B+I don't know if you, the reader, agree, but when Mega Man 9 came out people were overjoyed that Capcom had successfully reinvigorated a series that was considered stale. And then promptly returned to the "old standard" with Mega Man 10. But what gets me about this is that everyone seems to forget Mega Man 8, was is far as I am concerned a great step forward for the future of the Mega Man series. A complete reversal of the declining trend that started after Mega Man 2. Sadly, not enough for complete redemption, but certainly good enough to jump back up the the quality seen around Mega Man 4.
The first thing pretty much everyone cares about is, who are the Robot Masters? When I saw the list I went, blah. Is Capcom serious? Search Man? Clown Man? Tengu Man? They seem uninspired, until you find out they were ALL chosen from a design contest like many of us probably saw in Nintendo Power oh so many years ago.
Despite a few annoyances concerning auto-scroll, the stages are diverse colorful and well designed after you get out the training level a la Mega Man X. I was shocked when one of the first enemies you see in Tengu Man is a giant flying robot whale that carpet bombs around 20 Mets onto the screen. In Clown Man's stage you have to watch a toy castle off in the background where little castle guards come out and ring a bell in order to avoid traps that come out of the ground that could punch you in the face or drop you onto spikes. Despite what seems like a larger amount of enemy recycling that usual, the stage design is both aesthetically and interactively pleasing. Design takes a light, comical tone, with a lot of frills that really add to the experience. If this aspect of design was kept we would all be very happy. Mega Man 9 takes a different path, but was thankfully still successful due to it's respect for the older design tricks of Mega Man and Mega Man 2 that have greater emphasis on avoiding traps and proper button timing.
So what is holding Mega Man 8 back? Some anime cut-scenes that trick the player into thinking it is a more serious game than it actually is. There is some voice acting in Mega Man 8. A lot of it is cheesy. And we find out Mega Man is really a Mega Boy. The voice acting kills the immersion for some people. They can't handle it's over-the-top delivery. So though I found these parts of the game fun, it is a big turn off for some that should probably be avoided. Also the "Jump, Jump, Slide, Slide" (what the game yells at you to inform you of the next obstacle) aspect of several stages where you have to avoid obstacles and time jumps on what is essentially a skateboard is infuriating.
So to close, what could have been? Longer stages, busy backgrounds, gobs of enemies, bells and whistles galore, greater involvement with stage features. These are frills that become available with higher end technology. It's clear the Mega Man series doesn't need it. But if done right, moving on from 8-bit should not have been a problem.