Mighty No. 9 (PC) - ReviewDan Carreras , posted on 28 June 2016 / 6,047 Views
Note - I backed Mighty No. 9 on Kickstarter to the value of $20.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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