With the rise of Mega Man 11, I thought it was time to reflect on a game called Mighty Number 9. Four years, four million dollars and all for a lifetime of disappointment. A lot of people know of Mighty Number 9 as one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns that spat out a woefully mediocre product. Mighty Number 9 was an indie game created as an homage to the Mega Man franchise during a time when Capcom wouldn’t let any new Mega Man games hit the shelves. Due to severe delays in development, broken game mechanics, several in game mistakes and an overall rushed feel to the product, MN9 was a disappointment and has become a common joke among gamers. With news of Mega Man 11 coming out, gamers rejoiced at the idea of a new Mega Man game.
Wait, Mega Man 11?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to see the return of Mega Man. Everyone’s favorite blue bomber has been long overdue for a bit of love, but there’s something I feel a lot of people are overlooking. Where does it go from here? There’s been a lot of jokes about people saying ‘this is what MN9 should have been’ and ‘Well, now we don’t need MN9 anymore’ but I can’t help feeling we’re not observing the bigger picture. The thing that made many people so excited about MN9 was its potential. You see, Mega Man’s universe has already been heavily explored. We’ve had the Mega Man series, the Mega Man X series, Mega Man Starforce, Mega Man Battle Network, Mega Man Zero etc. There’s been a lot done with the series and a LOT of games over the years. Some believe the series has run its course and this is why Capcom kept canceling so many Mega Man games. A part of me is starting to feel the series isn’t quite sure what to do with itself.
My question is, what this new Mega Man game will bring to the franchise? The series has reinvented itself so many times that I have no idea what they’ll come out with next. While there are many franchises such as The Legend Of Zelda and Super Mario that keep to a similar formula and still succeed, keeping that formula fresh can be hard. Mega Man consists of tackling 8 robot masters, going through their stages and then fighting off Dr. Wily. It’s not a bad formula at all and it works great, but how will they maintain keeping it fresh? There’s only so many robots you can make called (insert word here) man. My main query is, what will Mega Man 11 mean for the franchise’s longevity? Is this the blue bombers grand finale or will he be returning yet again?
Now, you might wonder how MN9 would differ so much from Mega Man. What could it do that Mega Man couldn’t? Well, there’s a number of things. MN9 has a fresh world with its own unique rules. This means that story elements and gameplay elements could be reinvented, adapted and altered in any way shape or form for the games convenience. The existence of xels (pronounced cells), for example, could be used in a variety of ways both in game and in relation to the story. Beck’s powers revolve around absorbing xels for small boosts of power and using his cell absorption abilities to chip away at enemy’s health bars. Characters like Ray on the other hand have some sort of xel deficiency and must constantly hunt robots for xels in order to stay alive. There’s even different sorts of xels, some being stronger than others and some giving different powers (speed burst, health, score etc). This factor alone not only effects gameplay but could also be used in the games story (e.g the whole existence of the Ray DLC). The xel concept is only one idea MN9 has and it already effects so much! Think of all the ways it could develop in future games (if there was any) and how it could be used.
The world itself of MN9 is rich with potential and has none of the constraints the original Mega Man did. It was a world with new characters, a different setting and its own gameplay style. The dash mechanic (although flawed) was fun and changed the way combat worked, needing you to get close to your enemy so as to make the damage you dealt actually remain. With some tweaking it could have worked better and really made a solid game.
Story wise, the game also had more freedom. It’s completely separate from any of the lore Mega Man had, so it could come up with whatever it wants. The fact you can actually save the robot masters (aka Beck’s siblings) in MN9 feels really nice as they can help you in another stage. It’s actually quite rewarding and creates more of an emotional bond between the player and the mighty numbers. The mighty numbers are supposed to be a family after all, so seeing them come together to solve a problem does ram home that message.
I completely understand people’s disdain for MN9 and I’m not by any means saying it could ever replace Mega Man. Mega Man is a massive staple of gaming and his influence on the gaming world is one to be reckoned with. At the same time however, having a series that can take certain elements from Mega Man and develop them into something else would be great. Variety and experimentation needs to be encouraged, especially in the gaming industry. Despite its flaws, I personally have a soft spot for MN9. I view it as a project with good intentions that got severely derailed during development, leading to the release of a subpar game. My excitement can’t be properly conveyed with how hyped up I am for Mega Man 11 but at the same time, I worry for the longevity of the series. How can something that has already been reinvented so many times continue to do the same thing before it gets stale? I don’t know what Capcom has up it’s sleeve for Mega Man 11, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that our little blue bomber will hopefully survive in this ever changing industry.