Oh goody, it seems that the end of the world is scheduled for the year 2078 and that we should expect visitors of the green, slimy and genocidal kind; yet again humanity finds itself under attack and, although conventional forces are taking an absolute hammering from the invaders, there is one hope for mankind in the form of Mecha Research, a company dedicated to producing fifteen metre tall walking assault robots which can be piloted into battle. Mecha 8 has quite literally just stepped off the production line at Mecha Research's factory and handed over to seasoned veteran Tricia Thunder to kick some alien backside.
That means either walking or flying Mecha 8 into action over five fixed-speed vertically scrolling terrains, hammering the fire button to unleash a stream of energy projectiles towards waves of enemies and avoiding as much of their return fire as possible; the mech has shielding so one hit isn't fatal as it would be in many shoot 'em ups, but once that gauge is emptied there'll be a mission-ending explosion. Blasted enemies will occasionally leave behind colour-coded weapon pods which will top up Ms Thunder's energy, increase the firepower available to her and regenerate the shields. Shooting enemies will also charge up a secondary weapon which will do more significant damage when deployed.
YOU GOTTA FIND FIRST GEAR IN YOUR GIANT ROBOT CAR
Mecha 8 has some nicely drawn background graphics and it's scrolling employs a typical character-at-a-time movement found in many MSX games; usually these prove a little harsh on the eyes to begin with before the player acclimatises and carries on pretty much regardless, but in this specific case there are other visibility issues caused by the sprites passing over background detail with a similar luminance which temporarily conceals them and the scrolling adds to this issue; the first level is one of the bigger challenges of the game due to this problem.
The overall feel of Mecha 8 is different to other MSX shoot 'em ups, for a start Tricia's mech feels cumbersome to manoeuvre in the way I'd expect a fifteen metre high robot whould do and the lack of a life counter does make that one reasonably generous energy bar feel a little more precious during a pitched battle. And there are some truly despicable placings of attack patterns and busy end of level boss fights to be dealt with as well so, although having five levels probably doesn't sound like a significant challenge, each of those levels is pretty long and full of nasties to destroy so there's enough meat there to keep most shoot 'em up fans happy even if there's no way of disabling the slow-moving cut scenes that explain the storyline between each stage.