Mega Man X8 is the eighth and final game (so far) in the Mega Man X series released in North America for the PlayStation 2 on December 7, 2004. It was later released in Japan, Europe, South Korea in the following year along with a port on WindowsPC.In the late 21XX, after the Reploids' countless attempts at rebellion, it was decided that humanity would re-colonize on the Moon, and with the advancement of technology, that idea can become a reality. The operation, dubbed the "Jakob Project", uses an orbital elevator to take equipment and the workforce needed to ensure its success, along with a Reploid named Lumine as its director. As another part of the project, a new generation of highly-advanced Reploids have been dispatched for the operation. These next-generation Reploids are designed with DNA Copy Chips that allows them to charge their form suited for the job without the risk of viral infection. (Axl was revealed to be a prototype of these Reploids in the previous game.) However, Vile, back for the third time, has abducted Lumine from the site, with Maverick attacks breaking out throughout the world. It's up to the X, Zero, and Axl to stop the Mavericks once again and rescue Lumine.As you may have guessed by now, the gameplay of X8 is very much like its predecessors as players complete a series of stages and defeat the bosses to earn their special weapon. In addition to gaining special weapons from bosses, players can develop upgrades for the heroes with Metals scattered through the stages and dropped by slain enemies. Just like Mega Man X7, players bring a duo of Maverick Hunters into each stage; however, this time, all three playable characters are available from the get-go, each with their own distinct gameplay style. Despite this game's use of 3D visuals, the developers ditched the 3D free-roaming gameplay of X7 after being harshly criticized by critics and fans alike and went with a 2.5D approach akin to the previous games in the series.The Mavericks of Mega Man X8 are:
100% Completion: Collecting all the items in X8 and upgrading the three (later six) playable characters, which even has a percentage counter for each character. Fully upgrading (100%) each of the main characters is the only way to obtain his Infinity+1 Armor without the use of cheat codes. The stages themselves even have a percentage rating.
2½D: The gameplay of X8 is pretty much 2D, but the game uses the 3D space to have enemies appear from the background, and in some cases like Dark Mantis' stage, incorporates the foreground into the 2D plane. Gigavolt Man-o-War's stage plays very much like a rail shooter as you chase him down while dodging on-coming traffic and street signs.
Advancing Boss of Doom: A giant Mechaniloid that chases the player for the first half of Trilobyte's mission. The second half involves the player chasing it.
Armor-Piercing Attack: X's charge shot, the third slash of Zero's combo, and Axl's eighth bullet will stun a guarding enemy. You can flip over a Mettool and hit its soft underbelly. Bamboo Pandemonium's weapon will do this by default.
Auto-Scrolling Level: Gigavolt Man-O-War must be pursued on a Ride Chaser and shot down quickly before he challenges the Maverick Hunters to a Boss Battle. The Hunters also use a Ride Chaser to approach Avalanche Yeti's base, complete with Shoot 'em Up mechanics.
Bash Brothers: Very much like X7, except all three heroes are readily available, and unlike X7, Axl isn't an under-powered version of X. The Navigators can join in on the action too after unlocking them.
Big Bad: Sigma as usual, but he was actually just a pawn for the real Big Bad, Lumine.
Blackout Basement: Dark Mantis's military base, since it's technically a stealth mission.
Blade on a Stick: Purchasable as a weapon for Zero once its chip has been found.
Bonus Boss: Cut Man can be fought in Optic Sunflower's stage. He is animated similar to Paper Mario's 2D art-style. The method of encountering him differs on each version. If you're playing the PlayStation 2 version, you can must either have a game save of Mega Man X: Command Mission on your memory card or use a cheat code to fight Cut Man; on the PC version, however, you have to beat all of the simulations with the best rating in order to fight him.
Bonus Feature Failure: The Navigators, Alia, Layer, and Pallette, are unlockable as playable characters. They are basically feminine clones of X, Zero, and Axl respectively; however, due to Gameplay and Story Integration, Alia cannot get X's capsule upgrades, Pallette cannot copy enemies, and Layer gets a nice aversion by only being unable to use Zero's black armor. You also have to purchase all of X's, Zero's, and Axl's upgrades again as Alia, Layer, and Pallette, since their upgrades don't carry over to the Navigators. Additionally, using even one of them when running a stage will forbid you from choosing a Navigator for that stage. Level Grinding the Navigators at least gives you something to do on your New Game+, and unlocking one of them changes, of all things, the Capcom logo screen, which is pretty neat.
Boss Rush: In the second to last stage of the game, as you might have expected from a Mega Man X game. The Intermission of Optic Sunflower's stage, on the other hand, features an optional boss rush where you must defeat the Mavericks under a time limit.
Bottomless Magazines: The biggest change to Axl is that his weapons have infinite ammo and he can rapid-fire them at any angle.
Classic Cheat Code: If hoarding Metals is not your idea of fun, there are cheat codes in the PlayStation 2 version to unlock the heroes' Infinity+1 Armors and the Navigators instead. There's also a code to unlock the bonus boss battle with Cut Man if you don't have a game save for Mega Man X: Command Mission.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Metals you collect are in different colors (and sizes) based on their value. From lowest value to highest: blue (1), yellow (5), red (50), purple (500), and silver (3,000); Rare Metals (gold), of course, opens up a new upgrade for you to purchase. The silver Metals are only found from defeating the Maverick bosses, while the purple ones only show up in a few places and are not dropped by slain enemies.
The Ride Chaser's blasts now operate differently. Axl auto fires small shots, X must fire them manually but he can charge the shot to cover a larger area, and Zero uses a short range blast that covers a wide arc in front of his vehicle.
Double Unlock: To play as the Navigators, first you have to max out the Maverick Hunters, beat the game on at least Normal to unlock the navigator that you used the most during your playthrough — the other two can be unlocked by replaying any four stages in New Game+ (any cleared stages except Noah's Park will still count) — then fork over the 40,000 Metals (or less if you have the Metal Discount) to unlock each of their weapons.
Dummied Out: X8 might have been planned to have X, Zero, and Axl to be Navigators like their female counterparts. In the PC version's second installation disc, you could find a folder of the Japanese voice actors' sound data, including the main characters' voices as Navigators. The idea seemed to be scrapped out because it would involve further scripting and scenarios. It's amusing to find that Axl feels very, very bored to have his job as a Navigator in his line.
Easter Egg: If Zero is equipped with the K Knuckles, he can perform a Hurricane Kick with Rasetsusen and a Shoryuken with Hyouryuushou. X can perform a Shoryuken while equipping his Ultimate Armor.
Easy-Mode Mockery: The game ends after you beat Copy Sigma on Easy. You also can't access the secret items and characters on Easy, and you don't keep your items and upgrades on New Game+.
Final Exam Boss: The first phase of the true final boss will use all of the desperation attacks of the eight Mavericks. The good news is that he also gains the boss' weakness while emulating them.
Gameplay Grading: You're graded on how quickly you've beaten the stage, highest combo, and enemies defeated, earning a letter rank based on your performance. There's also a bonus for No Damage Running a stage as well.
Gravity Screw: In Gravity Antonion's stage, you have to push switches that rotates many of the rooms 90º or 180º to access teleporters closed off by blocks.
Guide Dang It: Finding the Rare Metals that need to be unearthed by a fully-charged Crystal Wall.
Heart Container: Unlike the previous installments, they have to be developed in the R&D Lab for each character.
Infinity+1 Sword: X, Zero, and Axl can unlock their Infinity+1 Armors in New Game+ on Normal or Hard if they are fully-powered to 100%. X gets his Ultimate Armor, which grants him infinite weapon energy, the devastating Nova Strike, and the Shoryuken move; Zero gets his Black Armor that turns him into a Glass Cannon and extends his dashing distance; and Axl gets his White Armor, boosting his agility and allowing him to hover indefinitely while firing his weapon. Zero's Σ Blade, an actual sword that's also unlockable on New Game+, is capable of wrecking enemies in seconds and breaks their guard.
Lazy Backup: Averted, unlike Mega Man X7. If the Maverick Hunter runs out of health, his partner immediately switches in and the fight continues. You only lose a life if both Hunters are beaten. Furthermore, if you manage to fill up the AT Gauge while one of your Hunters is knocked out, it will automatically be converted into some health for the downed Hunter.
Matrix Raining Code: In the temporary space where the Maverick Hunters or Navigators perform their Double Attack.
Mini-Game: The Intermissions of Noah's Park, Optic Sunflower's, Avalanche Yeti's, and Burn Rooster's stage feature mini-games where you must destroy as many crab Mechaniloids as possible, a timed boss rush, destroy obstacles on a Ride Chaser, and descend deep into the volcanic factory respectively. These Intermissions can be a good way to rack up Metals.
New Game+: After beating the game, you can start over with all of your possessions from the previous round, although what can keep and eventually unlock depends on the difficulty. On Easy, you can only keep your Metals with nothing else kept or unlocked, although you can start New Game+ on Normal with all your Metals. On Normal or Hard, however, you're allowed to carry over your Metals along with your upgrades. If you fully-powered all three Maverick Hunters to 100% on Normal or Hard, you also have access to their Infinity+1 Armors, Zero's Σ Blade, and the Navigators as playable characters (see Double Unlock above) on your New Game+.
Metal Grinding: Averted on Easy, since every Rare Metal has been unlocked and purchased for you, but played straight on Normal or Hard. A few items can be bought as you causally go though the game, since they go around the 500-4,000 Metals range, while other items will take some dedicated hours hoarding Metals since they cost well over 20,000 Metals.
Noob Bridge: If you don't dash during the self-destruct sequence in Gateway's hallway, you'll fall into a pit and die.
Not Me This Time: The Maverick Hunters AND Sigma himself think Sigma is in charge of the new rebellion.
Old Save Bonus: In the PlayStation 2 version, those with a save file for Command Mission in their memory card can access a bonus boss fight with Cut Man in Optic Sunflower's stage.
Piñata Enemy: The giant Mechaniloid in Earthrock Trilobyte's stage. While you're chasing it, you can hit it as many times as you want and it will constantly drop red Metals as you go along. Axl is going to be your go-to guy for milking every bit of Metal can you get from it.
Plot Hole: Due to confusing writing, who the real villain of the game was is very unclear. Lumine says that Sigma helped his plan all along, and that the entire rebellion was his and the other New-Gen Reploids' doing, which is clearly what The Reveal seems to go for. However, Sigma says that the New-Gen Reploids were his "children", and that Sigma oversaw the Jakob Project which in turn created the New-Gen Reploids including Lumine. That statement, combined with Sigma's DNA inside the New-Gen Reploids copy chips effectively turning them into Reploid sociopaths, seems to imply that they were intentionally designed by Sigma to carry on his rebellion.
Rank Inflation: For each stage and your overall Hunter Rank. From lowest to highest: D, C, B, A, AA, AAA, and finally S.
Regenerating Health: Taking a note from Marvel vs. Capcom, some of the damage taken can be healed off if you switch Hunters. The Hunter on standby will gradually convert his red health.
Secret Character: Alia, Layer, and Pallette can be unlocked as secret characters.
Self-Imposed Challenge: The game does give you the option to delete items and upgrades off your characters so you play through the game without them, but you won't get back the metals you used to develop them.
Sequel Hook: Lumine, in his last breath, knocks Axl comatose, and leaves a strange fragment on his helmet. It gets no mention in Command Mission, which may or may not be the next chronological game.
Shoryuken: Zero gets an ice variant with Hyouryuushou, although he'll say "Shoryuken!" instead of the actual move's name if he's equipped with K Knuckles. X can perform the iconic Street Fighter move if he is equipped with his Ultimate Armor.
Situational Damage Attack: X's Giga Crush and X-Drive special abilities from Icarus and Hermes Armor respectively. Both abilities come with a gauge that refills itself over time whenever X is active (being switched back stops the refilling). Both abilities' effects will vary depending on how much the gauge is filled; the former will cover varying range and do varying damage, while the latter will last with a varying amount of time.
The Sociopath: Every single copy generation Reploid save for Axl is revealed to be this, as they can become Maverick at will in the sense of turning off their conscience thanks to Sigma's DNA inside the chips.
Space Elevator: The Jakob Project's aim is to build a giant elevator that can carry humans to the Moon, so they can colonize and restart civilization. Sigma builds his palace there, and Lumine plans to convert it into his base of operations.
Spoiler Opening: The opening spoils the true ending with a glimpse of Axl being knocked comatose by the tentacle that bursts from Lumine's dead body.
Subtitle Drop: Mega Man X8: Paradise Lost. Guess what's the true final boss' ultimate attack's name?
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Launching a Double Attack against end-level bosses deals out heavy damage, and finishing them off with this move earns you a nice EXF bonus at the end of a stage.
Took a Level in Badass: Alia, once unlocked. She goes from helping you kick some ass to actually doing that herself.
Turns Red: The bosses will do this after reaching 25% or 50% of their HP, depending on the difficulty. While battling the Mavericks, their boss battle music changes as well to let you know the kid gloves are coming off.
Video Game Lives: Handled differently from the previous games. In X8, you have Retry Chips that act like continues in order to resume at the stage's checkpoint; however, you have a limited number of them (unless you're on Easy) and they must be re-purchased after using them.
The Virus: The impetus for building the new generation Reploids was to find a way to resist the Sigma Virus. It works, but the new generation Reploids are faking infection to stage their own rebellion.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: Axl and the new generation Reploids can access and mimic vast amounts of Reploid DNA, allowing them to change forms to withstand injury and viral infection.