 is most sorely lacking is challenge. Most titles in the series have provided a few days' worth of gaming, but this latest entry is almost too easy. A few of the level bosses will provide some worthy scraps, but their weaknesses are too easily exploited and the next opponent faced. Even the last multi-tiered level soon brings Megaman face-to-face with Dr. Wily. There's a number of hidden items and areas scattered throughout the stages. Players wanting to find it all will have their work cut out for them; those simply fighting from point A to point B will find little resistance. 

Megaman's redundancy has been dwindling its fun factor for years. After a decade, it's about time for something new. Megaman 8 is a mellow title that's fun to look at and play, just without the adrenaline rush commonly associated with action games. It's is a great rental for a day or two of gaming, but not much more.

This article is copyright (c) 1997, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 26-May-97