As cynical as I am, Mighty No. 9 was one title I was looking forward to getting some hands-on time with, especially considering the amount of fanfare that has already been built around it. Although I’m not a huge fan of the Mega Man series, it was one I was hoping to see get revisited, and if this is as close as we can get to that, then Mighty No. 9 will have no problem satisfying fans new and old.
Technically more of a spiritual successor than a true sequel, Mighty No. 9 is being produced by Mega Man co-creator Keiji Inafune, who is definitely bringing some old-school flair to the title. The version we were given to play had multiple stages available for play, so we went with the first two to get a feel of where the story is heading.
After being given control of Beck, the titular ninth combat robot in a series of nine, it’s revealed that a virus has been realized causing machines to turn violent, including the other robots that make up the Mighty Numbers. Beck is sent by Dr. White to fight against the virus and save his fellow robots from its influence.
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The combat and art style are highly reminiscent of the Mega Man series, beginning with just the ability to run, jump and shoot within a 2D world. Before long, you discover that the best way to defeat enemies is to stun enemies and dash into them, gaining their power for a small time and changing your ammo to match their type. For example, dashing into a fiery enemy will give you hot ammo for a few seconds afterward. It’s a simple mechanic that adds plenty of depth to the usual run/shoot/platform style of similar titles.
The first level of the demo took place on the streets of a destroyed city, culminating in a pretty easy fight against a construction unit. Anybody worried that the traditional Mega Man difficulty is missing need not fear, because Mighty No. 9 is a deceptively tough game. Enemies will gang up on you from every direction, and since dashing is the easiest way to dispatch of them, it takes some smooth moves to stun and dash multiple enemies at once.
Matching the old-school aesthetic, though, it’s a fun challenge. The final level we played took place at an oil refinery, where fiery enemies could light oil-covered platforms on fire to slow your progress. This stage showcased much more of the tricky navigation required to see the end without losing all of your lives first, but it also introduced many new enemy types, hopefully hinting at a wide variety of baddies that fit into each of their own stages.
With only two months and change until release, this Mighty No. 9 is shaping up to be yet another Kickstarter funded success story, finally giving fans another new Mega Man title (in spirit) worked on by one of the original creators. From the two levels we experienced, there’s nothing but good things to say about it, and hopefully the full game can carry that momentum into release.