In this day and age of social media, it's difficult to remain impartial when everyone is spewing their opinions at you online.
It's just as difficult trying to navigate the minefield of comments when just doing simple research. So, is Mighty No. 9 any good? According to the internet, not really.
After raising over $4 million from a Kickstarter campaign, the legendary team behind Mega Man headed up by Keiji Inafune decided to pull the seminal character out of the cupboard, dust him off, polish him up and set him off into his own new game (kind of).
If Mighty No. 9 is anything, it's fan service. And there's nothing wrong with that: Kickstarter and other crowdfunding methods have raised money by game consumers for a whole slew of sequels they have anticipating for years. Shenmue 3 is currently the most notable, with the high demand and hype for the third installment of Yu Suzuki's series pulling in over $6 million dollars, taking the spot as the highest funded Kickstarter game.
So Beck, the character you play, isn't called Mega Man despite pretty much being him, but he is a bit mega and, and a man, so let's not split hairs. Mighty No. 9 is the spiritual successor to Mega Man, with gameplay and design both influenced by the classic game and titular character.
If Mighty No. 9 is anything, it's fan service.
If you want to get into the whys and wherefores regarding what makes Mighty No. 9 so controversial, you need only look at the game's Wikipedia page to see accusations of mismanagement, cash grabbing for other titles and poor communication from developers. Delays became a repeated occurrence, funding increased, and stretch goals were added as the hype grew. But is the criticism of the final product justified?
The backing the right robot
Mighty No. 9 is an action platform game and developed by Comcept. Featuring the android Beck, who is ninth in succession of a line of powerful robots, he is the only one of the nine who hasn't succumbed to a computer virus which is affecting the robot world. Beck needs to eliminate the Mighty Robots who are rampaging and destroying everything, and find out who unleashed the virus.
As a concept, it's not a bad one. After an initial tutorial level, you can then select one of eight stages, which will have one of the other Mightys waiting for you at the end of it in a boss stage.
You could say that Mighty No. 9 is 2.5D, a mixture of both 2D platforming and 3D graphics and animations that, visually, makes for a really polished game. The only let-down in this area is that the environments are often devoid of any kind of character. What decoration and environmental detail there is, is often preceded by a considerable time of just... nothing. Bare-bones backgrounds are basic as they come, with a few robot traps here and there for good measure.
Beck moves left and right across the screen, dashing with RB, and shooting with X. The A button is used for jumping, a short press makes him jump a little and a long press makes him jump higher. But it is here the problems start: with Beck seemingly shooting in one direction by default, it's sometimes a fight to get him to shoot the other way, and a double jump would have helped the flow of the game a bit better instead of a long press. There's something frustrating about launching yourself at the same bit of wall just because you're not holding down a button long enough.
The game is just a tad too bland yet overdramatic for my taste.
In true platformer fashion, there are obstacles to be wary of lining narrow corridors and openings, as electrified spikes will kill you on contact. Trying to traverse pits and vertical tunnels with holding points are extremely dodgy; in fact, most of Beck's controls feel like you're fighting against him for dominance. Dropping between floors is simple enough, but dropping while hanging is another story altogether, almost always ending in a bottomless pit. What's worse, checkpoints are usually few and far between, so have fun trekking all the way back. The only upside to this is that all the robots you killed along the way remain dead.
Then there's the Xel technology. Xel (pronounced Cel) is the material that the robots are made from. You can collect it from other robots as you weaken and dash into them (and even perform chain attacks), or you can find secret boxes of it. Beck is the only one of the Mighty Robots who has this ability, as the other Mightys were designed with combat in mind, and absorbing Xel allows Beck to transform his own body. Beck can use the skills of the other Mightys once he has beaten them and relieved them of their homicidal virus.
Chaining attacks is pretty much as good as it gets, when it comes to combat. This seems to be the only real time when anything particularly frantic or exciting happens. In order to absorb as much Xel as possible from other robots, weakening them too much will reward you with less, so there is a 'sweet spot' to absorb at.
The game is just a tad too bland yet overdramatic for my taste. Not only is Mighty No. 9 a game, but the developers have plans to turn it into a TV series, a Manga, and a film. The supporting characters in the game are animated and voiced in a way that isn't far off from watching a children's show. The issue with this, in general, is that Keiji Inafune and Gang tried to create a game that elicits strong nostalgic feelings in a well established and dedicated fan base, and instead gave them something they probably wouldn't even let their kids watch. I felt patronized as a player, and in some ways, I would feel angry if I had contributed to the Kickstarter campaign.
Mighty No. 9 is largely not fun, and irritating in many ways: controls, voice acting, repetitive music. It is a hollow and empty experience. This is pretty much the kind of game you'll buy when it's on sale dirt cheap to see what all the fuss was about. So in a way, the criticism is justified; even going into playing the game completely blind with no expectations left me pretty disappointed, so I can understand the community's frustration. The build-up and the hype was intense, and felt like it was going to be a big deal but it just didn't deliver.
- Well-polished game
- Reasonable enough concept for a 'recycled' franchise
- Bland environments
- Poor controls
- A largely gutless experience
Mighty No. 9 misses the mark as the masterpiece it was sung to be, but I hope this doesn't mar the taste for Kickstarted and Crowdfunded games. One of the games that got the biggest reaction at E3 on social media was We Happy Few, which also happens to be a crowdfunded offering, so if there is backlash on the community after Mighty No. 9, I hope We Happy Few would be able to heal that wound.
This review was conducted on Xbox One with a physical copy provided by the developer