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No, Inafune, this is not ‘better than nothing’. This game is so bad that it would be better off not existing at all.

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    Mighty No. 9

    Rating: 1.0 – Terrible

    No, Inafune, this is not ‘better than nothing’. This game is so bad that it would be better off not existing at all.

    With Mighty No. 9 being free on PSN last month, I thought I’d give it another try. After all, maybe I missed something. Maybe my friend’s computer was garbage. Maybe playing it on a big HDTV would help me see something new.

    Nope. Still garbage. The literal only improvement on the PS4 version compared to PC is that it runs properly, which puts all of that "PC master race" nonsense to rest for good. Past that, it’s exactly the same game with all of the same problems. I will say however that this game looks very pretty in HD, which is why I’m giving this game a 2/10 instead of the lowest score possible. I will concede that it looks pretty. Past that, nothing is good.

    Can you imagine being one of the 70,000 people that Keiji Inafune stole money from? Do yourself a favor and go to Keiji Inafune’s Wikipedia page. For both the Mega Man and Mega Man X series, you’ll notice a common denominator about when those series go downhill fast. Character designers should be just that. Character designers. They are not meant to be producers and directors, which is something Capcom learned with Inafune, and is also something Square-Enix has been learning the hard way with Tetsuya Nomura. It’s not that they don’t deserve promotions after all their hard work, but for whatever reason we’ve yet to see a character designer make that next step and go from drawing good characters to making good games. Not that Mighty No. 9 even gets the drawing part right, but we’ll get into that. Normally for my reviews I pull up some game quotes, split everything up into sections, and fire away. However, Mighty No. 9 is getting as much effort out of me as Inafune put into making this wretched game, which is to say not much. Instead, I’m just going to rant about everything wrong with the game, and there is a ton wrong with this game.

    Let’s start with the plot, which is as good a place as any. Mighty No. 9 was meant to be the spiritual successor to the Mega Man franchise. Fans wanted a Mega Man feel without the Mega Man name. As such, any Mega Man series fan will already know the entire plot. There are idiot scientists in charge of robots that they lose control of, yet there is one robot they created that magically doesn’t go evil or lose control of itself and must fix all the problems created by said idiot scientists. It’s just Mega Man with some names crossed off, also known as some of the laziest writing imaginable. Swap out Mega Man for Beck, Dr. Light for Dr. White, Sigma for Graham, Dr. Wily for Dr. Blackwell, Roll for Call (seriously?), the Yellow Devil for Trinity, Robot Masters for Mighty Robots, and technology for xel, and you get Mighty No. 9. In theory, it sounds fine. In practice, go play Mega Man 8. Remember all the bad voice acting and convoluted nonsense when all we wanted to do was play a platformer? Mighty No. 9 actually manages to be worse than Mega Man 8. Somehow. In genres that don’t need plots, you’re better off not including one at all than to put one in that’s this bad. Platformers need about 10 seconds of plot. That’s it.

    The voice acting is where it truly goes bad. The character animation is nonexistent, or just flat-out laughable when it tries to be serious. I’m talking Street Fighter 4 levels of "why the hell is the guy’s mouth moving 5 seconds after finishing his sentence?". The plot tries to not be Mega Man while also trying to be Mega Man, and the entire thing is a complete mess. It runs like a bad sequel, except it’s the sequel to a game that doesn’t even exist. It also tries way too hard to be funny by throwing in as many old internet memes and puns and jokes as possible. The best memes and jokes are original creations. Mighty No. 9’s jokes are like when your parents post on your Facebook. It’s cringeworthy and embarrassing. This game seriously uses the giant enemy crab joke, which was never funny and is now 10 years old. I’m surprised Crying Jordan and All Your Base weren’t thrown in. The worst kind of humor is the forced kind.

    As for the meat and potatoes of why this game is a steaming pile, there’s the unfortunate matter of actually playing it. Going in, you should expect Mega Man-style platforming where you run, jump, avoid obstacles, shoot enemies, fight 8 bosses, absorb their powers, use their powers on each other, and then crescendo with the grand one-man-army invasion against the final boss. Seems simple and easy, right? That formula is 30 years old, after all.

    Wrong. There are two major problems, and the first one is the game’s handling. Beck does not handle well at all, regardless of what powerup he has or what level you’re on. The key selling point to all platformer gameplay is in the level design. Every single level of Mighty No. 9 past the tutorial is designed like garbage. There are instant death traps splattered all over every level in the game, and virtually none of it is done in a way that makes any sense. It goes past the game having a learning curve into the territory of being pure trial and error nonsense. The traps are only there to make frustrating character mechanics even worse, because there are many parts of this game where your platforming skills need to be pixel perfect. Even when you get better through practice, there are parts of some levels that are impossible to get through without the right powerup. This was never really a problem in Mega Man games, all of which can be beaten with the default abilities, but Mighty No. 9 has no problems forcing you to leave a level entirely if you lack the right ability to proceed. The game thankfully gives you a level order once you beat one or two of them, but even then it doesn’t change the level designs being awful. And on top of all that, every single level is as linear as can be. No one wants linear gameplay anymore.

    The other problem is character mechanics. Beck is supposed to be able to grab onto ledges if you’re pushing towards them, but good luck getting that to work regularly, especially on moving platforms. Does Mighty No. 9 force you to use the grab mechanic on moving platforms above instant death spikes multiple times? Of course it does. The cream of the crop for bad design though is that the entire game is designed around Beck’s dash. And when I say the entire game, I mean it. There are dash puzzles all over every level design, and dashing into enemies is how you’ll actually kill them. If it sounds counterintuitive, that’s because it is. The game plays exactly like Mega Man, but forces this dash concept without building around it properly. Your dash never powers up or does any damage. You never get to do anything cool with it, like light yourself on fire and pretend you’re a fireball version of Sonic the Hedgehog. You never get to turn yourself into a ball of spikes and act like a porcupine. You never get to electrocute yourself and turn a power grid off like that bouncy ball from Men in Black. Your blaster weakens enemies, and when they’re weak enough to be absorbed, you dash into them to kill them instantly. That’s all you ever do with the dash. I’ll actually give Inafune credit for coming up with a new mechanic that had the potential to be good, but it’s never once executed properly in this game.

    The regular enemies have different colors that give you various abilities when absorbing enough of one color, and the game forces you to kill them via dashing by giving them obscene amounts of health if you try killing them the normal way. It’s simply not feasible to shoot an enemy 20 times to kill it when 4 shots and a deathblow dash will do the trick, especially when the levels are so badly designed. If a platform is guarded and you need to get onto it ASAP, you’re stuck doing the dash-kill instead of trying to kill the enemy normally. You would think an infinite number of air dashes would help make things smooth, but it really doesn’t. You don’t get a vertical dash to make things intuitive, and with the graphics being so wonky, good luck knowing where you’re going to land. It’s all trail, error, and guesswork.

    "Oho!" you exclaim. "I’ll just kill things normally once I get some cool boss powerups! That dash sounds horrible and I will never use it!"

    Yeah, about that. Getting boss powerups requires actually killing the bosses. Did you really think Inafune would put this ridiculous mechanic into a game and not force you to use it? Every boss in the game does this awesome thing where after taking enough damage, it starts to glow. That’s your cue to dash into it. If you don’t dash into the boss in time, it will actually heal itself. Think EX guard in Street Fighter 4, where after absorbing a hit with EX, your opponent’s missing grey health will slowly heal itself. That’s exactly how Mighty No. 9’s bosses function, and don’t think for one second that the bosses won’t stay completely out of range to heal themselves whenever possible. On top of that, the boss fights are pretty difficult. Difficult is okay, but not when it’s due to bad gameplay mechanics. Beck doesn’t jump nearly high enough, there is no good way to get vertical — no double jumps, no vertical air dashes, nothing — and you have to deal damage to bosses twice. Once to get them to glow, and once more with a dash to deal the "true" damage. There is only one boss in the entire game that’s any fun, among the ten or so you’ll fight. Snipers are just cool like that. Oh and to top that all off, using the boss abilities requires fumbling around in clunky menus. Even the shortcuts are totally obnoxious. Good luck! The one silver lining here is once you deal true damage to a boss, it doesn’t heal that missing chunk of health. Once true damage happens, that bit is gone for good.

    The entire thing adds up to a disjointed gameplay experience where you’re stuck trying to play a Mega Man game as fast as possible, but it doesn’t work. Trying to go through badly designed Mega Man-style levels as quickly as possible will only kill you. It’s counterintuitive, it’s a chore to play, and it is in no way fun. The main purpose of a video game is to have fun, which is arguably where Mighty No. 9 fails the hardest. There is no fun to be had.

    Mighty No. 9 does three things well, and only three. As badly executed as the dash mechanic is, it’s still a neat idea. It’s a damn shame it was executed so badly, and I hope to see something similar in the future from a developer that actually knows what they’re doing. The boss powers that you eventually get to use for yourself are attached to a yellow bar that regenerates on its own if you wait long enough, so you’re not stuck looking for recovery items for it. Every game with an energy bar needs to do things like this, and in recent years they have been. Lastly, the sniper boss battle was really fun and the game looks pretty in HD. Not that any of this outweighs how thoroughly god-awful this game is, but hey.

    The lasting lesson here, on top of Mighty No. 9 being trash, is to not get involved with crowdfunding a video game. Let other people be suckers with their money. You should be careful with your money, because for every good end result like Undertale, there are hundreds and hundreds of Mighty No. 9s. Vote with your dollars, don’t be a chump, and above all, do not buy or play Mighty No. 9. The end result of 3 years of hype, 70,000 backers, and 4 million dollars was a terrible video game from a guy that isn’t any good at making video games (seriously, go check out Inafune’s list of games he’s produced and prepare to be appalled), a rapper named Mega Man, 4 hours of credits, and a complete steaming pile of a video game. This thing is right up there with Shadow of the Colossus, Warcraft 3, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the DS Zelda games, DmC, Marvel vs Capcom 3, and all the other games that should never be played by a single human being for any reason.

    I am literally begging anyone reading this to spare their sanity and avoid this game like the plague. I didn’t even put any money into the Kickstarter and I was annoyed beyond all measure while playing through this nonsense. I cannot even imagine how the backers must feel after all this. Keiji Inafune literally stole your money and told you that even though this game is awful, it’s better than nothing. So on top of stealing your money, he insults you for not liking his game. Amazing.

    The lasting legacy of Mighty No. 9 won’t even be that the game is bad. It’ll be known as one of the biggest crowdfunding disasters in gaming history, and it will turn people off from crowdfunding video games in the future. Which is a shame for the few good independent games out there, but overall this is actually a good thing. I never trusted crowdfunding, and after this debacle, I never will. It’s always been dubious at best and flat-out not worth the risk. Crowdfunding is about as reliable as the stock market, and we’re starting to see a lot of data proving this. Mighty No. 9 is one such piece of data.

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