The Blue Bomber is Back
Scene: Lights come up on PITCH MAN, a freelance game developer and professional
schmuck He's chewing way too much gum and keeps looking at his watch. Seated
across from him is MR. BIG MAN, a game producer with pockets deeper than Nietzche...
PITCH MAN speaks...
"Hey babe, gotta great idea, babe. Can I call you babe, babe? Great, babe. Okay, so you 'member Megaman? Yeah, yeah, the little blue guy with all those guns...okay, yah with me? So okay, babe, yah take that little guy - let's call him Megasomethin-or-other - did I mention that? Oh yeah, okay so you take that guy and what do we do? Babe, we make another game. And then guess what, babe? That's right, babe, we make another one. And another. And another. And then we make another one........yah still with me babe?"
Ah, sequels. The bread and butter of the entertainment industry, sequels are
the glint of hope and continued success (translation: moolah) in the eyes of
every exec. We've seen it in all mediums, especially film (Rocky 1-?), literature
(Jurassic Park 2: The Lost Cause), and television (Star Trek: The Next Gen).
There is always much hype and fuss over sequels, but they usually fail to live
up to the standards set by the original. Except, of course, in the case of video
games. Just check out the Mortal Kombat series,
Warcraft II , or
Twisted Metal II.
Megaman began as a pixelated little fellow on the original Nintendo. A swarm of sequels later, we find him as - you guessed it - a pixelated little fellow on the new consoles. As a cult sensation, I can hear the cries of Megafans...'Has much changed?' 'Did they keep true to form?' 'Does he win again?'. No, Sure, and the last one's up to you, silly.
The plot is not much different from the previous installments. The Evil Dr. Wily has hatched another evil scheme, one that is so evil and scheming that you might even call it brilliant (I like to talk like that). It involves a meteor crash, some large robots, and lots of anime cut-scenes. You must save the world once again from the sinister clutches of this ruthless madman who is bent on destroying the universe! (I told you). So warm-up your trigger finger for some pretty standard Mega-man action.
I should mention that familiar faces abound in this game. Characters from prior episodes make appearances. You got Dr. Light (yer boss), Roll (yer sis), Proto Man (yer pal), Auto, Beat, and Eddy (yer homies), and of course Rush (yer trusty canine companion). They all lend a hand in one way or another...
The gameplay and design is nearly identical to the older versions. As a side-scroller, you spend a great deal of time jumping, sliding, and shooting your way through hordes of goofy looking enemies. You begin with your standard 'Mega Buster', which can be powered up to form the 'Mega Blast' shot. Of course, the trademark of the series lies in getting new weapons and figuring out which work best in which situation. To get new weapons, you must defeat bosses (robots built by The Evil Dr. Wily with his evil intentions). To name a few - Grenade Man, Aqua Man, Clown Man, and the oddly named Tengu Man.
You can choose which boss level to explore in any order, though the game limits you to choosing out of 4 at a time. The order you choose greatly affects how difficult the game is - for instance, certain weapons work MUCH better than others on certain bosses. Even after you defeat a level, feel free to try it again to search for hidden areas, or even areas that you can reach by having certain weapons. I found all kinds of neat stuff using the mini-Tornado...
Graphically, the game looks like every other Megaman game. This means that the power of the 32 bit systems is hardly utilized, save for the anime cut scenes (straight out of the cartoon). I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, fans of the series (oh, ye hordes aplenty) will probably enjoy the fact that the feel is so familiar; Capcom stayed true to the roots. You can't help but wonder, however, what this game could have been. It's a tough call - changing a proven design can be disastrous (like New Coke). We at the Revolution admire games that take risks; these are the ones that make a difference. I leave it up to you to decide, dear reader...
I do have one major complaint, though this is not reserved to only this installment of Megaman. You can't shoot up (boy that would be a neat weapon...). With so much emphasis on the guns, you'd hope to be able to fire at the quite prolific number of beasties flying overhead. Nope! You gotta jump....and jump....and jump. This has always been irritating - too bad they didn't change it.
Fans of Megaman should get the game... as if you didn't already buy it the day it came out. For the rest of you, this game has some cool stuff going for it. But as a platformer, the shelf life is limited. There isn't a whole lot of replay value (aside from scouring the levels for hidden items), and this game doesn't do anything new or particularly different. But hey babe, it's Megaman 8, babe. Call me, we'll do lunch.