Mighty No. 9 is the result of a lot of time and effort expended by both the company who created it and the fans that funded it. Unfortunately the former seem to have squandered all the resources given to them by the latter and the result is one of the most disappointing games of the year.
• Developer: Comcept, Inti Creates
• Publisher: Deep Silver
• Reviewed on: PC
• Also Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
• Release Date: Available Now
Directly inspired by the Megaman series, Mighty No. 9 is an action platformer starring a colourful cast of robots with a variety of special powers. There are 9 of these robots, including the player character Beck and when his mechanical brethren (and sistren) suddenly turn evil it is up to Beck (Hansen) to find and defeat them, saving the world in the process. As video game stories go it is only slightly more cliché than saving the princess, but that is not a massive problem. A complicated narrative is not really required for a game like this. The bigger issue comes with the characters in said story. Although there is some nice visual design when it comes to the individual characters (at least in places, more on that later), but the actual dialogue and scripting is atrocious. The game’s introduction informs us that it is ‘the present year’ despite the abundance of sentient androids and holograms. The could at least have maintained the fiction of it being the near future, although I suppose it is possible that Capcom still own the rights to the number ‘20XX’. The characters are all either forgettable or irritating, including Beck. Also, his sister is named Call, which represents the worst double pun since Rock and Roll – so at least they inherited something from the old Megaman roots.
There’s further disappointment ahead when looking at the game’s aesthetic. Although graphically it works fine, the actual designs of the levels and enemies are uninspired and look unfinished. If they were shown off in the initial concept stages or as part of a demo version of the game then they might seem forgivable. But they are finished art assets in a game made by people who should know better. The textures of the levels are muddy and out of focused, and the player character looks like a low-resolution version scraped from the bottom rung of forgotten platformer protagonists. Many characters of that ilk have gone on to be revitalised, like Spyro the Dragon or Rayman. But given that Beck started out his ‘career’ in that fashion it seems unlikely he’ll make it very far at all.
The issues with the narrative and visual style could be forgiven if Mighty No. 9 was a technically competent or even excellent game but unfortunately is falls apart there too. A 2D side-scrolling platformer, a tried and tested genre of game that relies on the design of the levels and the fluidity of the controls. These are two factors that the game lacks almost completely. The levels are boring corridors, the only areas that require jumping are almost invariably bottomless pits with either instakill spikes or floating enemies alongside them to complicate matters. Beck moves sluggishly, the erratic nature of the animation making it difficult to judge precision jumps. You’re just as likely to mistime a leap and fall to your death as you are to land successfully. And then there are the sections where you have to fall down a long winding chute full of spikes, trying desperately not to hit the sides. If you ever felt like Flappy Bird was too forgiving then by all means try and take on the water level.
Mighty No. 9 could have been fantastic; all the building blocks were and remain visible. But the very fact that it could have been so good is what makes it so disappointing overall. It’s not a truly terrible game, but it’s definitely on the low end of average and the fact that it needn’t have been had somehow made all the issues and technical faults stand out in even more stark contrast.