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Why Mighty No.9 failed to succeed Mega Man

Released version of Mighty No. 9 isn't good to be the successor of Mega Man series.

Mega Man, originally known as Rockman in Japan, is a video game series developed by Capcom. Except for a few series such as Mega Man Battle Network or Mega Man Star Force, Mega Man games are basically run-and-gun platformers. The series has been loved by many gamers, having about 31 million sales as of March 2016.

However, the series is practically not being developed any more. The most recent Mega Man was Mega Man Legacy Collection, which is not a new game. It was just a collection of first six Mega Man titles. Fans of the series wanted more games like Mega Man. Understanding their wishes, Keiji Inafune, a director who contributed a lot to the Mega Man series but eventually left Capcom, announced Mighty No. 9 --  a game that closely resembles Mega Man.

There hasn’t been any official announcement that directly relates Mighty No. 9 to Mega Man, but many features of Mighty No. 9 caused people to accept it as the spiritual successor of Mega Man. However, after waiting several years to come out, Mighty No. 9 wasn’t good enough to become the successor of the beloved Mega Man. And here's why.

Mega Man did not have anachronistic graphics.

From the start to the recent Mega Man games, the graphics weren’t bad. Yes, the original Mega Man was released in 1987 for NES, and pixels were visible in its sprites. However, such graphics weren't outdated. Titles such as Mega Man 6 actually had high quality graphics, showing the best it could do with NES. Mega Man X4 is also an example of Mega Man with good graphics.

But the graphics of Mighty No. 9 were simply bad -- so bad they became infamous, and the official Twitter account for Sonic the Hedgehog mocked Mighty No. 9’s graphics. 

 Also, the revealed game’s graphics were clearly different from the concept arts that were released before. Mighty No. 9’s graphics were not only bad, but also just outright wrong. Left is the concept art and right is the graphic from trailer.

It has similar structure, but different gameplay.

In Mighty No. 9, you use dash and jump to avoid obstacles, and shoot the enemies with the weapon until you reach the end of the stage, where a boss appears. After beating the boss of the stage, you absorb the boss’ ability. This system highly resembles Mega Man.

Something unique to Mighty No. 9 is its dash system. In many other games, dash is used to pass through some obstacles that cannot be passed without dash, or used to spend less time to move; however, in Mighty No. 9, dash is part of its attack system. You can stun enemies by hitting them several times, and you have to finish the stunned enemies by dashing, which will give you some resources. The amount of resources you earn depends on how quickly you dashed into the enemy after stunning it. By earning resources, the character gets buff for parameters such as damage, speed, or HP for a short time. Therefore, if you move and kill enemies in a fast pace, you will beat the stage with several buffs on your character during most of the playtime.

This new system would work out greatly with smart, well-structured stage design, which was one of Mega Man’s strengths. Unlike Mega Man, however, Mighty No. 9’s stage design is generally dull. The concepts for some stages aren’t so distinct from each other, and stage gimmicks aren’t introduced fluently. The concept of a gimmick should be introduced by a simple puzzle, and it should get complicated about the time when the player starts to get the hang of it. However, the gimmicks in Mighty No. 9 are used unexpectedly, which causes its difficulty to rise in unenjoyable way. By playing Mighty No. 9’s stages, the players will not experience the fantastic level design that they got from playing Mega Man.

If it is not compared to Mega Man, Mighty No. 9 is somewhat enjoyable side-scroller game.

It isn’t that expensive, and it has new systems that weren't in other games. However, comparing Mighty No. 9 with the Mega Man series is inevitable. Many people funded to the development of Mighty No. 9 because they wanted the successor of Mega Man. It could not have shown its face out to the world without relying on Mega Man.

However, it failed in succeeding Mega Man properly because of its its bad graphics and inadequate gameplay. So, unfortunately, Mega Man fans should say bye to Mega Man and let him go, or have their last hope with Capcom, since Mighty No. 9 was not good enough to be the spiritual successor we've all wanted. 

Published Jul. 12th 2016

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