A couple of years back I had the opportunity to attend GDC (Game Developers Conference) thanks to my time here at Shogun. To this day I hold it to be the epitome of gaming conventions. If you have the opportunity to attend, you simply must.
The reason I say that is because of the lectures that are offered by our colleagues in the gaming industry. Legends of the craft standing up on stage and talking at great lengths about their successes, failures, work-flow, and pretty much anything and everything your heart can imagine about the ins-and-outs of working in this industry from every single angle.
It was during that trip that I got to hear Keiji Inafune speak for the first time live. During that conversation he made a promise to his fans: That he would reveal a new hero for us before the end of the year.
That was the year that Comcept was founded, and a Kickstarter for “The Mighty No. 9” began.
True to his word, Keiji had unveiled a new hero: Beck. There was a new game coming from the man who had created Mega Man, and it looked to have all the heart of the original series that had been gradually sucked dry by the marketing machine at his former employers.
Everyone was excited, and the Kickstarter was funded in record time.
Fast forward to late last week, and we finally have our first hands-on of the project. A demo was released to those that had pledged to the Kickstarter, and since then I’ve been killing most of my down-time with running the single-level demo over and over again.
I’m sure there are plenty of impression posts out there, and reviews, and discussions about why this game is great or why some don’t like it. More than all that I think there are a lot of people who are going to be talking, at least amongst their friends, about how Mighty No. 9 is exactly like Mega Man, or isn’t at all like Mega Man.
So, knowing that I absolutely love this game, and am a fan of the original Mega Man series (having even done a yearly marathon of the franchise for Child’s Play charity)… here’s my personal thoughts on why it is and isn’t exactly like the Mega Man we’ve all grown to worship over the years:
Why Mighty No. 9 is EXACTLY like Mega Man:
You run to the right. You jump, you shoot… OH! and there’s a dash.
Not to mention the main character, well, all the characters really do share similar design. Plus, Beck is blue.
There’s also a female side-kick character (who wears predominantly red), and the goal of the levels is to make your way through some labyrinth of evil robots before taking down one big bad-ass boss (let’s call him a master?) who you will then consume for his power.
Why Mighty No. 9 is NOTHING like Mega Man:
Well… it is. I’m sorry. There’s no way I can say it’s nothing at all like Mega Man, but here’s some reasons why it feels new and fresh:
Beck navigates a little differently than Mega Man, primarily via his dash. Beck had dash as many times as you mash the button that correlates to the action. This means boosting like a mad-man through levels (for which there is actually a little ‘achievement’).
Beyond just being a faster way to get around, it also gives you the ability to navigate in the air a little more interestingly than you did in Mega Man. Because of the infinite dashes, and more-so the ability to cancel one dash into another, you can not only span great distances in-air with multiple dashes but change your direction on the fly as well!
The biggest change to the core gameplay though is how Beck dispatches his enemies. You can, if you like, just shoot them a bunch and watch them explode classic Mega Man-style, but there’s a new mechanic that has them stunned upon the first couple of hits (changing colors to indicate the stun, as well as shutting down for a brief moment of time).
During the stun duration of the enemy, you can dash through them (the sooner the better) to collect a boost that is associated with their stun color (red, blue, green, and purple). This will give you a temporary boost (provided as a percentage based on how quickly you dash through the enemy after stunning them with your buster).
So without even getting to the end boss and stealing a power, Beck is constantly on the upgrade thanks to a series of buffs he receives from even the most minor of minions through the levels, increasing his move speed, damage, and survivability.
You could say it’s a very small change… but it echoes throughout the whole of the demo and will expand further in the game itself.
Boss battles are changed forever as well as you can’t actually knock life off of their meter until utilize that mechanic, so you need to be on your toes avoiding, shooting, and then getting close enough to dash through them to steal a chunk of their life-force.
All in all, Mighty No. 9 feels like a great next chapter for Keiji Inafune. He’s taken the core of the franchise he created, and breathed new life into it by creating new mechanics to evolve the gameplay in a way that both makes sense, and feels great.
I absolutely cannot wait for the full release.