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Mighty No. 9

A Punishing Treat For Old-School Mega Man Fans
by Tim Turi on Jun 17, 2015 at 02:49 PM
Platform PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, 3DS, PC
Publisher Deep Silver
Developer Comcept
Rating Everyone 10+

The collaborative efforts of Mega Man series co-creator and former Capcom head of global production, Keiji Inafune, and developer Inti Creates (Mega Man Zero, Azure Striker Gunvolt) is not for the faint of heart. This side-scrolling action-platformer packs a hefty challenge, even for those who come at the game with decades of experience in their thumbs. I got to play Mighty No. 9 here at E3 2015, and it kicked my ass harder than any previous hands-on time I've had so far.

I returned to the game as Beck, Mighty No. 9 himself. For the unaware, the game plays similarly to old-school Mega Man titles, but players finish off stunned enemies by dashing into them. This unique twist creates a faster, more aggressive rhythm to the gameplay. I played a stage set on a rainy highway at night, complete with futuristic semis and hover cars speeding along. Beck's dash is helpful for zipping between cars that act as sanctuary above the insta-kill road below. Thankfully, Beck's horizontal dash is unlimited, but requires deliberate use if you don't want to become robotic roadkill – dashing around willy nilly is a recipe of disaster. Stage boss Mighty No. 7, who looks suspiciously like Zero from the Mega Man X universe (also an Inafune original), occasionally hops in to slice apart a car your standing on, making things even harder.

When you're not platforming above the frantic streets, you'll be blasting enemies with your trusty arm cannon. Beck's dash comes in handy here for dodging enemy attacks and ultimately zipping into them in order to take them out. Certain enemies drop defense-boosting shields and power-ups that increase attack power. These temporary upgrades are crucial for surviving tough gauntlets, and pulling off skillful takedown combos will extend their use even further. Mighty No. 9 is a skill-based game, and the combo system is an enticing way to keep players invested in getting better. Mighty No. 9 will dominate you if you approach it like a traditional Mega Man title. No longer can you pick away at enemies from a safe distance – keeping close for a fast takedown is crucial and getting better at it feels great.

The highway section concludes with a face-off against Mighty No. 7, named Brandish. Thankfully, I have a much easier time with this showdown compared to my time on the level. I face off against Brandish with one life to go and less than full health. The blade-wielding robot predictably spins across the floor, performs leap attacks with reasonable dodge windows, and frequently opens himself up to attack. Doing enough damage to Brandish causes him to glow pink, prompting players to dash into him to deal a huge amount of damage. The battle almost falls apart when Brandish begins slashing across the screen in broad strokes, telegraphing his attacks with brief pink lines. I avoid taking enough damage to deliver the final blow and win the match. Conquering a stage in Mighty No. 9 is intensely satisfying, conjuring up memories of struggling through old Mega Man titles.

The other stage I played features Beck's partner, Call (Beck and Call, get it? Like Rock and Roll from Rockman in Japan). She controls similarly to Beck, though her prison level requires her to be a bit stealthier. She can stun enemies with a weak, slow blaster and use a shield to deflect incoming enemy attacks. Adjusting to her less-lethal approach takes some getting used to, but I was surprised how well the Mega Man-esque sneaking works. Enemy robots project yellow vision cones that blink red if Call is discovered, so knowing how to avoid detection is mostly obviously. Huge sentry robots guard more open areas, firing out a big bladed boomerang at Call when they spot her. I won't reveal the trick to taking them out, but watching these giants topple feels good.

Mega Man fans eager for something new from Inafune and Inti Creates don't have to wait long. Mighty No. 9 arrives on practically everything September 15. If you want to get your butt kicked and have fun while it happens, look for it on 3DS, PS3, PS 4, Vita, Wii U, 360, and Xbox One. And don't say I didn't warn you.

With the announcement of Inafune and Armature's Recore at E3 2015, learn about Inafune's thoughts on juggling multiple projects at once.

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Mighty No. 9cover

Mighty No. 9

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, 3DS, PC
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