With its constant delays and the horrible business practices surrounding it, people thought the elusive Mighty No. 9 would never actually come out. Especially if you’re like me and have been following it since the Kickstarter was announced, three years ago. And hey, there’s good reason to lose hope. It seemed like this game just could never get away from delays. Hell, even the survey for the backers got delayed. But then, on June 21st, 2016, it happened. The magical day, it finally released.
Except the 360 version. Even after this game releases it still can’t get away from being delayed.
The general consensus of the reviews for Mighty No. 9 has been that it’s mediocre at best. Is this the case, or are these reviews overstating it? Is it as poor an excuse of a Mega Man successor as everyone is saying, or is there at least something there? Let’s take a look at it without keeping in mind the context around it, and just as what it was intended to be: A platformer intended to succeed Mega Man. Hopefully it doesn’t make me cry like an anime fan on prom night.
Out of all the things Mega Man is known for, the franchise’s biggest claim to fame is its genius level design and control. Seeing as how Mega Man is a golden standard of platforming for many, myself included, Mighty No. 9 has a huge legacy to live up to. But here’s the thing, drawing comparison to Mega Man OR Mega Man X is just not a good idea, because Mighty No. 9 is more or less its own thing. Of course it still tries to pull off a Mega Man kind of feeling, but the style in which you move around, how you fight enemies, and even the level design itself are like its own part. Try not to think of it as trying to bring back an older Mega Man style, but to try and create a different one. Drawing direct comparisons to Mega Man games won’t work, because its style is just too different. That said, you can still create a feeling of Mega Man while creating a new style of play, and that’s what I’m going to be looking at for Mighty No. 9.
Now, onto the big question: Does this newer style work? Well… Kinda. Mechanically speaking, Mighty No 9 feels great. Beck controls like a dream, firing his buster and landing hits is insanely satisfying, and the dash mechanic feels so good to use. He feels a little light, which is perfect for making you want to dash through levels and collect points, and some of his alternate weapons are pretty cool in concept. It feels like a style of Mega Man, for sure. And in a good way.
This is one of the big things, though. It’s great mechanically. From a level design aspect, it’s nowhere near a Mega Man standard of quality. Remember how I mentioned that you can retain a Mega Man style while not being comparable to any form of Mega Man? Well, this is where it fails. The level design in Mighty No. 9 is very basic, and the variety in levels isn’t as, well, various as it should be. For the eight stages at the start of the game, 4 of them felt unique, and the other 4 just felt like the same okay level over and over. They all did somewhat different things, but they were all executed in the same way, and no new concepts were really introduced; just new obstacles. Like, twice. That’s something that Mega Man in general, regardless of which one you’re looking at, just doesn’t do. Mega Man is about showing the player a new concept in each different stage, and then asking them to execute it. It’s about providing obstacles that take at least some form of tact or execution to get over, while still giving the player the resources to figure out a way to get through it without feeling cheated, and making these obstacles varied and new in each area to keep you on your toes. Mighty No. 9 does none of this. Everything you do just feels like you’re moving in a straight line, rushing to get to the boss and move on. No new concepts, no new ideas, no keeping you on your toes.
And it’s not like making the player get through as fast as possible is something Mega Man doesn’t do; look at Mega Man Zero. It encourages speedrunning and going for higher scores, but it does so while also introducing new challenges consistently, and makes the stages so that to get the best score, you have to actually try. Unlike the cakewalk of level design that is Mighty No. 9.
That said, Mighty No. 9 does have some fun stages in it. They’re not all bad. I quite enjoyed the stages for Mighty Numbers 5, 6, and 7 (or as I like to call him, “totally not Proto Man”), along with that stealth-ish stage where you play as Call, and the final two stages of getting into the robot factory, and then the final boss. And on a few more stages, there are some fun segments. Objectively speaking, the level design isn’t bad, it’s just… Way too simple; too basic. For the number of fun stages you get, along with the good controls, I’d say that there’s just enough of good things to make it worth the $20 price tag it’s asking for. Not much more than that, though.
Looks and Sound
Now onto graphics and–
Okay yeah it’s not the best. That said, the trailer looks much worse than how the game does. Unlike many, I don’t really think Mighty No. 9 looks bad. It doesn’t look good, don’t get me wrong. But it’s… Fine. Granted with an almost $4 million budget, you’d expect much more, but it gets the job done. Characters look okay, environments are okay. Quality of the models is… Okay.
Aside from the pizza explosions. Those are actually real and they look exactly like that.
As for music… What music? You mean those incredibly soft tracks underneath everything going on that can barely be heard? I mean I guess it’s not bad music, but it doesn’t do much. There are a few songs I thought were pretty catchy, but it’s nothing I’m going to listen to outside of the game. A meh soundtrack that you can hardly hear to begin with.
And now onto something surprising: Mighty No. 9 has a surprising amount of content. You’ve got the main story, which consists of 12 stages, and will run you about 5 hours. Then, you have challenge mode, which can be done in either solo or co-op. which contains numerous missions that can actually be quite challenging at times, and can actually get pretty fun, and the Ray DLC, which was free for backers and people who purchased the retail version, and is buyable for those who didn’t. This actually makes the game take up quite a bit of time, and definitely offers enough content for its price tag.
Conclusion: Should you buy Mighty No. 9?
For those of you who don’t care about the situation surrounding Mighty No. 9, it’s a decent game that’s worth its asking price. It’s not a spectacular game, and it needed a lot more work to live up to what it was made out to be, but I wouldn’t say it’s as mediocre as everyone else has been saying. There is definitely something there, and it’s trying to do something. It just needed better direction. It’s more good than bad, and it’s definitely worth the $20, but I wouldn’t pay much more than that.