Mighty Number 9 is just miserable

This one’s from a personal point of view, screw the writer persona. Mighty Number 9 is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with modern video games and their fans. It’s a Kickstarter product headed by a well-known game developer, who used his status with Mega Man fandom to drive through a new title that was seemingly supposed to be a middle finger to CAPCOM. Inafune used Mega Man‘s legacy as his most main tool for advertising. The sad thing is, the cult that had elevated him and those who just wanted to throw shit at CAPCOM bought this, and all they can do is blame themselves.

I did not back Mighty Number 9 because at the time I didn’t buy into idol worship any more. If you want to roll years back on the blog, you can see that I had some remains of it, but I recognize that each and every person making any product is just as dick gobbling as anyone. None of these people are nothing special, their works are works of hundreds if not thousands of people, all contributing to one piece. Screw the creators, they don’t matter. Only their product does.

And to quote all the critics, Mighty Number 9 sucks. It’s boring, mundane, by the books, slow, unchallenging, stages are awfully designed with equally awfully designed gameplay and it’s predictable game in every possible way. I pity my friend who backed it, but at least I got a go with his copy. Currently, the game sits at the bottom 12% at OpenCritic. There are reports of Windows 10 refusing to run the game or its installer, DRM free versions crashing for no reason, proofreading is non-existent (just like on this blog!), the Wii U version seems to brick your system, framerate issues, fucked up colours, DLC installer not installing anything, and then autodeleting itself, backers getting wrong DLC codes and God only knows what else will pop up in the long run.

Outside all the shit that went down during the Kickstarter, from Dina being a community manager to the fact that they cut a selling feature from the game, you saw even before the Kickstarter was finished how the game would end up being.

The first one was that there was no conceptual gameplay in video form or the like. Just an illustration roughly showing what they wanted to do, but barely did any of ’em. The Kickstarter page still reads using weapons and abilities stolen from your enemies to take down your fellow Mighty Number robots, a gameplay function that was dropped during the development. You don’t have the advertised body morphing either. Only Boss battle weapons stayed true, to some extent.

They didn’t learn from this, and resorted to show even less with Red Ash, which had even campaign promises and was saved by a Chinese company.

The second was the fact that Comcept chose to collect people from the original Mega Man. Let’s be fair here and remember that the original Mega Man is rather lacklustre and sits in the same position as the first Street Fighter when it comes to memorable titles. It’s there, but nobody gives a fuck. Mega Man 2 and Street Fighter 2 both are games that made the franchise. Shinsuke Komaki was a decent addition, but the illustrations and designs in Mighty Number 9 are lacklustre in largely every regard, so his history with Mega Man added absolutely nothing to the table.

The third bit is that they already had secured the funding to produce the game alongside Inti-Creates, meaning whatever money they’d get from the Kickstarter would go to polishing the game and none of that shows. I liked the first two Mega Man Zero games when they came out, but in hindsight the series reminds me of more polished Game Gear Mega Man, emphasizing all of its flaws. The camera is still the worst offender in those games, and the ZX series was just lacklustre every which way.  Mega Man 9 was a fun little throwback, but Mega Man 10 is just mediocre. It should’ve moved forwards and be something much more than just another 8-bit revival. Before anyone says Mega Man is only good in 8-bit are wrong. Just look at Mega Man X series and their genre relatives.

The fourth bit is that Inafune is a terrible developer on his own. He shines when he is paired with good support, which his cast at Comcept don’t seem to be. He essentially shines when he has someone to answer to. He allows strange ideas to flourish and bloom if they seem great, and later in the game development he was on the higher ladder rather in the grass root developing. Minakuchi Engineering’s Mega Man VI/ Rockman World 4 and Mega Man V/Rockman World 5 are shining examples a company that knew what to do with Mega Man through experience based on previous GB titles (outside 2) and managed to essentially make one of the best Mega Man games out there. All this came together because they were a small but competent team that had a good overseer. Minakuchi also did Mega Man X3, which is why it is so different from the rest of the franchise. Go play those instead of Mighty Number 9. Or Rosenkreuzstilette and Megamari if you want to see how Mega Man-esque gameplay should be copied. Notice how the camera functions as it should and doesn’t twerk around with every action the player does.

Comcept spend 3.8 million dollars of Marvelous’ money to develop Kaio: King of Pirates. Nobody knows what happened, but I’m sure they’re going to push more Senran Kagura and never work with Comcept again. I can live with that, Senran Kagura turned to be surprisingly entertaining franchise after the first game. Marvelous’ statement about their doubts which the developers had in mind regarding this project is quite telling.

I don’t even feel bad for people who backed this game. It was their choice just as any, and they choose to buy into the hype and PR. Or to spite CAPCOM, I know some of you did that. Whatever CAPCOM’s doing with Mega Man next year is an open question, we’ll just have to sit tight and see what happens. You can be certain that they have been following Inafune’s misadventures, and you can be certain they’ve taken into notice all the things he fucked up.

Red Ash can’t become legendary without its own soul

Comcept’s Red Ash is repeating similar things that Mighty Number 9 did initially. Get in a team of people who have worked on previous games Inafune’s fans know and love and then proceed to reflect that team and the Kickstarter game with something these people seemingly want without. In Mighty Number 9’s case, Mega Man, and with Red Ash is Mega Man Legends. Whether or not this will be how Comcept will fund all of their games in the future is an open question, and a question that they need to answer at some point. If Inafune decides that they will pre-sell all of their games like this, I’m afraid they’ll burn themselves through sooner or later.

Let’s not forget that Mighty Number 9 was a game that would’ve been produced even without the Kickstarter.

Mighty Number 9 started with sketches and a mock-up image how the gameplay would look. One of the early things that they wanted to make work was for Beck to be able to utilize enemies as weapons, like a broader Variable Weapons System or expanded Zero Knuckle. However, it seems that gameplay aspect, an aspect that seems like a huge part of the overall rhythm and uniqueness of the product, was dropped for whatever reasons. Instead, the whole Xel absorb mechanics seem to have taken its place. Out of the two, the one implemented is duller.

It would seem the funders got a reality check; what is promised in the early planning phases really come to fruition. Mighty Number 9 had a pretty neat initial concept picture that showed how the game would look like overall, and it does resemble it, without a doubt. What we got looks like they simply pushed the generic Mega Man look through a filter and that’s how they got the generic look. Y’know, everything has a slight soft focus, every single thing that has even a bit of light glows in that exact same way every other light does. While it can be argued that some Mega Man games don’t do much with their backgrounds, the one of the trailers show few city bakcgrounds. One of them is just a bunch of gray buildings, and the other a darker shadowed city lacking in detail. Compared that to e.g. Mega Man X and X4. X’s Highway Stage has sprawling roads underneath and far away, details buildings in there and ends up in a park kind of zone. There’s more colours and details there than you’d expect. X4’s Sky Lagoon opts for a shadowed background for the city too, but it’s still lusher with details, having the lights blink here and there, roads sprawling and some windows are even open or unlit. They’ve even put an animated CAPCOM billboard in there.

Mighty Number 9 has to fight history for sure, and it does what Mega Man and other 2D Sci-fi games have done in the past. That doesn’t give it an excuse to halfass itself.

I am fearful for Red Ash because of this. Mighty Number 9’s Kickstarter lacked focus in the end, opting for movies and TV-series as a stretch goal rather than concentrating on making the product at hand better. While Studio 4℃ overall is a regarded animation studio, why would they be pushing Red Ash animation at this point? It looks like that they already have planned the animation and locked an agreement on it even before the Kickstarter was launched.

Red Ash is called a spiritual successor to Legends, and it shows. Some designs elements are 1:1 lifted from Legends, and while those do look good, they are suffering from the quick digital concept illustrations offered. When the gameplay mock-up was added, it suffers from the same fate, but also shows that you have already played this game. Lost Planet’s engine was developed Legends 3 in mind, which is why the two share resemblance with each other.

The character designs have a definitive Legends feeling with a dash of bit more modern design sensibilities that Studio 4℃ tend to use, but in that they’re also rather uninspiring. By sticking with delivering Legends 3 to the fans, they have tied themselves on reusing ideas as they are in the visuals, and on the long run that won’t do much in favour of separating Red Ash as its own entity. Of course, this might be their intention in order to pull the pre-existing fans in even further.

However, the team Inafune has collected for Red Ash seems to be far stronger than what Mighty Number 9 had. However, much like how the music for Mighty Number 9 sounded boring from the start, Red Ash’s main theme lacks the same oomph. However, it’s also true that Legends, while having a moody and fitting music, doesn’t have pieces that you will hum on your own. Looking at Manami Matsumae’s discography, there are not many titles that cause you to remember any particular piece. Area 88/ U.N. Squadron has some that I barely remember myself.

Much like how I didn’t back up Mighty Numbe 9 because it felt it was handled in a halfassed way, I’m against funding Red Ash either simply because there’s a huge lack of design info and how the game will play in itself. However, unlike with Mighty number 9, Red Ash gives me much more promising feeling. Depending on how well it will be handled, this game might be decent. It will not be a Mega Man Legends game, and it would do it only good if it managed to find its own tone rather than copying Legend’s.

Mighty no.9

If you’ve read this blog for some time now, you probably are familiar with my history with Mega Man. Inafune leaving CAPCOM hit me hard in a time when even the little things got under my skin. Now, Keiji Inafune has entered the fray with a Mega Man clone Mighty no.9.

This is a dividing project. On one hand we haven’t had a true Mega Man for a while now (and we’re going to have to wait a while more) and Mighty no.9 is by all means Inafune’s own Mega Man reborn. On the other hand this is what Inafune wants to do and the Kickstarter video he has made is filled with elements screaming Mega Man to the fans in most unsubtle ways possible.  Inafune voiced his opinion on the stagnant state of Japanese video games few years back, and now the enters the fray with… a Mega Man clone. This isn’t a spiritual sequel or anything like it. Mighty No.9 is what Bass is to Mega Man within the story.

To tell you the truth, the first thing initially did was that I checked how much would I need to support the project to get a packaging with a disc. Then slowly I started thinking and going through things about the project. The group of people making this game have some good and some bad. Naoya Tomita is in charge of Game Design, but I have to say that Mega Man 1 has some awful level designs. Good thing later games improved on this, and I seriously hope all the experience will come together in this project. Lead Character Designer Kimo Kimo has worked on good designs and he knows his stuff. Manami Matsumae is in charge of the music, but the few samples on the site aren’t all that good. The question here is if Matsumae will be aiming for something different, or towards a Mega Man experience. If it’s the latter, then she must overdo herself and do the best soundtrack in her career. The Art Director Shinsuke Komaki is giving Mighty no.9 the exact same feeling as he did to the Battle Network series but with a twist, and I can’t fault him.  Much like Kimo Kimo, Komaki knows what is expected of him. However, the development is handled by Takuya Aizu, which means that Mighty no.9 will have that distinct sour taste of Inti Creates in there. I don’t care much for Inti Creates and their take on Mega Man games has always been more or less unsatisfying, especially the ZX games. The Director Koji Imaeda has only worked on three Mega Man games, which all sucked. The fact that he grew up playing Mega Man doesn’t mean that he is able to make a good Mega Man or similar game. That’s an asinine thing to say.  The rest of the group is more or less completely unimportant when it comes to the developing the game.

From the visuals to the presentation of the group one thing is clear; Mega Man. Everything about this is telling that this is Mega Man. This isn’t Mighty no.9, this is Mega Man reskinned. From now on, I will call this game as just no.9.

Will I support this game? I want to, but I won’t. This game is getting attention mostly because it’s a Mega Man clone made by the guy who has been responsible most of the Mega Man’s success and nothing else. The same guy who preached how Japanese games can’t match Western standards and are recycling old stuff without coming up with anything new. This game looks and feels like the antithesis of his own words. The advertising, videos, layouts, visuals and everything are of Mega Man and nothing else. This game is not standing and will not stand on its own feet as long as it is shadowed by Mega Man and its legacy.

The only people at this time wanting a Mega Man game are its fans. There has been too much time for Mega Man to be relevant without a high-impact game. no.9 will not be a high impact game. no.9 might generate some buzz in the overall field, of which CAPCOM could utilise to put gears into motion and announce the return of the One and Only Blue Bomber. The more you look at it, the more it looks like Inafune’s giving CAPCOM the finger with this project. It’s a one big Fuck You at them. There’s also the point that Inafune keeps emphasizing on the fact that now he is able to do games he and his crew want to make, which is never a good attitude with a developer. I have to give him credit for saying that it’s important to listen to your fans in the pitch video and that’s great. That’s awesome to hear him say it, but there are three or five instances everywhere on their page where they emphasize the What We Want portion. Another positive credit goes to the fact that they want to make it a modern game using modern aesthetics, not in 8-bit style most Mega Man fans ejaculate all over the place. I’m expecting them to use 3D models as per usual, but I’d love to see extremely detailed and high resolution sprites.

There’s still one bad shadow over the whole project, and it’s the idol worship of Keji Inafune. This project most likely got majority of its current backing simply by the fact that he is involved here and that’s stupid. The developers don’t matter if the product is good, but at this point we’re just seeing the initial planning stage for this project. It’s clear that this project is based on two things; One is that Inafune wants to make a Mega Man game and show The Finger at CAPCOM, and Two; this is one of the easiest way to get Mega Man’s core audience to shift their interest to him and Comcept. I’m positive that Inafune would have enough backing to create no.9 rather than e-begging money at Kickstarter. We haven’t heard much from Inafune’s previous project, Kaio: King of Pirates mostly because Inafune has not been promoting it itself, and it’s not really a high-class product even if its getting a TV adaptation.

I’m disappointed in myself of getting all excited about no.9. It’s the blue and green eyes that did it. The more I ponder this game, the more I want a real Mega Man game.

Interestingly enough, the game would be made even if it hadn’t get funded at all. Their FAQ states that both Comcept and Inti have the resources to make this game. Why would there be a need to fund this game if the companies already have the resources to develop the game? Wasn’t Kickstarter for projects that had no other way of getting funded? 

Pirate Penguing in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms

It has been some time now since Keiji “Inafking” Inafune left CAPCOM and we’re seeing his first game project since, well, Mega Man Legends 3.

Is that a goddamn pirate penguing?

Well shit, this looks pretty swell, except there are things that do not sit well in general picture.
This is a concept video, meaning that the game will have elements of the trailer. It’s completely normal to see this kind of videos, but I had hoped for gameplay video or the like. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms with penguing pirates sounds something like Inafking would do. The trailer overall seeps his touch and spirit from character designs to voice acting. However, do we need yet another Musou -type game? Here lies the problem; Inafking is doing a game he wants to make, and it’s going to be trilogy because the story is too large to fit into one game. Game’s story should never take over the gameplay, and it saddens me that story seems to be the emphasize with King of Pirates, unless Inafking does it like he did in the Mega Man Legends series, where the plot served more on the gameplay part rather than just being a window dresser like in most modern games. It’s also on the 3DS, and while Inafking admitted how the console has problems, he also has best hopes both for the system and the game. Ouch. Perhaps he can put some of his magic at work as he did with Mega Man / X series.
I’ve been through this many times; developers these days are making nothing short of pet projects and then expect them to sell like hotcakes. While I’d love to see Legends 3 more than anyone in this country, I am admitting that it would never sell enough to warrant complete production, especially on the 3DS. Life is a bitter thing. I’d like to see Inafking taking more cautious steps now rather than doing this game at first, and while he admits that people are expecting zombie games from him (who’s expecting zombie games from him?) he assures that they will come only after King of Pirates.

As always, a service provider is not the one to choose what service customers need. A designer is not to choose what kind of design customer needs. A game developer isn’t the one to choose what kind of game customers want to play. They’re the one getting the customers’ money, the customer that should be their god in all regards. I had hoped that Inafking would do something that’s his own, but something that would seem to sell better. Perhaps King of Pirates is a sleeper hit, hitting the points that Inafking has been known to hit previously in his career. However, in these ages the price of “selling decently” is far too high. King of Pirates has a pressure upon it and there are people with power expecting this game to either outsell or become a miserable failure. Depends on what side these people are.
One thing is certain; if Inafking gets a decent devcrew, they’ll be making games outside the market at times, and perhaps there will games in my niche as well. The future seems shady, but there’s always hope.