E3 2015: Mighty No 9 is a Mighty Good Time
Mighty No. 9 is a game that fans have been wanting for years, though admittedly they asked for it in a different way. This action-packed robot platformer is being developed with mega expectations thanks to the head of the project's pedigree in the gaming industry, but I don't think those expectations are any worry to the team behind the game. They have more pressing issues in mind.
There's a lot of pressure surrounding Mighty No. 9's development, and like many I thought it was coming from the inevitable comparison to that other robot platformer from another publisher and trying to live up to it. When I asked game producer Nick Yu about those comparisons and the possible pressure it could cause, he gave me a surprising answer.
"Pressure-wise, we feel different pressure than living up to the past," Yu remarked. "This game started off as a Kickstarter project where we earned 70,000 backers and $4 million in funding. We have to live up to the expectations of the backers, people who gave us their money before we had anything to show."
Those who donated to the cause will probably feel incredibly good hearing that from the mouth of a member of the development team, but those who were foolish enough not to support the game in its infancy may still have reservations. Yu was quick to dismiss those as well.
"Game development-wise we're very comfortable," Yu said. "As we're a team made up of veterans with 15-20 years in the industry each. The team is led by Keiji Inafune of course, but we also have [composer Manami] Matsumae-san and TOM-PON [designer Naoya Tomita] from the original Mega Man team from Mega Man 1. We're in good hands."
Playing through the demo at E3 2015 is a perfect window into that confidence, as the game plays like a high-powered version of the classic format. Sure I'm still jumping around a stage shooting enemies to defeat them, but a brand new attack dash feature allows me to absorb those enemies and power myself up on the fly depending on what color aura I'm absorbing. Red increases my attack power, blue acts as supplemental healing, green boosts my speed, and yellow increases my defenses. I'm also traversing through stages faster and more efficient than ever. Gone are the days of waiting for an enemy to attack then cautiously approaching the danger; I'm blazing a trail through these unlucky droids and loving every bit of it.
While the approach may be different, Mighty No. 9 does take some cues from the Mega Man series. There's still eight bosses, and each one bestows a new weapon upon Beck when they're defeated. The good guys are still led by a good doctor, though this one is named Dr. White instead of Dr. Light, and the bad guys are still ordered around by a dictator-like figure, this time a CEO instead of a mad doctor. I didn't get a major glimpse into the story, but I suspect that the tale surrounding Mighty No. 9 will be very similar to Mega Man, though I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or not.
I didn't get to play much of Mighty No. 9, but what I did experience has me excited for the game's progress. The comparisons to olden times are inevitable, but I prefer to look at the game as a homage to those classic action games, emulating the best of what those games offered while adding a new spin on it at the same time. Don't expect a return to pure classic Mega Man here, because the game is much more than that, but I will say that there's a lot of fun to be had with Mighty No. 9, and it might be enough to help the game emerge from that lofty shadow.
Mighty No. 9 launches Sept. 15 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, 3DS, and PC.