Mighty No. 9
Mighty No. 9 is a platforming game developed by Comcept, in conjunction with Inti Creates, and published by Deep Silver (Spike Chunsoft in Japan). The game was funded via Kickstarter and was intended to be a spiritual successor to the Mega Man franchise.
If you want to know more about the troubled development, see the main article. This article is about the retail game itself, its flaws and unsuccessful release.
The game plays similarly to the classic Mega Man games, with the addition of a Mega Man X-inspired dash mechanic that, in addition to letting you cross large gaps and move faster, allows you to dash through enemies after weakening them with your shots to absorb a substance known as Xel (pronounced "Cel") to gain temporary power-ups, such as increased power and speed.
Why It Sucks
- The game relies on outdated "Trial-and-error" design to artificially extend its length. This includes cheap deaths, excessive use of OHKO obstacles, knockback damage, and unforgiving platforming to ensure the player will die often while having limited lives. If you lose all your lives you start the whole level again. While it is true that early Mega Man games did the same, it was done because of hardware limitations at the time. Games like AGW have shown that this "trial-and-error" type of game design is no longer needed and all it does is frustrate players.
- At the start, constant gameplay-interrupting tutorials explain very basic concepts to the player needlessly (there is even a point where Professor White essentially says "look, that enemy over there is an enemy!") while critical mechanics such as weapon alt-functions, what the percentages that appear over enemies mean and the entire powerup system have their explanation buried in text menus.
- While the game does follow the basic essence of a Mega Man game, it does nothing to improve it and brings back flaws from those games that were solved long ago. It even lacks innovations from the X games such as the Megabuster and wall jump.
- The game's level select informs the player which boss their weapons will be most effective against with an additional option on the mission selector, meaning that as soon as they have defeated one of the Mighty Numbers, they are basically told the order they should play the remaining levels in.
- Poor level design in general. The enemy placement makes them hard to hit or avoid and grabbing onto ledges is often unreliable. The backgrounds are often too visually busy and make objects in the foreground hard to distinguish, especially the signposts in Brandish's stage. There are also no mechanics to prevent enemies from spawning directly on top of Beck.
- Brandish's entire level takes place on an autoscrolling highway where touching the road surface is instant death.
- Countershade's level is just a small set of rooms and corridors the player has to loop through repeatedly since he appears in random rooms. To make matters worse, there are no checkpoints here.
- Cryosphere's level has ice physics and a large number of platforms that cannot be ledge-grabbed for no obvious reason.
- Aviator's level has instant death pits on both sides and wind physics, and the boss fight takes place on three tiny platforms.
- Seismic's stage has chases with instant-kill drills that generally require the player to have powerups at a specific time or they will die, and several blind jumps with spike pits at the bottom. The Seismic boss fight also requires that the player recognize the grab ledges on either side and use them to avoid his attacks, even though they do not look like any other grab ledge that has appeared in the game up to that point.
- Dynatron's stage features a pixel-perfect duck-dash under an instant-death spinning wheel, which caused so many problems with people assuming the regular dash would get them under it (since the two animations look almost the same) that a lazy "hint" tutorial message had to be added reminding the player of the duck-dash. It doesn't help that duck-dashing is a thing but ducking is not, because Beck has no crouch animation.
- Battalion's stage features a fantastically poorly designed secret where the player is rewarded with health (and an enemy that shoots them as soon as they enter), and then, if they take the most obvious exit, gets to enjoy watching Beck immediately land on a landmine and take unavoidable damage.
- The game seems to be going for a “style over substance” approach, with its focus on scoring and combos, something that wasn't really Mega Man's main focus, and in fact, only the first game in that series had a proper scoring system. It also seems to go for a more fast-paced gameplay style with the dash and scoring systems, which rewards speedrunning but conflicts with the trial-and-error type of level design. The extremely long cutscenes don't really gel with the idea of it being a game for speedrunners, however.
- At some point the designers seem to have realized the jumping puzzles were appallingly frustrating and the chaining system wasn't working, and so gave up and gave Beck infinite air dashes. Several sections, especially the updraft jumping section in Aviator's stage and the underwater area in Cryosphere's, are rendered utterly trivial by this mechanic.
- Lackluster boss battles, which don't change up their patterns when they are close to being defeated (like most bosses in platformers do). The final boss is especially bad since it's full of predictable attack patterns and drags on for so long that any excitement that could be had is drained away. Bosses also do not have invincible frames after taking damage, meaning the default buster is powerful enough against them that it's rarely even necessary to use their weakness, even in cases where doing so would be a good idea (ie, not Brandish).
- Speaking of the bosses, their weapons are imbalanced and the levels are almost never designed to make them useful. Some are outright useless, such as Seismic's Strong Charge (a copy of Mega Man 5's Charge Kick save it can go on as long as the player likes, with a similar habit of getting you killed) and Pyrogen's chargeable Fire Explosion. In particular, the Strong Charge, which performs a slow dash attack which knocks you back if it hits, is the weakness of the very fast, very aggressive close-range specialist Brandish. This works out about as well as one would expect. Others like Battalion's Remote Cannon (a copy of Mega Man 2's Crash Bomb) may end up being the only special weapons a player will use in instances that aren't boss fights. The sword attack from Brandish lurches off to the other end of the spectrum by being outright broken: it is fast, consumes no energy at all in its normal fire mode, does significant damage and destroys enemy projectiles.
- While the controls are for the most part well-implemented, the system for switching boss weapons is wretched: the player can only cycle between a limited set of favorite weapons, or pull up a quick-select menu with strange icons representing the various powers, which forces Beck to stand still and doesn't pause the game. It isn't even possible to change weapons on the pause menu.
- On the subject of underpowered attacks, the diagonal-shooting alt-fire is so rarely useful that players may well forget it exists at all.
- Bosses have constant annoying voice cues for their attacks, some of which are so long that the bosses cut their own speech off.
- The "dash into enemies" mechanic demands you constantly stay near enemies, which leaves you open to take damage from them. The bonuses you get for dashing into enemies cannot be activated manually and are not explained in the tutorial. The game also constantly forces you to use the dash and punishes you for not using it. Enemies take too many hits to kill if you don't dash into them, every level has obstacles that require overly precise use of the dash, and bosses quickly regain health unless you dash into them. The level design does not consistently provide enough space for safe dashing either so those overly precise dash jumps are very easy to mess up.
- Due to the poor level designed mentioned above, some sections can be completely skipped by just dashing non-stop, such as the underwater sections in Cryosphere.
- Several bosses, especially Cryosphere who spends a good 80% of her boss battle either too high to dash into or invincible, do not seem to have been designed with the above mechanic in mind at all.
- Because of the power-up mechanic based on dashing into enemies, enemies do not drop health as in the classic Mega Man games, making the game needlessly unforgiving.
- If you die you lose your E-Tanks regardless if you used them or not. Normally, you'd want to save E-Tanks until after you've had one run at a boss to see what its pattern is, but you can't do that. The only way to get E-Tanks back for a boss is to have enough lives that the game starts handing out pity E-Tanks at the boss checkpoint because you died enough times. Just to make this even more "fun," some bosses had instakill attacks.
- Dr. White, Dr. Sanda, and Call constantly talk to you during levels to babble about nonsense, and their speech boxes can block your view of spikes below while their speech can prevent you from hearing audio cues for boss attacks. These audio cues can help the player avoid a boss' attacks, and since some of them are one-hit kills, hearing your allies' dialogue instead of the boss' can cause a cheap death.
- The explosion effects look absolutely terrible, with many players stating that they resemble a pizza, even though the game was made using Unreal Engine 3.
- Call's level is annoying, as she is far less mobile than Beck, can't dash into enemies, and she says every single action she does non-stop in her typical monotone voice.
- The final boss is missing several frames of animation.
- The online mode is a worthless addition to the game and is almost completely broken; lag is a common occurrence regardless of connection speeds, collision detection is spotty at best, the framerate is very inconsistent, the game can crash while on a loading screen, and sometimes the boss door fails to open, leaving both players stuck for the timer to hit zero. After it does, the game awkwardly cuts to the boss fight. Remember: one of the game's delays was to improve online.
- The credits are four hours long because it lists every single backer, there are more than 65,000 backers and most of them are listed as anonymous. It is possible for the credits to last longer than the game itself.
- Due to a false positive, some anti-virus programs see the game's .exe file as malware.
- Lackluster plot. Beck himself is a boring protagonist with little personality and the plot never focuses on him. All he does is follow orders from Dr. White. On the topic of the plot, there are quite a few plot holes:
- If Beck and the other Mighty Numbers are combat robots designed for militaristic purposes, then why did Professor White make them hate violence and fighting? One of them is literally built out of machine guns and missiles.
- Talking about Dr. White, he is unlikable and lacks common sense because he caused this game's robot crisis and forced Beck to extract the virus from the Mighty Numbers when he could've ordered Beck to extract the virus from any infected robot and then develop a cure afterward.
- Graham, the supposed main antagonist, never does anything, his actions are never explained, he's randomly replaced with Trinity near the end and is never mentioned again.
- The game claims that the United States of America has 52 states when it actually has 50 states.
- The game is set in the future, yet the intro says "It is the present year" without specifying a date.
- Why must the virus samples come specifically from the Mighty Numbers? Can't Beck just extract the exact same computer virus from any of the ordinary robots?
- The reason Brandish is able to resist the virus when the rest of the Mighty Numbers aren't is never revealed.
- Dr. White being Blackwell's son is never explored.
- The ending is almost insulting. It's nothing but a few images that don't explain anything and nothing regarding the plot is resolved. The post-credits scene is also an obvious sequel bait.
- The post-credits scene makes Dr. White seem like a villain. It doesn't help that he created Trinity, the primary antagonist of the game, seemingly to do the specific things she was doing. Many fans felt Dr. White's story played out like the game was trying to set him up as the Dr. Wily of the next game.
- The game's DLC suffers from this too, as Raychel's backstory and cause of her Xel deterioration are never revealed either.
- Trinity is just one of several designs proposed for Call, but that ended up losing in the poll for backers.
- Terrible graphics that look worse than a Dreamcast or early PS2 game. Even actual PS2 games from as early as 2001 look better than this game. This is more insulting considering what the first concept art and early gameplay looked like.
- To add insult to injury, the reveal trailer of Mega Man 11looks more like the first concept art and early gameplay then the final product of Mighty No. 9.
- Awkward cutscenes that feature static 3D models of the characters with close to zero facial animations that look like they're practicing ventriloquism.
- Text boxes and some of the concept art for dialogue sequences could have been used, so it wouldn't look so cheap. Hell, character portraits that change to reflect the tone of the conversation and what emotion each character is conveying would have sufficed, similar to what games like Gravity Rush are able to do.
- To add insult to injury, Mega Man 11 also has static 3D cutscenes but those are much more pleasing and characters actually move their mouths when talking.
- Sonic Adventure level of voice acting. Certain characters don't seem to express as much emotion as they should or just plain overact. The worst offender is Call, who sounds emotionless throughout the whole game. The dialogue is often childish and unfunny or makes the characters sound like complete morons. For example, during the ice level, Dr. Sanda calls you to express surprise that the ice-powered robot has covered the ice level in ice.
- The Wii U version is by far the worst version of the game, with long loading times, frequent crashes, and the worst framerate issues out of all the versions usually going up to 36 frames per second. It was even reported to brick consoles.
- The infamous "Make them cry like an Anime fan on prom night" line from one of their trailers made it sound like they were mocking many of their fans.
- The Retro Hero skin looks like a Minecraft skin that you can download for free.
- When you defeat a boss, that boss will appear in another stage and assist you. Unfortunately, their appearance in the stage also tells the player that the stage boss is weak to that boss' weapon, even if they somehow missed the "advice" button appearing in the stage select.
- The controls are solid, aside from the above-mentioned issues with switching weapons.
- Good soundtrack.
- Inafune admitted the game's problems and took responsibility for it. That's better than most indie game developers, who are so arrogant and greedy that they snuff out criticism to continue scamming people unabated.
The game received generally mixed-to-negative reception from critics, fans and Kickstarter backers alike upon launch. Review websites like IGN and Gamespot were receiving copies of the game before backers. The game's design, graphics, content, voice acting, and technical issues were criticized, and critics agreed that the game had utterly failed to live up to expectations. Before the game had a release date, the developers started another Kickstarter for a different game.
Deep Silver made an infamously embarrassing ad campaign in the form of the “Masterclass” trailer, which tried way too hard to be “hip”, “cool”, and “tongue-in-cheek” with an infamous joke about crying anime fans on prom night, apparently not recalling what happened when Daikatana pulled a similar stunt in its advertising. Mega Man, the franchise this game is inspired by, was heavily based on anime, meaning the trailer was essentially mocking the game's target audience. Even Sonic the Hedgehog's official Twitter account as well as DiGiorno Pizza of all companies mocked the trailer. Digital Foundry also mocked the trailer when analyzing the Wii U port's performance. The developers were very critical of the trailer as well, even criticizing Deep Silver for it. And to make matters worse, even Capcom, the original publisher of Mega Man, made fun of the same trailer in an April Fools joke!
The game was supposed to be independent yet it was picked up by Deep Silver, the publisher responsible for the disastrous Ride to Hell: Retribution.
Mighty No.9 has been called "the perfect example of what NOT to do when using crowdfunding". Many gamers are also considering Shovel Knight to be a better Mega Man successor than Mighty No.9.
The promised physical awards for the game came out a WHOLE YEAR after most versions were released and just like the game itself, they were less than stellar with even false advertisement of the NES/Famicom boxes for the game, along with the MANUAL not even fitting in the Famicom box. Thankfully, Fangamer sent out improved versions of the Famicom Manual to fit in the box, but it just shows how much of a mess this game was in the end.
After the release of Mighty No. 9, nothing has been heard from Comcept or Keiji Inafune until the release of ReCore for Xbox One, which also got mixed reviews. It's also unknown whether Red Ash will ever get released.
Some of the Kickstarter rewards still haven't even been delivered yet. The game's bad launch made lots of people fear supporting anyone who wants to start a Kickstarter for a game. Some Kickstarter backers have gotten the game on a different platform than what they asked for, some even didn't get the game at all!
The developers said that even if the game wasn't perfect, it's "better than nothing",. Even the Sonic Twitter made fun of it. In fairness to Inafune, he did not actually say the infamous "better than nothing" line; instead, it was a comment by his translator.
After the announcement of Mega Man 11, Mighty No. 9 is now considered by many to be obsolete as the Mega Man franchise isn't considered dead anymore (for now, at least).
PS Vita and 3DS versions were planned to come out shortly after the other versions but still have yet to see the light of day as of this writing. It’s possible that they were quietly canceled due to the game’s poor reception and sales along with the 3DS and Vita's waning popularity thanks to the Nintendo Switch. If they do come out, it would be too little too late at this point, as hype for the game has already long since died out and people have moved on to other, better games. To add insult to injury, they even promised that the PS Vita and 3DS versions to come out by the end of 2017, and neither versions showed up, shows you just how much of a mess this Kickstarter campaign was in the end. A recent article explains it best of what happened.