Mighty No. 9 Lets a Lot of People Down
Mighty No. 9 has set a precedent. Whenever anyone considers crowdfunding a game, they’re going to look at this Keiji Inafune project and second-guess their decision. This isn’t a triumph. It barely even feels like it’s trying. Rather, Mighty No. 9 has become a warning. Invest your money wisely, folks. Be more critical when it comes to your gaming pre-purchases. You could be contributing to another Mighty No. 9 .
Mighty No. 9 immediately assaults you with its tired routine. A computer virus has caused all of the robots in the world to lose control of themselves and start attacking innocents. Only Beck, the ninth Mighty Numbers robot, retains his sense of self. Dr. White, his creator, tasks him with defeating his siblings and saving the day. It’s basically the plot of every Mega Man game ever, which is fine since this is supposed to be a spiritual successor to the series.
What isn’t fine is Mighty No. 9 ’s attempt to have a story and event segments, then not following through with interesting content. The dialogue lacks any appeal or emotion. The English voice acting is adequate, at best. Event segments have character models standing around staring at one another. They show no emotion. Their mouths don’t move. It’s like they don’t want to be there, a sentiment I can absolutely understand. This doesn’t bode well for Inafune’s hopes of building anime, comic book, manga, and movies around the game’s mythos.
It also doesn’t help define Beck’s abilities. Like Mega Man, he’s able to take on his siblings’ special skills after defeating them. His blaster is a standard attack, but each of the special abilities is weaker versus one and stronger against another. As an example, Mighty No. 1 Pyrogen’s fire is strong against Mighty No. 2’s Cryosphere’s water, which works well against Mighty No. 5 Battalion’s bombs. Mighty No. 9 lets you get advice about weaknesses, but I found the only ability I really needed was Mighty No. 7 Brandish’s sword attack. It can deflect projectiles, which is handy for most bosses. Otherwise, the blaster works wonderfully against all comers, negating the need to rely on anything else. Which, unfortunately, defeats the whole purpose of playing in a specific order or even switching to different abilities.
I suppose the one thing I do like about Mighty No. 9 is its dash mechanic. Instead of outright defeating an enemy, Beck is able to dash into it for a boost. With standard enemies, this means chaining together attacks in such a way that you get an extended combo for running into each almost-defeated opponent. More prompt dashes result in higher absorption rates and better buffs. With bosses, this means an opportunity to dash into them in the midst of a fight for a brief boost. It’s the one thing Mighty No. 9 can call its own, so perhaps it’s oddly appropriate that it’s the only thing it gets right.
If I could have, I would have dashed through the entire game. While Beck is a robot, it feels like he’s plodding through every level. Mighty No. 9 doesn’t have the same sense of flow or rhythm that Mega Man games did. There are many segments where if you don’t dash at the right time, a large section of a level becomes a tedious slog. You’re trudging through a tedious game.
Worse, you’re trapped in an ugly, tedious game. Mighty No. 9 does not look good. The March Masterclass trailer is criticized for explosions that look like slices of pizza. That wasn’t some marketing error. The actual explosions and fire tend to look like that in game. Characters are flat and lifeless. It’s like you went into a dollar store and purchased knock-off Mega Man toys, then gave them their own game. There’s nothing visually appealing about any of these characters. It’s the one instance where I’d recommend looking up the final boss fight on YouTube before buying the game, because it’s so anticlimactic and ugly.
Speaking of ugly, the framerate issues on the PlayStation 4 version of Mighty No. 9 can be quite unsightly. There are areas where blocks need to be destroyed to continue through the level. Taking them out with Beck’s weapon makes the framerate plummet. Considering the amount of time spent in development, this is a problem that should have been fixed by now.
These are all things that add up and make you not want to play the game. Which is a shame, because there are some supplemental features and modes that would otherwise extend Mighty No. 9 ’s lifespan. There’s a new game plus option, boss rush, challenges, and an additional DLC storyline following Ray. Except, the main game’s 12 levels are so lackluster that there’s almost no way to muster enthusiasm about these extra endeavors.
Mighty No. 9 is a disappointment. As I went through the game, I saw all the things going wrong and began going through possible corrections in my head. It should have looked like the original prototype. The character designs and lighting were better there. The dialogue and story segments should have been more engaging and dynamic. The special abilities needed more heft. Some last minute polish could have fixed these framerate issues. That made me mad, because if I could see all of these issues that needed to be addressed, why couldn’t the developers? With all of the delays this game has seen, why do these problems still exist? Mighty No. 9 isn’t a terrible game, but it isn’t a good one either. With an end result like this, I feel pity for every person who backed it.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.0 Graphics
While competent, Mighty No. 9 is just plain ugly. 4.0 Control
Mighty No. 9 handles well, and the dash in particular is one of the game’s few delights. 2.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The English voice acting is grating and the soundtrack is generic. 3.0 Play Value
Mighty No. 9 has 12 stages and a number of extra features, but the tedium and lackluster presentation may keep people from exploring every cranny. 2.8 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|