Mighty No. 9 PS4 Review
Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Comcept, Inti Creates Genre: Action Platformer
Players: 1-2 Age Rating: 16+
Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, Vita
Keiji Inafune is an ex-Capcom employee and was once very much involved in the seminal Mega Man series, and his new game, Mighty No. 9, takes heavy inspiration from the Blue Bomber. It’s almost as if the legendary game designer was unable to – or didn’t want to – leave his past behind him, although his newest game is no simple Mega Man clone.
Following the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 and his departure from Capcom, Keiji Inafune intended to make a spiritual successor to Mega Man, and over 67,000 Kickstarter backers made the game possible. Announced back in 2013, Mighty No. 9 was funded through a highly successful campaign, which resulted in developer Comcept having a total of $3.8 million to play with.
Let’s start with some Mega Man comparisons. The protagonist Beck does kind of look like the Blue Bomber, the game is a 2D action platformer with a brutal difficulty, and while there’s a diagonal jump shot, the emphasis is definitely on shooting left or right. In spite of everything I have mentioned, Mighty No. 9 does have some ideas of its own as well. One of the main differences is Beck’s AcXelerate dash ability. Once you have done enough damage to destabilise enemies, this ability allows you to dash into them to finish them off. Not only do you kill the robotic foes by dashing through them, but you also absorb Xel, which gives you temporary boosts to things such as your speed, armour and power.
The dash ability can also be used to string combos together. To start a combo you have to first dash into an enemy as quickly as possible once they are stunned, and then continue to do this same thing with other enemies in order to build your combo. It’s a great system that makes for satisfying play, and skillful players will be able to finish levels with impressive grades.
As you might expect, the dash manoeuvre is also required throughout the levels in the game. It will get you across some of the tougher and tighter gaps, and sometimes even must be used during a plummet. The levels are largely well designed for making use of this dash mechanic at certain points.
Levels include everything from an oil rig to a power plant, and being that a lot of people that were involved in the game have previously worked on Mega Man, it’s with little surprise that many of the levels have some tough sections to deal with. With its trial and error gameplay, Mighty No. 9 is very much a game of the old school variety. It is a game that is largely aimed at the Mega Man fan, so the level of frustration that can be experienced from time to time isn’t overly surprising.
Luckily, in the options you can adjust the number of lives that you start with at the beginning of each level, and, if you so wish, you can even choose as many as 9, which helps ease the frustration. Still, some of the tougher sections may see your lives start dwindling, and once you lose the lot of them, you are sent back to the start of the level. If you want a true challenge, you can start each level with as few as two lives and turn off Patch, a support robot who drops you handy power-ups from time to time. Toggling such options is definitely for the bold amongst us.
The bosses are undoubtedly where the game is at its toughest though, and you may find yourself losing most of your lives in these battles. In fact, with attacks that can kill you in a single and unexpected hit, you could even say that some of these encounters are cheap. Apart from this, each boss fight is reasonable enough in its design, and you’ll have to make use of the dash attack from time to time in these battles in order to stop the boss from healing. Beating each boss also comes with a reward, as you’ll unlock a new transformation ability, which can then be used in other levels, and some of these powers even come in handy against certain bosses.
Speaking of the levels, the tutorial and the first eight stages are available to you right from the start. I like this structure in the way that if you are stuck on one level, you can have a break from it and try to succeed on some of the other levels instead. This open-ended approach is taken from Mega Man, and it’s one that is very welcome here. Once you complete the first eight levels, three more then become available to you. It’s just a shame that some of the levels in the game are overly bland, and some could even be called rather soulless.
Other than the main mode, the game has a pleasing amount of extra content. There’s a challenge mode, which is split into single player and online co-op. Challenges include some that remove your shooting and dashing abilities, others that have you killing all the enemies in the stage, and so on. It’s just a shame that the challenges take place in such a boring environment, which is basically a big wireframe. There’s also a Boss Rush mode as well as unlockable difficulty levels in the game.
Offering a good challenge and moments of satisfaction, Mighty No. 9 is a game that is likeable enough and is a nice throwback to more traditional game design, but it’s the frustrating trial and error gameplay and cheap bosses that may not sit well with certain players today, and some of the more boring backdrops let the game down as well. Those looking for a challenging and rewarding game, however, might just enjoy this retro-styled action platformer.