Mighty No. 9 Review (Wii U)

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Developer: Comcept / Intel Creates
Publisher: Deep Sliver

Main Review

Review Context: I missed out on playing Mega Man games as a kid, but I played the recently released Mega Man Anniversary Collection by Capcom, which includes Mega Man through Mega Man 8 and bonus material. Since I played DuckTales, that somewhat counts, since the game ran on the Mega Man engine.

Date of Playthrough: October 3, 2016

When Keiji Inafune announced that he wanted to crowdfund a spiritual successor to the Mega Man franchise, the fans let it be known. It became one of the fastest crowdfunded game and backers waited in anticipation, as it seems Capcom has no plans to continue the Mega Man series. Sadly, the progress of the game was met with delays and controversy behind the scenes. The once most hyped game almost became forgotten.

The game was finally released and it was met with mediocre reactions, causing people to think twice about crowdfunding games. Is there something about this game people are overlooking or will this have you crying on prom night?

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Graphics

During pre-production, concept art was shown to give the game a colorful cartoony look with a cel shaded 3D look, but its final form is something to not be desired. At first, I was appalled by the looks, but after awhile I came to appreciate the visuals taking me back to the PlayStation 2 era of gaming. Yes, even the terrible explosions had a “so bad its good” charm. The character models are done well, for what they’re going for (I hope). There are some good moments, like how muddy the water looks at the start of an underwater level to a more clean drinkable water. However, some will have a hard time taking the bland visuals serious. I don’t know what made them change the visuals from pre-production to now, but had they kept the rich, vibrant cartoon style, it would’ve been more easy on the eyes instead of relying on Unreal Engine 3.

There have been stories of the game bricking up Wii Us, but thankfully, I’ve had no issue with my playthrough except for the frame rate dropping when lots of enemies were on the screen.

Controls

Playing the Wii U version gives you three options: Gamepad, Wii U and Wii Pro Controller. I preferred the Wii U Pro Controller. The Gamepad only offers Off TV Play. When booting the game up, I was stuck on the title screen until I pressed B. It felt weird using B to confirm and A to cancel, but luckily you can revert this in the options menu. The controls are okay, as you have jump, shoot, and slide buttons. When you defeat bosses you earn a new power up.

The reason I say the gameplay is okay is because it shouldn’t be okay. For platformers, it needs to be tight and responsive for precise jumps and shots. There were moments in my playthrough when a delayed shot and/or jump cost me my life. Some may say that’s “trial and error” gameplay, but that only applies when the controls are solid and sadly the controls are fine, until you reach a boss battle or careful jump, it fails. It also doesn’t help when you have to do a jump/glide to reach a platform, only to overshoot it and fall to your doom.

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Design

In the not to distance future, lives a world where robots assist humans with tasks and making life peaceful until, from out of nowhere, there is a glitch in the system that causes all the robots to malfunction and attack everyone. It is up to Beck to stop the other eight robots and the mastermind behind it to bring peace back to America. Wait, where have I heard this story before? The goal is to defeat the bosses, and with each defeat, you absorb their ability to make upcoming boss battles easy. Okay, I’m getting déjà vu. Each level has a theme that goes well with the bosses you’re fighting and there is a twist with this.

You have a choice to either kill or absorb enemies. Nothing is gained when you kill, but absorbing gains you temporary powers. Your attacks can become one shot death, you can move faster, and regain health. Sometimes all three at once, which is a nice feeling. There are three levels of difficulty and only on Normal can you adjust the number of lives you start with. You start off with a quick tutorial, as you learn new moves later, and can learn new features after you complete a level.

One of the drawbacks mentioned by some critics are the cheap deaths. I’ve had this happen a lot to me, but when I took my time instead of speed running, I managed to avoid the cheap traps. It should be noted this game brings back the classic tactic of getting hit by the enemy will cause you to fall back. Due to my years of playing old school platform games I can see these coming by enemy placement.  They still get you on certain parts where you fall, and you must move to the right spot before hitting a spike. I found myself having nine lives and end up with four or less when I arrive at the level’s boss. They compensate this by having multiple checkpoints and robots giving you extra health and ammo.

The bosses all have patterns, and once you learn the pattern the battle becomes easy. That is…(here it comes) if the gameplay was solid. Moments when I thought I dodged enemy fire, they count as a hit, because the hitbox is huge, causing me to throw my game off and die. My biggest gripe is the loading. On the Wii U version, there is an eight second load time. When I die, I want to get back into the game, but the loading kills the mood. While the challenge is there, and the game does get intense, for anyone playing that hasn’t played a platform game from the NES days they will be turned off by the unforgiving levels.

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That’s not all this single player game has as far as content. But wait, doesn’t this game support online co-op? Yes, after you beat the game it’s unlocked. Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson did the same thing, only co-op is unlocked after you complete a few levels, not the entire game. There is EX mode (challenge mode). Here there are tasks to complete, from speedruns to completing a level without getting hit. Once you beat the task, your time is uploaded on the leaderboards. You can also check out your “accomplishments,” and as a bonus, you can watch the longest credits ever (4 hours).

After all this, how do I compare this game to its predecessor Mega Man? While the Mega Man games do have unforgiving levels with limited lives and checkpoints, it was still a blast to play due to its tight gameplay. It also helps that Mega Man’s soundtrack is memorable as well. The only drawback I can remember from Mega Man that is present in Mighty No. 9 are the cheap enemy placements. Not to mention, getting knocked back when hit, which is always placed right next to a pit for a cheap death. I still give Mighty No. 9 credit for its feature to absorb enemies for power ups and extra content with online co-op (after you beat the game). Those two areas are where I feel this game did a great job. If you haven’t had a chance to experience Mega Man, then check out the Mega Man Legacy Collection.

Sound

When the title music is the only soundtrack memorable, something is wrong. The overall soundtrack is average at best. The sound quality is something from gaming in the late 90s. Then again, maybe that’s what it’s going for. That would explain why the character’s mouth doesn’t move when they talk. The voice talent is well done, though the delivery of some lines feel phoned in, but it makes up for it when one of the boss battles has a young girl yelling “Phew, Phew” as she shoots ice cubes at you. It also helps having Steve Blum (TOM robot from Toonami) voice a boss that snipes you.

Similar Games Liked:
Mega Man Anniversary Collection (PS2)
Shantae: Risky’s Revenge (DS)

[Editor’s Correction: Changed a reference from Senran Kagura Burst to Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson.]

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