Not just another Mega Man clone.
This E3 I got a chance to check out Keiji Inafune’s masterpiece Mighty No. 9 , and it was easily one of the most fun experiences I had the entire convention. What I expected was just a Mega Man clone, without Mega Man in it. However, Mighty No. 9 is so much more. This version had all the levels unlocked and all the powers available to toy around with. We got to see Keiji Inafune’s vision in its entirety, and it is wonderful.
Beck has a couple abilities that Mega Man does not have. His main attack is still a pea shooter style gun, but his goal isn’t actually to kill the enemies he is facing. Instead, his goal is to make them become “unstable.” At this point, he can dash through the enemy to absorb them and gain some temporary buffs and weapon energy. This makes the game much more fast-paced than Mega Man . Shoot three enemies, dash through them, and carry on. That’s the pace you will be getting used to. The fact that Beck can air dash as many times as he wants (although there is a short recharge time between each one) makes him even more mobile in the air that Mega Man X or Zero. This game is a speedrunner’s dream, as there is no time that you aren’t dashing madly around each level.
Beck doesn’t switch weapons the way Mega Man did. Instead, he goes into completely different forms. These forms have different passive and active abilities that Beck can use. For example, the air form allows him to charge a propeller in order to make extra high jumps. His bulldozer form allows him to travel across terrain that might otherwise be dangerous.
Of course, each form has its own weapon to use, and these weapons are tied to weapon energy. However, unlike Mega Man, Beck’s weapon energy automatically restores if he simply waits around and does nothing. This is perfect if you are stuck before a boss or a difficult platforming segment, and want to take your time in order to have just the right weapon to make it through the next portion of the game. As I said before, dashing through an enemy will restore weapon energy quicker, so if you constantly do this, your weapons have pseudo infinite uses. And never fear, bosses have certain weaknesses to certain weapons, just like in a Mega Man game.
What was the coolest thing about Beck’s forms is that many of them are based around other games that Keiji Inafune worked on. The blade form, for example, is very reminiscent of Zero from Mega Man X . Meanwhile, the electric form has a sort of shoot, lock on, and zap mechanic very reminiscent of Azure Striker Gunvolt . Aside from these forms, he also has a form that shoots a remote bomb, a form that shoots an arcing ice shot, a form that produces a chargeable AOE explosion of fire, and a form that bounces a laser off enemies and walls multiple times. He also has a “super” form, which I’ll let you discover for yourself.
Mighty No. 9 hits a lot of different notes as you progress through its campaign. For example, one stage has you playing as Call, this game’s Roll equivalent. Call’s buster is very bad and her dash doesn’t let her absorb enemies. However, she can do one thing Beck can’t do, duck. I’m sure this is a joke on prior Mega Man game mechanics. She uses her ability to duck and crawl to play an entire stage based on stealth instead of combat. It’s an interesting and refreshing diversion from the main game, and it comes at exactly the point that it is needed.
The story of Mighty No. 9 is absolutely amazing and is delivered through some top notch voice acting. Yes, it feels kind of goofy at times, sort of like a Saturday morning cartoon, but that’s the feeling that they went for, and it works. The one qualm I have with the story, however, is that you can’t appear to skip story sequences. This is especially frustrating whenever you die and have to sit through the same cutscene over and over again. It’s a simple oversight that really would have made the game easier to jump into. Mighty No. 9 is all about action and while I enjoy the story, being forced to stay out of the action for the sake of re-watching the story can get draining.
But that’s just a small nitpick in an otherwise awesome game. I played Mighty No. 9 for an absurdly long time. The only reason I stopped was because I had to head off to my next appointment. The level design is just so good, even though its old school Nintendo Mega Man hard. The enemies are a joy to fight, even if you keep dying to them. It just feels good to attack an enemy and dash your way through him. It feels like you are rewarded for going fast, which is something older Mega Man games really didn’t have.
Mighty No. 9 is old school platforming at its best, period. I cannot stress enough how much this takes the Mega Man formula and makes it better. Beck is a better blue bomber than Mega Man ever was. His abilities are more interesting and flow with the pace of the game better than Mega Man did. Simply put, this certainly feels like the game that Keiji Inafune would make it he had no restrictions, a combination of all his past works rolled up into one story about a robot trying to save the world from other insane robots. What more could you possibly ask for?