Disclaimer: The author of this review received a key for the game because he backed the game on Kickstarter when this all began. He spent actual, real currency on this and was part of the many thousands of people who helped conjure it into reality. For this, he is regretful, feels that the responsibility to review it falls to him, and is very, very sorry.
Comcept… Inafune… What have you done? Yes, I backed this and, oh yes, I have been privy to the dramas that have gone on behind the scenes of the development of this game. If you want to read more about all that, here are just a few links to chuckle at or weep over depending on your level of investment in this title. As far as this review is concerned, however, I’ll be bearing but one thing from it all in mind: This game was meant to be the spiritual successor to Megaman, which it most assuredly is not. If one were to consider it as such, then it would be a tortured, twisted spirit that’s been dragged kicking and screaming from whatever hellscape they found it in. It was then tarted up with sub-par graphics, terrible voice acting and animations, awful controls, and horrendous mechanics. Comcept thrust it into the limelight with one hand, and the other was held out expectantly while they silently mouthed “remember Megaman?” Make no mistake, this game will go down as being one of the worst of 2016, if not in gaming history. This is going to be a long one, I have a lot to get off my chest here.
Again, I am just really sorry for my small part in this being a thing.
The story and dialogue of Mighty No 9 (MN9) have the feeling of being directed at children while being written by a potato person, pants affixed firmly to their head while being repeatedly slapped in the face. The world is in trouble as all of America’s robots have gone completely berserk, raging out of control and generally tearing up the place, seemingly without cause. Originally, the robots were created by man but were deemed too dangerous and so were reduced to subservient service-bots or forced to fight in a battle colosseum. They were allowed to keep their Artificial Intelligence, of course, and– wait, WHAT!? They were created with a purpose, one that was stripped from them before being forced into slavery or forced to fight one another like Pokemon, and you let them remain intelligent? Sweet Jesus, I think we found the cause of their rampage right there, fictional assholes of the MN9 universe.
The best/worst/blurst of these robots are the “Mighty Numbers,” created by the world-renowned Dr. William White (nice, Comcept, really scraping that imagination barrel). These robots are meant to be the most powerful in the world in their respective areas, from construction and public-service sectors to war and assassination. Basically, Dr. White apparently has very few moral boundaries regarding what he’s willing to work on. Also, by “world-renowned,” I of course mean that he’s ignored or flat out unrecognised and dismissed by all but a handful of NPC characters who basically treat him like dirt. The only character that treats him with respect is Dr. Sanda, and the less said about that walking balloon of cliche’s the better. You could possibly argue that Beck, the player character and main protagonist of the game, also respects Dr. White, but that isn’t saying much since he’s a walking cardboard cut-out character for want of a personality. Oh, and he destroys anything in his path relentlessly and without hesitation. Yay, hero!
But why, Dr. White? WHY am I killing these robots? And why are you so willing, Beck? Even Megaman managed to whine out some questions about violence and its necessity. This is stupid, so are you, and so am I because good God, why did I back this project!?
The crisis, chaos, or whatever you want to call it (at some points, it’s called all of these things), it isn’t given a name or moniker for players to hold onto as an anchor for the plot. Instead, everything that goes wrong is referred to as a “malfunction.” That wall buzzing with (what I assume was supposed to be) electricity? That’s malfunctioning. That door that won’t open because the robots have sealed it off, blocking Beck’s way? It’s malfunctioning. That robot over there literally raining hell-fire all around itself and destroying the level it’s in, quite likely after having murdered every human in sight? You better believe that’s a malfunction. Even just picking up a thesaurus and choosing words at random would have been better than what we got.
What’s worse is that the actual reason behind the robots’ rampage, and yes it is supposed to be a “twist,” is actually more retarded than everything I just laid out above. I say that the reason is “supposed” to be a twist because it’s really more of a bait and switch. Twists are plot devices used to take everything you’ve learned in a story and turn it on its head in such a disturbingly logical way that you’re left dumbfounded that you didn’t see it coming. MN9’s story doesn’t even give you enough information to come to any self-formed conclusions, just a lot of dreadful fluff dialogue so as to present the illusion that the story is going somewhere. The moment we get close enough to learning anything, Dr. White will end that plot progression with a “hmmmm…. Well, better get back out there and keep killing them robots!” Then, in the end, there’s a sort of “surprise!” moment that I honestly think sounded better in the writers’ heads than it does in-game.
And yes, yes they had the balls to set things up for a sequel. They actually want to continue with this garbage as though the creators aren’t drowning in their own shame.
The game will ask what difficulty setting you want when you start a new file, of which there are two: “Normal,” and the aptly named “Maniac,” the latter of which will see you instagibbed by even a single hit. I would honestly recommend choosing the second over the first because then at least the level of frustration you’ll feel while playing will actually feel somewhat justified. I am actually wondering if the creator of “I Wanna Be The Guy” had a hand in the level design because the only adequate way to describe it is “rock hard bullshit.” Insta-kill obstacles just litter most of the stages, which render your difficulty choice moot for a majority of the time. Often times, you’ll be thrown into these obstacles by things that would’ve been impossible to see coming had you not already played the stage several times over because of these same issues.
One of the greatest strengths of (most of) the Megaman games was the way in which they taught you how to them simply by playing them and not by pouring over wikis or manuals or anything of the sort. It would take awhile to fully explain what I mean (here’s a great video by Egoraptor that explains it), but the long and short of it is that they always gave you a heads up. As a player, you were eased into new dangers, mechanics or enemies before being totally confronted by them so that you already had an idea of how to handle them. MN9 does no such thing and just flings random dangers at Beck, expecting you to react with lightning fast reflexes or die for your lack on precognition.
I’m kind of surprised that the game doesn’t shout this at you every time you die.
For a side-scrolling 2D platformer, they made it bizarrely difficult to figure out where you need to go sometimes. With the occasional, unusual camera angle choices, obstacle design, and on-screen placement of Beck, you’re occasionally made to take what feels like a leap of faith in order to progress. This also leads to some unfortunate suicides on your part when it looks like you should jump down into a pit when actually you were supposed to jump through the pillar that appeared to be blocking your path. The platform placement also often calls for precision movement, which is made difficult with the boosting mechanic that’s as responsive as a crack-addled vegetable. It’s helped juuuust a tad by the ability to grip onto edges, and then immediately impeded again by hitboxes that extend far beyond the space actually occupied by your character.
Speaking of hitboxes, the boss fights in this game can go f*** themselves right in the ear for all the regard they have for observing hitboxes. Want to jump and dash over their attacks, as is often required? You better absolutely nail pegging the pinnacle of a jump because that’s the only way you’ll avoid most of their attacks, with about a 60% success rate even if you do. Sometimes their attacks are telegraphed by voice lines, sometimes they aren’t, sometimes this will happen for the same attacks and sometimes those attacks will instantly kill you. You would need rain-man levels of observation and the Flash’s reflexes to complete this game on Maniac mode because taking damage isn’t a consequence, it’s an inevitability.
And stuff like this is your “reward” at the end of each stage. Yay?
Of course, a terrible game wouldn’t be complete without terrible presentation, and boy does MN9 deliver on that front. If I were kind, I’d say that the animation and art style would be commendable if it had been put together by a small group of indie devs working on their first major title. Characters deliver their lines with static expressions, which would be a fine choice of artistic style if some actual effort had been put into making it look good. As it stands, it feels like a cartoon from the olden days of animation, when still frames were used excessively to conserve a modest budget, which is hardly what I call what MN9 scooped up during Kickstarter. For god’s sake, the opening scene is quite literally a single static image that looks like they used a random piece of concept art, with Dr. White speaking over the top!
Speaking of Dr. White, arguably one of the most important characters in the game, the guy delivers his lines as though he was voiced by this guy:
“If this mission fails and humanity falls, may my grave stone say ‘Darn it.'”
Every character in MN9 is a walking set of cliche’s, spoken with the most ham-fisted performances I’ve had the misfortune to listen to since Dead Island: Riptide. Dr. Sanda, especially, really nails home the idea that the story is set in America by dragging out every last stereotypical American catchphrase. His character feels like the writers marathoned the entirety of Bonanza and Hee Haw and poured their meticulous notes into a sentient balloon. I honestly can’t say what’s worse: That this made it past any kind of quality control methods, or that someone looked at the finished version of MN9 and said “Yep, this is exactly what we had in mind. Good job, everyone!”
So there you have it, friends, Mighty No. 9: A game that promised so much, delivered so little, and derailed the hype train so hard that even the survivors are still in shock. The story sounds like it was story-boarded with crayons by an eight year old and makes Megaman X7 look like a masterpiece. Its design could only be considered innovative if it had immediately followed Megaman V and relies almost entirely on instant-death mechanics and gigantic hitboxes to create the illusion of challenge. The character animations and “cinematics” look like something out of an early episode of the 1960’s Thunderbirds series and voice acting that’s almost as cringe-worthy as the dialogue itself. For a small glimpse into why this monstrosity is the way it is, and not the way it was promised, have a gander at how many platforms they tried to have this ready for on release. Otherwise, I truly, honestly have nothing good to say about this game.
Bonus Rant: There is a special level of hell reserved for developers that cash in on nostalgia to boost the hype of terribly made upcoming titles, and Comcept has earned a seat beside its version of Satan. At best, this game could be considered “average,” and that would be if it had been an indie venture. However, given the prestige held by its concept creator, the reputation of Megaman upon which it was built, and the amount of money it raised for development, it’s far worse than “average.” Mighty No 9 doesn’t just crap on Megaman’s memory. It holds it down and farts in it’s face for an hour with some of the most fetid, awful stenches ever conceived by an anus, before forcing its jaws open and taking a soft serve dump right in it’s mouth.