Bend It Like Beck

Mighty No. 9 has an extensive history surrounding it. Helmed by Keiji Inafune, one of the original character designers of Capcom’s Mega Man, Mighty No. 9 was intended to be that series’ spiritual successor. Mighty No. 9 raised about $4 million via Kickstarter. Due to a number of delays, the game didn’t release until almost three years after its Kickstarter. Despite everything poured into it, Mighty No. 9 doesn’t quite measure up to the lofty status of Capcom’s iconic blue bomber. Comparisons aside, the game has elements of fun that are unfortunately dampened by below-average level design.

Gameplay

The game stars Beck, the ninth in a set of robots known as the Mighty Numbers. After a virus corrupts the other eight robots, Beck must stop them using his trusty buster. Although it sounds like Mega Man so far, Beck is equipped with a feature that sets him apart. As he attacks enemies, they eventually destabilize. Dashing into them allows Beck to absorb their Xel, which temporarily powers up one of his stats, such as attack or speed. Faster, consecutive dash attacks increase both your power-ups and your score. Technical bonuses such as dashing into midair enemies grant you even more points. His dash is unlimited, providing an adrenaline rush as you blaze through sections of enemies, switching back and forth between attacking and AcXelerating through them. AcXeleration is a fun mechanic that makes Beck much faster and more akin to Mega Man X than his original Mega counterpart.

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Dashing through a stage is satisfying.

While this could have led to a pleasant experience, there is an unfortunate disconnect between Beck’s dash and the level design. Although Beck can dash at any time, the levels limit its effectiveness. There are multiple areas where electric spikes can kill you in one hit. These contrivances are commonplace, appearing on the floor, walls, ceilings, and a variety of moving objects. Although one-hit-kill obstacles were used in the original Mega Man series (also admittedly unfair at times), they feel overused here, as if the developers couldn’t think of any other way to increase the difficulty besides instantly killing the player. Electric spikes are sometimes unexpected, suddenly appearing at the end of a wall following a long dash sequence, almost punishing you for trying to use an intended game mechanic. These non-telegraphed death traps are tenets of poor level design, using unfair instant kills to force players to memorize the layout. There are fairly generous checkpoints throughout that alleviate the frustration, but some of these instadeaths shamelessly cap off long, difficult sections.

Narrow spaces and small platforms can also hurt players trying to dash through stages. When enemies are destabilized, they remain on the screen and still damage you unless you dash into them. However, a combination of electric spikes and tight spaces impairs your ability to dash safely. You may find yourself rushing to your death just so you could finish off an enemy. Although, it is possible to attack a destabilized enemy to death, it is a slow process and is counterproductive to the benefits of AcXeleration. An option to absorb enemies while standing still would have been appreciated. There are also portions where you must dash onto a small floating platform safely, which is easier said than done. When dashing midair, it is difficult to control the trajectory of where you land, which can lead to accidental deaths.

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A ceiling of purple electric spikes line the ceiling. You will likely grow to hate that color after playing this game.

The faulty level design is a shame because there are some interesting, fun ideas implemented throughout. Each of the eight Mighty Number levels, which can be selected in any order a la Mega Man, have a mix of fun sections marred down by some painful parts that bring down its overall quality. For example, Batallion’s stage actually utilizes the dash effectively with conveyer belts and long hallways. However, one of its most annoying segments asks players to destroy an explosive container while riding on a conveyer belt where boxes are constantly falling on you, surrounded by electric spikes.

One interesting level is a highway with moving cars as platforms that you must land on. However, the platforms are quite small, and some “traffic sign” robots fly into you with little warning, causing you to fall onto the deadly asphalt. An infamous level asks you to locate a sniper in a looping White House-like level. Midway through the lengthy search, the game suddenly covers previously safe areas with pesky one-hit-kill electric wires. If you die, you are whisked back to the beginning without a checkpoint. Finally, another level has an instance of two instant death electrical turbines blocking your progress, and you won’t get past it without performing a particular technique perfectly. The effort is clearly there with thematically decent levels, but unpolished level design and a poor sense of flow brings them down.

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This particular section is hard to get through with falling platforms, a high ledge (which you can grab), a spinning fire wheel, and more electric spikes.

There is one consistent positive among the levels: engaging boss fights. Mega Man’s essence is summoned most effectively in arena fights against the eight Mighty Numbers. Every skirmish must be approached in a different way, thanks to the unique abilities of the bosses. However, there is one shared aspect: Mighty Numbers destabilize temporarily after a few hits and must be dashed into or else they will heal that damage. This can become annoying, but it makes great use of the AcXeleration maneuver. Upon performing the final AcXeleration, you defeat the boss, ridding it of the virus and siphoning one of its key moves. As in Mega Man, you can use one boss’ attack to exploit another’s weakness, which can make some problematic bosses more approachable. Even better, you can actually find out what their weaknesses are with a handy “Advice” option while choosing a stage.

Outside of levels, the captured boss abilities, known as ReXelections, are quite useful. Some of the best powers include shooting remote control shots, transforming into a tank, and brandishing a sword. ReXelections recharge over time and as you build up Xel, which encourages players to use them instead of merely storing them for the boss fight. Cycling through powers is a little clunky, but you can set shortcuts and even change the order in which powers appear. As an additional touch that makes characters more likable, the bosses you defeat will help you in other stages, preventing some obstacles from harming you and making the stage just a little easier.

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The Mighty Numbers are brimming with personality, even though they’re written like Saturday morning cartoon characters.

Playtime/Replayability

Mighty No. 9 can take anywhere between 3-6 hours, depending on skill level. You can increase your maximum lives up to 9, but that won’t help you if you can’t get past a tough section. If you run out of lives, you must start over at the beginning of a level. Between lengthy, difficult levels and some bosses that have an instakill ability, lives deplete quickly. Once you defeat your first boss and gain its ability, the rest of the game becomes a bit easier from there. A robot friend, Patch, also offers free items, including instant recovery items for players having trouble. However, the items are random, and the most helpful item, instant recovery, doesn’t always appear.

Since levels can sometimes be dependent on memorization and Beck has a dash technique, speedrunners may actually find the game more enjoyable, provided they don’t get frustrated from running into constant death traps. Otherwise, most people will probably not feel compelled to replay the game if they can even get through the difficult final levels. A challenge mode may entice players to tackle special missions that feature certain conditions, such as removing your attack ability or strict time limits. Some additional online multiplayer modes and boss rush modes can be unlocked as well, which can increase replayability, though they aren’t necessarily fun to go through.

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Nothing says speed like… slippery ice.

Graphics and Sound

The graphics aren’t particularly appealing and resemble an old GameCube game’s output. Some visuals are distracting enough and can actually affect your playthrough. For instance, one level has sudden explosions, signified by crudely animated red blots. These explosions blow up a tower in the background, which can instantly fall onto the stage and kill you. You might not register any of this until it’s too late because of the lack of graphical polish, not to mention any lag you may have in this particular section.

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That’s supposed to be fire in the background.

Character designs are okay, with the standout designs belonging to the Mighty Numbers. Voice acting is also decent, with the Mighty Numbers again providing the most entertaining performances, even though they’re cheesy. Oddly enough, characters’ mouths don’t even move while they talk, making the product feel more rushed than it should.

Mighty No. 9 shares a composer with the original Mega Man, Manami Matsumae. It doesn’t always show because of some uninspired tracks, but there are some nice-sounding techno gems that shouldn’t be overlooked, including the main theme. There is an option for 8-bit music to satiate retro tastes, though no song is as catchy as the original Mega Mans tunes.

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Mighty Nos. 1-9

Conclusion

Mighty No. 9 has semblances of good ideas thrown into levels that are muddled with instant kill spikes, overly difficult platforming sequences, and overall bad level design. It’s a shame because Beck himself is fun to play as, with a clever dash mechanic that can be exhilarating when used well. The Mighty Number bosses are highlights, providing both fun boss fights and entertaining personalities. The abilities they bestow rival some of the best abilities in Mega Man titles. In the end, Mighty No. 9 will likely be remembered as an underwhelming attempt at recreating the spirit of Mega Man. It’s not a horrible game, and those willing to play through the infuriating parts may find the enjoyment hidden within. However, if you’re looking for a challenging but less frustrating platformer, just play Mega Man instead.

Score: 6/10

What are your thoughts on Mighty No. 9? Did you back its Kickstarter, and if so how are your feelings of the finished product? What are your comparisons between Mighty No. 9 and the Mega Man series? Please share any thoughts you have in the comments section below!

Note: I was not a backer of the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter, but i did receive a free code from a generous backer. The Steam version was played for this review.

This review was posted on Darkstation. Please find the article here.

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40 thoughts on “Mighty No. 9 (PC) Review

  1. Awesome review! I’m not a big Mega Man player myself and I haven’t played this game. After reading your review, I’d go with Mega Man first. I’ve seen bits and pieces of Mighty No. 9 and it looked pretty difficult and frustrating. It sounds like a good concept that was not well executed. I think a lot of people tend to focus on the negatives of this game, but I’m glad you highlighted the positives too. It was a well-balanced perspective. Great job as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot! I appreciate your comments as always! Mighty No. 9 is frustrating for sure, and it’s not the best platformer, but it’s not that bad either. It’s certainly better than “better than nothing.” I think they could have done better and a sequel might fix the design issues of this game. At this point, I doubt Keiji Inafune will pursue one, but who knows. There are some supporters of this game, though many see the obvious flaws, particularly disappointed Kickstarter backers. I spent a lot of time upset at this game, but after taking a step back, I did find myself having some fun with it. It takes time to appreciate the M90, but I wouldn’t wish the same suffering through the early game for others. Thanks again!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I didn’t back the Kickstarter, but I’m afraid it will have (although it seems to already have) repercussions for other Kickstarters. I do think crowdfunding should be limited to small or independent businesses. Either find a company to try to make a spiritual successor to Mega Man, or move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that this has repercussions for other Kickstarters. That’s not to say I’m not excited for some upcoming big titles that have crowdfunded like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and Yooka-Laylee. But people should definitely be aware of what they’re backing. There was true belief that Inafune’s team could make good on a spiritual successor to Mega Man, but ultimately, it’s on them that this game isn’t all that great. On one hand, developers need to back up their claims when making a crowdfunded game. I think Inafune did more or less. It just turns out that what he puts out on his own isn’t that good.

      Regardless, people should back what they believe in and what they want to see. But they should only do it knowing that the product may not be what they expected, and accept what they put out. Thanks for your wonderful and insightful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I definitely agree with you. I’m sure some people are like, “Well, if a big name like Inafune can make a lackluster Kickstarter, why should I back some new, no-name studio?” Especially if they have to wait several years! I know I have a couple of Kickstarter games I’m waiting on, and I hope they turn out a quality product!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly. It varies from developer to developer regardless of name or company size. When deciding to back, it’s up to the person. Anyone should be ready for an underwhelming product. It’s much different from having a cancellable preorder. These times we live in are so interesting. On the one hand, it’s great that developers can get the funds they need for passion projects. On the other, there’s often little quality control from the people paying for this. It’s such a gamble! Thanks again for continuing to share such insightful comments!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome review! I didn’t think game was good…enough for the tickets on the hype train. You were detailed and much nicer than I would have been with it. Interesting how you did a review of the same game I will be releasing footage of me playing soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Mr. Gamer! I appreciate your kind words! I did like it a little, so I was a little nice on it. But I wouldn’t say it’s any higher than the score I gave it. Awesome that my review somewhat coincides with footage of you playing it. That should be exciting! Are you replaying it or posting footage of when you played it?

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  4. A good read as always! I played a lot of Mega Man as a child (I still do from time to time!) and was interested in Mighty Number 9. I’m glad I held off on buying it though as the reviews weren’t favourable. I’ll stick to Mega Man 9 and 10 for now, and hope that someone else tries to give the series the rebirth it deserves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I’ve played every Mega Man from 1-10, and although I’ve found it frustrating, I always found them fun and doable. Mighty No. 9 is punishing but doesn’t always have the satisfying element of just being able to get through the stage and have a good time. It says something when I can eventually beat a classic Mega Man level with only 2 (really 3) lives including a boss battle, and yet I struggled so much for M90 with 9 lives and recovery E-tank-like items. Mega Man 9 and 10 are stellar examples of modern age retro NES games done right. Shovel Knight is also spectacular though obviously different from the Mega Man formula. That game just knew what players could have fun with while still providing difficult platforming.

      As far as a rebirth for Mega Man goes, maybe we’ll see something similar to Sonic Mania – a game made by a fan who got into the company and understands what’s important in a series. We can only hope that something like that happens with Mega Man, or perhaps Mega Mania. Thanks again!

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  5. Six seems like a fair score, as the game is pretty average. I expected more given the budget they had to play with and the big name attached to the project. I haven’t played tMighty No. 9 since I died during the sniper level only to then realize I would have to start the stage from the very beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sniper level was one of those levels where at first, I was excited to be playing something original. As soon as I realized dying sent you back to the beginning (and I died from those pink electric wires that suddenly pop up midway through), it quickly became one of the worst levels. Once I got to the boss, I spent nearly 20 minutes playing it safe against it just so I wouldn’t have to do the level over. I will probably never replay Mighty No. 9 just so I can avoid having to play this stage again, which is a bad sign for a platformer. Thanks for your comments! Sorry you had to experience the horror of the sniper stage.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your nice comments! I’ll admit that the Mighty Numbers look pretty nice. Beck looks a bit different from his original concept art, but it still looks better than the original NES box’s rendition of Mega Man, haha.

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  6. This is another great review and while I’m not a Mega Man fan, I feel bad for those who are or anyone who got their hopes up for this game. I hope you enjoy the next game you review a bit more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for your nice comments, Kuribo! I’m not the biggest Mega Man fan, but I generally have more fun playing those games than this one. I’m sure a bunch of people who backed this were Mega Man fans and were likely disappointed by the result. A lot of other things regarding the Kickstarter such as the additional funding requests and delays probably hurt people’s opinions of this game before it even came out. I didn’t back this, but I’m still disappointed for everyone else who was expecting more. I’m also sad for Keiji Inafune, as this probably hurt his reputation a lot. We’ll see if he can go anywhere from here. I hope so because he played a big part while he was at Capcom, and I wouldn’t want to see him suffer just because he put out a bad game. We’ll see.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome and I think Kickstarter’s role in the success or failure of this game is certainly interesting to keep an eye on as it seems to be quite popular now. I completely agree about Inafune. I don’t know like to see anyone hurt their public image or reputation when they seem sincere and hardworking. It is a little scary that in the current market, Japanese video game creators and publishers are suffering it seems like. I’ve grown up preferring Japanese made games to American or Europeans ones for the most part and I would hate to see the number of Japanese-made games slip further. So many great franchises are already on the verge of disappearing it seems like.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly, I agree with you. It’s interesting that Inafune left Capcom saying something about how Japanese games weren’t great, and that they needed to improve. I prefer Japanese games as well, especially in terms of platformers and RPGs, so it’s a shame that we’re seeing less and less. I love that Nintendo still delivers games, and I know that some companies like Atlus and Bandai Namco are still making a lot of Japanese games. On the opposite side, we see Konami pretty much not making any games these days. We are definitely seeing a lot less, especially in the west where western-developed games are preferred.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. These are strange times. I think Japanese developers should stick to what their best at and not worry about pleasing Western video game fans (some people are always going to just play COD and Battlefield for example). The whole thing with Konami is really sad and what scares me is a series that has a good name like Resident Evil has been tarnished by some bad games and Capcom has seemed content to just let it sit around until very recently. I completely agree that Nintendo and Atlus are the only companies that seem stable and are generally cranking out top-notch games. That does give me hope!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, I just want good Japanese games too. Konami’s situation is such a shame, considering some of the most classic original NES franchises came from that company. Capcom’s still going somewhat strong, but I agree that RE isn’t as good as it once was. Nintendo is going to keep making games so I’m not afraid, and Atlus is always going to be Atlus, haha. There are some other good companies out there too, but it’s not like the good old SNES days where Japanese games were aplenty! We have hope!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I couldn’t have said it better myself! I shouldn’t complain too much either because like you, I have quite a large backlog (and is RPG heavy) because there are so many great games out there I have yet to play.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Agreed! I have a lot of long JRPGs that I have yet to play. Even then, a backlog is different from having new games to look forward you. Either way though, I have faith that there are great games yet to come from Japan!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Thanks! We probably do! I keep track of my games using Backloggery, which is linked to on my page. I know I have close to 100 unfinished games, with a good number of them being RPGs.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I have heard of this site and I just took a look at your profile. I can definitely see the appeal of the site. I would be inclined to join it if I didn’t already have 500+ games recorded on VGCollect.com. I also only buy games as I play them so I don’t have a backlog per say, because I refuse to let unbeaten games pile up. Instead, I just a long list of games I will buy when I have time to play them. If I do take the plunge then I will send you a friend request or whatever feature like that the site has 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words! I felt let down that it wasn’t all that great either. It is a missed opportunity, but it’s not impossible to have a new, good Mega Man game. Keiji Inafune didn’t technically make the original game, so we just need a good team of people who worked on the original and perhaps new developers who understand what the game was about. However it’s done, there is hope for a good, new Mega Man. We just have to hope that Capcom is on board with making one, which it has unfortunately been holding back on for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Considering this game’s super embarrassing marketing campaign that spawned many hilariously awful lines, numerous delays, and ultimate disappointment when it was released, I think we’re looking at the current generation’s Daikatana. Mighty No. 9 even had the similar misfortune of a new group of creators appearing out of nowhere and providing an experience which systemically surpassed it in every aspect (Shovel Knight in this case, Half-Life in the case of Daikatana) – all within its tumultuous development cycle, no less.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. At the very least, I hope that the performance of this game puts an end to the whole “counting your chickens before they hatch” thought process of game development. I meant, how many times have you seen a studio promise big things only to come up short in almost every aspect in the long run?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Both developers and backers should be careful when counting their chickens. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. I hope that if anything, Inafune’s team learns from this for any future games they work on, especially if they even dare crowdfund again. They need to be ready when making their promises and be upfront with what they have to offer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They did say that they plan on doing sequels no matter what, so they’ll likely learn something from all this mess.
        Honestly, Capcom needs to just outright sell the Mega Man IP. Of course, that’s likely not going to happen anytime soon due to the upcoming cartoon, but it’s the best chance of survival that it has at this point.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Since they will do sequels, I hope they aren’t dependent on crowdfunding since I’m not confident they’ll make it this time. That said, I’m glad that they’re determined to make a sequel for M90. As disappointing as the game was, there was potential in the characters and mechanics. With better level design and an improved sense of difficulty, I could see the series actually taking off.

        I’m not sure what Capcom’s doing these days with the Mega Man IP, but I doubt they’d ever sell it, cartoon or not. I hope they do more with it, and perhaps the cartoon will gain some popularity, despite Mega Man’s odd design.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Great review and after streaming this, I fully agree on all points. Sadly, after a loooong struggle against the final boss and getting a game over, I had to rage quit. I could see this working as a speed run game but a blind run isn’t a particularly fun thing for people to watch… Remove the live system and I think that’d be one solution to most of the flaws.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, lives and continues are what I like least about Mega Man as well, and this game is so hard that it eats up triple the amount of lives per level. The final area is just nasty, and I don’t blame you for rage quitting. I imagine many people rage quit this game on day one. It’s not great to play such a frustrating game. Thanks for the comment!

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  10. Did you make the bad guys cry like you on prom night? But seriously, I really can’t imagine getting this unless it’s cheap. I didn’t back it, but I did expect better. The thing is, I hope this release marks the end of the respectful grace period following Inafune’s departure. There haven’t been any new, in-your-face type Mega Man games coming out to compete, so maybe we’ll get one now that Mighty No. 9 has had its fair chance to sink or swim. But this still looks more appealing than another Resident Evil or Street Fighter to me for sure. Fingers crossed that Yooka-Laylee doesn’t disappoint like this one has for the fans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deep Silver’s trailer for Mighty No.9 was cringeworthy. I don’t wish any ill will for Inafune and in fact, hope he picks back up and makes something better next time, even if it’s somehow a sequel of this game. I do think that crowdfunded developers will have to be more careful in delivering on what they promise. Otherwise, people might lose trust in Kickstarters. I have high hopes for Yooka-Laylee, of course!

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