Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch is an arena based FPS that has you facing off against a wide variety of the robots spanning the Mega Man 1-8 series in a frantic free for all deathmatch. Before all else you will be asked to configure your keys to allow you to use & switch items, fly up or down and various other things added to this Doom mod. The set up to the mod is rather simple and has Dr. Light set up a friendly tournament which then triggers the evil Dr. Wily to sign his robots up for the contest to prove that his designs are superior. Mega Man then enters the fray to make sure Wily doesn’t try anything fishy.
You’ll start the mod off in a really nice over-world that consists of Dr. Light’s lab and some surrounding land filled with iconic Mega Man characters. While we start off as Mega Man we can immediately switch to one of the wide variety of available robots by going to a dresser like area in the lab. Annoyingly enough the camera keeps spinning around the character models when you are trying to select one, making it rather difficult to see how they look like from the front which is where most of their unique features are. Thankfully you can also select a character from the main menu and that is much more convenient to use. All characters have the same skills and the only difference between robots is cosmetic.
While you can spend some time chatting with characters and watching the seasons change in the over-world the real fun comes when you join the tournament by selecting the stage in Dr. Light’s room. As soon as you enter the stage the time for talk is over and everyone is an enemy that you must destroy to the sweet tune of a song ripped directly from a Mega Man game that fits in very well with the frantic nature of the gameplay. When starting the match you’ll just have your simple Mega Buster that has slow projectiles and meager damage but it’s enough to defend yourself while you run off to find a new weapon. The amount of weapons in this mod are insane and are frequently introduced all throughout to make you excited to see what it does.
From firing tornadoes, lasers or bubbles they are all mostly unique and require different tactics to use effectively instead of just simply pointing and clicking at your foes. Speaking of aiming, auto-aim is turned on by default and can be turned off in the menus. If you choose to turn it off or lower its range you’ll quickly find out that hit-boxes are kind of odd and you’ll have to aim for the crotch area of the robot to damage it. One of the main advantages you will have over the AI bots is that they will not jump during combat and just try to strafe past your projectiles. They’ll jump to reach items or weapons however. A brilliant feature to this game is that characters change colors depending on what weapon they have so you’ll always know what weapon an enemy has and how to approach him which is just a genius gameplay addition that reduces the luck of combat and focuses more on your foresight.
With so many weapons it is not all too surprising that some are much better than others while some range on the “I’ll keep my basic weapon, thx.” side of the spectrum. Each weapon does have their own ammo gauge so you can’t solely rely on your favorite weapon all throughout, though there are ammo pellets that restore a portion of your equipped weapon’s ammo when picked up. Found throughout the stages are also items with various different effects such as giving you a shield to block projectiles with, summon a boost pad that flings you up into the air and one that teleports you to a random spot on the map which can be useful when you are on the losing side of a fight. With so many factors at play it helps to keep the mod from getting stale.
Each stage features a completely new level and song to enjoy. They never use the same one twice yet they have a staggering amount of maps to go through. Some maps feature environmental hazards like descending machinery, others have a neat gimmick like tweaked gravity in a underwater stage and others have more direct control by the player such as grabbing a fire based gun to set an oil pit on fire and burn your enemies to a crisp. It’s still all about killing everyone you see but they do their best to keep that premise from getting stale and they do a rather good job at it. After each set of maps based of a Mega Man game comes at an end comes a boss fight.
These are rather difficult battles against a superior foe and require different methods to take some of them down. Oddly enough, the first boss battle is one of the hardest which honestly killed a bit of my interest to explore the rest of the game since I could only imagine how absurd the boss fights would be if the first boss is like this. Luckily that was not the case for the large majority of the mod but when you begin to reach it’s end it is through holding punches and will make you earn your victory. A rather major annoyance with a particular boss fight featuring a giant robot is that it is only damaged by a very small handful of weapons causing you to scroll through your massive arsenal of weapons to see which one do any damage and with the ones that do, it is barely noticeable making it likely to think it did nothing.
Now that I’m mentioning the bad aspects I’m afraid to say this mod does have its issues. For one you must be in first place on the scoreboards of the stage, anything less and you may as well be last. Fine, that’s not really that big of a deal you’d think but other aspects of the mod add up to make this issue far more noticeable. For one the AI has a very common tendency to steal your kills on the last moment. You’ll spend a while in a intense standoff with a foe and while he is on the verge of death a seemingly stray bullet will finish him off, meaning you get no credit for that kill and you just wasted your valuable time. It’s the mechanical and unnatural way that it occurs that it really irradiates the player such as fighting someone and at the last second a third party suddenly twitches toward their direction at just the right moment.
It isn’t game-breaking but it’s bad enough that it affects the way you play the game especially on the later stages that have more and faster enemies. While you start off the mod playing intelligently it eventually forces you to go the full on Rambo approach of going in weapons blasting in the hopes that you manage to get enough kills to reach first place. Moving on from that issue, the AI is a good challenge, getting around the level relatively well with a few set of maps where they get confused and stand in a single place until you damage them. Bosses have also have a flaw in that you can’t skip their intros after you die and then respawn to fight them for the hundredth time.
All things considered these flaws do not make it any less amazing of what this mod has accomplished. If this were a paid product I would still be admiring the sheer amount of content it offers and its fun, varied combat. The fact that it’s free after all the care and attention put into this behemoth of a mod is pretty insane. I’ve never played a Mega Man game as of the date of this review yet as a fan of FPS games yet I enjoyed it immensely despite all the characters, weapons and locations being lost on me. It has little in common with the 2D style of gameplay of the original Mega Man games but if you are a fan of that series and enjoy the FPS genre you’ll find plenty to love here. If you’re like me and simply love first person shooters Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch is well worth a try.