A mighty NO.
Mighty No. 9 certainly hasn't had an easy life. Born on Kickstarter back in 2013, it was publicized as being Keiji Inafune's return to the classic Mega Man series, just without the name or publishing power of Capcom. People flocked to his Kickstarter, raising over $4 million for the project. Three years later, the game has suffered from a change in art style, three delays (four if you want to count last gen systems), constant negative reception from fans when Inafune's company Comcept announced more Kickstarter while Mighty No. 9 was being developed, and now we have the final game releasing with glitches, massive framerate slowdowns, and some backers not even receiving a download code for the game. This is a mess of massive proportions, and it isn't helped that Mighty No. 9 is just a frustrating and not very good game. Oh, it has moments that work and some good ideas, but the execution is just sloppy and sad.
And you know what, this is all unfortunately easy for me to say. I never backed this game, so I don't have any personal investment into it. If a game that I did back on Kickstarter, like Yooka-Laylee turns out to be awful, then I would be devastated because I had faith and believed in this project. I can imagine that countless Mighty No. 9 backers are kicking themselves over this, especially if they paid for such a huge amount of money to be featured in the game. To those people, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that this is the game you got. If it's any consolation, at least it's over fast.
Mighty No. 9 takes the gameplay directly from Capcom's Mega Man franchise, just with a few little twists. You can still choose to fight one of eight bosses in whatever order you want, but now your main attack is a dash attack. You can still damage enemies by shooting them, but in order to kill enemies, you need to dash into them. Some enemies you can destroy just by shooting them, but the game never bothers to tell you this, so you should just dash into every enemy you see after you shoot it enough.
In fact, I'm going to stop right here and explain the game is awful at conveying actual directions and instructions to players. Right from the get go, you get the briefest of tutorials that explains the basic movements of the game. You run, you shoot, you jump, go kill robots. However, there's a lot of nuance in Mighty No. 9 that just isn't explained.
For example, in one level, there was a giant rotating disk that killed me if I touched it. There was a small crack underneath it, big enough for me to say "Okay, I need to dash under it." I dash, expecting to go underneath it, and die instantly. As I die, a hint screen pops up to say that I should try "Duck Dashing". By this point, I had been playing the game for hours and I got livid at the game. You're telling me now that I need to perform a specific move to not die that you're just telling me about. So I look in the controls to see how to do it... and there's not duck button. I physically cannot do the action the game wants me to do. I looked in other menus, finding nothing, then I started to experiment by actually inputting button combinations. I finally discover how to do it but gently tapping down before pressing the dash button, which makes me dash SLIGHTLY lower to he ground. It doesn't change the dash mechanic at all, except by making me dash a little lower. Oh, and the game never asks me to Duck Dash again for the rest of the game. Makes sense.
Elements like these should be clearly explained to players to alleviate frustration. Mega Man X had no formal tutorial, but the skills were simple enough and presented in a safe environment first so that players could get used to the mechanics before trying them out in difficult levels. In Mighty No. 9, the skills are complex and not explained, so when the game asks you for very specific demands, you're lost unless you go browsing through menus to explain what the hell's even happening. There are times when I get items from little robots, but I have no idea what any of them do. These items improved my stats, gave me a health boost, an extra live, or extra energy to use in a boss fight, but I had no idea what any of these guys were when I first saw them. Hell, because they all look so similar, I still have no idea what distinguishes an extra life from a health boost.
Dashing is a necessary part of the game, but it's so stiff in its control that there'll be a lot of times you just dash off to your own death. You dash into an enemy, but dash off of a ledge getting to them. Dash into a enemy, only to dash into another enemy that isn't weak enough to be destroyed. Overshoot a platform. Fail to grab a ledge you dashed on to. Dash into spikes when you're slowly falling. The dash mechanic is your biggest enemy in the game. It will hurt you more than the bosses or enemies, and will be responsible for more than half of your deaths. Oh, and if you get hit when you're dashing, you fall back instantly and can't recover in time before dying.
Boss battles are mixed. Some of them are actually well designed and require some solid strategy and planning. One of my favorite fights is from a sniper that tries to fight you in a very small room. He makes duplicates of himself that fire fake bullets while only his hurt, they can ricochet off walls in clear directions, and he hides behind cover, necessitating close combat. Other bosses have one hit KO moves, or moves that stun you as they sweep in and take half of your health. Out of the 8 main robot bosses, I would say that four of them are fun to actually fight, while the other four are just lessons in aggravation.
Visually, the game just looks empty and bland. Every character model looks so lifeless and cartoonish, but not in a good way. Facial animations don't change, special effects look cheap and 2D, while that game will also chug to a crawl at times. No joke, I died twice in one stage because there was too much happening that I couldn't control my character as all of these objects were flying around. I only was able to make it past that stage by sheer luck.
But that's not even the biggest problem with the game. No, the worst thing about the game is that it's difficult. It's hard, but in a way that makes you feel like the game is cheating you. You'll die from falling into pits. You'll die from the controls. You'll die from being stunned. You'll die from dashing into enemies before they're ready to die. You'll die from every cheap method I can think of, and you'll have to restart all of the level once you get a Game Over.
You know, I recently played Bloodborne for the first time. I loved it and I think that it's a fantastic game to play through. It's also one of the hardest games I've played in a while, but I never felt like it was cheap. The gameplay was simple enough where if I died, I just needed to learn the enemy's patterns, and attack only when it was safe. I died 127 times in my playthrough (yes I counted), but every time I killed a boss, I was satisfied. I took pride in that victory because I was able to improve my skills from a game that was challenging, yet fair.
Mighty No. 9 is the OPPOSITE of that approach, If you die, you have to go back and do an extreme amount of platforming to get back to where you were, stages are still punishing to the point where you'll die before you even knew what happened to you, and you never feel like the deaths were your fault. You'll never sit back and say that you make a slip up and the boss took advantage of that. No, it's always because you're health is too low, so the boss beats you in a few hits and sends you back to the beginning of the stage because you got a Game Over. Even when you beat a boss, you're reaction isn't joy that you beat them, but relief that you never have to play through that stage again.
The final boss in particular is a bastard to fight for all of the wrong reasons. His stage is challenging, but it has some decent moments in it. In one part, you have to dash across gusts of wind to get elevation, or fall into a bottomless pit. The dashing works here because it's an area specifically designed for dashing, so you're able to use your skills wisely here. When you actually do reach the final boss. It's two forms of a giant creature you still have to dash in to hit, can take away half your health without even trying, and will often times fly out of the way so you can't hurt them. It took me nearly two hours in a game that I played for 6 hours. A third of the game was spent fighting this colossal asshole.
Guys... this is just a bad game. There's no other way to look at it. I tried to hard to justify this game, and yes, there are good moments in it. Four boss fights are fun, I liked two of the 12 stages, and the DLC character Ray has a great stage with a great boss fight in it. There are elements of a solid platforming experience here, and those are the only things keeping it from being a truly horrible game.
Instead, what we get is a horrible, inbred, unrecognizable shell of Mega Man. This is what we wanted, and this is what we got. Is it our fault? Not at all, and the developers should really be ashamed of themselves for betraying the trust of it's fans. It's one thing to delays a game three times. It's one thing to ask for more money for another game while still developing this one. It's one thing for the game to look nothing like it was originally promised. But when the game is bad, there's no forgiving it.
Mighty No. 9 shouldn't be crying like an anime fan on prom night, because at least anime fans like myself have self respect and standards. Mighty No. 9 doesn't, so it should just cry like the loser it really is. Good. Riddance.