REVIEW: Mighty No. 9

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

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Mighty No. 9 | oprainfall
Title Mighty No. 9
Developer Comcept, Inti Creates
Publisher Deep Silver (NA), Spike Chunsoft (JP)
Release Date June 21, 2016
Genre Action, Platforming
Platform Wii U, 3DS, PC, PS4, PS3, VIta, XBox One, XBox 360
Age Rating E for Everyone – Cartoon Violence
Official Website

Author’s Note: I backed Mighty No. 9 for $60.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me clarify something — I am a giant Mega Man nerd. There is hardly any iteration of the long-running series that I’m not a fan of, and, despite the series’ ups and downs, I have always proudly supported it. Which is why I was so upset when Capcom seemingly decided to stop supporting the Blue Bomber, only releasing remixes like Mega Man Legacy Collection without developing any new titles in what feels like forever. As such, it should be no surprise to anyone that I happily backed Mighty No. 9 a few years ago. I got to actually see the project get unveiled by Keiji Inafune himself at PAX Prime, and I was a true believer from go. That sense of euphoria lasted a good long time — a couple years, in fact — only starting to dim when the updates I kept getting in my inbox started getting composed by a new face — Dina. I’m not sure what it was about her, as I’ve never met the woman, but with her at the helm, my enthusiasm started to wane. That could be a coincidence, maybe I was just getting tired of waiting, but for me that was the point things started to go downhill.

Fast forward later to several delays, speculation about Inafune’s greed, extraneous funding for a television show and many other hiccups, and my enthusiasm was all but gone. However, I am an extremely loyal and optimistic person by nature, and when Comcept said Mighty No. 9 was coming out this June, I was cautiously optimistic. Then I got my long-awaited backer codes, and I was ready to jump out of my seat. Unfortunately, my happy attitude was met with nothing but vitriol and hatred online. To say that the early reviews disliked the game would be a huge understatement, and I started to worry my patience and loyalty was for naught. Thus, I decided to do this review, basing it solely off my own perceptions and experiences with the game, to answer a simple question – is Mighty No. 9 a steaming pile of garbage, or did Beck get a bad rap?

Mighty No. 9 | Cast

The primary players on Team Beck – Dr. White, Dr. Sanda, and the ever adorable Call.

The story of Mighty No. 9, set in a world that stylistically reminds me of a mix of Mega Man and Astro Boy, revolving around a society where the Mighty Numbers alternate between doing their jobs and fighting for fun in a Battle Colliseum. Cue something going wrong and robots running amok. If this sounds familiar, then there’s a good chance you’ve played a few Mega Man games. While it’s very true that the game borrows many conventions from the entire Mega Man series, most notably the plot of the original games, mechanics from the X series, voice acting from Mega Man 8 and difficulty from the Zero and ZX series, Mighty No. 9 did a good job of playing around with all these elements, as well as turning my expectations on their heads. When you hear about a nefarious doctor who may be behind everything, the notorious Dr. Blackwell, you instantly think you know where the plot is going, and you would also be wrong.

Mighty No 9 | Villains

Hi Dr. Wil- … er, I mean, Dr. Blackwell!

One of the things I enjoyed about the story in Mighty No. 9 is how it threw in unexpected twists and turns, relayed by cutscenes between missions. I also appreciated that, unlike most Mega Man games, this one tried hard to give every character a distinct voice. From the compassionate and steadfast Beck to the nervous, kind giant Dr. Sanda to the mild mannered, almost cold Dr. White to the machine-like, yet somehow adorable, Call, everybody is well expressed. This goes double for all the Mighty Numbers themselves, as each and every boss is distinct, and relayed with a unique voice, thanks in large part to the tremendous voice acting in the game. This even translated to how each stage reflected the personality and style of their particular boss! Each and every character sounded very different and had a totally individual tone, which was one of the highlights of the game for me. But no spiritual successor of Mega Man is really about the plot, so let’s move on to the good stuff — the gameplay mechanics!

Mighty No 9 | Voice Acting

Speaking of voice acting, I loved the constant banter of Mighty No. 6, AKA Aviator!

The combat in the game is focused largely around one mechanic — AcXelerating, or dashing, right into a weakened enemy. See, every robot in the world of Mighty No. 9 is composed of particles of Xel (think nanobots) and is, thus, somewhat organic in nature. The upside of that is to truly defeat one, you need to damage them until they start glowing, and then AcXelerate into them, using Beck’s unique abilities to absorb them. Depending on the type of enemy, you may also get a temporary color-coded boost, such as shot power or speed, running speed and other nice bonuses. The game is very focused on smart and fast running and gunning, and it most definitely offers players risk and reward. You will get very good at making risky decisions to charge into the fray, and be rewarded for competently doing so with the combo system.

Now, while I have nothing against the combo system, I also wasn’t that enthralled by it. On the surface level, this just helps determine your score at the end of each stage, but Comcept took it a bit further and also utilized it to reward you with this game’s version of an E Tank, called AcXel Recover. Here’s the downside; you never own them as permanent inventory items, so if you manage to play really well and obtain one or two AcXel Recovers, and then you die, you lose them. While I have nothing against utilizing the combos to reward the player, players also shouldn’t be punished for making mistakes. Luckily, that’s a relatively minor gripe in the grand scheme of things.

Mighty No 9 | Chopper Mid Boss

A truly fun mid boss in a particularly entertaining level.

Now that we’ve gotten the basic mechanics out of the way, let’s get to my favorite topic; the bosses. Every Mighty Number is immaculately designed and visually stands out from the others. From the ghost-like No. 3 to the irritating braggart No. 6 to the calm and deadly No. 8, each of the bosses is a joy. Likewise, each and every boss also presents you with a challenging and dynamic boss fight. Most of these are challenging yet fair, though a couple do err a bit on the mean side. Luckily, if you have the patience to learn their patterns, or better yet, are equipped with their weakness, then you’ll do fine. By far my favorite was the utterly epic boss fight against Mighty No. 7.

Mighty No. 9 | Brandish

Swords vs Gun in my favorite boss fight of the game!

I consider it a high mark in any Mega Man game’s favor when you can beat most every boss with your stock weapon, and that is certainly true of Mighty No. 9. The only exceptions to that rule are Mighty No. 2, which was almost impossible to beat without Number 1’s power, and Mighty No. 6, which was almost impossible for me to beat without a recovery item. All told, I thoroughly enjoyed all the bosses in the game, with one exception; the final boss. I’ll avoid spoilers here, but found it unnecessarily difficult. This was in large part due to not gating sections of that fight with checkpoints, and, as a result, I spent a good three hours of my total 12-hour playtime just crunching through that stage again and again until I managed to scrape by with a victory.

Mighty No. 9 | Boss Fight Mighty No. 9 | Boss Save
Mighty No. 9 | Cherry Dynamics Boss Mighty No. 9 | Guard Dog Boss

More Mighty Numbers on Page 2 ->

About Josh Speer

Josh Speer is addicted to two things in equal measure : Books and Videogames. He has a degree from the University of Washington in English with an emphasis on writing. He joined Operation Rainfall last year while following it on Facebook. His two giant life goals are to write his own series of fantasy / science fiction novels and to get into the creative side of the video game industry. He is beyond pleased to now have his proverbial foot in the door thanks to the opportunity provided by Oprainfall!

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  • Daymon

    At the end of the day, the important thing is that you feel you got your money’s worth, and I’m glad you did.

    • azariosays

      I felt bored.

    • Daymon

      It’s not my type of game. I, as blasphemous as it is, don’t even like Mega Man very much. Part of that could be how much I suck at those games, though. Haha.

    • Arvind Radakrishnan

      Don’t mind Azario, he’s always bored 😛

    • azariosays

      can’t help that with my time spent with the game I wanted nothing more than to play something else.

    • Arvind Radakrishnan

      I’ll take the game off your hands :O

    • Josh S.

      This is true haha. He also likes saying things to get a rise out of people 😉

  • Panpopo

    Nice review. I did not back this game, so my experience with it is not colored by that.

    If they make a sequel they REALLY need to improve the load times (the Wii U version anyway) – that was a bit disappointing if you die a lot, like me. Other than that, the game wasn’t really that bad – it felt like a mega man game imo. Also liked that there was Japanese audio.

    • neptuniafan

      I enjoyed the game as well. And I also wish for a sequel, there are many potentials in the game that is yet to be explored, from the story to the gameplay, there is so much to go, not to mention improve.

      If Keiji Inafune is truly sorry and wished the best for the fans, he should redeem himself with a improved sequel game. And for those that hated the game because of the game or Inafune himself, please learn to forgive and forget, I don’t want him to just give up because of the negativity.

    • Mr0303

      I’m sorry, but Inafune is beyond “forgive and forget” – even after getting 4 times the asking money and having a publisher the game had multiple delays, altering the proposed initial artstyle to the 3D models that are not even animated, failing to deliver on promised demos, awful community manager, not giving the backers the game before review websites and in the end having the game with technical issues is unacceptable. Inafune is largely responsible for this given that he started multiple Kickstarters before delivering the game and worked on a different project (Recore) concurrently.

    • neptuniafan

      You are free to be angry at him, I am not stopping you or discouraging you to do so, I understand how you feel. To me, I just don’t want another good potential to get wasted.

    • Smug

      “I pardon Jewfune the talentless hack for raping my ass (and wallet) several times with already wasted products”

      Stockholm syndrome

    • Jeff Neuenschwander

      Forgive? Maybe. Forget? NO ONE should ever forget how poorly this whole journey went. Crowdfunding requires trust from the person raising funds. Currently, Inafune has none to bank on.

    • Josh S.

      Nor should you. Ultimately, what matters most is our own personal experience with the game. Folks shouldn’t pressure us into changing our opinion or becoming more extreme / biased.

    • Josh S.

      Thank you! And I agree, the sequel needs to polish all the rough edges, but I enjoyed it. Not everybody will, I just didn’t want folks to feel they were stupid / crazy for liking it.

  • Charles Work

    Thank you for your unbiased review. I really do feel like this game is getting a bad rap because of the delays, etc., and it saddens me deeply, because I personally think the game is really good. If they can fix the framerate issues, I might even buy the 3DS version as well.

    • Josh S.

      You are welcome. You are exactly the type of person I wrote this review for 🙂 We gamers let ourselves get too overwrought about things, and I was trying to defuse that a bit.

  • Mr0303

    If anything at least Mighty No 9 will serve as a warning for crowdfunding projects.