E3 2015 – Mighty No. 9: A mega dash of change

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Mighty No. 9 looked like a spiritual successor to Mega Man. Made by the same brain behind Mega Man, it makes sense for them to be similar. But there are some crucial differences and they totally change the game’s experience.

At first, Mighty No. 9 looks a lot like Mega Man. You play as a blue dude named Beck who can jump and shoot in a familiar way for fans of the franchise. However, things change as soon as you encounter an enemy. The shooting works to stun the enemies who then need to be absorbed by Beck’s dash ability. These dash consumptions can be strung together into combos, resulting in bonus abilities including absorbed ammo types. Interestingly, combos aren’t broken by taking damage, only by breaking your 100% absorption. This all leads to an interesting rhythm as you combine platforming, shooting and dashing for success.

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The dash can be used often and it’s advisable to do so. As a result, Mighty No 9 is already a hit among speed runners and looks like a title that will be all about a risk vs reward speed run. That doesn’t mean it’s easy by any stretch. I died multiple times just on the first level as enemies come to gang up on you from every direction and it takes some smooth moves and timing to shoot, dash and traverse the level. Much like Mega Man, it is a difficult game that is incredibly rewarding. This is amplified in later levels; I played in an oil refinery level that had platforms covered in oil. As soon as a fire tossing enemy wasn’t taken out fast enough, he managed to light the entire section on fire, making platforming infinitely more difficult… and rewarding.

Final boss battles are equally challenging, forcing players to use what they’ve learned in the level to beat the big foes. However, there’s a crucial difference between the big bad in Mighty No 9 and those in Mega Man. These aren’t bad characters who you want to destroy. Instead, they are your brothers who are corrupted and need to be rescued. While that doesn’t directly impact gameplay, it does change the feeling you get when fighting the big bosses.

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Much like in Mega Man games, after defeating various enemies, you can take on their skills. These mean new types of ammo and attacks. However, the game doesn’t require it. Sure, having the ability to freeze or burn enemies can be a huge help in certain levels, but the game is designed for you to be able to play through the whole thing without needing to use the unlocked special abilities.

I also got to play a level as Call, the female alternative character. Yes, the names are Beck and Call. She was a lot of fun to play as and had different abilities and characteristics. She can’t absorb enemies, needing to just shoot them to death instead. However, most of the time, I played her in a more evasive way than I did with Beck, having her jump and dart past enemies rather than take them on. Her shield was a big help in this regard and it was just nice to see that the didn’t make a re-skinned version of the same thing, but truly her own unique character and experience.

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With launch only a couple months away, Mighty No 9 is looking incredibly slick and polished. In many ways it looks like a reimagining of Mega Man, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s some kind of remake. That dash ability really does change the entire feel of the game, making it modern and quick while still retro and incredibly difficult. I think it will appeal to fans of the franchise, as well as newcomers who might just see it as a fun new platformer.

Last Updated: June 22, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at www.borngeek.co.za, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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