Mighty No. 9 Review

Mighty No. 9

Score: 2 out of 5Please allow me to save you some time. Go back and listen to episode 64 of the GamerNode Show podcast, then choose to play either the comprehensive Mega Man Legacy Collection or the fantastic love letter to the Mega Man series, 20XX, or both. Either will serve you better than Mighty No. 9, because both are superior games.

Mighty No. 9 began as a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, to the tune of $3.8 million. Billed as a spiritual successor to the Mega Man series and designed by a team of veterans of that series, including Keiji Inafune, backers came out in droves to lay down money on the promise of a reinvented Blue Bomber.

Nearly four years later, we have a game that approximates the style of the Mega Man series, taking the central concept of robots turned bad…and also turning the rest of the game bad, at least by comparison, and comparison simply cannot be avoided.

The basics are all there: the protagonist robot Beck – under the guidance of friendly scientist Dr. White – runs, jumps, and shoots his way through two-dimensional, side-scrolling levels filled with enemy robots and other hazards until he reaches the “Mighty No. Whatever” boss robot that lords over that particular area.

Rinse. Repeat.

And I say that not because of the fact that nearly every game in existence repeats its primary mechanic for its duration, but because this game just FEELS like “rinse, repeat” while others often feel like continuing to do something you enjoy doing.

Mighty No. 9

Mighty No. 9‘s level design is generic but with sections that try too hard to kill you, the character art is like an ugly 3D rendering of a cutesy children’s anime, and the voice acting is just plain awful. And it’s awful not only because of its quality but because of its frequency and timing. There’s a perpetual dialogue between characters as Beck runs through each level, with annoying voices narrating the obvious and stalling any feeling of momentum that has generated to that point. I would argue that removing these characters – and all voice acting – from the game completely would be a big improvement. Including them really nullifies any joy derived from playing.

The pure moment-to-moment gameplay, taken alone, is not bad. Sure, the level design and variety and placement of enemies could use work, and Beck is a little too bouncy and imprecise, and not quite responsive enough to player input, but running, jumping, and shooting are basically fun. The dash mechanic is even a step above that, and the driving force behind the momentum that is repeatedly crushed by those ruinous bits of dialogue from those stupid characters mentioned earlier. With better elements surrounding it, this mechanic could be the basis of a much stronger game.

Mighty No. 9

In Mighty No. 9, rather than simply exploding to bits after a number of Beck’s blasts, enemies are first stunned, leaving them vulnerable to a dash attack. Defeating them in this manner captures their “Xel” energy, which translates into bonuses and upgrades for the player if the color-coded combo countdowns are kept up. Of course just shooting them to death works, too, but the crux of combat and game flow is this dash mechanic. And it’d be a whole lot of fun with better level design and no distractions. Anticipating the stun threshold of your enemies and chaining dash-kills together can feel like riding a wave through the level if play is uninterrupted.

But mostly, it is interrupted. So that’s theme of Mighty No. 9: disappointment. It’s a disappointment thanks to its Mega Man heritage, for sure, but even setting that aside, there is disappointment baked into gameplay. Disappointment is written into the code. I wish the game would stop getting in its own way and just let me play it.

Buy on Amazon


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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