Game Review | Mighty No. 9
Games funded on Kickstarter have begun to come and go, being delivered to the salivating backers that excitedly fronted their money to fund a dream game. One of the more infamous campaigns, Mighty No. 9 was one that got funded before I joined the crowd-funding website. Promising a spiritual successor to Mega Man, one of my personal favorite NES series, made by the original creator, Mighty No. 9 had a lot to live up to leading up to its release. The immediate and impassioned early impressions from the final release were practically impossible to avoid, but having completed the game myself, I can definitively say that forming your own opinion is always the best thing to do.
The first video game I ever personally owned was Mega Man 3. Up to that point, everything had belonged to my older brother, but I received this third game of the series as a gift. Since then, I've had a personal connection to this incredible series that has lasted me through when Capcom mysteriously stopped releasing new Mega Man games. Enter the Kickstarter by Keiji Inafune, the original lead illustrator and character designer behind Mega Man, to create a new game in a similar vein. Mega Man starved fans leapt at the chance to see the creative vision behind this series continue and it was hard to deny the talent behind the project.
Usually a best practice I tend to follow is ignoring any critique for a game I intend to review as it has the potential to color my opinion before I play. The immediate and visceral negative reaction to Mighty No. 9 was impossible to avoid. When browsing "horror games" on Steam, one of the top results was Mighty No. 9 about a week after release. The bandwagon to hate the game seemed to have nearly everyone aboard, but determined to form my own opinion, I played the game myself keeping an open mind. What I found then was a flawed, but still quite fun, evolution of the Mega Man series.
Having played the game during E3 2015, I had a decent idea of what to expect from the gameplay in Mighty No. 9. Evolving the concept of defeating enemies, by allowing Beck, the game's protagonist, to absorb any enemy in the game. For your basic enemies, this just gives you some basic abilities like a penetrating shot and faster movement. In the spirit of the series that inspired it, you also gain the powers of every boss you defeat as well. This dramatically changes the flow of the game, adding an element of breakneck speed to the mix. To absorb, you dash through enemies, somewhat similar to the dash in the Mega Man X games, and as there is no limit to your dashing, you can move quite quickly through each level.
Difficulty has always been a huge part of the Mega Man series. Depending upon your ability, various robot masters may give you more trouble than others. That being said, some of the boss fights in Mighty No. 9 are as difficult as the toughest in any Mega Man game. It defaults you two extra lives per run and I never managed to beat the boss of a stage with just that allotment. This lead to multiple extra play-throughs of some stages which got a little old. Luckily, they did add the ability to up your extra lives, to nine in total, but even that wasn't enough for me with certain bosses. This difficulty was somewhat uneven and I was often surprised by just how much damage bosses could inflict with each hit.
Capcom's one attempt at creating some personality for the robot masters came in the absolute worst entry in the series: Mega Man 8. I appreciated the sentiment there, but all of the characters were a corny mess. Mighty No. 9 attempts the same thing, but thanks to some additions it manages to succeed to a degree. Any time you defeat a boss, you're curing them of the glitch that made them evil and they rejoin your team. In every stage, one of the other mighty numbers can help you during a certain scripted scene. This adds that little bit of extra character to each of them and made me enjoy each of their personalities. The story is pretty simple, and funnily enough very strongly resembles that of Mega Man 10. It's not a great story, but anyone expecting a thrilling narrative from a spiritual successor to Mega Man might have unfair expectations.
Having been ported to nearly every available console, Mighty No. 9 feels like the developer held back to keep porting easy. I looked into pcs under $1000 before realizing that it's available to all consoles. In spite of having lots of dialogue, the characters mouthes don't move. The graphics otherwise don't look bad necessarily, but it certainly isn't breaking down any barriers. Overall, just average, likely being help back by being ported to every console under the sun.
- Quick pace improves the flow of the game
- Boss characters have some fun personality
- Ability to adjust lives helps with difficulty spikes
- Difficulty can greatly shift and occasionally frustrates
- Graphics seem to be held back
- Story is lackluster
After finishing this game, it's easy to say that a lot of people are being way too harsh on Mighty No. 9. They are certainly allowed to feel how they'd like, but as visceral a reaction as it has gotten feels a bit unfair. Mighty No. 9 is not the best Mega Man game I've ever played, but I have certainly seen far worse. I suggest that if you had interest in Mighty No. 9 you should try the game out for yourself and not let the world decide how you should feel about this highly controversial game. Mighty No. 9 is available now for the PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3 and Wii U. It will eventually also come out for the Xbox 360, PS Vita, Xbox 360, 3DS, Mac and Linux.
Review copy provided by Will Powers of Deep Silver.