[Guest Review] – Mighty No. 9

mighty no. 9 released

 

Mighty No.9 is the culmination of a 4 million dollar Kickstarter. Does it live up to the expectations?

Tom Lyman is our first guest reviewer. He’s been playing Mega Man games since the very first one was released when he was six years old.  It’s his favorite series so it’s no surprise that when Mighty No. 9 was finally released last week, I asked him to give a rundown of what he thought of the game. Tom is one of the original backers of the game as well. You can also catch him stream Mega Man from time to time on his YouTube Channel

Mighty No. 9 Review
Platform reviewed: PlayStation 4

The first part of this review includes the Kickstarter Backer experience. If you’re just interested in the game you can click here to read the juicy game details

 

Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter woes

Why am I writing this review a full week after Mighty No. 9’s release?  Well, for starters, I was one of those unlucky backers who was sent a redemption code for the wrong system.  I requested a digital download code for the PS4 version, but only received a code for the Steam version.  This was corrected the day following the release, however.  The rest can be explained by a lack of motivation.  After finally spending some time on the game later in the week, I made up my mind that this game was not worthy of losing any extra sleep over.  I ended up not completing it until the following Sunday.

Delays aren’t a surprise when it comes to Mega Man

We longtime hardcore Mega Man fans are no stranger to delays.  I not only expected the delays, but welcomed them.  Surely, this can only guarantee an experience worthy of the spiritual successor to Mega Man!  Then, like many of you probably have, I read many negative reviews of Mighty No.9 online.  So, I dove into this game with lowered expectations.  I shudder to think how upset this game would have made me had I taken it on with the expectations I had years ago when the crowdfunding campaign ended and they showed off their first tech demo.

Mighty no. 9 before

Mighty No. 9 demo in the early stages of development

 

Mighty No. 9 After

Mighty No. 9 On the PlayStation 4 – stark difference

Mighty No.9 Overpromised and under delivered

 Sadly, it was too good to be true.  The first lesson I hope everyone learned from Mighty No.9’s  campaign should be that keeping one’s promise to use extra funds to release a game across ten platforms, spanning two generations of home consoles, portables and PC, can ultimately lead not only to drastically slowing down production but also to downgrading the quality to the lowest common denominator.  At its best, Mighty No. 9 looks like a Dreamcast game.  Normally, that’s something I could live with, but we were promised so much more than what we received.

Mighty No. 9 Cups

My wife asked me if she could drink the cups of juice that were floating in the air

 

Initial impressions of Mighty No. 9:

Mighty No.9 starts out bland, but I can excuse a lack of personality and variety in enemies scattered throughout a game’s introductory stage.  However, this didn’t improve much throughout the course of the Mighty No. 9.  Enemies are reused ad nauseam and most look very bland, overall.  Stage backgrounds also lack detail.  They did however put a lot of thought into the detail of the bosses.

 

But where detail is put into the model of the boss, defeating them feels lackluster.  Gone are the over-the-top boss explosions of the 16-bit Mega Man X era.  Instead, Beck uses his absorption dash powers to help them regain their senses.

The Voice acting of Mighty No.9 disrupts the immersion 

While this enables the game to feature the boss characters coming to your aid in later stages, many of them had such annoying personalities and terrible dubbing that you’d probably rather they stayed dead.  The worst offenders are probably Cryo, the ice boss and Avi, the helicopter boss.

And it’s not just the bosses, either.  Call, Dr. Sanda, and Dr. White will constantly chime in for several lines of spoken dialog as you try and make your way through each stage.  It’s never helpful, it can’t be turned off, and every time you die and play through the same portion of the stage you just played, you have to hear it again!  Your only recourse is to change the voice settings to either Japanese or French.  At least it doesn’t break up the action too much, except on some occasions when after a stage loads and the announcer excitedly yells, “Systems Ready… Go!” and the game then plops you in front of another character for more dialog before really getting started.

 

The music of Mighty No. 9 is one bright spot

I’d like to comment on the music, but you’ll spend too much time being distracted by the spoken dialog to really give it the chance to make an impression on you.  The title theme was pretty memorable, but that was really about all I found to be worth mentioning.  I will strongly recommend changing the music settings to the “Retro” soundtrack in Game Options, though. Overall, the music in Mighty No. 9 gives you that classic Mega Man feel, but that’s as close as this game ever gets to recreating the magic of the original series.

 

Mighty No. 9’s Gameplay compared to legacy Mega Man

Let’s discuss the position of Mega Man’s gameplay legacy in this series, as well as what sets Beck apart from X and classic Mega Man.  Your default weapon is up to three little, orange pellets the game affords you to fire onscreen at any time.  I admire how your default weapon’s slow-traveling bullets reward close-quarters combat by enabling you to mash the shoot button in your enemy’s face to rapidly drain their health, which you won’t be capable of at full-screen distance.

 

You get no charge shot, but you get a dash, an air dash, and even a downward air dash.  Hit an enemy enough times, then they freeze in place and begin glowing.  This is your cue to dash through them and absorb power-ups which can affect your movement speed or enable your shots to pierce through enemies, for example.  These boosts will expire over time, unless you can absorb more.

 

Mighty No. 9 is fast paced, but your screen clutters fast

 

While it’s nice to see fast-paced gameplay encouraged, the risk is, at times not worth the reward.  Dashing into enemies without shooting them enough times to make them glow will cause Beck to take damage.  Dashing through a glowing enemy will also cause Beck to take damage from the enemy right behind it if it hasn’t been damaged enough.  So why not just play the game classic Mega Man style, blowing everyone up and foregoing absorbing power-ups from your enemies?  Well, an enemy may start glowing after one shot, but take several more before it finally explodes.  Most will freeze in place once they start glowing, but dashing through them is the most expedient way to get them out of your way so you are clear to actually damage the enemies behind it.  When the game throws several smaller enemies at you at once and they begin to overlap though, it can be hard to keep track of which ones have begun to glow and which ones haven’t.  You may have damaged three of those little guys in a cluster, but that fourth one will drain your health if you try to dash through all of them at once.

Mighty No. 9 Boss Fights

The Mighty No. 9 also requires you to incorporate dash absorption into your boss battle strategies, as well.  Take like 20% of a boss’s health and they begin to glow purple.  Once they begin to glow, your attacks will not damage the boss until you’ve dashed through them.  But if you hesitate, they begin to recover damage until they’ve regained all the health you worked so hard to drain from them since the last time you successfully hit them with a dash absorption!  Sometimes, you get that last hit that causes them to glow right before their attack pattern changes and they either fly off-screen or bury themselves underground long enough to regain health before returning to a vulnerable location.  This may make you so eager to get that dash as soon as they begin to glow that you will be forced to weigh the consequences of taking damage from their attacks just to get that dash.  It makes the game more frustrating than it needs to be.

 

What’s nice is that the game gives you infinite air dashes, but this also makes skipping certain sections of the game too tempting.  You may never even see whole portions of certain stages of the game if you exploit this, and since the only secrets you’ll find will consist of either health-ups or life-ups, you will not be motivated to explore, and you will certainly never be motivated to replay stages for any greater reward than a higher score.

 

My biggest complaint about Mighty No. 9

There’ll be times when you’re trying to dash-absorb enemies while jumping over a pit or instant-kill obstacle and land on a narrow platform.  The good news is that you can change directions mid-dash, giving you more control in the air!  The bad news is that if you’re still holding the D-pad either left or right the moment you land, even if you let go at that exact moment, Beck will proceed to take a few steps in that direction and sometimes walk off to his death.  I’ve tested and been able to reproduce this many times, but I originally discovered this the hard way.  I seriously can’t believe that Keiji Inafune, of all people, would allow this in one of his games.

 

How much content does Mighty No. 9 offer?

Content-wise, the game still feels lacking.  You get your intro stage, your eight boss stages, but all that’s left for you once you’ve cleared those is just two final stages and one extra stage where you get to play as Call, which isn’t even as much fun as playing with Beck (she is allowed only ONE shot on the screen at a time).  You’ve finally acquired a complete arsenal of eight powerful weapons and the next thing the game does is hand you a stage where you’re forced to play as a powered-down character who can’t use any of them. With regards to these weapons, most of them are pretty fun to use.  However, while I appreciate being able to cycle through the weapons selection using the shoulder buttons, the game really should have let me make selections from the pause menu, as well.

 

At no point are you even required to fight Mighty No. 1-8 again, either.  You do unlock a Boss Rush mode at the end of the game, but you’re forced to re-fight all the game’s bosses in a predetermined order which you have no control over.  It really feels like the game exploits punishing difficulty and extra game modes to justify its playtime length, rather than the content of the core game.

 

How the extra Mighty No. 9 DLC stacks up

Backers got the Ray DLC for free, which was an okay bonus.  You get an extra stage and a neat boss-fight which rewards you with the ability to play through the main game as the character, Ray.  After playing the intro stage as her, I felt she had potential.  She uses close-range claw attacks and has a much more powerful dash that instant-kills most smaller enemies, but her health gradually drains as she’s not “feeding.”  I lost motivation pretty quickly after trying her out on a couple of the main eight stages, however.  That ended up being more challenge than even I could handle.  The game has a Challenge Mode too, which can keep you busy for a while if you’re motivated.  I’d like to review the Online Race mode, but after trying a few times to find an opponent and the game failing me each time, I lost motivation there, too.

 

Mighty No. 9 just isn’t what I expected

Overall, this game did not live up to my expectations, even after lowering them before playing.  If you’re looking for a more profound Mega Man experience, You could spend less money than you did on this game and purchase the Mega Man Legacy Collection on Playstation 4, Xbox One or 3DS.  The Wii U offers plenty of the older Mega Man Classics on the eShop as well.  I even had more fun re-playing Mega Man Xtreme for Game Boy Color recently on my 3DS than I did with Mighty No. 9. There’s already talks of a sequel to Mighty No. 9 and I hope they learn a lot from this release. And hopefully the backers learn their lesson too before they impulsively throw money at another project again