The Mega Man X series started on the SNES back in 1993 as a way to update the franchise after its highly successful seven or eight game run in the 8-bit era. Mega Man X8 continues the saga of Mega Man X, known to his friends as simply “X”, as he and his allies Zero and Axl try to save mankind from the evil Sigma who is attempting to destroy it by infecting their reploid robots with a virus that makes them turn on their human masters. Don’t worry, the story isn’t important to the game anyway.

Like the original Mega Man, Mega Man X8 is made up of various stages, 12 to be exact. Also like the original, these stages may be attempted by the player in any order and as many times as they wish. Completing a stage will give Mega Man new skills that will make him even more effective in battle and exploration.

At the beginning of a level the player picks two of the three available characters to use during that level. Each has special abilities and may be freely substituted during gameplay. Each level seems to have an optimum pairing. Finding that correct pairing is generally a matter of guess-and-by-golly gaming. Sometimes you’ll get it on the first attempt, but more likely you’ll have to try a couple of times before getting the right duo working on the case.

A satisfying amount of the game is played in the traditional Mega Man 2D manner, but there are also some less satisfying levels that go into a 3D mode and even vehicular-based combat. Sadly, there is not a lot of innovation going on and the level design is a bit disappointing. The bosses that end the levels are just getting old.

Graphically the game is solidly mediocre. You can play the game with the game’s graphics but don’t expect any “Ooohs!” and “Aaahhs!” Animation is smooth and runs at a steady framerate. That is about the best thing you can say about the graphics. They are serviceable but it just looks like someone was phoning it in. Audio is slightly better than the graphical presentation, but the fact of the matter is that it seems to be just a rehash of stuff we’ve all seen before in games.

Control is rock solid, but that does not mean that the player is going to have an easy time in Mega Man X8. On the contrary, this is a fairly hard game that regularly borders on the frustrating.


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