Mega Man style games have been largely missing from the the last few years of gaming. The fast paced, side-scrolling, action platformers were pushed aside in favor of a surfeit of mertroidvania games. There’s only one man who could make a proper return to the genre, while adequately adapting it for the current generation of consoles — Mega Man creator himself, Keiji Inafune.
I’m not going to go into the Mighty No. 9’s storied development process. The game is coming out in February 2016, so we don’t need to dwell on its history. Right now, I’m here to tell you a little about how it plays, and it plays oh-so-good.
Mighty No. 9 marks a successful reinvention of a classic genre, keeping enough of the old to make it instantly recognizable, but evolving the gameplay to warrant another look at a classic style that’s been absent for far too long. On the surface, it’s very simple. Jump and shoot your way through the enemies and hazards in each level to make it to the end where a tougher boss character waits. One of the core mechanics in Mighty No. 9 lies in main character Beck’s ability to dash, particularly through weakened enemies to collect their essence as boosts and power-ups. It’s a great addition to the standard action platformer gameplay.
Chaining together enemy kills in combos and collecting these various boosts is key to making it through the levels quickly and efficiently. The controls are tight and feel great. There’s a certain flow to the game that urges you to keep moving forward, and enemies exhibit specific patterns that reward repeated play by allowing players to learn what to expect and how to counter and defeat them.
Play Alone, Play With Your Friends
Mighty No. 9’s showing at PlayStation Experience was to highlight the online multiplayer game modes that were recently revealed. There’s the co-op mode that allows players to team up as Beck and Call — each of whom have unique abilities — to take on bosses and challenges. While Call can’t dash into enemies, she has a shield that can defend players from enemy attacks.
The competitive race mode pits players against each other in a race to take down the score enemies throughout the level. If the scores are close enough at the end, they will need to face a boss, which gives points whenever you dash through his stunned state. Of course, there are also leaderboards that will have the most competitive of players vying for that top spot in both score and clear time.
As fun as Mighty No. 9 is to play, I was also content to sit back and watch as better players than myself impressively ran through the levels with near god-like speed and precision, carving precious seconds at various intervals and perfecting their runs to insanely low clear times. This is exactly why Mighty No. 9 will appeal to so many. While it’s easy for casual players looking for a fun experience to pick up the game and jump, shoot, and dash through the levels, only the most hardcore of players will take the time and dedication required to master its small nuances and come out on top of the leaderboards. It’s arcade style gaming at its finest and we can expect a triumphant return of the genre early next year.