Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mighty No. 9 Review (Wii U)

By now, if you have had any interest in the Mega Man spiritual successor Mighty No. 9, chances are that you’ve read the reviews from both critics and gamers. Upon launch MN9 was met with a slew of negative criticism and people crying fowl at the creators for not delivering the game that so many fans were expecting and waiting almost 3 years for. The game was funded through Kickstarter by 67,000+ backers and with over $4,000,000 donated. I could sit here and discuss all the negative aspects of a video game being funded on Kickstarter, but I won’t and I’ll simply say: If something is put on too high of pedestal, then how is it supposed to succeed when every part of it can be considered a shortcoming? 

That being said, I enjoyed my time with Mighty No. 9 on the Wii U. Is it a perfect game? No way. Does it take some getting used to and a few hours to fully appreciate. Yes.

As someone who did not back MN9, I didn’t know what to expect besides a Mega Man-like game. Having both owned the Mega Man Anniversary and Mega Man X Collection on Gamecube, I’ve been exposed to a good amount of Mega Man and have even beaten a few of these classic gems. I read little of what Mighty No. 9 was offering and barely followed the Kickstarter as the project developed into the game we now have in front of us.

MN9 is a cross between the classic Mega Man titles on the Nintendo and the Mega Man X series on the Super Nintendo. Movement is simple enough and involves a dashing mechanic that the X series was known for. As always, enemy robots can be shot until they’re destroyed, but a new mechanic involving absorbing enemies after they’re weakened, takes center stage this time around. When damaged enough, these enemies will glow either red, green, yellow or blue and offer temporary boosts to Mighty’s abilities after he dashes through them. Red will boost the power of his blaster and make shots travel through enemies, green will award a speed boost, yellow will decrease damage taken, while blue will slowly fill an energy tank-like item that can be used for filling the life bar at will.

After knowing this, there isn’t much to it. Navigate each stage successfully, reach the Mighty Robot Boss at the end, defeat him and move onto the next stage. The developers were going for a classic Mega Man feeling, which they both succeeded and failed in creating simultaneously.

Let me explain. The core aspects of what made Mega Man...Mega Man are here, with too much of an emphasis on some of the less desirable aspects of it. The biggest offender of this being objects that will instantly kill Mighty if he touches them. They come in the form of glowing, purple wires sometimes seemingly placed randomly throughout stages. There’s also falling towers in one level that will do the same, in addition to 2 Mighty Robot Bosses having an attack that will instantly end the fight if it hits you. As frustrating as it is to touch one of these objects and have to start over from the last checkpoint, they can be avoided easily with some practice. With the exception of these one-hit death traps, the level design for most levels is quite good. 

Too many of these purple spikes make for some frustrating times 

What I enjoyed the most out of MN9 was the platforming and run & gun gameplay. There was also enough variety from level to level where I never felt like I was doing the same monotonous tasks over and over again. The bosses of each level also require different strategies to overcome and some pattern memorization to boot. The powers you receive from them are also inventive and add some great new ideas to already existing Mega Man powers.

As much as I want to love Mighty No. 9, I simply cannot as it has too many faults.

Even though Comcept and Keiji Inafune surpassed every funding goal on their Kickstarter page for MN9, the game is unpolished and seems rushed. The graphical style is bland and looks as though it belongs in a PlayStation 2 game. The in-game explosions look horrendous (pepperoni pizzas!!) and the effects are all sup-par, while some of the bosses look extremely ugly close up.

 Did somebody

The music is forgettable at best, although there is an optional 8-bit soundtrack that can be turned on which makes it a lot better to sit though. The English voice acting is a disaster and in every way corny, with poorly thought out scripted dialogue. Luckily it can be turned off and instead replaced with Japanese voices (definitely a lot more authentic for this type of game) or even French if you’re in the mood for some more comical-sounding dialogue.

Another shortcoming is some basic in-game controls not being fully explained when you’re in situations where you need to use them. I think this was just an oversight and left out because they ran out of time to finish the game. Bosses can also be made laughably easy if you’ve acquired their weakness from another Mighty Robot boss. In past Mega Man games, even while using the weakness against them they still gave you a challenge.

 The boss fights make for some of the best moments in MN9

The Wii U version of the game also has significantly more slow-down in certain parts of levels especially when using the Battalion Blast power to blow up blocks in areas with multiple enemies around. The game will hiccup and result in some accidental death more than once.

There’s also a stage where you get to play as Call, Mighty’s sister, that has her floating around with a jetpack and ducking under enemy fire. It seems like they threw this into the game at the last minute for no possible good reason. Which brings me to my next point. A lot of the ideas they had for Mighty No. 9 seemed great in theory, but when it came to execution they just didn’t transfer well. The team at Comcept might have been a little too ambitious with the limited time they had. There's even an Online Race Mode and Co-op challenge mode, both of which I couldn't find a partner to connect with.

For $20, you could do far worse than Mighty No. 9. The game took me around 9 hours to complete, although I didn’t complete all the Challenge Mode levels (easily forgettable). What you’re given is an unpolished Mega Man/Mega Man X hybrid that could have benefited greatly from another year or so in the game development oven.

In the end I’m glad I played through Mighty No. 9. It gave me the Mega Man fix I haven’t had since Mega Man 10 came out in 2010. For anyone who likes the Mega Man games and isn’t expecting a mind-blowing brand new Mega Man experience then I can’t recommend Mighty No. 9 enough. For all others, I suggest waiting for a price drop (the $10-$15 mark is perfect!) before following Mighty into some dangerous ground filled with pizza explosions. Also avoid the Wii U version as it’s the worst one.

My Score 6.8/10