Mighty No. 9 review – is an upcoming action-platform video game in development by Comcept, in conjunction with Inti Creates, and published by Deep Silver. The creation of the game was based on the online crowdfunding website, Kickstarter, and incorporates heavy input from the public. Mighty No. 9 very closely resembles the early Mega Man series in both gameplay and character design, which lead producer Keiji Inafune worked on, and is considered its spiritual successor.
The minimum Kickstarter goal for Mighty No. 9 was successfully funded on September 2, 2013, after only two days of the creation of the campaign. However, several other features including additional stages, special modes and ports to other platforms were confirmed after additional “stretch goals” related to it were achieved, increasing the total funds obtained to over 400% of the original goal.
The game is in development for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, where Abstraction Games and Engine Software are porting the game onto the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS. The game was scheduled to be released on February 9, 2016, with the exceptions of the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS versions of the game, but was delayed for a third time to Q2 due to software bugs concerning network operations. The final release date was later announced to be June 2016.
Mighty No. 9 is focused on 2D platforming, with a blend of 2D and 3D artwork and animation. Players control a robot named Beck, who is able to run, jump, and shoot projectiles at enemies he encounters. Furthermore, the player will be able to acquire both weapons and abilities from enemies they defeat. The game will feature an intro level followed by the eight main stages, which are freely chosen in any order by the player. At the end of each stage, Beck must face one of the other eight “Mighty” units in a boss battle. A final set of stages are unlocked at the end of the game, leading up to the final showdown. An additional level starring Beck’s partner, Call, is also available at some point.
In addition to jumping and shooting, Beck’s main ability is a dash, which can be used to move quickly and cross large gaps. Upon weakening enemies by shooting them, Beck can dash through them in order to absorb a substance known as Xel (pronounced “Cel”). Absorbing Xel from enemies will grant Beck temporary enhancements, such as increased power or speed. By defeating bosses, Beck can obtain new transformation forms, giving him new abilities such as magnetic limbs. Conversely, Call can’t absorb Xel but can dash further than Beck and can use a shield that reflects projectiles and jetboots that slow her fall.
Mighty No. 9 stars an android named Beck, the ninth unit in a set of combat robots called the Mighty Numbers. At some point a form of computer virus attacks the rest of his fellow units, as well as machines around the world. The player, as Beck, must fight the rogue robots and discover the villain who threatens the fate of the planet. Alongside Beck is his partner, Call. Comcept previously held a fan opinion poll in order to determine the most popular mockup design for Call. As a result, concept design “F” was selected as the base design for the character. According to the Kickstarter’s FAQ, the name Beck was chosen as “his creator wanted him to have a human name, unlike his peers”, and also because it fit his partner’s name as well (as in “Beck and Call”).
There are three scientists involved in the story, each with a specific part to play: Dr. White, the robotics designer who created Beck and the rest of the Mighty Numbers; Dr. Blackwell, the inventor of “Xel” technology that provides the basis for the Mighty Number and all robots in the game; and Dr. Sanda, who also works in “Xel” technology and has created Call but plays an otherwise unknown role at this point. Designers from Inti Creates as well as Comcept are both working on the designs of the characters in the game and have noted that “each [character is] intended to have his [or her] own unique look” within the art design.
Mighty No. 9 was announced in a conference at the 2013 Penny Arcade Expo by Inafune and his team. The Kickstarter campaign for the project launched on August 31, 2013 and met its $900,000 USD target only two days later, on September 2. 8-4, a localization company, is working on Japanese-to-English translation work for the project in addition to consulting and PR work. 2 Player Productions is producing a four-part documentary series as the game develops, detailing every aspect that has gone into the creation of the game as well as providing developer commentary from Inafune and his team.
Inafune has promised to provide “unprecedented access to seeing [his] team at work” over the development cycle of Mighty No. 9. In the video promoting the Kickstarter, Inafune stated that he wanted to make the project one where he could get the fans involved, following the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 which similarly sought to get fans involved with the game’s development process. On September 4, 2013, it was announced that the two mystery stretch goals that were previously announced were to be pushed back in favor of attempting to release the game on consoles quickly. The mystery goals were still retained, and later revealed once funding reached the $2,200,000 goal and beyond. As each particular stretch goal was attained during the month of September, additional stretch goals were announced, pushing the final goal to the $4,000,000 mark. The first of the documentary series by 2 Player Productions was released on September 26.
The nine designs of Call used for the poll
An opinion poll was launched on September 27 to choose the design of Call, Beck’s partner. The poll asks voters to choose among nine design choices labelled from A to I, all drawn by members of both Inti Creates and Comcept. The poll was closed and the result was posted on the evening of October 1, with designs E, F and H winning out. The game’s soundtrack was composed by Manami Matsumae, of Mega Man fame, and Ippo Yamada. A single track each was also contributed by Takashi Tateishi of Mega Man 2 fame, and Masahiro Aoki.
On September 30, 2013, the game’s use of the Unreal Engine was confirmed. The pledging campaign ended on October 1, 2013, raising $3,845,170 in total, and becoming the then sixth most funded project in Kickstarter history. An additional $201,409 obtained via PayPal increased the total money collected to $4,046,579, contributing to the achievement of all the stretch goals announced. In an interview published in an issue of Game Informer in October 2013, Inafune revealed he would not have ruled out Capcom, his former employer, as a potential publisher for the game, even if it meant re-skinning Mighty No. 9 as an actual Mega Man game. However, he added that he would only negotiate with Capcom if “they had the best terms”. An official website for the game was launched on November 21, 2013, alongside a backer exclusive forum. On March 19, 2014, a development trailer was shown at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California.
On July 6, 2014, there was another crowd funding campaign for bonus content. The first stretch goal is to raise $200,000 for full English voice acting in the game. On October 30, 2014, Comcept asked via their kickstarter page for an additional $198,000 to complete a DLC stage introducing Beck’s rival: Ray.
Digital copies of the game were guaranteed to those who pledged $20 on kickstarter at release. An additional game manual, artbook/strategy guide, and the original soundtrack were guaranteed to those who pledged $40 at release. Physical copies of the aforementioned rewards packaged inside a box adorned with art of the backer’s choosing, alongside a playable golden version of Beck were available to those who pledged $60. Further donations were given access to special items like extra bonus content or exclusive merchandise along access to beta versions and other collaborations with the game’s development. Backers who donated at least $10,000 USD earned the right to attend a dinner with Keiji Inafune.
The game originally was in development exclusively for Microsoft Windows, but ports for OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita were confirmed after the funding reached previously established stretch goals related to it. In regards to the Nintendo 3DS release, the co-founder and director of Renegade Kid, Jools Watsham, has publicly offered to assist in development. However, Comcept had since confirmed that it officially arranged to work with Abstraction Games on both portable versions of Mighty No. 9.
An additional copy of Mighty No. 9 will be available to purchase as physical distribution, along with a backer’s digital version. The physical copy is manifested in one of two forms of the backer’s choice. The first is a DVD-ROM adorned with the game’s illustration, available after the addition of $26 to the minimum pledge. The second is a USB flash drive also adorning the game’s illustration, but molded in the appearance of either a Nintendo Entertainment System or Family Computer cartridge, available after the addition of $36 to the minimum pledge.
The game was originally scheduled to be released in April 2015. However, on April 28, 2015, Comcept announced that the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U and the PC version of the game will be released in September 15, 2015 in the Americas and September 18 worldwide, for both public retail and download (Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions will not have a physical release however), so as to allow the company to take further time and resources to polish the game and to add Japanese and French voice-overs. The Vita and 3DS versions will be released at a later date. They also announced that they had partnered with Deep Silver to distribute the retail version of the game.
In August 2015, it was announced on the Comcept forums that the game was delayed once again to the first quarter of 2016, citing unresolved bugs and issues with the online feature. To make it up to backers of the game, Comcept gave Kickstarter backers access to a four-stage exclusive demo. In addition, they offered Steam codes of Mighty Gunvolt to backers on September 29. The demo was also delayed due to distribution issues, with some backers receiving it before the initial release. After previously promising no more delays of Mighty No. 9’s release, on January 25, 2016, Inafune announced the game would be delayed a third time due to more bugs found. The final release date was later announced to be in Japan and North America on June 21, 2016, and in PAL regions on June 24, 2016.
In an interview with Polygon in February 2014, Inafune expressed his interest in developing a larger meta-franchise for Mighty No. 9 beyond the release of the game, including a possible live action movie. Other adaptions included a “comic book, manga, anime, movie, TV drama series” among others. In discussion with Polygon, he stated that “it’s not actually a 100 percent set deal yet,” and that “it is something we are looking forward to and considering the possibilities of”. In regards to a production company for the movie, he mentioned collaboration with Contradiction Studios as a possibility. Tim Carter, a Contradictions film writer and producer, revealed that his company was working on the film adaptation and that he had been in talks with Inafune.
At Anime Expo 2014, an animated series based on the game was announced by Keiji Inafune, with animations created by Tokyo-based Digital Frontier. The series is scheduled for release in Q2 2016.
On July 7, 2015, it was announced that Legendary Pictures and Comcept would collaborate to make a Mighty No. 9 feature film.
Inafune had recently revealed new plans for a game, Red Ash: The Indelible Legend, that shared many similarities with Mighty No. 9, including the characters Beck and Call. The Kickstarter, unlike Mighty No. 9’s, fell quite short of its $800,000 USD goal, making only $518,000 USD. However, the game was later picked up by Chinese game company HYDE, Inc., and is still under development.
Mighty No. 9’s concept was initially widely acclaimed for its return to the genre of Mega Man-styled games, going against the alleged neglect of IP-holder Capcom to that franchise. The game has been noted as one of the first crowd-funded video game projects launched in Japan.
However, there has been growing controversies around the project. Various delays and the announcement and subsequent failure of Inafune’s other Kickstarter project, Red Ash: The Indelible Legend, were met with accusations of mismanagement and poor communication on part of the developers. In an interview, producer Nick Yu expressed apologies for the last delay, saying they were due to the multiplayer mode being still in development, while the solo campaign was already “100% done”. Explaining why they didn’t choose separate releases for the solo campaign and the multiplayer, Yu argued that it would necessitate two approvals and quality controls, which they simply couldn’t afford. As for the Red Ash debacle, he explained that they needed to launch a new project as some of the company’s employees who were not needed anymore on Mighty No. 9’s development were jobless while the game was being finished, but also acknowledged that the issue was not communicated correctly to the public.
After the game was delayed for a third time in early 2016, Inafune expressed that the development staff had “no excuse” for disappointing fans and backers several times. Commentators claimed that the series of delays, combined with the promise at one point that there wouldn’t be further delays, voided faith in the project, and hurt the image of Inafune and Comcept. They also claimed that future crowdfunding projects would need to take Mighty No. 9 as an example of a project going wrong, suffering from over-promising and failing to deliver. On May 25th, Deep Silver published a new trailer for the game called “Masterclass”, which went on to receive very negative feedback from the fans and the media. This includes the CEO of Inti Creates, Takuya Aizu, publicly criticising it on his Twitter, calling it “unforgivable” and scolding Deep Silver for it. The criticism for the trailer mostly centered around the poor narration script, mainly the infamous “make the bad guys cry like an anime fan on prom night” line, being heavily ridiculed by many, with some considering it offensive.