I understand that my header there sounds extreme or dramatic but it is not without just cause. First, I want to establish a little history of myself I have been an avid Mega Man fan since the original dropped in 1987. While I didn’t play the game myself, I watched my brother intently as he made his way through the robots and they progressively tricky level designs. I finally grew enough courage to try to play as the Blue Bomber in 1990 when Mega Man 3 came out. I played and replicated my brother’s play style until I developed my own groove and became an independent gamer who wanted to figure things out on his own. Those were great times. Since then, I have played all Mega Man games as well as the X series. Needless to say, I am an avid fan. Keiji Inafune created a story that hooked us all as children. A story of robots created by a maniacal genius with a bad hair-do to take over the world! How can you go wrong? Enter “Mighty No.9”.
Now, let’s fast forward to 2016. We all have enjoyed generations of the Blue Bomber himself and with news about a spiritual successor coming out that would be catered to the modern gamer, with new and improved graphics and all new characters… we all waited with bated breath. Some of us contributed to the Kickstarter that made “Mighty No.9” a possibility just so we can delve down that side scrolling adventure but with a modern coat of paint, a new cast of characters and smooth gameplay at 60 fps.
Unfortunately, that isn’t what we received. What was sent out to the masses, to all those Kickstarter contributors, was a game that was lucky when it did not experience frequent frame rate issues, horrendously long load times, sub par voice acting, unoriginal characters and just overall bland and boring set pieces. I am not sure if maybe “Mighty No.9” would have done better with more development time or whatever the case may be, but what I do know is that this game is frustrating, repetitive, boring and very unattractive. Playing this game made me feel like I went on a blind date with the friend of a friend who told me this person is smart, funny, witty and great looking but what showed up was someone who wore glasses, quoted Seinfeld frequently too much and wore baggier jeans than I did. It wasn’t a great time and I wish I had someone call me with a fake emergency just so I could turn the game off and leave.
Let me apologize. I do not mean to bash this game as hard as I have but it is honestly not very difficult to do considering how much is wrong with this game. The gameplay itself wasn’t ABSOLUTELY horrendous. It wasn’t. To be quite honest, it could have actually been something somewhat entertaining if “Mighty No.9” was inundated with frame rate issues. Allow me to elaborate. In Mighty No.9, you shoot enemies with lemon shaped pellets to get their health low, once their health is low enough, you use a dash attack to finish them off, building combos and getting weapon boosts. A fun aspect was knowing how many shots it took to weaken enemies so you could finish up with a dash attack and keep moving through the level. You can speed through a level rather quickly… and this is where the problems arise. It seems the game can’t take everything that is happening on the screen at the same time and the frame rate takes significant dips and you’ll experience slow down and jittery movements from the characters on screen. This made for a very difficult playthrough during certain sections. While the dash move was an awesome addition and make for some fast paced action, it would become instantly ruined when Beck started to twitch and glitch on me.
Another issue I had with the game was the inability to tell where the danger spots were with environmental obstacles. The hit boxes were unclear. For example, there would be some bright pink spikes on the edges of walls I am falling down through. Obviously, you don’t touch them as you will instantly die. Not a problem, I understand that and it’s a game addition that is in every platformer the world over. Spikes on the floor or ceiling mean instant death. Got it. There were moments though, that I would physically be nowhere near touching said spikes and I would explode because apparently… I “touched” the spikes. I know I didn’t touch them. I know and gladly admit when I have erred in my jumps… but many a time, I was killed for no damn reason. Whether it was pink spikes or falling debris… if was at arms distance, I had to be alert as it may trigger my death causing me to have to start from the beginning… not without an unnecessarily long hold time to load up the level again. Frustrating just does not begin to cover what I felt.
I get making a game akin to a beloved franchise… but it just felt like they really didn’t try here. I know that visually there were going to be some similarities, but I found some cloning happening here. Our protagonist’s name is Beck… not Rock. His female compatriot is Call… not Roll. So instead of the awesome Rock and Roll from Mega Man… we have Beck and Call (what?) The man responsible for the creation of these robots is… not Dr. Light… but Dr. White. SEE?! Totally different! Besides this, even the evil robots you fight are riddled with similarities. Pyrogen is just a mix of every fire robot in Mega Man existence. Cryosphere is a less cute Ice Man. Seismic is Gutsman if he were a Constructicon and Brandish is quite obviously a mash up of Proto Man and Zero. I mean… guys… you’ve made so many unique characters in the past… now we’re just rehashing familiar territory. Nothing new to offer at all. Just a clone.
I don’t know if it was just me, but I also felt the voice acting was pretty horrendous. As a voice actor myself, I was not at all pleased with the level of the voice acting provided in Mighty No. 9. It was bland, flat and very generic. It almost sounded as if they told the actors to say every line as if it wasn’t part of a whole conversation. Granted, one shouldn’t expect the likes of Troy Baker or Nolan North gracing this kind of game, but I do expect the actors to be at least SOMEWHAT believable, regardless of the subject matter.
I am going to keep this summary short and sweet. Mighty No. 9 is a game that had huge shows to fill. It was a game that flaunted it’s creator Keiji Inafune and company (Comcept) as the developers of Mega Man. Fans were presented this information so that we can feel the nostalgia of playing Mega Man once again for a modern time. I expected some great opportunities here but instead, Comcept decided to give me lemons. When I tried to make lemonade, it was with several paper cuts on my hands to which salt then fell and poured on those wounds, what little lemonade I did make spilled all over the floor and I was left in pain and thristy. Mighty No. 9… you could’ve been a contender. Instead… I’ll be seeing you in the bargain bin.