Mega Man may not be around much anymore, but a new blue robotic hero is here to save the day. Beck sure has some enormous shoes to fill so let's see how Mighty No. 9 holds up to the classics.
Before I begin the review, I want to make it clear that I'm going to review Mighty No. 9 as I would any other game. I'm well aware of all the controversy surrounding the infamous Kickstarter campaign and poor management of it (complete with constant delays, awful trailers, and empty promises). However, all of these talking points don't equate to Mighty No. 9 being any worse of a game.
In full disclosure, I was a backer but that was when the project was still in its infancy with no negative press surrounding it. When I first heard that Keiji Inafune was working on a new Mega Man style game, I gladly donated because I'm a huge fan of the series. Now that I've played and completed it, I must say that I'm mildly disappointed but I'm still glad that I finally get to enjoy Mighty No. 9.
Mighty No. 9 is generally played like a Mega Man game as you run, jump, and shoot. Although Beck is unable to charge his buster, he can dash into enemies while they're weakened in order to gain temporary power-ups and perform chains to get higher scores. Playing it reminded me more of the Mega Man X series due to its fast-paced intensity and tricky platforming. The familiar gameplay mixes with this new dash mechanic in a fantastic way that manages to keep the action fresh and exciting.
One thing that Mighty No. 9 accomplishes extremely well is provide an incredible soundtrack by Mega Man veteran Manami Matsumae. Each song sounds like it's ripped straight from one of the classics and even features an option to switch between modern and retro styles. Visually, I found the character models to be delightful with cute designs for both allies and enemy forces. Also, many environments stand out with plenty of vibrant colour and detail. All of that being said, there are some major issues that are hard to ignore. Mainly, characters' mouths never move when they talk, the voice acting is beyond cheesy, and a large amount of environments (including the main hub) are bare-bones and just plain boring. It can be downright embarrassing at times.
Mighty No. 9's campaign is broken up into an introductory stage, eight themed levels featuring different bosses, and a few final stages. I was surprised by how long most of the stages are. Some of them are quite different, too, as they have you outrun mining equipment, hop between cars on a highway, play hide and seek with a boss, and even control Call in a prison. Beating stages while aiming for the highest score possible and acquiring each boss's weapon is a ton of fun, especially when you discover a new weapon that clicks with your play style. When you're done with the campaign, there's still a great deal of content to work through such as a list of 36 solo challenges, 24 cooperative challenges, boss rush mode, and online races. If that's not enough, you can also download the Ray DLC expansion that includes a new stage and playable character. One thing's for sure, Mighty No. 9 definitely isn't short on content!
Besides the disappointing presentation, Mighty No. 9 suffers from a high degree of difficulty that doesn't always feel fair. For example, the challenge regularly relies on avoiding pitfalls and lasers. Seeing as the core gameplay involves dashing through stages as fast as you can, it frequently clashes with the level design. How are you supposed to focus on achieving combos while taking out enemies, dashing through the air, and landing perfectly on a small platform while dodging projectiles and lasers that can kill you instantly? Somehow, I completed the entire game but I had a heck of a time doing it. Gamers who didn't grow up playing Mega Man obsessively like I did will find parts of Mighty No. 9 to be nearly impossible. The combination of often unfair challenge, level design that conflicts directly with core gameplay, and no difficulty option to make things easier means that only hardcore 2D action fans should attempt Mighty No. 9.
Mighty No. 9 is an enjoyable 2D action game that carries on the spirit of Mega Man quite well. It may be far from perfect but there's enough here to keep fans entertained until Mighty No. 10 comes out.
- + Familiar 2D gameplay with a new twist
- + Fantastic music, delightful character models, and many vibrant environments
- + Loads of content to master
- - Presentation is severely lacking in areas
- - Many gamers will find the high degree of difficulty too unfair at times
- - Gameplay often clashes with level design