Mighty No. 9 Review

Mighty No. 9

Available on:
WiiU, PS4, PS3, Xbox360, Xbox1, PC

This review is specifically covering the WiiU version of the game.

Parent Talk:

Mighty No 9 is a Japanese action “run and gun” platformer that features robots. The game-play is quite similar to the classic Megaman games and features a comparable level of violence. Beck, the player controlled character, is a robot sent on a mission to stop 8 other robots that are rampaging through the city.   The battles are neither graphic nor gory; nothing here that should be inappropriate for children.

No human or living characters are ever fired upon by Beck, all destroyed enemies are robotic.

The History:

 One cannot discuss Mighty No. 9 without mentioning how it came to be. Mighty No. 9 began as a Kickstarter project, started by Keiji Inafune, a former employee of Capcom that is one of the most influential people behind the Megaman franchise. Mighty No. 9 was created to be the spiritual successor to the Megaman franchise.

With more than 70,000 backers, this was one of the most anticipated games from Kickstarter.

After a turbulent development phase, the game has been released.   How does this Kickstarter birthed game fare? Let’s take a look!

The Good:

Mighty No. 9 has a fair number of features available. In addition to the normal single player story mode, there are a number of challenges, an online co-op mode, an online race, and a mode featuring a different playable character. There’s a fair amount to do beyond just the main story.

There are a lot of familiar elements incorporated from the Megaman series that inspired this game.   You get to choose which level you wish to enter, and may complete the first 8 levels in any order you wish, along with an optional bonus level. Defeating the boss at the end of your chosen level will reward you with a special weapon that you can use in other stages.

The characters in the game have a lot of personality, especially the bosses. One of the more interesting characteristics about this game is that when you defeat a boss, you not only gain their power, but you gain their assistance as well. While they are not playable, they can appear in other stages and help you through them.   You may see them defeating enemies or disabling stage certain stage hazards to help your mission. They also provide clues for you before entering a stage.   This helps provide a sense of teamwork and makes you feel not so alone out on the battlefield.

This gives the boss characters more screen time and makes than more than merely the boss of a level.   The world feels more alive and connected as you see the relationship between Beck and his fellow Mighties portrayed on-screen.

This game features the old-school Nintendo era level of challenge. Depending on how you look at it, this can be both good and bad. You can definitely expect to experience a lot of game over screens as you learn the stages and patterns of your enemies.   Many of the stage hazards require precise timing and careful movements to clear, and the bosses show no mercy.   If you love old-school difficulty and pattern memorization, you will definitely find it here.

The Bad:

The graphics in this game would look right at home on the Dreamcast; they don’t have the look and polish you might expect for a game released in 2016. While they get the job done, they tend to look rather plain and uninspired.

Sometimes, the active objects on the stage blend in with the background, and sometimes it can difficult to determine what is part of the stage, and what is background. It can be frustrating to leap towards what looks to be a ledge you can stand on, only to fall through it. Other times, narrow passages you need to squeeze through can blend into the background and be difficult to spot.

The game has a number of stage design problems. Several times the game will threw a new stage gimmick at you without teaching you how to use it, or you’ll be expected to use to use your special transformations in an unusual way without ever being given any indication that you could perform this task with that transformation. This can range from platforms behaving in unexpected ways over dangerous terrain, secondary abilities for your weapons that were never revealed, to certain miss-able power-ups being required in order to clear a stage.

The game features a dash mechanic that is used both for traversal, and for battling enemies.   Once you’ve inflicted enough damage on an enemy, it becomes stunned and you can dash into it both to destroy it, and to potentially gain temporary power-ups. It’s not particularly natural or intuitive for a run and gun game to encourage you to deliberately collide with your enemies, though this does encourage speed-running and gives the game a mechanic all its own to set it apart from similar games. But this mechanic does present problems all its own. In addition to defeating weakened enemies, dashing into them collects power-ups as well. The power-ups collected from dashing can alter your speed and control in mid jump, and it is quite easy to go sailing off a ledge because the speed of your character suddenly changes. You often fight enemies on narrow platforms where dashing is dangerous and undesirable.   The dash mechanic can lead to a lot of lost lives from accidental dashes off a cliff.

Bosses are the biggest examples of the flaw with the dash mechanic. Once you damage a boss enough, it stops taking damage and begins healing itself until you dash through it. Frequently, a boss would take damage, and then go and fly around at the top of the screen where none of my weapons could reach it and recharge most of its HP. This was quite frustrating, and happened frequently.

The Ugly:

Mighty No. 9, at least on the WiiU, features some horrendous loading times. Each time you lose a life, it takes 20 seconds or more to load the next life; sometimes considerably longer. This is most definitely not okay, and is quite aggravating in a game that features such a high degree of difficulty and trial and error.

The game also suffers some frame-rate issues that can adversely affect game-play. While fortunately this was mercifully rare, it was quite noticeable when it occurred.

The game’s online co-op mode is perhaps the games biggest swing and a miss. In this mode, 2 players co-operate to clear challenge objectives. The problem is, one player will find that the game plays normally, but the other player will find the game to suffer such extreme lag and button input delays, that the mode will be completely unplayable. If you are not the “host player” hosting the room, many times your button commands are ignored entirely, and even if the game does respond to the command, it does not do so properly. It took me 5 attempts to jump onto a ledge directly above me when my character would leap up onto the ledge, and then fall right through it. While the feature is a fantastic idea, it is simply unbearable in this broken state.

The Roundup:

Mighty No. 9 aspires to be the spiritual successor to the famous Megaman series, and while it captures a lot of the elements that made that series great, it doesn’t quite hit its mark.

Despite having a lot of the right elements, the game does not use them well. The stages lack the quality design of its predecessor and the enemy selection is rather plain and boring. You face the same few enemies throughout the game which gives all the stages a similar feel. The stages themselves are pretty generic standard fare types of environments.

While Might No. 9 is not a terrible experience, it is a very mediocre one. Nearly everything the game does, its predecessor does better.

While the multi-player mode is un-playable, the single player campaign, if you can tolerate the loading screens, can give you a decent run and gun experience that will indeed be reminiscent of that old-school Megaman feel. One thing that can help ease the frustrations of this game is to go into the options menu and increase the number of lives that you have. This gives you more opportunities to start from the last check-point and more chances to attempt the trial-and-error based challenges this game loves to throw at you.

All in all, Mighty No. 9 is a very middle of the road game, which has earned it a middle of the road final rating. My final score for Mighty No. 9 is a 5/10.

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