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After ten years of creating Mega Man video games exclusively for various Nintendo consoles, Capcom decided to switch gears to Sony's PlayStation and Sega's Saturn in 1997 for Mega Man 8, leaving Mega Man's loyal Nintendo fans behind for the first time. While a handful of Mega Man titles had been converted for other platforms (Mega Man X3 was released for the PC, Sony PlayStation, and Sega Saturn in addition to the Super NES, for example), Mega Man 8 represents a major shift in Mega Man's future. The reason for the switch seems obvious enough - the Nintendo 64's game paks were unable to handle the storage capacity needs of the (poor quality) full motion video the game used to move the storyline along - although looking at the bigger picture reveals how Capcom, along with many other noted third-party game developers in the industry, were jumping from Nintendo's ship at the time. Despite the backroom wheelings-and-dealings involved with its production, Mega Man 8 is another solid chapter in the character's history and represents his final adventure released in North America until 2003's Mega Man and Bass.

Mega Man 8 begins as two fields of energy are locked in battle in outer space. After one particularly nasty attack on each other, the energy beings plummet to Earth. One of these beings is a cosmic robot by the name of Duo, the other is simply a glob of evil energy that Duo is tasked with destroying. Duo is eventually befriended by Mega Man and his creator, but the evil energy has landed near Dr. Wily's lab. Now the mad scientist is using the evil energy to power his latest collection of robot masters and conquer the world. Mega Man sets out to destroy the robots and recover the energy for proper disposal armed with a new weapon: the Mega Ball, a soccer-ball type weapon that inflicts damage after being kicked.

Longtime fans of the Mega Man series will find this game most familiar. After all, it's yet another installment of the side-scrolling platforming shooter that fans that keeps fans coming back for more. While the graphics have received a boost from the 16-bit Mega Man 7, the core of that title is held intact here. Mega Man walks slowly, jumps, shoots his traditional blaster, and captures the weapons of defeated robot masters. Rush the robodog returns yet again, although this time in four new forms that provide indirect assistance for Mega Man by dropping bombs from above, digging up weapon energy, or speeding our hero to his destination. From time to time Rush appears as the Rush Jet form, giving the game brief auto-scrolling shooter levels. Auto the robot builds upgrades for Mega Man once again, and on occassion Eddie and Beat drop in to assist. Mega Man 8 is more of the same on all accounts, although that sameness makes up the core of the Mega Man experience. New additions to the series include the ability to save game progress to memory cards and the ability to shoot the standard blaster while a robot master weapon is also armed, a feature brought over from the later Mega Man X games. Mega Man can also switch weapons with the L1 and R1 buttons without switching to the subscreen first, another feature from the X series.

And what would a Mega Man game be without robot masters? Dr. Wily's evil contraptions actually speak aloud this time around, often taunting Mega Man during battle or shouting out a few choice last words just before being blasted to bits. Several of these robot masters were recycled for the Super NES Japan-only title Rockman and Forte just a year later (which would finally be released in North America as Mega Man and Bass for the Game Boy Advance in 2003), detailed animations and all, proving that Capcom could have produced a Mega Man 8 for a Nintendo console if they had wanted to do so. The robot masters that Mega Man must face are:

The Sega Saturn version of the game features cameos from two classic robot masters, Cut Man and Wood Man. Mega Man can fight them to obtain bolts that can be swapped for upgrades, but he cannot take their weapons. In the Sony PlayStation version of the game the bolts that these two robots guard are simply laying out in the open and can be obtained without a battle. The PlayStation version contains a special bonus feature that covers Mega Man's tenth anniversary that the Sega Saturn version does not include, so each version contains an aspect that the other does not.

In the end Mega Man 8 is an enjoyable enough game, however it is just more of the same in a shinier package. The series had begun to grow stale by this point, partly because the formula had been rehashed so many times by now that it was no longer special and partly because Capcom is notorious for releasing as many games as possible in a series without seriously improving upon said formula. While Mega Man 8 has languished in the bargain bins with other various late 1990s PSOne games (and the Sega Saturn version forgotten about almost completely), Capcom did include the game in the 2004 Mega Man anthology release for the Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2, the Mega Man Anniversary Collection.

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