There is nothing more hated in the game community right now than Mighty No. 9 – and that’s quite a feat in itself, considering the disappointment of such games as Homefront: The Revolution and Dangerous Golf.
Of course, Mighty No. 9 has a troubled history, first getting off the ground as a KickStarter and then spending years in development limbo, with Keiji Inafune and his team at Comcept struggling to find the game’s true structure. Then, after so many delays, the game finally arrived this week – and the Internet couldn’t wait to trash it upon arrival. In fact, even Sonic the Hedgehog took a dig at it – yes, Sonic. The same character in Sonic 2006 and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric, two of the worst games of this previous generation.
But here’s the shocking thing – if you can get over a few of its humps and accept the fact that it’s not on the same level as most Mega Man games, Mighty No. 9…isn’t bad. Please hold your “Goddamn it, you’re stupid, Workman!” comments until you read the review in its entirety.
The game has a concept similar to previous Blue Bomber games, with a hero named Beck, aka Mighty No. 9, sent out to stop robots that are running out of control. Of course, you don’t just destroy them, but instead shoot them long enough that you can absorb their Xel energy for your own use, like for health increase or a temporary power-up with your weapon. Then come the big boys (and girls), who you can defeat and eventually gain their powers. Sound familiar?
Anyway, the core idea behind Mighty No. 9 is built around the dash ability. With this, you not only absorb damaged enemies, but also get across gaps, slide underneath deadly obstacles and get out of harm’s way. Combined with the jumping and shooting (which, yes, is very Mega Man-ish), it’s actually pretty good. The controls aren’t really that slippery, and aside from a missed platform or two, there’s not much frustration in that department.
Where the frustration DOES lie, however, is with the unbalanced difficulty. Some parts of the game can be a cakewalk, while others are heinously difficult, like a few bosses that have no trouble pummeling you. I learned the hard way how to get around some boss attacks and win to my advantage, but to some, it may be a tough mountain to climb. And that’s BEFORE you unlock some of the harder settings getting through the game.
However, there’s nothing here that’s harder than some of the older Mega Man games, so fans may find that to be a welcome challenge. That said, the main game will take you a good while to get through, and you’ll open up some secondary modes as well.
There’s not much to these secondary modes, but they could be fun for those that are seeking out score challenges, since they (along with the main game) support online leaderboards. These include challenge, with a pre-set number of stages that are set up like time trials; co-op, where you work with a partner in limited areas; and versus, which is essentially just a race to get the fastest time possible. They’re fun modes, but it depends on how much you get into the gameplay. More could’ve easily been done with this, like boss battles between Mighty and one of his other cohorts.
As for the presentation, it’s not bad. While the graphics aren’t of the out-of-this-world quality (especially with load times and occasional bits of slowdown – avoid the Wii U version until it’s patched, kids), it’s a decent throwback to the 2.5-D side scrollers of old. The animations aren’t bad either, even though the story sequences don’t offer much in the way of decoration. You’ll more than likely want to skip these unless you like being bored, since the story’s just kind of “meh.”
The sound, however, is quite good. The voice acting can be all over the place at times (again, mainly due to the writing), but the music is terrific, a nice throwback to the old 16-bit days of platformers. The sound effects aren’t bad either, pulled straight from the usual Mega Man-style library. If you can, though, play around with the voice options. The Japanese and French ones are actually well worth listening to.
So, now that you’ve read my justification of Mighty No. 9, do you still want to point fingers? Go ahead. I can safely say that the game doesn’t hold a candle to previous Mega Man adventures (I did enjoy going back to Legacy Collection after this to draw comparisons), but it’s not nearly the dumpster fire that so many Internet haters proclaim it to be. It’s a decent platformer with some good skills and secondary offerings, backed by an above-average presentation that has its quirks, but doesn’t reek of failure.
If you liked Mega Man, this is worth a shot. Hell, if you liked old-school games in general, it’s worth a shot. “Better than nothing”? More like “better than people give it credit for, though still not best.” (Wait, that may be too long for a catch phrase. Maybe “Better than Sonic 06”.)