The long-awaited Mighty No. 9 is finally here, and although we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Vita version we already checked out the game on PS4.
At almost every major game show over the past few years, Mighty No. 9 would generate plenty of buzz – especially among journalists, with appointments to see the game always booking up fast. This was no surprise, because the game has managed to generate excitement ever since the original (and very successful) Kickstarter was launched. A large part of this was no doubt thanks to Keiji Inafune’s involvement, whose work as game director for the Mega Man series has set a high standard. Working with fellow Mega Man developers and promising a spiritual successor to the legendary series, high expectations surrounding Mighty No. 9 were quickly established and a long waiting period began.
Mighty No. 9 is instantly familiar to Mega Man fans, both in terms of gameplay and art style. Having access to 2016 technology means that 3D backdrops and cutscenes have been integrated, but the game remains true to its 2D platforming roots. Your main character, an android called Beck, can jump and shoot his way past obstacles and enemies. Defeating enemies gives you access to new weapons and technologies as well – something Mega Man fans will recognize.
After an intro/tutorial level there are eight stages to tackle with Beck, and they can be played in any order. At the end of each stage, you’ll face off with one of the other “mighty” androids in the shape of a boss battle. After defeating all eight, the game opens up four additional levels that round off the campaign. Over the course of the campaign, you’ll also come across several challenge stages, which ask you to play a certain way in order to achieve specific goals that are set for that stage. These are fun diversions and some of the more original sections of the game.
Aside from running, jumping and shooting, you’ll also frequently dash your way through levels. Part of this is to achieve a certain kind of flow or to get past obstacles, but you can also use dashing to take down enemies and absorb energy that gives you boosts in your abilities. These are temporary, but the improvements you earn by defeating bosses stick with you until the end.
Mighty No. 9’s level design unfortunately feels a bit formulaic, especially after the most recent Rayman games showed us how creatively the platform genre can be approached. This feeling is probably strengthened by a lack of polish in terms of visual design and audiovisual performance. Cutscenes look okay but don’t exactly scream ‘2016’ with their lack of facial animations, the voice acting is sub-par and despite visuals that aren’t exactly ‘next gen’ we even noticed a bit of slowdown here and there. This makes us wonder how the game will perform on less powerful systems when those versions are released later.
Mighty No. 9 definitely isn’t a bad game. It’s competent and it’s fun, but it certainly isn’t the ‘evolution’ of the genre that was hoped for and it doesn’t manage to stand out from the crowd – especially on the platforms it’s currently available for.