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Mighty No. 9 Review

Mighty No. 9 Review

When I was in secondary school I really liked this girl. We hung out most days, spent most evenings chatting to each other. After a year so of will-they won’t-they I got quite drunk at a house party and told her that I fancied her. Imagine my wondrous surprise when she revealed she shared those feelings. She then told me she was set to go out with someone else and wouldn’t be changing her mind. That cauldron of emotions and disappointment probably comes somewhere close to how Mega Man fans will feel playing Mighty No. 9.

Considered by some (probably prior to its release) as the spiritual successor to Mega Man due to the involvement of Keiji Inafune, character designer and project lead for the older series, Mighty No. 9 met its initial kickstarter goal of $900,000 in just two days. Despite this the game has taken some time to actually release, having been delayed multiple times. Inafune took a hit to his credibility as a result and a number of people have already labelled Mighty No. 9 as another cautionary tale in backing kickstarter projects.

Focused on 2D platforming and aping the style of its inspirational series, Mighty No. 9 blends both 2D and 3D artwork and animation to give the player a sense of world-depth that Mega Man didn’t have. Players control an android named “Beck”, helping it to stop a robot rebellion alongside his creator Dr. White and a cast of other characters. Much like Mega Man, Beck shoots projectiles out of his hands and can steal abilities and weapons from defeated enemies. The player can achieve this by performing a dash-style move when foes are stunned to absorb their “Xel” energy.

Mighty no 9 screenshot2

Boss battles are key parts of the game, where Beck can defeat and absorb abilities from other “Mighty” numbers that have gone rogue. Frantic and enhanced by some excellent background music, these sections are by far and away the best part of Mighty No. 9. It’s unfortunate, however, that they are few and far between and to get to them the player must navigate what amounts to a fairly by-the-numbers platforming section with enemies, strategies and design almost shamelessly pulled from Mega Man.

You’re encouraged to be fast and efficient, a call-back to the excellent Mega Man X games, but there are barely any rewards for doing so - other than getting to the next section in a quicker time. Stages can be completed with a certain ranking, based upon how much damage you take and dish out as well as how many attacks you can chain. The only major danger to the player during any of the eight initial levels comes in the form of pitfalls and spike traps. On top of that, should you die three times the game will spin you back to start the stage all over again - like Sisyphus watching his stone tumble back down the mountain you’re resigned to doing the whole painful process all over again.

There are a total of 12 stages in the game - eight to start with and a further four that open up afterwards. Any of these levels can be attacked from the game’s start, giving the player the same freedom of movement familiar to fans of Mega Man. Unlike it’s inspiration, however, where careful sequential choices would make the game’s bosses easier to beat, any of Mighty No. 9’s bosses can be defeated without much effort using the default weapon. Defeating the bosses does reward you with extra skills, like magnetic climbing and great attack damage, but these will very rarely be needed to navigate the levels, if at all.

Screen Shot 2014 06 30 at 10.14.23 AM

Graphically, the game doesn’t look like a 2016 title. It may be trying to create that perfect blend between Mega Man’s pixel aesthetic and modern 3D models in the Unity engine, but it fails to capture either well. Without the advanced particles, lighting and shadows that occasionally show up, you would not be blamed for believing that this was a late-era PS2 title. Cutscenes aren’t much better - the character models simply sway, as if caught in some spring breeze, while a painfully grating English dub does its work on your eardrums. What’s worse is that there is no skip button, leaving you to either turn off your speakers or scramble to find the original Japanese voices. There is no emotional connection to these characters at all, especially when some of them are just blatant rip-offs with no real effort made into re-establishing a universe or giving Mighty No. 9 something that makes it feel like an improvement on its inspirational predecessors.

Despite everything, if you scratch away at the surface of Mighty No. 9 you will see a decent action platformer at its heart. The game could have been so much more had it not been saddled with a weight of expectation as great as being a spiritual successor of the Mega Man series. The problem with the game is that it isn’t bad, it’s just painfully average, and for all the clamour and claims that had been made about the title nothing in it actually lives up to the hype. While there is nothing totally functionally wrong with the body, the soul is very much stripped bare, and it’s something that I’m not sure many fans will be able to sit through.

5.00/10 5

Mighty No.9 (Reviewed on Windows)

The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.

This game could have been so much more had it not been saddled with a weight of expectation as great as being a spiritual successor of the Mega Man series. It isn’t bad, it’s just painfully average. For all the clamour and claims that had been made about the title nothing in it actually lives up to the hype.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alex Hamilton

Alex Hamilton

Staff Writer

Financial journalist by trade, GameGrin writer by choice. Writing skills the result of one million monkeys with one million typewriters.

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