It has been a long time coming. Mighty No. 9 was one of the first Kickstarter successes, and arguably the one that launched the resurgence of crowd funding the games of yesteryear. Bloodstained, Yooka-Laylee, and so many more followed in what famed developer Keiji Inafune started when he set out to build the spiritual successor to Mega Man. Now, after numerous delays and a troubled development cycle, Mighty No. 9 is finally here, and even with all the negativity surrounding it, I couldn’t help but get lost in the classic styling of one of my favorite franchises.
Mighty No. 9 is for all intents and purposes a Mega Man game. There are eight robots, defeating each one gives Beck a themed power, and each stage is based on their design. These are the staples of the Blue Bomber of old. That isn’t to say that MN9 comes without any new additions. Subtle changes like previously defeated robots appearing in the stages of enemies their weapon works well against is brilliant, but also part of the game’s core problem.
MSRP: $19.99 (digital) $29.99 (physical)
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC, PS3, 360, 3DS, Wii U, Vita
Price I’d Pay: $19.99
Mighty No. 9 is a deep game, but most players won’t discover that. The best strategies and tips are hidden away in the menu system. Did you know Beck had a backwards jump? Me neither until I found the small snippet of text buried in a menu. It is things like this that really dampen the experience. Once I learned they existed, it completely changed my strategy.
I get it, this is an old-school game and tactics need to be learned, but previous games in the series did a good job of teaching these mechanics through the game play, MN9 does not.
The stage design is excellent, with a few notable sections that change up the formula. For example, Mighty No. 8’s stage is one big loop, designed to have the player hunt down its boss, before taking on the final battle. It is confusing at first, but once I figured it out, I enjoyed the change of pace. The one issue I have with the stages is that they do seem to drag on a bit long. I see what they are going for, but when I reach what feels like the end, only to be met with another series of dated challenges, it tends to wear thin.
Not everything comes up roses though. For example, later in the game, after defeating the core eight robots, a new level opens up that forces players to play as Call, Beck’s equivalent to Roll. Her play style is completely different, with the dash no longer absorbing enemies. Her attacks are also significantly weaker and she relies on stealth more than Beck. This level is jarring after spending so much time playing a completely different game. I get what they were going for, but it completely disturbs the action, and is simply not fun to play.
The loading times also factor in. Dying comes regularly in a game like this, and getting back into the action is imperative. Sadly, there was almost a solid 30 second load whenever I died, meaning an extended downtime between the action. It breaks the pace and momentum I had gathered up, especially after an extremely difficult section.
The visuals are also disappointing. Level design is neat, but a lot of it is plastered against a really dated looking game. Explosions are laughable, and the art and animation are simply not that memorable or inspiring. The audio also falls short. The voice acting is some of the worst I have heard, and the dialogue is cringe-worthy. The music is decent, and there is even an option to set it to a more retro-inspired style. Sadly, the sound mix seems to want to focus on the voices as opposed to the music.
There are so many cool ideas scattered around the game that the sore aspects really stand out even more. Growing up such a huge fan of the Mega Man series has certainly left me starved in recent years, and Mighty No. 9 fills that void well. There is a great game buried in here, one that kept me coming back like the Mega Man titles I grew up with, but the rough edges really shine bright just when I start looking past them.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.