Mega Man was one of the first great platforming titles on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Since that time, the Blue Bomber has been featured in games on a wide variety of platforms, including his own fighting game in arcades. Most recently, he will grace the Super Smash Bros. universe as one of the guest characters in the upcoming brawler. However, there hasn’t been a proper Mega Man game in quite some time. Luckily, the creator of Mega Man, Keiji Inafune, took it upon himself to correct that issue.
While Mighty No. 9 is not a Mega Man game, Inafune created what most would call the spiritual successor to Mega Man. It’s what we’d probably get if Capcom gave Inafune the green light on a new side-scrolling platformer in the Mega Man franchise. The main character in the new game is Beck, and at first glance he’s easily mistaken for Mega Man. This probably wasn’t by accident.
The new game feels more like a Mega Man X title than a traditional Mega Man. For most fans of the series, that’s good news. The base gameplay of Mighty No. 9 was essentially based on the dash from Mega Man X. The entire game feels much faster than other Mega Man adventures, and Beck’s dash allows him to absorb enemies, which adds to the speed of the gameplay.
At the start of a level, it’s going to feel a lot like Mega Man. You still traverse a maze-like set of platforms, shooting enemies as you progress. However, once you’ve weakened an enemy enough, it emits an aura of varying color. When you see the aura, that’s when you can use Beck’s dash to absorb the enemy. Once an enemy has been absorbed, Beck gains new abilities. Think of it like a toned down version of what happened when Mega Man would defeat one of the bosses. The difference here is that the new abilities aren’t always weapon upgrades. You may get a speed boost or gain a new item instead.
In past Mega Man games, you would need to acquire a new weapon in order to reach hidden areas within a level. This caused you to sometimes replay a previous level in order to find all of the hidden items. In Mighty No. 9, you can use Beck’s dash to reach new areas if you can chain them together properly. When Beck’s dash is used in the air, you can perform consecutive dashes to reach platforms and areas that would otherwise be difficult to access.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the original Mega Man series was the challenge. That translates perfectly in Mighty No. 9. You won’t find the artificial difficulty of Dark Souls here. Enemies won’t kill you in two hits no matter how skilled you are at the game. Instead, each level and boss encounter forces you to master Beck’s various techniques. The better you are at controlling Beck, the easier it will be to make it through each level. However, if you falter, it’s likely you’ll die in an instant.
Mighty No. 9 is currently scheduled for a Spring 2015 release date. If you were lucky enough to get into the beta, you got a taste of one level. The beta showed a lot of promise, but it’s clear this was just a beta. The graphical polish wasn’t quite there, but expect that to be corrected by the time the game is set to release next year.