There's something wrong with the little blue guy.
Nostagia is a weird thing. For years fans have been frothing at the mouth at the idea of a getting another Mega Man game. When Keiji Inafune and a couple of ex-Mega Man devs went to Kickstarter to give you the Mega Man game Capcom refused to make, or so we thought. After playing through Mighty No. 9, maybe Capcom was onto something by leaving the beloved franchise in the past.
Mighty No. 9 for all intents and purposed is a Mega Man game that just legally can't be called Mega Man. You play an adorable blue robot boy (Beck) armed with an.... arm cannon. You have your Dr. Light played by Dr. White. The role of Roll is played by Call (Beck and Call, GET IT?) and the bad robots all have powers for you to take and use against them.
So one day in future America, all our robots decided they had enough of humanity's nonsense and spark a full-on revolt courtesy of a virus. As luck may have it, Beck (Mighty Number 9) remained unaffected and it’s up to him to take down the other Mighty Numbers putting an end to the robotic uprising.
Throwing some Xel shade
Mighty No. 9 follows a very familiar blueprint. You pick from 8 stages in any order and take on a Mighty Number waiting for you at the end. Each of the Mighty Numbers have their abilities and stages themed after their abilities. Pryo’s stage is covered in flames and falling debris while Cryo’s is a slippery surfaced mess of platforms of water and ice, you get my drift.
Fighting bosses also require some finesse, the more difficult bosses need you defeat different Mighty Number whose power is a weakness for someone else. For example Avi's helicopter blades works well against Pryo's flame attacks and Pryo's fire skill wrecks Cryo's freeze ability. Despite some very specific instances, the acquired powers feel a bit pointless considering Beck’s standard arm cannon is sufficient enough to get through whatever Mighty No. 9.
Speaking of abilities, Beck’s power? He can leech off the powers of his synthetic brothers and sister by absorbing their “Xel” granting Beck a momentary boost to his attack, speed or speed. Beck’s dash ability becomes paramount not allow for closing the gap on jumps but for also sucking a foe’s Xel once they are near death and become destabilized. The combo system becomes a juggling act of linking together kills which is where Mighty No. 9 is at its most fun.
This game hates you.
One of the first things I did was go into the gameplay options and gave myself nine starting lives because, why wouldn't I? Dying is a real pain in ass and if you run out of lives you're sent back right to beginning of the stage. Too often I found myself putting the controller down after getting my ass handed to me by a boss. There was nothing worse than trying to re-run through Pryo's terrible stage that took up 7 lives only leaving me two lives to fight the Pryo which brings you back to square one after he lights my ass fire because this game has no respect for you. Pyro sucks, too.
Mighty No. 9 does a bad of job of showing the player what they did wrong every time they die. A good platformer will always inform the on why they died. It's your own fault because you're weren't paying attention or you mistimed a jump. Death in Mighty No. 9 feels cheap because it just boils down to rotten luck. The level design borders on sadistic trolling. It's not a rewarding test of skill and patience but simply guesswork and holding your breath.
Mighty No. 9’s world looks a like Saturday morning cartoon that full of color and cute looking robots but just nothing truly memorable or special. I did find it strange how none of characters’ actually moved their mouths when they speak or even faced each other during cutscenes. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the actual dialogue wasn’t embarrassing to listen to. The production values are severely underwhelming and not what you would expect especially when you see the initial concept art from the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter. Toss in the framerate hiccups and you have a massive let down in the visuals which looked so promising.
I don't think I want a Mega Man sequel anymore
The antiquated level design and downright soulless nature of Mighty No. 9 feels like a cheap nostalgic cash-in for those holding out hope for the true Mega Man sequel we all wanted. Comcept and Inti Creates failed to deliver the promise they made on Kickstarter on what feels like an eternity ago. Mighty No. 9 is a disappointment that doesn’t even come close to being a decent Mega Man imitation. It you're looking for a game that honors 2D platformers of old while injecting character and depth, just pick up a copy of Shovel Knight.