Well, Mighty No. 9 is finally here. It’s a real thing, and I’ve finished it. The question most people are asking is, “is it worth it?” The thing is, I’m pretty sure you already know the answer to that question.

I’m not trying to say that Mighty No. 9 is objectively good or objectively bad, I’m just trying to say it probably won’t do much to make up your mind. If you’re sold on the idea of a new-age answer to Mega Man, then you’ll probably love it. If you’re skeptical, you’ll probably stay that way. Without further ado, let’s talk about what it does well and what it’s not so great at.

Old-School Action

Mighty No. 9 seems to be the closest Mega Man fans will get to a reunion with The Blue Bomber, and that soul really shines through. There are some elements cribbed from both classic NES Mega Man titles and later SNES titles like Mega Man X.

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The game opens on an introductory stage that helps you get used to the basic mechanics of the game. You take control of Beck, a bot created by Dr. White (sound familiar?) with the ability to absorb the abilities of his enemies (sound familiar).

In the game this takes the form of a move called the absorption dash. If you’re familiar with the Mega Man X games, the absorption dash is done the same way as a regular dash in those. It’s the core mechanic that makes Mighty No. 9 stand out from the games it aims to emulate. Instead of killing enemies, they will begin to glow red, green or blue. Once they’re glowing, dashing through them will cause Beck to absorb them, giving him a buff to his speed, shooting power or energy usage.

Level designs are also extremely reminiscent of old Mega Man games. There are traps that are directly lifted from those games. There are spikes you have to descend between, tricky jumps and traps of all kinds. If you’ve played a Mega Man game, you’re going to have deja-vu.

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Music

For the Mighty No. 9 soundtrack Comcept wisely called upon Manami Matsumae, the composer of the original Mega Man soundtrack. The tracks she put together for Mighty No. 9 are stellar. They evoke the familiarity of Keiji Inafune’s lost franchise while still sounding like something completely new.

Challenge Mode

One original addition to Mighty No. 9 is the game’s challenge mode. In it you (you guessed it) have to overcome set challenges. They take place in their own VR stages and require you to complete an obstacle course in a set time limit, or defeat a specific enemy without certain transformations.

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The challenges range from ridiculously easy to throw-a-controller-thorugh-your-screen hard. Despite how hard they are, they don’t feel unfair. Every loss feels like a matter of lacking the appropriate time or reflexes, which, by the way, is the boat I’m in. I finished several of these and found them to be enjoyable, but not enough to keep replaying the ones I was having difficulty with.

Graphics

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Sorry guys, but Mighty No. 9 is ugly. When Sonic the Hedgehog is making fun of you on Twitter, you know something has gone terribly wrong. Character models are frustratingly simple, background aren’t very detailed and enemy models are just plain ugly.

Bad graphics are to be expected to a certain degree as the game is coming out on just about every platform you could think of but it would be nice if the final product resembled the video Comcept put out after just a week of work on the game.

Ray DLC

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In case you haven’t heard, every copy of Mighty No. 9 comes with free DLC featuring Ray, the Zero to Beck’s Mega Man. Ray is even more of an anti-hero than Beck, devouring renegade robots, but she’s also a pain in the ass to play as.

Every second Ray isn’t eating, her life bar is slowly ticking away toward herdemise. Her dash counts as an attack that helps her chew up enemies, but she can only fight at close range using either the afore-mentioned dash or her claws.

The shame of that is that Ray is shown to possess some ranged moves earlier in the game, but when you’re given control of her she doesn’t have those abilities. As a result, any of the stages originally designed for Beck—which were pretty challenging on their own—feel like they’re ten times harder. Even the simplest of bosses feel impossible to kill, as taking them down to a point where Ray can absorb some health from them takes so much time that one hit is likely to kill you.

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In short, Ray just isn’t that fun.

Mighty No. 9 isn’t a hard game to judge. It wears what it’s all about on its sleeve. If you’re a Mega Man fan and you want that old school challenge, you’ll like this. If you don’t, you’re not going to be sold by Mighty No. 9.

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If you’re not sure, try it. I enjoyed my time with the game and I’ll probably come back for a second crack at some of those challenge levels eventually, but I definitely won’t be back for Ray.

If you’ve got an opinion already formed about Mighty No. 9, trust that opinion. It’s probably right.


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Follow Steve Bowling on Twitter at @SteveBTAY. If you’d like to read more of his stuff, you can find it here.