Mighty No. 9 Review (PC)
"Mighty No. 9 raises a mighty big stink with a mishmash of in-cohesive game elements"
For those of you in the dark, Mighty No. 9
is the long-awaited “spiritual successor” to the legendary Mega Man
games. Along with other projects like Yooka-Laylee
and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
, Mighty No. 9
gained a massive following off of its Kickstarter campaign back in 2013. It exceeded its initial campaign goals, and made a ton of money, leaving backers and hopeful onlookers excited at how promising the project looked.
Now that it’s out, Mighty No. 9
has turned out to be a mighty disappointment.
Mighty No. 9
suffers from having a huge amount of good ideas and neat effects that simply do not fit together well at all.
Most notable is the graphics. The game was originally thought to be a throwback to older Mega Man
game, but while there a “Mega Man
-ish” look to some things, (like the basic character design, and the background), it ends up clashing with other elements that try to look more modern.
Beck, the protagonist as well as the titular Mighty No. 9
, looks fairly similar to Mega Man
and actually has a cool design, but he is rendered in a gross 3D model that often clashes with the more 2D-looking backgrounds. Actually, this is the case for a majority of the enemies as well. Even the backgrounds themselves are good with a few exceptions (I’m looking at you, Cryo level). Everything looks cool by itself, but when mashed with the rest of the game space, it makes everything look ugly.
The gameplay suffers from a similar problem. The controls are very responsive, and given enough space to move in, the player can perform some awesome moves. The controls work well, but they are held back by the game space itself. The levels are short and boring. They leave little to be discovered except the next “leap of faith.” Sometimes, there will be one particularly difficult stretch, but everything before and after that is a breeze.
The platforming part of each level is made tedious by the fact that shooting your enemies is not enough. After you’ve shot an enemy enough, it will freeze and (usually) stop attacking you. You then have to use your dash move to “assimilate” each enemy. By itself, it’s not a terrible system, but stunning an enemy does not stop it from hurting you if you touch it without dashing, some enemies still seem to attack even when “stunned,” and some enemies float over death pits, meaning that you put yourself in harm’s way just by assimilating them.
When you finish the platforming part of the level, you are rewarded with a boss fight. These take place in claustrophobic and usually featureless areas that leave little room to move in. Many of the bosses also have punishing attacks that either stop you from moving or outright kill you, so the lack of space to move is made even more difficult to deal with. For example, Pyrogen has a grab move that will kill you in one hit, while Cryosphere can freeze you for a solid 5-10 seconds while body slamming you for more than half your health. Short of a sore fist, I take no issue with difficult bosses, but the go-to strategy to defeat them has devolved into spamming their weaknesses at them to skip phases rather than actually deal with them.
The boss battles are especially victims to this game’s inconsistency, since the “assimilation” process works differently from other enemies. Instead of getting stunned, they become immune to Beck’s attacks while slowly regenerating their lost health. You stop this by doing your dash move. Unfortunately, the tutorial at the beginning does not tell you this. Instead, you find out by looking at the “hints” menu outside of the actual game. It’s a weird and jarring mix of two types of tutorial, which just highlights the mishmash Mighty No. 9
is as a whole.
That also means that the game gets insanely easier as soon as you manage to defeat your first boss, which feels a little lame. Sure, you could try to ignore boss weaknesses, but that’s effort on the player’s part to make the game more fun and not the result of a well-developed game.
Mighty No. 9’s
story is easily one of its least important aspects, but it quickly hints toward this Dr. White (good guy) vs. Dr. Blackwell (bad guy) thing, which seems a little sketchy. The real driving force for most of the game is “robots have gone wild and you need to stop them,” and that’s really all this game needs.
Not even the audio quality leaves this game unscathed. The music is about as generic “Japanese futuristic action game” as you can get, and the voice acting is way off. I don’t actually hate the music, but it feels like I’ve heard it a million times before, and it just turns into background noise as a result. The voice acting feels stale and stereotypical, and if I close my eyes, I can’t tell if I’m hearing Beck or Sonic when he says “yeah!” or “That’s more I like it!”
Not all is wrong with Mighty No. 9
, though. Looking at the characters individually, they look pretty cool, especially Beck’s transformations. Some of the power-ups themselves are fun to play with. I also like that when you beat a boss, they will help you in certain areas of other stages. This makes those stages more of a boring breeze to walk through, but watching them show up and help you is fun by itself. Finally, the controls are great, or they would be if the level design let you explore them more.
Mighty No. 9
definitely has some cool features, but the way that it was all put together resulted in a jumbled mess of parts that don’t go together. In the end, Mighty No. 9
, serves as an unfortunate cautionary tale about crowd-funded games. It shows us that throwing our own money at a great idea does not always guarantee us a great result. Hopefully Yooka-Laylee, Bloodstained
and other similar games show us that great things can come from Kickstarter. As for Mighty No. 9
, it’s fortunate that the title ends with a number, because I don’t see it getting a sequel any time soon.