Nearly three years ago in August 2013, the Kickstarter for Mighty No. 9 launched promising a return to form for classic side-scrolling fans and a spiritual successor to the original Mega Man titles. Following a turbulent development cycle to say the least, the game is now out for release, but does it stand up of its own merit?
Mighty No. 9 pits the player in the robotic boots of Beck, the ninth member of an elite set of combat androids developed by Dr. White. When a rogue computer virus comes online turning the majority of robots across the world hostile, as well as his own teammates, it’s up to Beck to use every tool at his disposal to put things right. This plot is by and large an excuse to put the player directly into the super fighting robot action, shooting and boosting your way through hordes of blaster fodder. The writing and voice work alike are what you would expect in an average 80s cartoon; it’s almost endearing in it’s over the top cheesiness. Almost.
The overbearing fact that the game never goes uninterrupted without one of the supporter characters yammering in your ear could have been more tolerable if their personalities were. The cast is remarkably uninteresting, though in different ways. Call seems to have been programmed to have no personality. Dr. Light and Beck are both wholly uninspired and generic. Then there’s Dr. Sanda who’s buffoonish presence begs the question of how he was involved in the development of these futuristic murderbots anyway.
Blasting through the broken utopian world is, for the most part, quite fun. There’s always joy to be had in plugging robotic goons with energy shots and dashing through them to collect their Xels. Having the core gameplay be driven by Beck’s mobility, and turning that into a core mechanic of the game truly invites a calculated yet frantic approach. Seeing the score rise higher pushes the player to defeat as many enemies as possible, as fast as possible. Combined with the punishing combat, Mighty No. 9 succeeds at emulating that old school feeling. Perhaps it’s a change in the day and age, or more the incohesive tone of the game, but the game does not succeed in creating any standout experiences.
The variety in gameplay throughout the different levels is rather high, with each boss encounter at the end of a level not only having strikingly different patterns and abilities, but also carrying their presence throughout the stage. Slight changes such as a Mighty No. who takes the form of a plane’s stage involving wind and turbulence. These variations prevent each side-scrolling stage from seeming to be a repeat of another, however the enemy variety leaves much to be desired. Even into the penultimate level you fight same basic blaster fodder bots as the start of the game. Combine this with the fact that the vast majority of powers you get from subduing your fellow Mighty No.’s are nearly entirely useless in combat, and you get some decently monotonous gameplay.
Mighty No. 9 isn’t a bad game. It’s a painfully average game, an aggressively mundane experience. For those who’ve been waiting years for a more retro shooting and boosting experience, you might find a decent bit of enjoyment. Even then, with only about 10 levels to experience you won’t spend too much time with it until you’re done, unless you enjoy replaying for the latest and greatest high scores. One way or another, Mighty No. 9 fails to meet the many promises displayed in its Kickstarter, and is a testament to the potential downfalls of the platform.