Mighty No. 9 and its development team must be under so much pressure to perform. With close to $4 million in funding, over 67,000 passionate fans invested in the project and the mastermind behind Mega Man, Keiji Inafune, at the helm, there’s little margin for error.
For a title with so much riding on its success, Mighty No. 9‘s presence at EGX 2015 in Birmingham, United Kingdom was somewhat muted. There was a single Wii U unit in the “Nindies” section running the game, nestled among Shadow Puppeteer, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! and the like. There wasn’t much of a wait to get hands-on with the game.
When I picked up the GamePad and assumed the role of Beck, the first thing that struck me was how bland the environment was. Gone was the beautiful hand-drawn artwork seen in early concept images; instead we had clinical corridors that seemed to be based in some sort of laboratory, rendered in a very generic 2.5D art style.
Enemies did little to brighten things up, while the background visual effects often tricked the eye into thinking there was an enemy nearby. The first 30 seconds of gameplay was spent holding right on the D-pad until the first foe appeared on-screen. I was then required to stop holding right and, instead, push Y to fire Beck’s arm cannon. Even these early enemies resembled sponges, and required seven or eight shots before they fell to the floor — but even then they were only temporarily disarmed. The game gives you a number of seconds to run by enemies until they miraculously come back to life and resume their advance toward you.
As I progressed through the level, more enemy robots appeared on-screen at a particular time, but when they took so long to disarm — and when they don’t even remain disarmed — they began to feel like a chore to overcome, even within the space of a short demo session. I often found myself jumping over enemies and legging it past them instead.
Plenty of running and a little gunning: two thirds of the formula that makes up the run ‘n’ gun genre. The third? Platforming. And in the Mighty No. 9 demo? I saw none.
There were occasional times when enemies are placed on higher platforms, and you’re asked to “push B and then Y” to jump and then shoot at the foes. It’s primitive at best, and repetitive when you’re required to jump and shoot seven times in a row to defeat just one of four or five enemies in that particular area.
At the very least, we have a game that boasts the mechanics of a classic genre. For now, I can only hope that the budget and talent behind it have come up with some more interesting and unique uses for these mechanics in the as-yet unseen levels of the game.
Mighty No. 9 will launch on consoles in North America and Europe on February 9, 2016. The portable version for Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita is still planned, but will arrive at a later date.