30 Games Of April – Day 26

Mighty No.9
Developed by:Comcept / Inti Creates
Published by:Deep Silver
Format played:PS4

Starting life from crowdfunding via Kickstarter, Mighty No.9 is a platform action game with a distinctly old school flavour.

Created by some of the minds behind the original Mega Man series, it borrows heavily from that NES franchise, representing something of a spiritual sequel. At least that’s what it says here. I have no idea to be honest, I’ve never played Mega Man so I come to this with a fresh set of eyes.

Included in a recent PS Plus bundle, the story involves some gubbins about malfunctioning robots running amok through the city and causing chaos. You (why is it always you? Where are the police?) must track down 8 Mighty’s (making you no.9, natch) and take out the threat to the city. Go you!

Your robot runs left to right through the level, jumping over obstacles, grabbing ledges and leaping between floating platforms. When a defunct droid needs taking down you have a two-fold attack. First, soften him up with some shots from your blaster. Then, when he starts to change colour, quickly squeeze R1 to fly at and through him, absorbing his essence (ewww) and gaining some extra juice.

The first level is a simple introduction to ease you into the controls and the process of taking down enemies. Once you get into the levels proper things soon pick up in intensity but some problems emerge. Enemies generally only take a couple of hits to dispatch but, much as we saw with Super Star Wars, they have an annoying habit of getting at just the wrong angle for you to shoot clearly. Case in point in the first couple of levels; some laser gates appear to block my path, incrementally moving up the screen before stopping and spewing death at you. Unless you know they are coming and so take them out early enough, you are forced to perform an unsatisfactory jump-shoot combo that means you can only fire a shot or two at each bound, elongating the conflict. Similarly in the next level I find enemies just up the next ledge or down a drop, my gun only shooting in straight lines and when I do drop to take him out, he runs straight at me, sapping my health.

Level design is fairly simplistic. There are floating platforms and ladders but they don’t really go anywhere. At first the gameplay reminded me of Ratchet & Clank in the sense of destructible items, mechanised enemies and the like. But this lacks that game’s freedom of movement, instead forcing you down a distinctly linear path whilst constantly throwing repeating enemy types at you. This type of game can still work – see Gunstar Heroes – but you need variety and the ability to shoot in more than just a single line.

For all that I did enjoy my brief playthrough. Having never played Mega Man the basic concepts feel unique to me, such as the ability to play levels in any order and absorbing powers from slain foes. These two in fact work in tandem; by defeating boss characters you get to absorb their power, which can help you take down another boss character. But each boss has their own vulnerability and so part of the challenge comes from figuring out the order to tackle them that best achieves victory. He says. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t made it past the first boss yet.

Yes, I found this hard. You only get three lives and restart points are far from generous. Add in rotating death-bots, background enemy fire and a weird jumping mechanic that means you need to press longer for a bigger leap, all too easy to forget in the heat of battle when you’re also trying to shoot and dash.

I had fun and I intend to go back for more. Whether you feel the same may be influenced by your memories of Mega Man. Or how much you sunk into the Kickstarter.

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