Comcept – Inti Creates – Deep Silver – 1 Player – PC, Mac, Xbox One/360, Ps3/4 (version played)/Vita, Nintendo Wii U/3DS – Out Now
Quite possibly one of the most controversial releases this year, Mighty No.9 is finally released off the back of a massively successful crowdfunding campaign, followed by many delays. Following its release there have been reports of backers getting incorrect codes or not getting them at all, as well as reports of performance issues and the game crashing systems and the game itself being generally bad. That being said, this was amidst it’s release day hype, and bad news spreads further than good news. Away from all of this we’ve had the privilege of being able to judge for ourselves. Mighty No. 9 is the brainchild of Keiji Inafune, the man behind the massively popular Mega Man games, whose aim was basically to recreate the experience of those games, and really, it’s pretty much job done. Mighty No.9 is Mega Man in all but name. The story sees the titular hero trying to defeat 8 robot bad guys (Mighty no’s. 1-8), assisted by his old scientist friend. Each of these bad robots is the boss at the end of each level, which can be tackled in any order. As Mighty No. 9 (also known as Beck), you have a canon on your arm which is required to shoot the bad guys, but once you’ve shot them you can perform a special dash move which enables you to pick up time-limited power ups which intensifies your fire power, or can speed up the characters movements. The time limit is very short on these power ups, so the more enemies you kill using the dash, the longer the power lasts.
For anyone who has played any iteration of Mega Man will know, those games are hard. It’s a case of playing through each level to get to the boss, but the challenge is doing so with learning all the enemies patterns and to take as little damage as possible, as you’re gonna need that health for the boss fight. Repetition is the key, as each level is tough, with some enemies being very difficult to deal with. As far as the platforming is concerned, it’s pretty solid stuff, with some great level design. The communications tower being a particular delight to play. Some of the locations are by the numbers platform environments, featuring the elemental mainstays of fire, water, ice and wind. All of these pose their own hazards as you’re trying to make it to the boss. The bosses are probably the game’s biggest downfall. They are ridiculously difficult to beat. You will have to fight them several times to analyse their attack patterns and get used to when you can hurt them and when you can’t. And even then, you will only deplete their energy gauge properly if you perform the dash attack when the enemies have been weakened. This can be quite perilous at times, especially when there are platforms that you can fall off. Each of the games bosses has their own unique style and abilities, but all are equally difficult to beat. It can get extremely frustrating, especially if you see the game over screen as you then have to start the level over from the beginning, which is incredibly annoying when you’ve already been through them for the nth time just to get your arse handed to you. However, defeating your adversary will result in the option to use an upgraded suit, reflecting the boss you’ve just defeated, however they have a limited power supply and need to recharge after using them for so long, and don’t necessarily serve for the better.
This game is old school in every sense. The unforgiving nature of the levels and enemies, with little reward in return for getting anywhere, and the games aesthetic just screams Sega. Throughout the first hour you’d be forgiven for thinking you were playing a Dreamcast game, such is the quality of the voice over work in this game. The general arcadey Japanese look and feel really add to this as well. While not visually stunning, it’s no dogs dinner either, with decent character models and level design, with the only thing letting it down being the explosions that happen now and again, they definitely look like something of a bygone age. That being said, the game would have probably benefitted from the pixelated look that seems to be the trend with a lot of indie platformers these days, given the games playing style, but it doesn’t affect the fast and frantic gameplay. As well as the main missions, there’s also an MGS style VR training section, with more missions than you can shake a stick at. These tend to shake things up a bit, with some missions not giving you the ability to use your weapons or dash ability. It can be fun, but the main game is where the entertainment really lies.
It’s a fun game, but definitely for the hardcore and retro enthusiasts. Its relentless boss fights will not appeal to those who just like to dip in and out of games, or even some of the most seasoned of players. Hyperbole be damned, it’s definitely worth giving this game a shot, especially if you’re in to the old 8/16-bit platformers or you want something more challenging from the genre.