I wanted Mighty No. 9 to be the best game that I played this year, and when it was announced through the first few pictures and trailers, I was so sure that it was going to be. Something-something anime fan on prom night later, and my faith in the game went down a tad, and not just because of the unbelievably stupid narration, but the gameplay itself. It was looking less and less like the Megaman spiritual successor that we were promised by the man Keiji Inafune himself, and more like some kind of half-baked action-platformer throwaway game.
I’m going to talk about this game in two different ways, first I’ll talk about the shattered promises that we received on June 21st, 2016. Secondly, I’ll be talking about the game in a totally objective manner, just looking at it as a game, its mechanics, how it looks, and why the game has failed the majority of fans.
So, let’s talk about what we were promised, we were supposed to get a spiritual successor to Megaman, and the formula that it did so well, and I suppose you can include Megaman X because it clearly took inspiration from those games as well. And, to be honest, I think many fans were looking more towards the X series for inspiration for the game, because of the whole dashing mechanic.
We were supposed to get something that could fill the footprint in our lives that Megaman left, since it looks like we’re not going to be getting a new game any time soon. Something to fill that gap in our lives that it left would mean that it would have to be as revolutionary as the original games were when they were released. Back in the 80’s, Megaman blew our minds with the graphical capabilities it possessed, and Megaman 2 only did that better, plus the soundtrack was absolutely amazing. Megaman X did the same thing for the series in the 90’s by speeding up gameplay, by scaling it appropriately, you could see a little bit more, so you didn’t just bump into things because you were faster. You could slide down walls and scale surfaces now, you could upgrade your armor and gain new abilities besides the boss weapons, like being able to dash and charge the boss weapons! With every X game in the series, it built upon the previous games, so that in the second game, you could dash without an upgrade, and in X3, you could dash in the air without armor.
The point is that Classic and X respectively revolutionized platforming shooters when they came out, and Mighty No. 9 just doesn’t do that. Nothing about it is revolutionary, and after 3 million dollars and 3 years, and being developed by Keiji Inafune, who was basically the one who fathered Megaman himself, it really should have blown our minds. I’ve heard it compared to Dreamcast graphics, I don’t know if I’d take it that far, but, it looks about as good as Megaman X8, a PS2 game, that came out in 2004, except that game is way better. Did i mention that that game came out 12 years ago? In fact, it’s kind of sad that you can say that pretty much all Megaman games are better than this game, minus titles like Megaman Soccer and Megaman X7, I’m not gonna try to say that those games are better, but don’t push your luck, Beck.
The soundtrack of the game, that’s another thing, pretty much every Megaman game (again, barring a few) had really kickass soundtracks. Even back on the NES, when the audio was coming out of an 8-bit cartridge, the music was sublime, it was fantastic, and it suited the occasion for every stage. The stages themselves, as well were all extremely memorable and fun to play, each one of them felt like an adventure, they were just long enough but full enough to hold your interest.
The music in Mighty No. 9 is forgettable at best, with very few tracks really jumping out at me, nothing ever really hit that punchy feel that I look for in Megaman games. Yeah, I know, it’s not Megaman, but if it wants to succeed Megaman, it’s gotta be able to keep up with something like that, something that they always did so well.
The stages, don’t even get me started on the stages in Mighty No.9, you want to know the layout of every stage in the game? A couple minutes, maybe not even 2 minutes of dumb, easy enemies in a straight path with a couple jumps thrown in (oooooohh, variety), a room/area where you have to fight a few waves of enemies, a stupid, 2-2.5 minutes long area with a bunch of instant-kill traps and infuriating enemy placement, then a boss. Every. Single. Stage.
Something else about the game that really kind of pulled me out of it was the very first stage, something that the first Megaman X game made very important in the Megaman franchise. The intro stage is supposed to set the tone for the game, it’s where you learn to play the game by messing around and teaching yourself how to play, because the games were easy to learn, but hard to master. We didn’t need tutorials, we didn’t need text boxes that took up the bottom 1/5 of the screen, just give us a relatively straight-forward level with a couple big obstacles to play through, a moderately, but not-too-difficult boss, and yay, we know how to play. Don’t ram instructions on how to move and shoot down our throats, come on, that’s just insulting, you know who’s gonna be playing this game, and for new players, is moving and shooting and jumping that complicated?
Now, the game has added dashing in a new way, it’s not just a method of traversal like it used to be, it’s now the main method in which you kill or absorb enemies. Yeah, you can kill enemies by just shooting the shit out of them, but your Buster (I don’t know what else to call it, really) is like a fucking peashooter with normal enemies. I suppose the game makes up for the inability to finish enemies off easily by having the hit detection on your dash be three times the size of Beck. I swear all you have to do is dash kinda near an enemy to absorb it when it’s weakened, and I don’t think that it’s intentional, it’s a little broken.
Adding onto the weird weapons and how they’re not very good, the boss weapons that you get in Mighty No.9 seem to all be completely useless except for about 30 seconds in total that you’ll use each one outside of boss battles. Some environmental objects can be messed around with depending on what boss weapons you have (bombs for rocks blocking alternative routes, etc.) However, when it comes to the main thing that they’re for, you know, fighting (because they are weapons), they are completely worthless and some of them are just weird. You can’t charge your Buster in the game, and can’t charge pretty much all of the abilities, but the fire ability that you get from Mighty No. 1, you can charge. Too bad that in this fast-paced game where enemies just appear right up in your grill, it takes like 7 seconds to fully charge it, which lets out a massive explosion, which is cool, but the charge makes it worthless. If you just tap the button, the explosion that you let out is barely bigger than the frame of Beck, which means that you’re almost guaranteed to get hit if you try to use it quickly.
That’s the thing that aggravates me about Beck’s dash ability, the levels are not built around going through them quickly, they’re built around anything but going fast. Either it’s some kind of chase sequence, stupid, awful enemy placement combined with traps and instakill spikes, or a long stretch of not many enemies with a lot of stuff going on in the background, to create the illusion of something happening, but it doesn’t matter at all.
That’s the thing about this game, if you take away all the flashing lights and people talking to you over the comms, the levels are fucking boring. They are not new, they are not inspired, nothing about them is unique, nothing about them is memorable like Metal Man’s stage or Storm Eagle’s stage. Or literally any stage from any real Megaman game, to be totally honest, they’re just all generic, crappy 2-D platformer stages with different elements in the background.
The bosses, the 8 robot masters, if you will, of this game are just boring or weird, they’re not scary, they’re not intimidating, they’re like meme-bots. They build them up for all of, I dunno, a minute throughout the stage, then you get to their room, they say or do something that has to do with their personality (military, crazy, prankster, etc.), but they’re just all kind of annoying. None of them really seemed cool, and I mean, it’s not really a fight to the death either when you fight them, you “cure” them of their virus instead of just blowing them to smithereens. The weird, stilted animation during the “healing” cutscene for Beck looks awful, and there’s weirdly not a lot of sound when it’s happening, it’s just kind of Beck saying “Come on, snap out of it!”, shooting a big blue hand at them, and poof, they’re all good. It’s weird and looks and sounds bad and I don’t like it at all.
Not to mention, the bosses are all weak to other boss weapons (and some of them are still better fighting with the Buster) but you can see what they’re weak against on the level select screen! Where the hell is the mystery in that? I used to like finally killing my first boss, getting their weapon, then trying to figure out the best pattern to fight the bosses in according to their stages and weaknesses. Now it’s just gone and the game holds your hand like a baby, like I’ve never played a Megaman game before, come on, man, don’t treat me like a child.
Also, on a really small side-note, the loading screens after your die and get sent back to a checkpoint are absolutely ATROCIOUS. For a game that looks like this, and for someone that’s done it better so many times before, the loading screens A) should not be blank, black screens, and B) should not take 25-30 seconds to load because this game looks like ass anyway. I should not feel like I have time to put the controller down when I die and fold some fucking laundry until the game loads again, I swear this game tacked on an extra 20-25 minutes on my playthrough because of loading times.
I think the final nail in the coffin, in terms of gameplay for Mighty No.9 is the fact that you’re expected to rush through the stages as fast as possible for the sake of scoring. There is a reason that the only Megaman game that had a score was the first one, it was just normal at the time for NES games to have some kind of scoring system. After they realized it was completely worthless and stupid, they got rid of it, because it was dumb, and those weren’t the kinds of games that needed a high score. The stages in Mighty No. 9 are already so short, that when you add in the fact that you’re expected to bum rush the stages and just blaze through them as quickly as possible, they become even shorter. The game basically encourages you to play in a way that detracts from it even more for the sake of getting a better score, which, let’s be honest, no one cares about in 2016 unless maybe you play the new Guitar Hero.
When you boil down Mighty No. 9 and take away all the Megaman parallels, (Beck and Call, guys, really? You guys couldn’t get any closer to Rock and Roll if you tried), it’s just not a very good game. The core mechanics of the game detracts from the way that the stages are laid out, and the stages, once you take away any flashy stuff going on in the background, are boring an uninspired. Nothing about Mighty No. 9 is revolutionary or fresh like the first entry in all of the Megaman franchises, it doesn’t stick out, it’s not memorable, except for the sour taste it left in most of our mouths. Also, I’m sure the kickstarter backers are appreciative of being given credit in the game, but come on, guys, those credits lasted like 4 hours. That’s like a whole other Mighty No. 9 playthrough, maybe a little more than that, actually.
Anyway, this isn’t an official review, this is just my thoughts and feelings on the game, as a passionate lover of all things Megaman. I was waiting a very long time for this game, and I’m pretty cheesed about it. I don’t think it’s as big of a letdown as, say, Destiny when that first came out, because it had so many more people and more money behind it, but we, as a community, donated so much money towards this game, and forgave 3 years worth of delays, we deserved more than this.
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