Mega Man 8 is an action-platform video game developed and released by Capcom in 1996. It was directed by Hayato Kaji, who had previously worked on the series as an artist. Keiji Inafune, who was also an artist for the series, was given the role of producer after the departure of Tokuro Fujiwara who had been producer for the series since Mega Man 2. It is the eighth installment in the original Mega Man series, and was initially released in Japan on the PlayStation in 1996. The following year, Mega Man 8 saw a release on the Sega Saturn and was localized for both consoles in North America and the PlayStation alone in PAL regions. Mega Man 8 is the first game in the series made available on 32-bit consoles. The plot begins as the humanoid robot Mega Man is called to investigate an energy reading coming from a recent meteor crash on an island. Mega Man discovers that his nemesis Dr. Wily has ran off with the energy source. Mega Man is charged with stopping Wily’s evil plans to use the energy, and discovering the purpose of a mysterious, alien robot found at the crash site.
Along with new animated full-motion videos (FMVs) and voice acting, Mega Man 8 features improved graphics and sound when compared to previous iterations in the series. Aside from a few minor conventions, the game utilizes the same 2D side-scrolling and platforming formula established by its predecessors on the NES and Super NES platforms. It received a moderately positive reception. Many reviewers appreciated the aesthetic and gameplay qualities of Mega Man 8 when compared to its earlier counterparts. However, several other critics were displeased by this same lack of innovation, finding that it does not utilize the full potential of the 32-bit platforms; additionally, the English-language version of the game received considerable criticism for its voice acting, which was perceived by many as being comically poor-quality. This resulted in an overall average or mixed critical reception. However, the game was a moderate commercial success and was re-released on best-seller lines in Japan and North America. Mega Man 8 was followed by Mega Man & Bass, a 1998 spin-off game for the SNES and later Game Boy Advance. A true sequel to the game, Mega Man 9, would not be released until 2008 and would revert to the graphical and gameplay style of the early NES games.
The gameplay of Mega Man 8 is similar to that of its predecessors. The player, as Mega Man, must complete various stages that contain side-scrolling action and platforming elements. The player can run, jump, slide, shoot, swim, charge the Mega Buster, and change weapons. Enemies can be destroyed to reveal items used to refill Mega Man’s health and weapon power. Like Mega Man 7, the player completes an introductory stage and is presented with four Robot Master stages (Tengu Man, Frost Man, Grenade Man, and Clown Man) to tackle in any order. At the end of each stage is a boss battle with a Robot Master; defeating the Robot Master earns the player its Master Weapon. Most Robot Masters are weak to either the Mega Buster or one or more Master Weapon, allowing for some strategy in the order the stages are completed. An additional four Robot Masters (Aqua Man, Sword Man, Search Man, and Astro Man) become available once the first four are defeated and an intermission stage is completed.
An addition to gameplay in Mega Man 8 is the ability to display and use multiple weapons onscreen simultaneously. This change introduces a unique way of using weapons strategically. For example, Mega Man can place a Tornado Hold, jump into it and swing the Flame Sword while rising with the air current. The player also has the ability to use the Mega Buster at all times, even when equipped with a Master Weapon. The player can buy new abilities from Roll in Dr. Light’s lab in exchange for special bolts found throughout the levels. However, due to a limited number of bolts and powerup slots available, the player must carefully decide which power-ups to buy. Power-ups involving Mega Man’s dog Rush are won by fighting mid-stage minibosses. Such Rush items include Rush Question, giving the player a random pickup, Rush Charger, which makes pickups rain from the skies, and Rush Bike, used to cross large gaps.