Mighty no 9


I’m finding it hard not to compare Mighty no 9 to DOOM since I just finished playing both – but in a way it feels like it’s not entirely useful. Or, for lack of a better word, fair. Both are flirting with a kind of game that was starting to disappear some 20 years ago, but while DOOM tries to capture the essence of the original using new techniques Mighty no 9 seems to want to recreate the original as-is and pile new ideas on top of it.

A comparison between a kickstarter project – even though it’s backed by famous names – and a AAA project backed by one of the world’s largest publishers is not really fair though. Mostly because experimentation might – ironically – still be safer to do with publishers who understand that budgets are flexible, failures are a part of the process and have the resources to take care of practical matters for you. But I am honestly not sure I was the right audience for this game to begin with.

I wrote a few years back about Megaman 8, how it had a high level of frustration and seemed much more concerned about its level of spectacle than it being fair to the player and how criticizing it for doing what it set out to do said more about me than about the game. There are innovations in Mighty no 9 that I do like – the dash/combo system is fluid when it works, the recharging special weapons discourage the stockpiling that took so much joy out of the early Megamans and some of the later levels have really nice ideas, if not well-realized ones. Other times, it feels like the game is trying to shoot itself in the foot – certain sections are so hard to get through mechanically that the game flat-out tells you what you need to do since it might be hard to guess after failing at it. Instead of letting you experiment with strategies, the game tells you what weapon a boss is weak to before you enter the level. There is an abundance of instant-kill traps with poorly defined hitboxes and the archaic lives system will force you to replay areas that do not offer nearly enough challenge to warrant optimization. Bosses occasionally have interesting patterns, but are usually bullet-sponges with easily dodgable attacks. In short, playing Mighty no 9 is a game of attrition.

But I am not so sure that would have irritated me when I was younger. And there is some room for detailed optimization in playstyles – the upcoming SGDQ should give us some hint that there is a lot of desire for games that encourage mastery. I don’t know if Mighty no 9 manages to do that as the market for punishing platform games is rather crowded already, but it’s really not for me to judge.

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Posted on Jun 29/16 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »