Hands-On Preview: Mighty No. 9

While Mega Man has always remained in the hearts and minds of classically-minded gamers for decades, little has come from the Blue Bomber over the past few years in the traditional sense, but for those looking to play a classic 2D platforming experience, you don’t have to look any futher than the long-awaited (heavily inspired) title from producer Keiji Inafune in Mighty No. 9.

During our time at this week’s E3 2015, DualShockers had the opportunity to sit down for some hands-on time with the upcoming Mighty No. 9, the recording-breaking Kickstarter sensation that’s bringing a taste of old-school classic platforming for a new generation. While much of the anticipation around Mighty No. 9 is centered around the return of creator Keiji Inafune to the genre he knows best, the upcoming title from Comcept already shows a willingness to provide new twists on the formula as much as it does honoring the gameplay mechanics and difficulty of the classic eras of gaming.

Following a hugely successful and record-breaking Kickstarter campaign back in 2013 that ended with over $4 million in funding, Mighty No. 9 is the result of Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune’s desire to return to the roots of classic 2D platforming, and as a result from our time with the title, it already shows a keen appreciation for challenging gameplay that will reward perseverance and quick-thinking, with visual flair to create a style all its own.

During our hands-on time with the title, players are put into the role of Beck, an android that’s part of the Mighty Numbers defense force: however, unlike the rest of his robot companions, Beck features more noticeably human qualities despite his android powers. As a result, it becomes Beck’s mission to uncover the truth behind a devastating computer virus that not only affects the rest of the Mighty Numbers and turns them toward evil, but also to prevent its spread from affecting the rest of the world at large.

Though the plot of Mighty No. 9 is very much rooted in an earlier era of gaming, its gameplay shines in providing an experience that will test of minds (and thumbs) of classically-trained gamers thanks to a gameplay blend that’s fast and fun. As a 2D platformer with pseudo-3D visuals and detailed backgrounds, players will run, jump, and shoot their way through various stages: anyone that’s played a Mario or Mega Man in the past decade or two will definitely know what to expect, but Mighty No. 9 has far more tricks up its robotic sleeves.

Aside from the typical platforming and combat gamers can expect from classic 8-bit/16-bit era platformers, Mighty No. 9 places heavy emphasis on speed and momentum, with a core part of the player’s success in a level tied to quickly and efficiently taking out enemies and stringing together combos.

Armed with a blaster and a quick dash move, Beck must shoot enemies to “de-stabilize” them (a stun, essentially), and then use his dash attack to take them out while they’re vulnerable. Aside from just being used to take out enemies, the core gameplay of Mighty No, 9 involves figuring out how to chain enemy takedowns together for not only a better score, but to improve Beck’s stats with temporary boosts and abilities.

After successfully chaining together takedowns of enemies through Beck’s blaster and dash for combos, players can obtain temporary boosts that will alter Beck’s abilities and equipment to further their combo abilities: in the case of my demo, I received boosts to Beck’s speed and jump abilities, while also gathering a power-up that allowed me to shoot through multiple enemies at once for longer combo chains.

It’s clear through the demo that momentum and speed will play a role in successfully taking out enemies and getting through its more challenging platforming stages, with particular attention being paid to its time trial level completion and scoring system. Players looking for a challenge will be able to run through levels again on higher difficulties for greater rewards and scores, with attributes such as completion time, damage taken, enemies defeated, items obtained, and more playing heavily into the player’s overall score for that level.

Through our time with the game’s opening tutorial level and one of its early stages, Mighty No. 9 surely has a lot to live up to on multiple fronts, from Keiji Inafune’s involvement with the game down to its groundbreaking Kickstarter campaign. While it has much to live up to compared to the classics of the era it pays homage to so dearly, Mighty No. 9 is already shaping up to be an experience that old-school gamers will look upon fondly, while those curious to jump into it fresh won’t be missing a beat.

Mighty No. 9 will release for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, PS Vita, PC, Mac, and Linux on September 15th, 2015 in the US, followed by its worldwide release on September 18th, 2015.

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Ryan Meitzler

Ryan is the Editor-in-Chief at DualShockers and has been a lover of games as long as he can remember. He holds a BA in English and Cinema and lives in New York City.

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