Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mighty No. 9 (Everything, 2016)

Well, it's better than nothing.

Today I'm looking at the second coming of Mega Man: Mighty No. 9. The spiritual successor to both the original and X series, this game had a tidal wave of hype and financial backing from the fans. Unfortunately it's a colossal disappointment.

However, we start with something positive: I really like that you can change the BGM to Retro, which means NES-style chiptune tracks. I left it on the default modern-BGM setting because I found the soundtrack of the game to be quite good. Especially the final stage theme, but I'll get to that.

The game stars noted loser Beck as he goes on a journey to become where it's at by finding two turntables and a microphone. He's joined by, uh, Dr. White, who is totally not Dr. Light.

There's also this CEO of a machine company who is clearly evil and blames every bad thing that happens on some terrorist who is already in prison. Well, this game is oddly subversive for a Mega Man.

The gameplay mainly revolves around dashing. These bursts of speed can be executed any time, anywhere. I liked how Mega Man X3 let me dash twice in midair, but this takes it further by letting you dash as many times as you can hammer the button. Dashing is the primary way to defeat enemies (after softening them up with blasts) which is...a little odd in practice and not my favorite element of the game.

While there's lots of dashing here, you can't climb walls. That threw me off a few times during the game. You can grip corners of walls and pull yourself up onto them, but actually hopping up a wall? Nope. This gives you a lot less maneuverability in boss rooms.

The first boss is a giant mech. Every 20% damage that you do, the boss turns purple for a few seconds. You need to dash into your foe to "bank" the damage; fail to do this quickly and their health actually regenerates back up to the nearest 20%. At first I hated this but it's kinda intense and fun to know that you need to score that dash before it's too late.

Here's Dr. Sanda, who swallowed a beachball. I don't know if he's the Dr. Light of this game or if Dr. White is. ...probably Dr. White.

I wonder if Dr. Sanda would deflate and fly around the air wildly if he were poked by a sharp object. His voice actor should have talked in entirely helium-voice.

The stage select is an odd assortment of file folders. I'd have preferred an old-school stage select with boss portraits lined up.

The fire level is the first one I take on. It isn't as fiery as expected, but it does sport some Mario-esque fire chains.

Much like the original Mega Man series, most of the machines you fight in this game were originally designed by the good professor...until they were turned to EVIL.

Instant-death obstacles abound in this game; some of the most prevalent are these electrical surfaces. It almost reminds me of an indy game. AVGN Adventures comes to mind as a game with tons of instant-death traps.

The boss here is Pyro, who rivals Flame Hyenard for campy dialogue.

He yells "BURRRRN" a lot and then dishes out some very nasty attacks. It took me many many tries to beat this guy because I couldn't figure out a way to avoid his exploding wave attacks. Turns out you just need to lure him into attacking the middle of the room, giving you space to dodge away from him.

After absorbing Pyro's weapon, as is tradition, our hero progresses to the Cryo level. Some of this area is underwater, and they missed an opportunity to give us some pretty scenery. The art direction is super-bland in this game and the visuals, despite being high-res, almost look PS2-level.

The minibosses leave a LOT to be desired, like these Pong refugees that bat a ball back and forth. Gone are the giant mechs of yester-games, replaced by lame things like this and horde-mode waves of enemies.

The stage gets a bit more interesting once it freezes over, and we catch a glimpse of one of the more fun aspects of this game: When you do the stages in proper order, the previous boss you defeated will appear to help you through a particular area in a stage.

Okay, this is definitely the prettiest the game has been so far. It's still a bland metallic environment at the end of the day though.

Cryo flies around going "Pew Pew! PEW PEW!" in a baby voice. At first I was annoyed, but after I won the fight and got Cryo on my side I started being weirdly entertained by this character. Winning the fight was another mega-PITA, as Cryo emits these melee-range freeze-balls that you need to anticipate when dishing out melee-range fire attacks..

Onward to stage 3. Batallion Man talks in a stereotypical Army Sergeant voice and yells at you throughout the stage. It's zany!

During the fight, our hero does his best Mega Man impression. Easy fight with the ice weapon, and the stage was alright too. Nothing worth going into.

Fourth stage! I take on the Guts Man of this game next, the Earth-themed boss. For boss themes we've got a full elemental repertoire of fire, ice, earth, and lightning. The rest are more standard Mega Man archetypes: A sword boss, a military boss, a flying boss, and a sniper boss. ...hey, the sniper boss is a new idea.

The Earth-themed stage takes place in some mines, and contains the largest known subterranean drill outside of Val Venis' estate.

This dude is a pain because of his forward-facing shield, but the good news is that you can spring off of the walls. Basically, the game gives you wall-grips for this fight so that you can climb the walls like an X series game. Beware though, because midway through the fight NEW walls slam down without warning and kill you if you're on the walls. Yep. A lot of bosses in this game have instant-death attacks for some reason; Battallion launches a OHKO missile halfway through his fight too.

Next I take on Brandish, the sword boss. His stage consists of a bunch of cars that one must leap between. The background screens have various Kickstarter backers / Youtubers on them, from what I can tell.

Brandish himself is a bit of a grump, and launches sword strikes from the background.

This background reminds me of Tomahawk Man's stage in Mega Man 6, and makes me feel warm and fuzzy. The fight is one of the easier boss fights, despite his speedy dash moves. The ground weapon pretty much sucks, unfortunately, and I found it easier to beat this guy with the regular arm cannon.

Meanwhile, back at the corporation! The CEO guy wants to torture the imprisoned terrorist who he blames for the robot uprising. Subversive!

The electric stage is next, and this one is actually interesting looks-wise. (The previous stage was too, but it was very short and very frustrating)

The Tron aesthetic is rad, but there's a problem midway through the stage: You have to crouch-dash, a move that you don't need to use anywhere else in the game. Well, that's technically wrong... you DO use the move elsewhere, but it's always an automatic move (like when you dash through a tight hallway). This is the one spot in the game where you have to do it manually. Having never had to do it manually before, the player is likely to be bewildered at this point and lose a few lives trying to normal-dash under the giant pink death-trap. After you die enough, you get a hint telling you what to do, and then it's a simple matter to get through.


This is all found in the "what not to do" portion of the Game Design 101 class.

Dyna is the electric boss. No relation to Dynamo Man from Mega Man and Bass. She talks with a lot of z's. Weird.

Next up is one of my least-favorite stages, but the only one that seemed to be well-received online: The sniper level. In this one you duck and dodge your way through a town hall type building while lasers whiz by.

Eventually you clear out the building, but if the sniper gets start at the beginning and have to clear it all over again. And the sniper WILL get you, as he sets some dastardly traps later in the stage. Catch him a few times, and...

...our hero arrives in a place that looks like it's from a different game entirely. What's this? Shadows? Glow effects?

The actual fight with the sniper is a good chance to talk about Battalion's weapon. While the electric weapon is the weakness here, it's hard to hit him with it from around the barriers in the room. Batallion's weapon circumvents that; it's similar to the Clash Bomb in that it has a mild delay before the blowup (unless you press fire again to set it off). It does a ton of damage to most enemies/bosses, and is this game's Metal Blade. Launch it above the sniper's head and detonate it to hit him around the barriers. Good stuff.

Next up is the aerial boss, who is...some kind of news reporter. He lurks at the top of a very lengthy and very annoying vertical stage.

This one has a lot of Boomer Kuwanger flashbacks. Cool, if low-res and effort-deficient, background.

Finally we get a miniboss that is actually worthy. This giant mech is similar to the giant mechs of olde. It's a disappointing fight overall though, with a bizarre and glaring weak point that pops out randomly while it just hovers there.

The fight with the boss, on the other hand, is SO BAD. He has a bunch of instant-death attacks, and the room has invisible "wind currents" that mess up your jumping and dashing. The key is to stay on the middle platform and not move much, but guess what? You HAVE to move because of the dash-to-bank-damage mechanic, and every time I had to bank damage against this guy I dreaded it because my air dashes would often result in me flying in some random direction to my death. I finished him on my last life, if I remember correctly, just BARELY avoiding having to repeat the whole stage. This boss is a cool idea with an interesting look/moveset and an unusual room, but they totally messed it up.

The sniper weapon is by far the best here, since...for some reason...he helpfully supplies you with these reflective panels that bounce shots at him.

Beating stages results in getting a new "ReXelection" ability, which is the usual Mega Man weapon absorption. Not sure why it has the name "ReXelection". Maybe the game is being subversive again.

Our heroes mull over whether or not the terrorist is the real culprit while the CEO yells at them. Meanwhile, Sanda gives birth to a beautiful new planet.

Something else that I haven't touched on: When choosing stages, "Advice" appears if it's the correct next one in order. Once you realize this, it completely drains any mystery out of finding the proper order or having to figure things out for yourself. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because I ended up wanting to spend as little time with the game as I could.

In any case, now that The Eight are defeated, you get another stage select, this one with two new stages. When I was a kid, I used to wish that Mega Man games would do stuff like this: Have multiple "elite stages" to choose from and whatnot. Mega Man 3 does it but that's about it; the rest generally follow the fortress model. Unfortunately, this is Mighty No. 9, so getting an extra selection didn't have the impact that it could have. I was about ready for the game to be over at this point. It in't terrible per se, but it's just so...mediocre.

One of the two stages in question is the Prison, where our heroes have to break in to question the vile terrorist guy. Why couldn't they just politely ask the government to meet with him? They just saved the city, that's gotta be worth some cache right?

A recurring miniboss in the prison stage is this giant blade-throwing robot that seems impossible until you realize that Roll can duck, completely avoiding all of his attacks. Oh yeah, you play as Roll in this stage. Well, "Roll", this game's equivalent of Roll.

She can glide, and is actually fun to play as aside from the panty shots you occasionally get (because Japan and because she's like 12). I liked this one section where you feel like a badass for gliding over a bunch of death-floors...

...only to have a really poorly-placed and cheap death-ceiling in one spot a second later that catches you off guard. They get you used to hugging the ceilings and then pull this. The design flaws are so evident in these levels.

The next boss is the giant Panzerhunden from Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Since Roll can't dash to bank damage, this is more normal Mega Man fight where you just damage the boss until it keels over. Winning is a matter of pushing bombs back towards it to do significant damage, a mechanic that doesn't appear anywhere else and took me some time to figure out.

Next up is the Robot Factory stage. This one is waaaaay harder than the Prison stage, be warned. I got stuck for a while in the first room as I couldn't figure out how to climb the wall on the right. It looks like you can grab onto it, but you can't, and if you try you insta-die on the electricity at the bottom. Yeah.

Well, turns out that you can use Aviator's power to enhance jumping. The normal weapon mode fires propeller blades, but if you hold it down, Beck spins them above his head. While this is going on he can both leap higher AND descend slower / glide. Pretty cool. The higher leap was needed here, and...

...the slow descent is needed in the next area. Yes, these walls are ALL electrified. Yiiiiikes.

After barely getting through that, I bust out Brandish's sword to take out a miniboss. It's the return of the first stage boss, so I guess they didn't have time to make a new boss for this part. Brandish's sword is no Z-Saber, but it's cool regardless. It swings super-fast and it doesn't use weapon energy unless you charge it up (for a spin attack). The spin attack isn't good, so if you don't use that at's basically an infinite-use weapon.

At the end of this level is an inventive boss fight. The CPU core over there produces giant mechs, which you have to defeat to get access to said CPU. Then you blast the CPU while it rebuilds another giant mech.

During the rebuilding phase, it's a total rush to try and get as much damage in on the core as you can.

Oh, and every new rebuilt mech has a new life meter to go through. Defeating one of these was bad enough, so when I realized I'd have to go through two or three of them over the course of the fight... yeah, this is a tough one.


In any case, here's the Wily of the game, the imprisoned terrorist. In a shocking tweest, it turns out that he ISN'T behind the robot uprising! Well, this would be shocking in the Mega Man series. Here it's obvious because we all know that corporate guy is behind it.

...but wait! It turns out that HE isn't behind it either! Well, he sorta is, but it's actually this Skynet-like machine he created called Trinity that went into business for itself. Okay, THAT twist is indeed surprising.

We get the shocking reveal that Dr. White is the son of Dr. Blackwell (the terrorist), something he hasn't acknowledged for a long time. When he says this, he does a Dramatic Chipmunk turn.

Dr. Sanda, Dr. White, and Beck have a lengthy discussion about whether or not to attack Trinity's core while Roll sits there. Roll has some useful info from time to time but she never seems to take part in the actual discussions of what to do next. It's like she can't do anything while the men are speaking, or something. These little things the game does with her are off-putting. Mainly the panty shots. That's what made me throw Final Fantasy Type-0 through a window.

The good news is that now we get the best thing to come out of this entire game: The final stage theme. This music is waaaay better than the game is. At the very least, the proud tradition of Mega Man games having great fortress themes continues.

The final stage looks good and has you battling lots of flying eyeball machines.

However, the game design problems rear their ugly head again before long. The stage is full of these round things. Shoot them, and they turn into blocks:

Shoot them again, and they turn back into round things. They damage you as round things, they don't damage you as blocks. Sometimes you can make them temporarily disappear. The problem here is that I can't continue until I get them out of the way, and they REALLY don't want to disappear. I tried all kinds of things to get them to disappear and nothing worked. When I finally got the bottom two to stay gone after like 15 minutes or so of firing away, it seemed to happen at a completely random time.

When you have to replay this stage (because the final boss is haaaaard), this part is incredibly obnoxious. Feeling like I was wasting my time getting through this section set me off more than anything I've done in a game in a long time.

This next part is interesting because you have to air-dash to stay airborne over these air currents. The single block by itself on the right actually stays gone when you blast it, so it took a lot less time to get past this wall.

And here we are. The final boss. Trinity. It looks like a Kirby final boss. We meet again, Dark Matter.

I mentioned that this fight was hard. Well, that's an understatement. It combines the fast-and-furious attack pattern of the Mega Man 1 Rock Monster with the screen-engulfing assaults of some of the X series bosses. There are a few tricks to winning this fight, which you can see in the third video I made on the game (links below). This is just the first form, too.

The second and final form is even worse, with some VERY hard to dodge attacks. Luckily, the exploding drill missiles are highly-effective long as you don't run out. It also helps if your restore (E-Tank) gets filled before the fight (happens randomly) but it's very possible to win the fight inside of one life meter. It's all about learning the fight and what not to do. Once it comes together, it really comes together.

The big attack that ended most of my runs at the fight. The boss starts doing this around the 50% mark on the second form. It's a huge beam attack that you can only avoid by exploiting the breaks in the beam, as seen here.

Win, and Trinity turns back into...itself? I guess. Looks like Lumine from Mega Man X8. So, is this what we could have expected from Mega Man X9? Ehhh.

The problems with this game have been well-documented. It's a crowdfunding disaster, a colossal disappointment for Mega Man fans, and mediocre as all hell.

If you want more on this game, here are my initial impressions. I went into it with a positive attitude, but that started to wear off by the third or so stage.

The rest of the eight stages, including my struggles with the sniper level.

The last few stages, especially the sheer infuriating tedium of the final level's block "puzzles".

Don't really have anything else to say about this one. Next thing I'm going to play is Mega Man X4, so I can remember what good Mega Man games felt like again.

Other Mega Man Posts

1 comment:

  1. Huh, I had no idea this game took place in America.

    I've seen grumps and I've seen rain...

    Hey, it's like the war council when Jon didn't ask Sansa what she thought.

    Well, you made it through the game at least.