Mighty No. 9 Trailer Discussion

I’m sure most people reading this aren’t going to be all that familiar with Mighty No. 9, as, while it was seen as a big deal for gamers, the average joe is likely going to read that and go “What, is that a Beatles thing?”

So, to catch everyone up to date, let me briefly explain what Mighty No. 9 is and why it’s gone from being one of the most hyped games of modern times to…not being that, to put it politely.

For those who aren’t aware of gaming at all, we need to start by discussing Mega Man, a fairly popular video game franchise that released its first game in 1987. The franchise is one of gaming’s longest lasting franchises, having produced 10 games (plus multiple spin off games) in the main series and MANY games in various spin off series. While the last new title in the franchise was released in 2010 (2012 if you count the Japan exclusive iOS game Rockman Xover), the franchise has released a huge number of games so far and Mega Man is one of gaming’s icons. While not QUITE as instantly recognisable as Mario, Mega Man is a character that gamers hold in high regard, which means that the fact that I genuinely haven’t played a Mega Man game is probably going to be really surprising to most people because I’m pretty much noted for my love of 2D games (I’ll get to it eventually, I swear!).

However, Capcom (the company in charge of the franchise) has generally not focused as much on the character as they should have done. They’ve not gone to the extent of torching the franchise to the ground like, say, Konami has done, but Mega Man hasn’t really been a character who Capcom have devoted much time to beyond re-releasing some of the games in the franchise. While they did help out with a free game that was a crossover with Mega Man and Street Fighter that was released in 2012, one would be forgiven on a casual look for thinking that the franchise was dead in Capcom’s eyes. While the character’s popularity is still undeniable (he appeared in Smash Bros. 4 alongside Pac-Man) and the franchise’s appearance in Project X Zone 2 indicates that Capcom isn’t against the character being in other games, new games in the franchise that have actually been developed by Capcom seems to not be happening.

This wish to see a new Mega Man game has even extended to Keiji Inafune, who was part of the team that made the original Mega Man game and left Capcom in October 2010 to create his own company, Comcept. While the company has made other games, the ones which most people will recognise are the two projects that the company announced which are noted as being heavily influenced by (though, due to rights reasons, not actually part of) the Mega Man franchise: Mighty No. 9, influenced by the original Mega Man series, and Red Ash: The Indelible Legacy, influenced by the Mega Man Legends series.

Now, most people who are gamers will know this next bit of news already, but the plan was for both games to be funded on Kickstarter. While Mighty No. 9 was highly successful, receiving over $4 million, it’s around the time that the Kickstarter for Red Ash came around that things finally started to turn towards a negative reception for both games. Red Ash shot itself in the foot quite drastically thanks to some awful planning and obvious rushing of it, alongside a few bits of shady behaviour that pointed towards things which went against the spirit of what Kickstarter is aiming to do, but it ended up getting picked up by the company Fuze to allow the game to be completed, begging the question of why the Kickstarter was necessary in the first place, while Mighty No. 9 has suffered from multiple delays (it was originally intended to be released in April 2015, though it is now looking at a release date in June and has a trailer up (we’ll get to that later), so it’s probably going to be come out then), additional demands for money to finish off other content and a general feeling of over-promising while failing to deliver being the common thought about the game’s development, all of which meant that the general opinion of the game has pretty much gone downhill before it has even been released.

Now, however, we have something new to discuss related to the whole mess: the most recent Mighty No. 9 trailer. Now, to be fair, the game itself, while not top of the range levels of quality and certainly looking more appropriate for a game from the early 2000s than a current day game, does look like it captures the original spirit of the Mega Man games fairly well…but the trailer itself is pretty bad. The first few trailers, admittedly, had their own problems, but this one…pull up a chair and grab a drink, this is going to take a while.

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way: there is a joke in the trailer (although I hesitate to call it a joke, as it’s the sort of thing that makes my attempts at humor look like Rodney Dangerfield at his finest) which insults the fans of the franchise in a really kind of blunt way. To quote directly from the trailer itself, it claims that your ability to absorb enemy powers will “make the bad guys cry like an anime fan on prom night”.

I would remind you that anime is a general term for Japanese animation (which means that that is insulting fans of ALL Japanese animation…including the Japanese as a whole, for who Japanese animation is pretty much the standard way of doing animation. Yeah, really smart move, guys!) and that a comment like that is playing up a stereotype about anime fans which is quite insulting to anime fans. As an anime fan myself (not to a major extent, but I know the difference between Bleach, Dragonball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh and One Piece and can name a few fairly obscure anime titles…though, granted, most of them aren’t titles that I’d recommend hunting down!), that comment is one which would have turned me off the game entirely had I been planning on purchasing it to start with and, even without any investment in the game on my side, still leaves me slightly stunned at the gall of the people who created the trailer for thinking that sort of comment was a sensible one at all, considering gamers who like series like Mega Man tend to also be fans of anime as well. I shouldn’t have to provide business advice to people whose jobs are pretty much to advertise video games, but here’s something for those people who made that trailer: insulting your audience is NEVER a good idea. If you want to make a dig towards fans of another media, check that the fans of both media do not overlap and pick a target that is easy to mock or, if you aren’t able to do that, make it obviously a playful dig rather than something which can be interpreted as an outright insult.

Also, comments like that which are completely aimed at appealing to the “cool kids” in gaming fall flat when you’re talking about something based on a franchise which is pretty far from being on their radar. Mega Man is not a game your average joe is going to recognise, so trying to go for a “bro-gamer” kind of appeal…yeah, that’s not going to work simply because most bro-gamers aren’t going to be familiar with the game and other gamers won’t share it with other people because they won’t appreciate the insult at all. It also seems downright moronic to make a comment like that when you consider that a Kickstarter was made for a Red Ash anime at the same time as the one for the game, which makes the whole insult seem very short sighted and like a response to the failure of said campaign. Whether it is actually one is unlikely, but it certainly doesn’t reflect well upon the game’s developer with that fact in mind…

Really, I could stop there if I wanted to, but there’s still more to talk about, so let’s continue breaking this down.

Another aspect about the trailer that lets it down is the commentary of it. For some reason, the people who made the trailer decided it would be a good idea to market the game by having someone try to hype it up. Now, on one level, I can see why this decision was made (a trailer comprising just gameplay footage from an action-platform game isn’t all that exciting), but the commentary itself was just embarrassing, including some awful word choices that sound like bad attempts at sexual humor (no, seriously: “I know you like that combo-on-combo action” is an actual line in the trailer, discussing stacking combos on top of combos. This is the kind of thing I’d come up with as a deliberate attempt to come up with the silliest sounding chat-up lines focused on gaming that I can, only being done completely seriously!), bad attempts to make the game’s mechanics seem more impressive than they are when they aren’t really all that new to gaming in general (yes, a forward dash is a mechanic…but you’re about three decades too late for that to sound like anything new or innovative), bad attempts at humor (“there’s probably a dash that makes you breakfast”? What the hell does that even mean?!) and generally feeling like something out of the 90s, where everything was “extreme” or “awesome” or stuff like that. I seriously think this trailer might have been better had it had no commentary at all: sure, most would not have been sold on the game on a graphics level, but the gameplay might have been enough to win over people on the game.

Another aspect of the trailer which lets it down is, well…the quality of the game. I’m not going to mince my words: for a game with a more than $4 million budget, it doesn’t show that in the graphics at all. The game flat out doesn’t look like it’s had that much money put into it. I know that Comcept aren’t as big a name as the triple-A industry and deserve a bit of slack for not producing something that looks as good as, say, Mario Galaxy or Xenoblade, but I can honestly say that this game looks more like a demo than a game that is actually ready for release because there are better looking games on the Nintendo 3DS than Mighty No. 9 (in fact, I will name one: Smash Bros. 4) and the 3DS is hardly the most technically impressive video game console out there at the moment! This would be fine if Mighty No. 9 had been intended to be a handheld game from the start, but it wasn’t: it was originally an exclusive game for Windows systems, with ports to other systems being announced as certain stretch goals were met. When Dawn of War, a game that has been around for a decade, looks better on its worst graphical settings than a game being released in 2016, that is not a promising sign, to say the least.

That said, I do think that the gameplay aspect looks decent. We can’t judge this part as well as the other parts, but it looks like an old school action-platformer game, which is actually not too bad. I didn’t have too much problem with the sound aspect of the trailer, as the music was somewhat appropriate for the sort of game on display and, while I didn’t hear much sound from the game, what I heard didn’t seem all that bad. Sadly, everything else about it has shot what potential momentum the game could have had from the trailer down with a surface-to-air missile.

Really, I’m just kind of stunned that this trailer exists and was from a game that cost $4 million to make. I won’t join the pitchfork and torches crowd just yet (although there’s certainly good reason to do so, considering the CEO of co-developers Inti Creates has voiced his very strong disapproval of the trailer on his own Twitter…I’m not kidding, click here if you don’t believe me!), but, frankly, this trailer does not make Mighty No. 9 look promising in the slightest and I wouldn’t be too surprised if, after all of the time and effort that went into making the game, it ends up being one of the worst games of the year. It sucks that it is happening, but we can only hope that Comcept doesn’t take a leaf from DC and Warner Bros. and carry on with plans to make more stuff in franchises despite it being obvious that nobody is actually on board with them…looking at you, DC Cinematic Universe!

But hey, don’t take my word for it on all of this: you can watch the trailer for yourself right now underneath here if you want to!