Ten years have past since the original Mega Man hit the NES, and since that time, gaming has gone through some rather dramatic changes. Surprisingly enough, the Mega Man series has remained roughly the same, seemingly untouched by either technology or gaming trends. With this latest release, it is becoming painfully apparent that Capcom must reinvent its indigo hero for the decade ahead or resign itself to re-releasing the original titles on new platforms (without the guise of a sequel).
Like previous Mega Man games, Mega Man 8 is a 2-D action side scroller in which you take on a series of enemy bosses, collect their unique powers, and ultimately take on their creator, the evil Dr. Wily. What makes each version different is the variety of bosses and their levels. This time around you're up against the likes of Tengu Man, Sword Man, Grenade Man, Clown Man, Frost Man, and Search Man - oddly enough, as the company begins to run thin on ideas, the villain's names have become less and less descriptive of their actual powers.
Frankly, the biggest complaint you could lodge about Mega Man 8 is the fact that it seems thrown together, offering little in the way of new features. The graphics, which show the most improvement, have been updated, but their cartoon stylings don't quite live up to today's 32-bit standards (although the animated video intermissions and CD soundtrack add a little depth to the title). Sure, Mega Man can now charge his gun up and slide under objects, but even these additions were also available in Mega Man 7 on the Super Nintendo. The only new addition to the game is a shop where Mega Man can buy new accessories like laser power-ups and extra lives.
Mega Man 8 is quite challenging, but experienced gamers will be able to run, jump, and shoot through it without much trouble. Side-scrolling adventure games like this can be a blast, and in many ways this game is fun to play. If you have never played a Mega Man game, by all means, pick this title up and see what you've been missing. Unfortunately though, this whole premise has been done seven times before and, for those who have been paying attention, it's starting to get old.