For years, fans of the Mega Man franchise have dreamed of a new game in their beloved franchise. However, with Capcom seemingly uninterested it fell to others to create a game that captures the classic series, while also making a series to call their own.. Enter Mighty No.9, with the simple promise of capturing the spirit of Mega Man this game saw a huge success on Kickstarter, but in the end where does it stand? Well, for the most part it manages to capture the essence of Mega Man, but it does not escape mediocrity and it struggles under the weight of its own pedigree.
Coming into this game I had a different perspective then many others. I have only played a single game in the Mega Man franchise. However, all I wanted was an enjoyable game that captured the feel of the Nintendo Entertainment System era and I feel this game does that without trying. Mighty No.9 still fails on many accounts but it certainly captured the retro Mega Man vibe.
In a world where so many developers are trying to capture the past with games like Shovel Knight and even Yooka-Laylee, Mighty No.9 is the closest thing to it I have seen. From the presentation, to the gameplay there is a lot of retro flare that works for what Mighty No.9 is supposed to represent. If this game is a spiritual successor, Inafune and his team proved to know what this game is meant to be and it offers a decent experience as far as retro throwbacks are concerned.
However, the elephant must be addressed and as we see it this game is more or less just Mega Man simply renamed and in a lot of ways it is reminiscent almost entirely of the Nintendo Entertainment system games, which is not a bad thing. The way the game plays is exceptionally reminiscent of the classic style of the games, you have a number of enemies to beat and each is confined to a specific level, and average level design adds to the nostalgic flare. Though the game does suffer from a lack of its own identity which seems to only exist when going up against some of the games more original bosses, which are instantly unique and enjoyable from the moment you go up against them.
Despite being great as a nostalgic throwback, Mighty No. 9 suffers when it comes to its average level design, while levels themselves are okay the way the developers placed enemies leaves much to be desired. At times it seems like the game almost intentionally wants you dead, and it has enemies placed in the most awkward of places. Often enemies would be placed high above our heads and over pits and it was all too easy to be bumped and killed, and this is a regular concern throughout the entire game, the experience never quite feels fair and most failures felt cheap.
When the game is being fair and not dealing with terrible enemy placement Mighty No. 9 can be quite enjoyable and it really thrives in its nostalgic difficulty, in a world where we have so many easy games it is so rare to find something that proves to be outright difficult, and Mighty No.9 recaptures this lost form. Much like Mega Man, Mighty No.9 is an over the top challenging game that wants to punish you, putting aside some of the terrible enemy placement the game does offer some genuine challenge with some of its challenging enemies, as well as some tricky platforming. It was so easy to die on each level, and getting to the boss always proved to be a grueling challenge, but all in all the difficulty makes each level worth playing, and there is nothing quite like overcoming a seemingly impossible challenge.
Mighty No. 9 has come a long way since its conception, the final look for the game is absolutely stunning. Continuing to lean on its nostalgic crutch, Mighty No. 9 looks like one of the rare pseudo 2D platformers to grace the PlayStation 2 or GameCube, the design adds a lot of charm to the game while allowing a mix of a more modern look with a nostalgic twist. The art style seemed to be reminiscent of Mega Man, while also evolving it further toward the modern environment without losing that nostalgic quality.
Despite numerous issues Mighty No. 9 is never truly awful, but there is a certain shoehorned element that really impacts the game as a whole, the story. The events of Mighty No. 9 see Mighty no.1 through 8 malfunction and ultimately begin causing problems around the city, what does not seem so bad initially develops into more of a frustration that halts gameplay on most turns. Not only is the story outright terrible, but gameplay is often interrupted by dialogue which brings the action to a grinding halt, and often after completing missions you have to sit through cutscenes that did little to drive the game.
Mighty No. 9 makes for a decent successor to a seemingly dead franchise, but those looking to capture some of the finer moments of Mega Man’s past better either lower their expectations, or simply look elsewhere. This game is not perfect, it suffers from multiple points of bad decisions but as a retro platformer this could have been a lot worse, just don’t come into this game with high expectations and you will likely be satisfied. Although this game is probably better suited to those who were never big Mega Man fans.
Note: I played this game on the Wii U, and while I would still recommend this version for the simple reason of Off-TV play, I will note the game suffers from frustrating frame rate problems which are quite annoying. If you really want this game it is probably better to go with the Playstation 4 or Xbox One versions, although I believe that these to suffer from some frame rate issues.