This feels as though it is reflected in the aesthetic choices as well, from the insipid cartoon show colour palette to its myriad technical issues and languid animation, Mighty No. 9 is a very poor looking game, not that anyone expected to be blown away by it, but there are simply no excuses available to justify how badly this thing runs on both PS4 and Xbox One. For a start, there is a shockingly minimalistic amount of background detail, with repetitive sprites and primitive models, not to mention shoddy texture work that will surely leave most players simply scratching their head in confusion as they ponder the question that most critics will surely be asking; just how can a game that looks this poor run so badly? As, whilst we can rest easy in the knowledge that the game runs in 1080p on both current console platforms, the framerate on each is altogether shoddy, particularly on PS4. There are visual options available in the settings, which on Microsoft’s Xbox One allows players to toggle with a V-Sync option that doesn’t entirely stave off the threat of screen tearing, but it is an adaptive option that the developer have used and it is this that guarantees 60fps for most of the game, whilst the Bloom option is perhaps the most baffling of all – whether set to on or off, the bloom lighting that should be present in the game is entirely missing. As if all of this really wasn’t bad enough, there are also problems with the real-time reflections not running in sync with the action, and ultimately this all just leaves Mighty No. 9 simply looking like an intolerable mess.
In its defence, Inafune-san has created something that almost felt fun to play at times, his protagonist, Beck, has a second unique power, his dash, which naturally proves essential in tackling the game’s platforming sequences, but also presents a unique twist on combat too. When battling with foes, Beck must weaken them with a weapon and then utilise his dash attack to finish them off, doing so sees him absorb their Xel, and allows for combos to be stringed together that rewards players with increased movement speed and attack power. This is also used in boss fights rather well, with each guardian regenerating their health after succumbing to Beck’s attacks, in order to prevent this from happening, the dash must be used to sap them of their energy. The emphasis is really on speed, which will undoubtedly render Mighty No. 9 a game that will likely be at its best when those willing to work with its stifling design choices and master its mechanics stream their best playthroughs for the world to see. Additionally, its retro soundtrack (available in both modern and 8-bit styles) is not only a perfect accompaniment to the action, but undoubtedly the best feature that the game has to offer.