Mighty No. 9 (PC)

Mighty No. 9 (PC) - Review

by Dan Carreras , posted on 28 June 2016 / 5,928 Views

Note - I backed Mighty No. 9 on Kickstarter to the value of $20. 

Beck

It’s finally here, after three long years and multiple delays, Mighty No. 9 is finally in backers' and buyers' hands. What started as an attempt by Keiji Inafune to unleash his passion and re-create the Mega Man magic that he originally became famous for has quickly morphed into a monster all of its own. Animes, comics, films, and even a second Kickstarter campaign based on characters from the Mighty No. 9 universe have all been announced in the time it’s taken Inafune and his team at Comcept to complete the first title. Suffice it to say, expectations were, at least initially, huge. But after so many years of waiting, was Mighty No. 9 really all it was promised to be; is it a fitting spiritual successor to the Mega Man series?

Unfortunately, it is not, and the omens are bad from the outset.

Mighty No. 9 opens with a short cut scene where a narrator sets up the game world. In short, robots are built for fighting, and are mainly manufactured by a company called Cherry Dynamics. After this brief narrative introduction (all with no camera movement or change of picture), you’re introduced to Beck, the 9th mighty robot created by Dr. William White. Your task is to take control of Beck and start making your way through countless robots that seem to be infected by some kind of virus that has caused them to rise up against humans. It’s your job to track down the cause of this infection and put a stop to it. 

It has to be stated how out-of-place and awkward this introduction feels. Characters aren't animated, and very little is ever actually shown when trying to explain the main features of the game world. You’re just expected to sit, not looking at anything, and listen to the narrator, which is both boring and extraneous. I didn’t even feel any the wiser for sitting through it either and it may as well have been left on the cutting room floor.

boss fight

That's just the start of Mighty No. 9’s problems. It soon becomes apparent that the gameplay isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either. Beck has three abilities: he can shoot, jump, and dash. Each of these three basic moves is sufficient for traversing the environment and taking down baddies, but they never feel fully exploited. Rarely during the campaign did I feel challenged; most levels are easy, and only enemy encounters are likely to cause any trouble. The dash ability could have been used to present unique gameplay scenarios, but instead it's simply used as a faster way to traverse levels, or to absorb enemies, and as a result Mighty No. 9 feels basic and highly underwhelming.

But it's not all bad news. There are times when the gameplay shines through, especially when it comes to the game's bosses. Each enemy mighty robot feels unique, and has its own attack patterns to learn and master. Optimal use of the dash ability and shooting are a-plenty in these sections, which results in a great sense of satisfaction when one is defeated. 

platforming

It’s a shame, then, that these moments are fleeting in the grand scheme of the main campaign. The rest of the time deaths feel like the result of wonky game physics and hit boxes rather than failure on the part of the player, such that I couldn’t help but shout in frustration at many of the deaths that befell me. There are also moments in the campaign where it doesn’t feel like the controls are as responsive as they could or should be as well, resulting in many untimely deaths.

On the other hand one feature I did enjoy for a short while was Beck’s ability to acquire a key enemy's abilities and use them for himself. This makes fighting later bosses interesting and offers up more strategic options, especially when their use isn’t mandatory. Unfortunately, even this praise-worthy feature is tarnished slightly later in the campaign, when you’re expected to jump up to higher (than normal) platforms but you're not actually informed you've acquired a new ability that allows you to do so. It’s baffling that Mighty No. 9 constantly throws player hints up on the screen even in the late game, but opts not to inform you that you've acquired this essential ability. 

Graphically, Mighty No. 9 is bland and uninteresting. Taking a look at the game's screenshots, you could be forgiven for thinking that this was an indefinitely delayed Dreamcast title. Character and enemy models lack all detail, while animations are kept to an absolute minimum, resulting in presentation that feels absolutely lifeless. Even the art style is sub-par. Mighty No. 9 straddles a weird line between attempting to replicate realistic graphics, whilst at the same time adopting a cartoon-inspired art style, the disconnect between the two making for a completely unsatisfactory visual experience. 

The sound design is similarly lacklustre. For every music track that stands out and feels epic, there are several that annoy to the point you fear for your own sanity, and the voice acting is so absolutely horrendous that you'll soon be wishing you could skip the cut scenes.

boss fight

Perhaps the bland, short story, terrible animations, and awful voice acting were all intentional; as a game that's so clearly attempting to be a spiritual successor to the Mega Man series, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone at Comcept thought it would be a good idea to copy everything from the franchise's heyday, limited technological warts and all. But even then, from start to finish, Mighty No. 9 feels half-arsed. It doesn’t feel stylised, or even like an attempt to evoke the same video game design of classic Mega Man titles, rather a pale imitation that's incredibly banal at the same time. 

Mighty No. 9 has its moments over the course of a four hour campaign, but they’re tarnished by everything else about the game. From poor visuals, to awkward physics, and even annoying narrative elements, Mighty No. 9 feels boring and lifeless. It's irritating that we had to wait so long for something so meagre and mediocre. By all means give it a go if you were one of the title's 70,000 backers, but don't expect to be anything other than hugely disappointed by the end product.


Dan

A graduate in Computing which was centered around Gaming, Dan is a games developer and writer. His first game, Twixel, was released for iOS, Android, PC and Mac in 2015, with a second game in the pipeline. A lover of all things games, Dan has been writing for VGChartz.com for over 2 years, attending conferences and interviewing developers to get the best content for VGChartz readers. His favourite games include Asura's Wrath, S.T.A.L.K.E.R and the Halo Series. Dan can be followed on Twitter at: @Caesoose

 



This review is based on a digital copy of Mighty No. 9 for the PC

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5 Comments

Nuvendil (on 27 June 2016)

You forgot to mention that the frameratefrequently falters. Yes, framerate issues. With these visuals. Just...how?


AdamP90 (on 27 June 2016)

Probably they forgot to optimize. I think some shaders they used aren't that cheap and aren't good looking. I really hate the shaders they used on the characters.
Also other optimization related things. I mean it's the same engine that works under games like Mortal Kombat 9. That game looks a lot better and still works fine on consoles. The game gives that impression it wasn't made by professional developers to be honest.


  • +2
Nuvendil (on 27 June 2016)

Yeah, according to Jesse Cox who played the game at the end of the summer last year, the build just released to retail is essentially exactly the same. That delay was for absolutely nothing.


  • +3
Ganoncrotch (on 27 June 2016)

Really informing read, thanks Dan for going through this to spread more info about Might No.9


DanCarreras (on 29 June 2016)

No problem, thanks for reading! :D


  • +1
hershel_layton (on 27 June 2016)

, if you want a good platformer indie, there are a lot of better games. Cave Story is legendary. A must play indie shooter. It's also free(unlike this abomination). Quite disappointing how this indie failure will impact future titles. Indie games can be very solid titles people. It's just horrible developers who screw things up


Nuvendil (on 27 June 2016)

Cave Story, Shovel Knight, Freedom Planet, Runbow, Volgarr the Viking, Dust: An Elyssian Tale, FEZ, Azure Striker Gunvolt, Shantae and the Pirates Curse are all great indie platformers. There's literally no reason to get Mighty No 9. And coming up you have Shantae Half Genie Hero, Freedom Planet 2, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (the current demo already looks better than Mighty No 9), and Yooka Laylee. Mighty No 9 is inexcusably bad and waste of time in a genre set that is so saturated with quality entries.


  • +1
Ganoncrotch (on 27 June 2016)

add rogue legacy to that list, the one thing I love absolutely about Rogue Legacy and the above mentioned An Elyssian tale is that if you are good at the games controls you can avoid damage in almost all scenarios (see my sig for a youtube vid of me downing one close to impossible boss in rogue legacy with zero damage taken) just because the controls allow you to, reading this review about deaths being caused by bad hit detection, controls and item collision just absolutely seals any chance of redemption of this title I think. Dying in a game can be annoying if it's the fault of the player, but when the game itself is at fault for a death it's just depressing.


  • +2
Eagle367 (on 27 June 2016)

I liked it somewhat.


Zenos (on 27 June 2016)

4 million dollars and one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns resulted into this. MN9 should serve as a warning of how wrong crowdfunded games can go.


Nuvendil (on 27 June 2016)

The problem is people give these industry devs too much special treatment. Many don't bring nearly enough to show when their Kickstarter launches. They get their money on their names when a normal team would struggle. When people put that much trust in a name, misfires will happen


  • +1
Zenos (on 28 June 2016)

@Nuvendil My point is that Kickstarter is a very risky system that doesn't give backers any control and there is no guarantee for the quality of the final product. MN9 is a prime example of that.


  • 0
Nuvendil (on 28 June 2016)

Of course there's risk, there's always risk. Whether you're a publisher putting money into a game or a backer on Kickstarter or a preorderer, you have no guarantee the money you put down before a product is finished will be returned to you in quality of the product. However, it's not that hard to spot good Kickstarters vs bad Kickstarters vs Kickstarters that don't give you nearly enough info. My point is most of these veterans doing their indie projects fall into the third or even second category but people treat them like they fall into category 1 which is what leads to Mighty No 9.


  • 0
Zenos (on 29 June 2016)

@Nuvendil The difference is that a publisher has control over the direction of the project and the design decisions. This is not true for Kickstarter backers. Also the publisher profits from the game success unlike the backers.

You can cancel a preorder at any time, which is not true for Kickstarter backing.

So crowdfunding is just throwing your money into a hat hoping that something good will happen.


  • 0