From the mind of KeijiInafune who was a big part of the Mega Man series,comes what was supposed to be its spiritual successor in Mighty No. 9. With a massive Kickstarter campaign, followed by many delays fans became skeptical and upon release it disappointed many Mega Man fans. Going into Mighty No. 9 I wanted to approach it as a new IP rather than the spiritual successor of Mega Man but it was not quite as easy as I hoped.
Mighty No. 9 really sits uncomfortably close to Mega Man in many ways that it is hard to not see it as a budget version of the same title. The opening screen felt nice and clean, with the announcer proclaiming the game in that distinctly classic way I started getting amped, but then cut scenes brought the experience crashing down. The character models themselves are simple which is not an inherent issue as it can be charming, but unfortunately with jagged edges, it looks incomplete. On top of that are details like mouths staying open or closed for extended periods of time whilst talking was really disjointing. This was not me being finicky, it zooms in on the characters so it is really noticeable.
Mighty No. 9 follows the story of Beck, a robot who is tasked with trying to protect the city from Mighty No. 1 through to 8 who have gone haywire. The story is there and it is serviceable, but it is hard to care or pretend to care when you are watching the aforementioned poor animations. It was considerably easier to pay attention to the story moments during gameplay as even playing the game was less distracting than the animations.
Playing a platformer like Mighty No. 9 however, really is more about the gameplay than the story, but unfortunately this is not as great as I hoped either. The running itself I found especially annoying to get used to. The response times in the game felt just a little too much off, which took a good couple of hours before I was fully used to how Beck would react, which was also unnecessary as this time was additionally being spent killed many times in ways that did not seem fair, putting me in a sour mood.
Aside from running you will be doing a lot of jumping and dashing in Mighty No. 9. The dash mechanic is especially pivotal as it is used to avoid level obstacles, enemies to finish off enemies to get points boosts and power ups. The dashing itself works well and does fit in fun with the Level design. Boss fights especially rely on dashing as a core mechanic to avoid their attacks in different ways.
For the most part I really dug the Level design. Backgrounds and objects looked cartoony but nice, the platforming around the environments are also generally fun. There was one part of one stage where you need to get face to face with a turbine that instantly kills you before you could dash under it. This was a let-down in that Level as at the time I was charging through the Level at a fast and steady pace, but with this part you need to get so insanely close to the object you could not do that at such a pace but stop and inch closer.
Being able to tackle any stage in any order is very reminiscent of Mega Man as well as attaining powers form one boss which is strong against another. But so is having to do a whole stage when you run out of lives, as well as many annoyingly cheap unnecessary deaths. This is something I can accept in old games because they are old but it tested my patience considerably more than was necessary.
All in all, Mighty No. 9 is not a bad game. It has retained enough similarities to make separating it from Mega Man hard, but it not good enough to feel worthy of a spiritual successor. If you want some controller breaking Levels of frustration in platforming then it is worth a look as even with its short Levels, you will be replaying them many, many times. I don’t regret my time with the game, but it does disappoint knowing what it could have been.
Released: September 2016
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: Action, Adventure
Publisher: Deep Silver