Back in 2013, legendary game developer Keiji Inafune launched a Kickstarter campaign in aid of funding a spiritual successor to classic platforming franchise Mega Man. The project was a triumph, raising four times the proposed figure and exciting long-neglected Mega Man fans to no end. Now that the lengthy development process has concluded and Mighty No. 9 is in players’ hands, are we left with an experience that fulfils the initial promise, or one that’ll leave them crying like anime fans on prom night? (Couldn't resist that low, low-hanging fruit…)
Characters are unlikable, poorly written and terribly voiced.
Playing in a considered manner is a good idea in general; whilst Mighty No. 9 isn’t as punishing as its forefather, it will slap you back down to Earth pretty quickly if you get too cocky. Facing staunch opposition from precision platforming, tough adversaries and, occasionally, the checkpoint system, frustrations can creep in. On the other hand, successes are met with all the more satisfaction as a result, especially if you’re the obsessive compulsive sort that wants to execute a perfect, S-ranked run.
Less skilled players are somewhat accommodated, thanks to the option to bring nine lives along with them, as well as the fact that repeated failure is met with pity, as game provides you with armfuls of additional health items and power-ups.
Each of the twelve levels - most of which are uninspired, before some misguided variety is introduced towards the end and has you wishing to go back - concludes with an entertaining boss battle. They’re a definite highlight, classically possessive of subtle tells you’ll need to learn in order to employ the proper counter tactics at the proper time.
Eight of these encounters are with the other Mighty Numbers, each of which bestow Beck a new transformation, ranging from emitting a proximity blast of fire, to transforming into a bulldozer, shooting electricity, freezing enemies and more. With experimentation you’ll find that they each work well in specific situations, as well as against certain enemy types. This should encourage diversifying, as does the limited usage capacity for each one, but more often than not we stuck to the standard form and its known quantities - shoot this enemy three times and dash, shoot that one six times, and so on.
The core gameplay loop is an enjoyable and moreish one that manages to outshine the many issues.
The final encounter is unfortunately sullied by some questionable design; it’s fine mechanically, but basically everything in the room is the same colour, making the whole affair a confusing blur as things merge together and get lost - not ideal when precision is called for. Thereafter you’re treated to an abrupt ending, four hours of credits and the setup for a sequel… But hey, it’s better than nothing. (Sorry, low-hanging fruit again.)
After completing the game, there’s plenty more to bring you back. Ex mode features solo and co-op challenges, boss rush and more; there are also hard and hyper difficulty settings for the masochistic, in addition to a sizeable list of seventy achievements to be earnt. There’s no question it delivers on quantity, it’s the question of quality that stands on shaky ground.
Personally, as someone that isn't explicitly attached to the Mega Man franchise, didn't back the Kickstarter project, and didn’t follow the subsequent development process closely - I can say I enjoyed my time with Mighty No. 9. Perhaps it’s partly because I was made no promises and carried few preconceptions as a result, but regardless, the core gameplay loop is an enjoyable and moreish one that manages to outshine the many issues and persist as the game’s lasting impression. Just be careful with Kickstarter…
It’s a reasonably-mighty number 7/10