Mighty No. 9 is considered to be the spiritual successor to the Mega Man series. While we already know that Capcom continues to misuse the Mega Man series, creator Keiji Inafune’s new series appears to recapture the retro charm of his original series. From a gameplay standpoint, Mighty No. 9 is almost identical to Mega Man, from the 2D plane to the abilities to the synchronous names of its main hero and heroine. While Capcom fumbles around with the Mega Man franchise, settling for Smash Bros. cameos, Mighty No. 9 is recapturing the joyous energy that many gamers thought was lost forever. But as 2015 begins, should we be seeing more on display?
With development for Mighty No. 9 winding down, we’re likely to see the game’s official release sometime this year. We’re all excited for this, but judging by a recently released video featuring a new stage, it’s difficult to ignore the wrinkles. The game looks sketchy. The newest footage definitely channels the Mega Man spirit, but the aesthetics (at least from a technical standpoint) appear rough. Level designs look flatter and less vibrant than other indie platformers like Freedom Planet or Outland. Even Beck’s walking animation has a sluggishness to it. If anything, Mighty No. 9 looks like an HD update to a classic Mega Man game, but with promise of being the spiritual successor to Mega Man, this doesn’t appear to be the most invigorating endeavor.
This all comes with the knowledge of the game’s finances. Mighty No. 9 has not been without funding. By far, this is one of the most funded gaming Kickstarters seen in a long time. After countless stretch goals, more than four million dollars have been put into Mighty No. 9’s development. The stretch goals for console ports, handheld ports, extra modes, extra characters, new soundtracks, and even a production documentary accumulated over time. There will be a ton of content in Mighty No. 9, no question…but why does the game itself look so…standard? It’s still illogical to produce a game that looks like this with so much money put into development. Some of the stretch goals are auxiliary at best, like an online race mode. This has even led separate crowdfunding campaigns for bonus content, like English voice acting and downloadable stages. Is that really necessary, especially when the game itself looks like untapped potential?
Mighty No. 9’s prime time is quickly approaching, but I can’t in confidence say that this game looks ready for it. With so many variables circulating the final product, the core gameplay appears underutilized. The Mega Man trappings are welcome, but lack any evolution on display. It troubles me to say this, because retro platformers are currently seeing a revitalization, courtesy of downloadable services like Steam. This isn’t a niche genre anymore, so there’s no better figurehead of this renaissance than the creator of Mega Man himself, but Mighty No. 9’s schizophrenic priorities aren’t instilling confidence in fans like myself. Beyond all these extraneous stretch goals lies a game that, while far from terrible, doesn’t appear to live up to its promise. It probably would’ve been best to close out further funding until the core gameplay was honed. It’s still too early to give a clear opinion on Mighty No. 9, but until its inevitable 2015 release, being cautious sounds like the best move.