Let The Backer Beware: The Disappointment of Mighty No. 9

Disclosure: I backed Mighty No. 9 on Kickstarter at the $20 tier. 

Megaman X and its sequels were among some of the staples of my gaming years while growing up. Not having a console, I played them on the PC with a keyboard all the while dealing with lack of key rollover that made games, especially platformers, difficult to control. In spite of the control issues, I soldiered on, enjoying the experience of Megaman as he took down bosses, acquired their weapons, and made his way through the myriad of themed levels that defined the game's signature design. 

I was delighted by the news that the series' creator, Keiji Inafune, wanted to make a spiritual successor to Megaman. He wanted to do so through Kickstarter, and pledging money towards the Mighty No. 9 campaign seemed like a no-brainer. Seeing the concept art for the game Comcept had planned sold me on their vision. 

Games don't always look like their concept art, but it exists as a goal for games to shoot for. While it's not wrong for a game to slightly differ from its creators' intended vision, the problem with Mighty No. 9 is that the devs at Comcept's shot has missed the mark—so much so that the game looks like an early PS2-era 3D title. The game doesn't look like it belongs on the current generation of consoles.

I was disappointed by what I've seen, and experienced of the game. Screenshots detail that the game looks nothing at all like the original concepts, which show a vibrant, colorful aesthetic with lots of post-processing effects. 

See this concept art? 

The game looks nothing like that. Instead, it looks like this:

How it plays isn't much better. Simply put, it’s uninspired. The level aesthetic is made up of “generic robot stuff” and the level design consists of running through a straight corridor with little to no platforming. It's especially disappointing to play a game that plays this poorly considering the pedigree of its developers. You can watch a newly released 12-minute gameplay video showcasing exactly what I mean. Footage was taken from a “post-beta” build of the title, and it doesn’t look like anything’s changed since I played it. 

Banking on nostalgia is all well and good, but modern games need to deliver modern experiences. As it is, Mighty No. 9 looks like a retro game from the wrong era and plays just as poorly. Furthermore, it fails to live up to the standards set by the Megaman games. 

The game is planned for release on September 15, and judging from how development has been shaping up over at Comcept, it's hard to see any of these criticisms addressed before the game's release. 

Given how mixed the reception of Mighty No. 9 has been leading up to its release, its potential failure may disillusion backers of large Kickstarter or other self-publishing ventures from backing future titles. Caveat emptor.