Gaming has been amazing lately, with a slew of solid games releasing on a regular basis. However, there was a strange time between 2014 and 2018 where two games tried to fill a void, and fans were equally thrilled and disappointed by them: Mighty No. 9 and Mega Man 11. For years, CAPCOM neglected the Mega Man franchise and even cancelled numerous projects before Keiji Inafune, the man behind the series, decided to walk away.
In retrospect, this is an excellent story filled with devastation, hope, excitement, disappointment, and redemption, which begs the question: Who wore the Mega Man dress better? Mighty No. 9 or Mega Man 11? Let’s dive into our time machines and figure this one out.
Mighty No. 9
Let’s start off with what resurrected the Mega Man series: Mighty No. 9. Sure, this is not technically a Mega Man game, but c’mon. This is about as Mega Man as you can get, and this reality was only bolstered by the fact that Mega Man legend Keiji Inafune was at the helm. Mighty No. 9‘s story technically begins in September/October of 2013, as this is when Comcept USA launched and successfully ran a huge Kickstarter campaign that ended up raising $3.85 million, but Keiji Inafune’s work on the Mega Man franchise with CAPCOM ended badly and he really wanted to give the fans something special.
The campaign for Mighty No. 9 was incredible. There was so much to swallow right from the beginning, and fans were salivating at the idea of a new side-scrolling Mega Man-like game in 2013. Well, then the delays happened; then the art style changed; then more delays happened; then some baffling decisions; then ultimately a disappointingly mediocre game release with very little to write home about. As Destructoid pointed out, “ambition was the game’s biggest downfall.”
But in retrospect, was Mighty No. 9 really that bad? Or was it just incredibly disappointing?
Well, the way I see it, it is the latter.
Going back and playing Mighty No. 9 with a new set of eyes, I walked away feeling quite differently than I did back in 2016. Lost were the hopes and expectations, and instead, I was filled with a sense of wonder. I haven’t thought about Mighty No. 9 since I 100%ed it back when it first released, so I have had a proper seven years to disassociate myself from the game and the initial experience I had with it.
Upon this new playthrough, I found myself rather enjoying it. Sure, it is not a game I would so quickly recommend, but this is a solid action platformer with some interesting ideas. Some of the stages and bosses, particularly, are incredible, and I love the variety of the experience as you progress through the story. I do admit that the art style for the cut scenes is a bit off-putting, but I think the overall graphical presentation is quite good! The levels are well designed, characters and enemies look sleek and interesting, and the lighting is much better than I remember. However, the fires do look really bad.
The combo-kills and dashing was an interesting idea, for sure, but I think that was all bogged down by the constant grading commentary by the very annoying voice work. The overall voice acting is okay, and some of the characters sound much better than others, but the amount of times Beck says some stupid stuff while attacking enemies followed by “QUICK CLEAR!” among other quips from the announcer just leaves you wanting no voice at all.
As it stands, Mighty No. 9 actually stands the test of time, and I think it is much better than people remember. Sure, it is nothing great, but I would give the replay and clearer mind behind it a solid 65/100 on our scale. A slightly above average game.
Mega Man 11
In contrast, Mega Man 11 was announced shortly after the disappointing release of Mighty No. 9. Considering Mighty No. 9 raised as much money as it did and caused a riff in the gaming world, CAPCOM was wise to take advantage of Mega Man’s 30th anniversary and properly announce a continuation to the mainline Mega Man series… without Keiji Inafune. CAPCOM claims that after Inafune left, no one wanted to claim the mantle of “the new Mega Man guy”, so development was paused. However, we know that is untrue, especially with the news of CAPCOM cancelling all the Mega Man projects Inafune was working on before walking away, particularly Mega Man Universe and Mega Man Legends 3.
Despite that reality, CAPCOM surprised fans by announcing and delivering the brand new entry in the series, as well as the new team behind the Blue Bomber: directed by Koji Oda and produced by Kazuhiro Tsuchiya, with character designs by Yuji Ishihara, and music by Marika Suzuki. Koji Oda became the new Mega Man guy, and things were looking promising for the director, as the transition from pixel-art to 2.5D graphics was widely accepted by fans and content shown was looking really, really good.
But in retrospect, was Mega Man 11 a solid entry in the long-running mainline series? Or was this a more disappointing Mega Man than our nostalgia is allowing us to see?
Well, the way I see it, this is the latter.
Popping in my Mega Man 11 cartridge into my Switch for the first time since 2018 was a bit weird. I was excited at the prospect of replaying a game I remember enjoying, but when I thought about it, I wondered why this was the first time I revisited the game since its release. Similarly to Mighty No. 9, lost were my nostalgia lenses, and instead, I was filled with a sense of confusion as to why I have not even thought of this game for nearly 4 years.
Upon this 2022 playthrough, I reconnected with the Double Gear system and remembered very quickly how much I did enjoy Mega Man 11, because it brought back all of the 2D movements we know and love, particularly sliding, which was taken away in Mega Man 9 and 10. However, something felt off, and it took me a while to figure it out.
The gameplay for the most part is tight and enjoyable, the stage designs are incredible, and the Robot Masters this time around contained some that I would consider the best in the series. But when I quickly finished the game, I realized that this is one of the shorter Mega Man games, and the story lacked a real sense of urgency that the previous Mega Man games boasted, especially once you get to the Wily stages. There are 12 stages in total: 8 robot master stages and 4 Wily stages. I was able to beat Mega Man 11 on Normal this time in just over 3 hours, which did not feel fulfilling, especially since this is only the second time I have played through the game, this time 4 years after the first playthrough.
For comparison, Mighty No. 9 took me close to 5 hours to clear this time around, and I felt more accomplishment upon completing, too. I think that is because the closing sequence in Mega Man 11 is actually its weakest link.
So in retrospect, who wore the Mega Man dress better? On the one hand, Mighty No. 9 had Keiji Inafune at the lead, tried some interesting new gameplay ideas, contains excellent Robot Masters, and has some of the most unique stages in “Mega Man” history. Unfortunately, its cutscene graphics are pretty ugly, the fire animations are baffling, and the constant commentary from Beck and the announcer are awful.
Mega Man 11 benefits from being an actual Mega Man game, and this entry succeeds in its 2.5D transition, challenging and fun stages, and entertaining Robot Masters. But the story and ease of gameplay, thanks particularly to the Double Gear system, decreases the sense of urgency tremendously and means that total gameplay suffers.
At the end of the day, both games are mediocre at best, and even though I enjoyed my replays for the most part, there are significantly better games on the market, especially in the indies. With that said, we still need to crown a winner, and for this particular pairing, I think Mega Man 11 edges out as the better Mega Man game.
However, Mighty No. 9 is not nearly as bad as it was initially critiqued, and Mega Man 11 is not nearly as good as it was initially welcomed. This look back helped me to realized that pre-release hype does play heavily into how we judge games initially, but if you take some time off and reset your brain, you can see them more accurately and judge them more fairly, which helped me to see both of these games accurately for the first time ever.
Thank you for stopping by Nintendo Link for all of your gaming news and features! What do you think of this retrospective look of Mighty No. 9 and Mega Man 11? Did you find it insightful? Do you agree with it? Let us know in the comments below! Happy gaming, everyone.
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.