The development of Mighty No. 9 has certainly been interesting to follow, but come this September, it’ll finally be done and released to the world. Given Keiji Inafune and Inti Create’s involvement, it’s impossible to talk about the project without mentioning Mega Man and the influence of the series on the game.
The first thing that I noticed during my recent demo hands-on was that it’s not as tough as the NES Mega Man games, but you can’t breeze your way through it either. Enemies require time and focus to take them out. You’ll be dodging attacks, learning patterns and getting your timings right to in order to succeed. The biggest surprise for me was the quick pace of the game. Traditionally, platformers like this want you to play it safe, to take your time and work out the best way to succeed—not the case here.
One of Beck’s important moves is a dash ability. This is not only used to dodge and pass through small gaps, but also to absorb enemy abilities. While these abilities are not as grand as the moves Beck absorbs from bosses, they still provide small upgrades until they’re used up. You’ll be a little bit faster, a little bit stronger, depending on what you’ve absorbed. Some enemies can only be taken out by absorbing them and certain enemies seem to have weaknesses to specific upgrades as well.
Visually, the game has a simple but pleasant presentation. I saw a decent variety of enemies within the level, each their own moves and patterns. Despite the speedier pace, once you’re playing, it does feel like an NES platformer but with some modern paint and polish. I liked the attention to detail—like how when Beck is low on health, he’ll appear visibly tired.
Coming away from the game, I felt like it was pretty much what was I expecting: a spiritual sequel to Mega Man. Everything feels similar, the look and designs, level layouts, that corridor before the boss. While I’ve only had a very small taste of the game, I am left wondering if maybe an opportunity to be something more has been missed.