When the creator of Megaman, Keiji Inafune, decided to leave Capcom, many thought that was the end of the Blue Bomber. Shortly after Inafune’s departure from the company, games that were in development for the series would soon see cancellations. These cancellations angered fans due to Capcom not releasing a new game in the franchise for quite some time. After seeing how passionate the fans were about wanting to play a new Megaman game, Keiji Inafune with his newly found studio, Comcept announced a new game – through Kickstarter – that would give players what they had been asking for. It was a really exciting time for fans that also came with a ton of nostalgia.
Similar to Megaman, Mighty Number 9 is a classic Japanese side-scrolling action game. Comcept and Inti Creates have managed to utilize some of the familiar gameplay elements that fans have come to expect from a game like this and put a modern spin on them in order for players to have a fresh experience. While some of these elements do feel fresh in most cases, Mighty Number 9 does little to separate itself from its predecessor. As with any of the core Megaman titles, there are a variety of attacks that can be acquired and used in a strategic manner as players progress through the game’s 12 stages. Is this enough to satisfy a hungry and starved fan base? Let’s find out!
Mighty Number 9’s story takes place in a world that is set in the “present day.” Robotic engineering has made tremendous strides as it has become integrated into various aspects of society. As robotic advancements continued, a global panic caused the meltdown of capitalism and forced the government to adopt a new kind of socialism that would allow for necessities (food, clothes, etc) to be managed in more of a thorough manner. The essential principle of competition was no longer a thought and peace was now attainable. This would eventually put a strain on the public due to the measures that were needed to maintain the peace. In response to the outcry, the government would sanction fighting competitions between robots that were open to the public. Through all of this, a new kind of threat was getting ready to emerge and bring about the destruction to everyone in the city.
Just read the paragraph above one more time… sound familiar?
While the story is slightly more flushed out when compared to some of the games of its predecessor, Mighty Number 9 definitely takes a cue in this department and there is nothing wrong with that. Comcept’s intention with the game was to modernize the story in addition to the gameplay elements and for the most part… it does a good job.
When I started playing Mighty Number 9, I could not believe how much the game felt like a traditional Megaman title. Every step that I took and every blast that I shot, it seemed if I was whisked away into a dream that seemed very surreal.
That was in the introduction stage and once I selected Cryosphere’s stage, I immediately had to dial back the confidence that I had going in because the difficulty hit me like a ton of bricks. The reason for this is because once you reach the ice-textured sections, there is so much slipping and sliding. That level of realism caused me to get shot and frozen by the generic enemies which would sometimes cause me to die and try the section again.
Once I reach the boss section of the level, I would occasionally take a double take at the screen because playing with Beck is no different than playing with Megaman. What separates the two characters is that Beck is able to absorb remaining enemy’s particles after stunning them with his blaster by dashing through them.
This mechanic does allow the game to feel fresh to veterans of the Megaman franchise and while there is no “charge-shot,” there are these power-ups you get after dashing through enemies. Power-ups can increase your damage (Red), increase your movement and speed (Green), and increase your defense (Yellow). There is a blue power-up that players get that enable them to recover Beck’s health. The AcXel recover can be used by pausing the game and selecting it from the main pause menu.
If you would like to see Mighty Number 9’s gameplay in action as well as see how the dash mechanic works in more depth, take a look at my Let’s Play video below:
It is important to mention that the user interface and controls in this game are as good, if not better than those in some of the core Megaman titles. In a handful of Megaman titles, players would have to pause the game in order to access the newly acquired abilities. This is not the case in Mighty Number 9. Here, abilities can be accessed and equipped by simply pressing the left trigger to open the drop down menu and then toggling to the ability that you would like to use. Of course, players can assign up to 3 of their favorite abilities to hotkeys (Y button, B button, and by pressing in the right analog stick) and have easier access if they desire to. Players can still pause the game to access the user-interface but with it being this streamlined, it begs the question… why would anyone want to break from the action?
The controls in Mighty Number 9 are very similar to the core Megaman titles. Moving in all directions can be done by using the directional pad; while jumping (A button), shooting (X button), and dashing (RB button on the shoulder) will feel extremely comfortable to veterans of the Japanese side-scrolling platforming genre. Unlike its predecessor, the controls are familiar but precise to the point where one wrong step and you are toast. It can be unforgiving but is also very rewarding when mastered. The goal for me is to beat this game in under 60 minutes – which might warrant a special Let’s Play video in which I will make my attempt.
While each stage reminded me of others from various Megaman titles (The City is reminiscent of the initial stage in Megaman X), they all came with their unique layouts that tested my abilities as a veteran to the side-scrolling platformer genre. Whether it was chasing mighty number 7 through passing traffic or searching for mighty number 8 in a mansion as he tried to snipe me from an unknown location, my time spent in each of the 12 levels was a lot of fun. The only complaint that I have, as with many Megaman titles, is that each stage can be unforgiving in certain areas – requiring multiple attempts before succeeding. Just like in any game, however, once players know what is coming it is easy to master a stage. One of my favorite stages in the game is the Abandoned Lab that puts players against Ray, who shares all of Beck’s abilities. This stage comes as downloadable content within the retail package of the game but can also be purchased digitally through one of the corresponding network stores.
Might Number 9 actually comes with a variety of modes that only add to the game’s value. The additional modes include Boss Rush mode, Online Race Battles, and 2-player online coop challenge. Boss Rush mode acts somewhat like a gauntlet by challenging players to play through each of the game’s bosses back to back. Online Race Battles puts two players in a head to head race to see who can beat each stage the fastest. The third and final mode is a 2-player online co-op challenge that enables players to tackle various missions with their friends using Beck and Call.
While these modes are interesting, in order to access them players will have to beat the game. However, coop can be accessed once players are able to beat mighty numbers 1 through 8 as well as the prison stage that unlocks right after. This can be a bummer for those looking to access the online coop outright but given the game's initial difficulty it would be wise to practice before attempting to tackle it with a friend.
Sound of Music
The sound is very much on par with its predecessor. Comcept and Inti Creates really made an effort to make sure that the action, sound, and music fed off of each other in most cases. Every blast that was fired was accompanied by nice sounding explosions that made me feel good about the game. The music, however, is another story altogether. Usually, when a player is in an intense moment the music would be there to make him or her feel as hardcore as possible. This is not the case here because not every song in these levels match the action or sound on the screen and that is a real shame giving the care and effort the team put into this aspect. The music does improve slightly as players are enabled to switch from the default music setting to the game’s “8-bit retro music.” The option to do this really allowed me to soak in all of the nostalgia but quickly wore off after a while and I was reminded of how the score is from stage to stage.
Mighty Number 9 was announced at the 2013 Penny Arcade Expo by Keiji Inafune along with his team at Comcept and has received an overwhelming amount of criticism for not releasing the game within expectations. Nevertheless, the gameplay is challenging and does a good job of playing off of what made the Megaman franchise so memorable in the hearts of gamers. However, it ultimately stumbles due to the outdated graphics and the awkward song choices for some of the levels. While there are unlockable modes in this game, it does little to overshadow negative elements of a game that was long in development and suffered due to high expectations. If there is a sequel, hopefully, they can fix the game’s issues mentioned and improve upon its strengths. There is so much potential that it would be a shame if Keiji Inafune and Comcept did not explore it or even look to its predecessor for more elaborative inspiration.
|+ Challenging Gameplay||– Music doesn’t match certain levels|
|+ Unlockable Modes||– Outdated Graphics|
|+ Useful Abilities|