When Keiji Inafune left Capcom, many felt it spelled the end of Mega Man. For the most part, people were right as Capcom cancelled every Mega Man title that was in production and relegated the Blue Bomber to making cameo appearances in Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Super Smash Bros. When Mighty No. 9 took to Kickstarter, the outpouring of support for this game was unreal. Taking just one look at the game caused fans to instantly back what many were calling the spiritual successor to Mega Man, but was it truly meant to be?
Title: Mighty No. 9
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Playstation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, Wii U
Developer: Comcept, Inti Creates
Publisher: Deep Silver
Release Date: June 21, 2016
Mighty No. 9 stars Beck, the ninth android in a set of robots called the Mighty Numbers. At some point, a computer virus attacks all of the other Mighty Numbers, as well as machines around the world. The player must fight the rogue robots and discover the villain who threatens the fate of the planet.
There are three scientists involved in the story, each with a specific part to play: Dr. White, the designer who created Beck and the rest of the Mighty Numbers; Dr. Blackwell, the inventor of “Xel” technology that provides the basis for the Mighty Number and all robots in the game; and Dr. Sanda, who also works in “Xel” (pronounced “Cell”) technology and has created Call.
So all in all, the game follows the same pattern as a Mega Man title. You pick a stage, you beat the boss, you gain their powers and you play rock-paper-scissors in order to determine which boss is weak to which attack. One nice little nod here is that Beck doesn’t just gain the boss’ power, but he transforms into the boss’ likeness. This is similar to the Soul System in the Mega Man Battle Network franchise as well as in Mega Man ZX Advent, the latter of which was also developed by Inti Creates.
The gameplay resembles Azure Striker Gunvolt, but since Beck looks like Mega Man, many people have mistakenly compared this game to the Blue Bomber when that isn’t completely the case. In Azure Striker Gunvolt, you used a gun to tag enemies and then used an electromagnetic field to destroy them. Getting multi-kills increased your score. Here in Mighty No. 9, you shoot enemies to weaken them and then you finish them off with a dash attack in which scoring multi-kills increases your score. This comes as no surprise because Azure Striker Gunvolt was also created by Inti Creates.
Taking a boss’ power and the fact that we’re dealing with robots and scientists — that part of the game resembles Mega Man, but for those who are complaining that the game doesn’t play like a Mega Man game are making an incorrect comparison. From the very moment I saw the first gameplay videos of this game, I never once thought “Mega Man.” I instantly thought the game was a lot like Azure Striker Gunvolt and that made me even more excited for this game.
As far as abilities go, Beck can shoot his buster shots and has two different dashes: a normal dash and a crouch dash by dashing while holding down on the directional pad. Beck can also hang onto certain ledges in order to scale walls. Switching weapons is a bit of a pain though as you press a button (for me it was Triangle since I played this on Playstation 4), and you cycled through a drop down menu. I feel that’s a bit unnecessary, especially when we’ve had a formula that has worked in many different games of just tapping L2 or R2. If the formula isn’t broken, then why try to reinvent it?
The level design was fantastic and in some spots, punishing. There are definitely some pixel perfect moments in the game and there are scenarios where you have to use your head. Mighty No. 8’s level is a good example of this as you are brought back to the same point over and over and you have to pay attention as to which direction you need to go in. Mighty No. 2’s level mixed underwater sections and ice sections, the latter of which disabled clinging onto ledges which made the level a bit trickier to deal with.
The graphics for the game have come under fire because people say the game doesn’t look like it’s supposed to look. Being the first entry into a series, I must ask, what was the game supposed to look like? What are you even comparing it to? People shunned this game from the very moment the visuals were released, but yet they’ll go and praise a game like Shovel Knight, or Hotline Miami, or Enter the Gungeon, or any other game where the graphics weren’t all that great, but yet these games are practically hailed by the gaming community as masterpieces for their fun, challenging and addicting gameplay.
Let me repeat that last sentence…
For their fun, challenging and addicting GAMEPLAY.
Mighty No. 9 is NOT an AAA title, folks. Just because the Unreal engine is attached to this, doesn’t mean you’re getting super detailed worlds, amazing physics and what have you. The graphics, for what they are, work for the game. Yes, the explosions are a bit cheesy, but they honestly don’t take away from the fun factor. Mighty No. 9 is a very fun game to play that ramps up the difficulty in the right places to challenge players. It encourages you to fail and try again because guess what people? THAT’S HOW YOU GET BETTER AT VIDEO GAMES. There is no hand-holding tutorial here or sparkling white tanuki suit to get you through a tough spot in the game. Nope, you need to get better if you want to beat it.
The funny thing is, if you die enough times, the game does give you the power-ups you normally would get from just clearing trash throughout the level, but none of those really make the levels any easier. Having your buster shots pierce through enemies isn’t going to make you time your crouch dash under a turbine any better nor will the damage reduction buff save you from things that will 1-hit kill you… even while you’re cycling through your invincibility frames after taking damage. Sure, the game gives you a little help, but in the end, you need to get good, son.
Now, this isn’t to say Mighty No 9 isn’t without its faults. Ignoring the PR disaster Comcept and Keiji Inafune brought upon themselves, the game does have some framerate issues. For example, I noticed in Mighty No. 2’s stage that the game lagged in a certain area. The music is amazing, but the sound effects and voice overs are too loud and imbalanced. Many are saying to keep the music at 100% and drop everything else to 25% to get the maximum enjoyment out of the game’s sound.
Also, the game was delayed again for Xbox 360, Mac and Linux owners on launch day, Playstation Network keys were not working as intended, incorrect DLC codes were handed out by Humble Bundle and, in some odd cases, the game was bricking people’s Wii U consoles. This was something that was certainly not needed after the game was delayed for so long.
*Reviewer donated to the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter and has no bearing on the actual review.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable title. It does not deserve all the negativity it’s been getting on sites such as Metacritic. Sure, Keiji Inafune and Comcept dropped the ball on this game. Delay after delay and broken promises mixed with a horrific and laughable trailer really painted an ugly picture for this title, but if you set all of that aside and just played the game, you would realize that it’s not the disaster it was made out to be, but don’t misunderstand my words as this game isn’t perfect either.
Mighty No. 9 does offer fun and challenging gameplay, a kicking soundtrack and lots of different challenges in its EX Mode menu. It has a lot of content to keep you coming back for more and the difficulty of the game makes you feel rewarded when you get to the end of a stage and beat a boss, something that is sorely missing from a LOT of video games these days.
Comcept and Keiji Inafune didn’t knock it out of the park with Mighty No. 9, but they damn sure took a good swing at it. If people can pull their heads out of a certain part of their body and judge the game for as it is, I’m sure this game could, in the long run, be successful enough for a sequel and if that day comes, let us hope and pray that Comcept has learned many valuable lessons from this endeavor and do Mighty No. 9-2 the right way.
- Fun & Challenging Gameplay
- Amazing Soundtrack
- Pick Your Path to the End
- Feels like Mega Man meets Azure Striker Gunvolt
- Framerate Issues in some Spots
- Audio Imbalancing
- PR Disaster
- Launch Delays and Issues
- A Solid First Attempt