Saturday, September 3, 2016

Deus Ex: Black Light Novel Summary

Want to play the new Deus Ex: Mankind Divided video game? Well you may be both happy and sad to hear that there's actually a lot more to this game's story, but it's actually told in a prequel novel. Rather than beginning right after the previous game, Human Revolution, ended, Mankind Divided picks up many months later and leaves a massive gap in the story leaving many people confused -- this is where the novel comes in. Why is Jensen where he is? Who are these people he is with? Just how does he plan on taking down the Illuminati? How did he survive the ending of Human Revolution? All of this and more was answered in Black Light, and today I'm going to help all of you who haven't read it get up to speed. The following is a full novel summary of Black Light, and it will cover all of the major moments in the novel. So, let's begin. (Spoilers for the full novel, and possibly Human Revolution follow, so read at your own risk.)

Deus Ex: Black Light - 

The story starts with Jensen waking up in some sort of "medical center" for augs. After the incident this sort of thing was set up for augmented people, and basically acts as a jail. Their augs are locked, they basicallu live in cells, and so on. Jensen was fished out of the water, and was told his augs kept him at a state where they were still able to bring him back. Unsure of who he is, Jensen takes the time to remember what had just happened to him (HRs ending), and keeps his mouth shut. He doesn't know who runs he place, and he trusts no one.

During his stay there he befriends an augmented man called Stacks, he's questioned by some sort of "government" official (a woman named Thorne), and he hatches a plan to escape. Taking Stacks with him, Jensen takes out some guards, destroys the device blocking his augs, and gets ahold of Prichard. After calling Prichard a p***k to prove he is the real Jensen, Prichard helps him and stacks secure a car and they make their way to Detroit.

Meeting Prichard in Detroit, Jensen learns TYM took Sarif after it has closed down, much of Detroit is now lawless and filled with gangs, and he himself has gone back to being a hacker doing shady things/whatever he had to do to get by. He's living in an old theater, paying off gang members, and hardly getting by. Most of the other workers from Sarif are gone from the area, but at least a few of Jensen's ex security team has joined up with the gangsters.

After seeing Stacks freak out from not getting his drugs for his augs, Jensen and Prichard break into Sarif. Inside Stacks freaks out once again at the sight of seeing augmented parts laying around, but Jensen is able to calm him down. Using some security systems set in place by Prichard, they get the doors open to the different rooms, get the drugs, and escape -- all while giving the remaining drugs to other augs in need.

Next Jensen heads out to the facility from the start of HR. Here are said to be some experimental augs that were left behind, and Jensen sets out to stop the gangsters there to steal it. Stacks comes along, and the two set a bomb to destroy the place, but things go bad, Stacks goes crazy again thanks to his PTSD (it's implied during the incident he tore his own family to shreds), and is shot. Lying on the ground dying, he tells Jensen to escape while he sets off the bomb -- which he does. Stacks dies, Jensen runs, and then comes face to face with the task force. The task force is currently tracking down an illegal aug operation, and their leads had lead them to this building. They hold Jensen at gun point, but Jensen shoots his way through the ground and escapes.

Back at Prichards place he finds Prichard being held at gunpoint by the Juggernaut collective. They offer Jensen a position working with them to take down the Illuminati, but he turns it down and follows his own leads. These leads take him to his old security staff who apparently have a part in the deal of these illegal augs. Sadly the first guy he meets in the bar is killed, so he sets out to track down the man who ordered the hit -- yet another one of his ex staff. This also had a bad outcome. Rather than finding answers, Jensen is knocked out, and the cops are called to pick him up.

The guys who pick Jensen up aren't the cops, but rather the task force. While Jensen doesn't trust them, he realizes he could use them, and that he didn't have much of a choice but to go along with them. The gangsters escaped Sarif with the experimental augs, and the task force wants to stop them just the same as he does. So, Jensen heads to the air port with the team, and they interrupt the deal. Things do go bad of course, and many are killed, but Jensen is able to establish contact with Prichard once again, and he helps him stop a jet from taking off with the augs. Jensen also saves one of the task team members, making the others trust him a little more.

Rather than joining the task force, Jensen heads back home to find more leads on the Illuminati, but instead learns the man who knocked him out has been found dead and is scheduled to be burned as soon as possible. Once again with Prichard help to disrupt traffic, Jensen hijacks the ambulance with the body, and begins work studying the body. Using his cyber eyes, Jensen relives the moments of his death only to find Thorne, the agent who questioned him at the medical center was the one who killed him. He also reads her lips and finds out that the train the task force is on with the augs will be attacked.

Teaming up with juggernaut, Jensen gets on the train and finds it a complete mess. Almost everyone is dead, and Thorne is getting close to getting the augs. After a long battle however, and with the help of one of the lead task force members, Jensen is able to stop some of them, set the train into high gear so that it would crash, and then faces off with Thorne. On his last leg, Jensen uses the Typhoon system to finish her off, and finally escape the train before it crashes -- destroying the augs with it.

At the end of the book Jensen decided to join juggernaut because he's out of options. He has no leads on where the Illuminati are, and he realized the task force may be compromised. The Illuminati (Thorne was an agent) was always a step ahead of the task force, and they even knew about the train. Someone was on the inside, and both Jensen and Juggernaut wanted to find out who.

After Novel Events -
  • Juggernaut asks Jensen to join him. Jensen wants to have nothing to do with them, but since he is out of leads on where to go he decides to accept.
  • Juggernaut has Jensen join the Task Force. Both of them know that someone within the Task Force is dirty, and Jensen becoming a part of it is the only way to flush them out.
  • In the comic (spoilers) Jensen is now a part of the Task Force, but the overseas branch and not the American branch he helped in the game -- although most of them are dead anyway. In this short story, Jensen helps uncover the plans of a group that was kidnapping kids and turning them into human bombs. The leader turns out to be the son of a a man on TV who is completely against augs and is trying to start a revolution against them. The reason for his hate? During the incident his augmented son, who they only augmented to save his life, went crazy and killed his wife. During the final moments of the comic, his son kidnaps him, is about to set off a bomb killing both of them, but is then shot in the head and killed. Afterwards his dad goes back on TV, continues his aug hate, and the story ends -- not so much of a happy ending.

Ending Notes -

Just a few more notes to help you understand the story and what's going on with Jensen.
  • The man the Task Force is hunting down at the start of Mankind Divided (it's intro mission) is the same man who was leading the smuggling ring. He escapes on the plane at the air port when Jensen detaches the augs he was attempting to fly away with.
  • The leader from the American Task Force Unit leaves Jensen an email on his PC in Mankind Divided stating he wished he was a part of his unit and wasn't sure why he was with the overseas branch.
  • The death of characters like Stacks really got to Jensen and further helped drive him to taking down the Illuminati. He's lost too many people because of them, and he will now stop at nothing to bring them down.
  • Prichard left Detroit at the end of the novel, and is not seen in the Mankind Divided base game. While he doesn't exactly say where he'll be going in the novel, he does return in the first DLC released for the game. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Uncovering Gaming Relcis from the Past

Today I had to finally sit down and do something I didn't want to, but had no other choice... Clean the basement. Long story short I need to have some work done on the house, and before it happens I need to clean out the basement -- a place where I pile stuff up, and tend to forget about it. Well what originally started out as a boring chore, became one of my greatest finds in quite some time. I uncovered things I had since thought were long lost, and things you rarely see to this day.

SNES and NES Games:

Originally I thought these were both stolen, and lost. Growing up as a kid I had a lot of NES games, and once I got a SNES my collection of it's games began to quickly grow as well. It's how I got my start gaming, and it's the reason I'm still here today. Well, these games were originally stored at my mom's work office (yes, the one that burned down...) so that I could play them over there, but suddenly then began to vanish. I wasn't able to find anything I wanted to play, and when we had to make the move out of that place I never expected to see them again. Welp, here they are! (At least some of them.) Not sure how it happened, but the games were boxed up, and ended up in my basement without me even knowing they were there. Sadly I'm still missing a handful of games, but maybe if I keep looking they'll be turning up as well.

Good old Nintendo Power:

Now I've kept all of my Nintendo Power from all the years I subbed, but apparently I was missing some. Digging through one of the boxes brought me face to face with some of the "newer" older issues I had. They cover GBA, and DS games, and strangely enough the issues are actually relevant to me today. You see I'm currently in the process of getting a hold of the Super Robot Wars games (mainly because Moon Dwellers is on it's way), and one of the issues I found just so happens to cover the very first OG released on the GBA! On top of that these issues also cover other great games I've been meaning to get around to playing at some point, but just haven't had the time to get/find them.

Lots of GB, GBC, and GBA Boxes:

Can't believe I even kept these. Back in the day when game boxes were just game boxes, you would run out of the store, sit in the back seat of the car, rip the game's instruction book out, read it, and if you had your handheld device with you you would play the game. As for the box? Who knows what ever happened to it. These things were thrown away all the time, and it wasn't very often that they would actually be saved. So imagine my surprise when I come across games such as Kirby Tilt N Tumble, Yoshi Topsy Turvy, Mega Man Battle Network, and many others from back in the day! Complete with the instruction books, and all of the plastic protection and what not still inside of the box, these things are in great condition and look as if they still belong sitting on the shelf at the local Wal-Mart.


With the Pokemon Go crazy still going strong, there's currently a lot of people in the world out there hunting them. Well, I just found the motherload. Nearly all of my Pokemon toys from years past are still in perfect to okay condition, and I've just uncovered even more. Giant starter figures, bouncy ball Pokemon, stuffed toys, battle arena with figures that fight each other and save their progress/stats (did
you guys really think Skylanders was the first to do this in games?), and much much more. My basement is apparently filled with Pokemon, and even some other gaming related figures that I had completely forgot about. Sonic Adventure figures from the 90s anyone?

Of course I'm still not done, so who knows what else is down there, but I have found quite a few other video game related things as well. I came across a few "virtual reality" snow boarding games and what not (which of course were just little Tiger Toy like things that strapped to your head with a snowboard you stood on), some Atari Flash Backs, and old movie rental boxes I got from buying used games and games from movie rental places. Although a lot of this stuff may be considered junk, it's still nice actually being able to see it all again in a world where these sort of things no longer exist. It's a blast from the past, and I hope to keep looking for even more stuff as the day goes on.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I Am Setsuna - Out Today!

Looking for a classic JRPG to play? Well you're in luck! Today is the release of Square's new title "I Am Setsuna." Set on an island covered in snow, the game tells the story of a young woman named Setsuna who has been chosen to sacrifice herself to quell the monsters that wreck havoc and cause chaos for all who live there. Players take control of a young mercenary who has been hired to escort Setsuna to the location that will become her grave, and hopefully save the island by doing so. According to Square the game's central theme is that of sadness, and it has been made in a way that will remind old school fans of "the good old days." Using the same type of  the active time battle system seen in the classic Chrono Trigger, I Am Setsuna can also be seen as sort of a spiritual successor to it. While the game itself is very different when it comes to it's story and setting, the heart that used to make these types of games great seems to still be there.

For anyone who's interested in checking it out, the game is up for download on Steam and PlayStation 4.

Resident Evil's Change to First Persion - It's not as strange as you might think.

One of the biggest announcements last E3 was that Resident Evil 7 is on it's way, and that it would also support PlayStation VR. This is something that was somewhat of a shock to many of those watching, and it wasn't long before people took online to express their concern for the "brand new" first person style. Up until now Resident Evil has only either used fixed camera angles or a 3rd person action style camera, so it's really no surprise that people would be skeptical of the new change. From a first glance it's not the Resident Evil they know and love, but rather a game that's copying other first person titles on the market. Well, I'm here to tell you that that isn't true. Resident Evil is a game that can work in first person if done right, and that this actually isn't the first time a Resident Evil game could be played mostly in first person. In fact, one of the best Resident Evil games out there (at least in many's opinion) can be played almost entirely from a first person point of view, and it's easily some of the most fun I personally have had in the series.

So, first of all, what is it that actually makes RE7 different from the past? Yes, it is different from Resident Evil 4, 5, and 6, that's for sure, but these games were action games. They featured some dark creepy settings, they had a few jump scares, and we would often see disturbing monsters along the way, but that's about it. These games were not what Resident Evil was originally intended to be. Now don't get me wrong, each game is great in it's own way (yes, even 6 had it's moments), and they did tell some interesting stories, but they are not "classic" Resident Evil. Sure, it's easy to understand why fans of 4-6 would like 7 to follow in it's path, but it's also not that shocking that someone would want Resident Evil 7 to finally go back to the style seen in 1-3, 0, and Code Veronica as well. That's exactly why Resident Evil 7 is what it is. Although we haven't seen the full game, Capcom has confirmed quite a few things about it, and even the playable demo shines some light on things as well. Basically, Resident Evil 7 is a game where you will explore a single location (rather than going on a world adventure), you'll solve puzzles, gather resources, and slowly learn about what is going on around you by interacting with it's world. The game will in fact feature combat, but with limited ammo (as mentioned in an interview), and the story is set within the Resident Evil universe. So again, I go back to my question. What is it that actually makes RE7 different?

Now many might think that the first person camera is completely unfitting for Resident Evil, or that it's what makes the game different, but it's really not. As mentioned before, this actually isn't the first RE game to be in first person. Sure this is the first mainline game to take this approach, but the game that did it last might as well have been numbered as it is actually one of the most well received titles in the series in recent years. What game is this? It's none other than Resident Evil Revelations of course.

Resident Evil Revelations was originally a Nintendo 3DS exclusive, and it was the first Resident Evil to move back towards it's horror survival roots. Rather than being a pure action game like RE5, the game put our beloved Jill Valentine on a ship of horrors out in the middle of the ocean, and asked us to do whatever it took to survive it. Using a gameplay style similar to Resident Evil 4, players got to explore the ship, solve puzzles, collect resources, and fight off enemies with weapons they found and upgraded throughout their adventure. Sure there was also side chapters that were more action focused, but the main game itself was all about atmosphere, and surviving -- just as Resident Evil used to be. It almost flawlessly blended the 3rd person style of the action games with the gameplay classic fans had been craving, and it even made use of the brand new 3D effect and new circle pad pro add on (right analog stick) to help pull players deeper into the experience, and to fix the "tank control" issue many have been complaining about since the initial jump to full on 3rd person. Although this isn't the only thing the circle pad pro did. It also made it possible to play Revelations from a first person point of view, and the 3D effect only helped enhance that experience.

Even though those who played the console HD version of Revelations may not have noticed, the game actually had two aiming options. The first option was your standard Resident Evil 3rd person shooter style of camera. With this mode you would hold the aim button, your character would bring up his/her gun, and you would then be able to shoot or defend yourself in general. There was nothing special about this mode, and it's what we've come to expect form these 3rd person RE games; however, the second mode was not. Using the same default aiming mode as Resident Evil Mercenaries 3D on the 3DS, the original version of Revelations defaulted you to a first person aiming mode instead. With this mode, combine with the 3D effect, you really felt as if you were inside the Resident Evil world, and you were given complete control over where you could look -- often allowing you to see things you would otherwise miss from a 3rd person point of view. Mixed with the circle pad pro, players could then actually stay in the first person view for nearly the entire game, and move about the world as if it were meant to be explored this way. Although movement while aiming is a bit slower than when running in 3rd person, using the first person point of view could actually be used to your advantage in a lot of ways, and it was also a lot of fun. Rather than sprinting through the world moving from point A to B, the first person view allowed you to take your time, look at the finer details, and even spot incoming dangers that may have originally been too high or too low for you to see. Often there were times I'd just slowly walk down each corridor, always on edge because I never knew what would be around the next turn, and then when I would come to a new room or large open area I'd take the time to fully look around and see what that room had to offer. Of course thanks to the game's new scanning system to find items (which was also in first person) it was basically required that you looked under every table, and behind every door, but even once I found every item in a room I couldn't help but take the time to study the room itself. The game just felt like it was meant to be played this way, and I found myself enjoying it much more than I had ever imagined. Sadly, you would often have to switch out of this view to complete specific actions, but I never really minded -- especially since I loved the 3rd person style as well. Honestly the thought of this type of gameplay being the core focus of a Resident Evil never crossed my mind, but it was something I did really like.

So, what about Resident Evil 7? How is it any different? It's a new horror survival game, with a new cast of characters, set in a new location, and at a later date (taking place sometime after 6). While many may feel the first person point of view is changing the series to match that of some of the newer horror games out there, it really isn't. It's taking the game it has always been, and expanding on features we have already seen in the past... Or rather, you could say this is Capcom finally returning to it's roots, as Resident Evil 1 was originally going to be in first person as well.

Anyway, it's far too early to tell how the game will actually turn out, but if you're interested in seeing what a RE game is like from a first person point of view, then I'd recommend checking out Revelations. At the very least it'll give you somewhat of an idea of what to expect when 7 finally comes around.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mighty No. 9 - Review

Mighty No 9. Oh man does this game have some history. Not long after the well known developer Keiji Inafune left Capcom and Mega Man games started getting canceled left and right, this little game appeared on Kickstarter in 2013. While not too much was known about it at the time, the fact that it was an Inafune game being created to "bring back Mega Man," and other talented developers were working along side him, it was more than enough to get people excited and pledge crazy amounts of money. 67,226 backers for a grand total of $3,845,170 to be precise. Of course even those who didn't back the project were excited for this one, and as time went on the wait for it got harder and harder... Then, things changed. The game was hit with delay after delay after delay, we learned that the development team was having issues because they chose the cheaper game engine (rather than spending a few bucks extra a month for the newer one), and a few other games by Inafune popped up as well making it clear that he was focusing on other things and not just the game we were waiting for. Needless to say, many got fed up with everything that was happening, and then it finally came out. Well? How is it?

First glances show that the graphical quality and animations are much lower than the initial "tech demo that was developed in 7 days" that was shown off not long after the game was announced, but honestly that's not enough to judge the game on. Instead I'm going to take a much deeper look at this game, and let you guys know exactly what the final product is. This review will follow my other review's standards, but I'm going to get a bit more personal at times as well. Also considering this is meant to be a spiritual successor to Mega Man, I'm going to break my "no using other games to explain mechanics in this one" rule, but also make sure to explain things for those who have never played a Mega Man game in their life.

So, with that being said, let's get on with the review.

The Story:

Mighty No 9's story is a full on throw back to the good old days, or rather the days of Mega Man where the story started to play a large role. Rather than having cutscene after cutscene, this game keeps it simple and right to the point. The very start of the game quickly introduces us to the Mighty No robots which were created to battle it out in the coliseum for human entertainment, but instantly something goes wrong and 8 of the robots go crazy -- these are the "bad guys" of the game. Following the orders of the man who created him (Dr. White), young Mighty No 9 "Beck," sets out on an adventure to put a stop to the other rampaging robots, and return them to normal. Each one has set out to a different location in the United States, and Beck is free to deal with each one whenever he chooses.

The story itself is mostly told by characters talking to each other in the lab from a side view (similar to what we've seen in one of the latest Mega Man games... Powered Up on the PSP...), but there's also moments where characters will talk while you play through the stages. Often this dialogue is related to what is happening right in front of you, and the dialogue can change depending on what robots you have already saved. Since you don't actually kill any main boss you fight, they'll actually come and help you during different sections of stages, and sometimes even throw in comments of their own. Really none of this adds too much depth to the game, and some of the lines can be very cringe worthy for anyone older than the age of 12. One scientist crying for his mommy when the lights go out, the same scientist yelling "Cheese and Rice!" when he is shocked by something, and the same scientist -- I'm sure everyone gets the point. There's also some characters that make non stop bad puns, and there are plenty of dialogue lines that are simply over the top. While the original Mega Man games never had a large focus on story, the writing in this is a major step down from the more serious X, Zero, and ZX series, as well as the more dialogue heavy Legends, Battle Network, and Star Force. While they tried to be for everyone (with a handful of them being aimed a bit more towards young adults), it's clear Mighty No 9 would rather focus on the new generation of kids instead.

Of course this doesn't mean the story is "bad," but it also doesn't mean it is good either. The fact that character's mouths don't move, and that they repeat the same animations over and over again kind of takes away from the experience, but the still mugshots that appear during stages is perfectly fine. Still when you consider the budget this game had, it's hard not to be let down when you realize not much went into this part of the game. In fact, the story itself hardly goes anywhere from start to finish, and it's made very clear that they plan on making more. Sadly Dr. White is the only truly interesting character in the cast, as Beck is your generic "I have to save everyone" hero who hardly ever speaks in the first place, the Roll inspired Call is a robot without emotions, Dr. Sanda is non stop cheesy lines and annoying, and the other Mighty Nos are either just as bad or have even less dialogue than Beck making it hard to know if we should like them or not. Overall, this game isn't one you should get for the story, nor should you expect the quality seen in the X or Zero series -- which is actually what this game is most like.

The Gameplay:

When this game was announced to be a successor to Mega Man, we expected the gameplay to be the same as well. Well, it's not. Before I go on any further, let me make it clear that this is not a Classic Mega Man game, but instead it is something more similar to what is seen in Mega Man X, Zero, or ZX. Yes, the game is a 2D side scrolling action platforming game, but how it plays, and what the stages are like makes it something a lot different from the good old run 'n gun classic Blue Bomber.

Before you jump right into the game, you're given the option to select which stage you want to go to first. Each one has their own theme/gimmick, and it is pretty clear what you'll be in for by the description of the stage, and boss. For example, water/ice boss is in the water area, electric boss is in the power plant area, and fire boss is in a burning oil field. Really it's nothing we haven't seen before, but at the same time you can't really expect everything to be the same -- if you do, this game will be a major let down. Once you get past the familiar stage selection screen, you'll instantly see how different this game really is.

The basic controls for the game are as followed. You can run left and right with the analog stick or D-Pad, you can jump, you can shoot, you can pull up a menu to switch between abilities you've gained, and you can dash -- the latter being the most important this time. Other than this, Beck can also grab onto ledges, he can use a jumping back move that shoots downwards at an angle as you do it, and he can also dash under objects when down is being held as you press the dash button. Overall the controls are very simple, and if you've ever played Mega Man Zero or ZX, you'll instantly know how to shoot, dash, and jump your way through the stages; this is exactly how this game is to be played.

Rather than slowly walking through each level and shooting enemies until they are dead, Mighty No 9 uses a system where after an enemy's health hits 0, you can dash through them to absorb them and gain a small stat buff such as stronger attacks, or having your shots pass through walls. Of course you can also keep shooting enemies until they die after reaching this point, but that will actually make the game harder by not giving you your buffs, and you'll also get a lower score at the end. Instead the way the game is meant to be played is by shooting an enemy just enough times for them to enter the state (any shot after will weaken your absorption rate of them), and then dash through them as fast as you can; creating combos all the way from the start of the stage to the finish. It's a very fast style of gameplay, and it can be a lot of fun... It's just, some of the stage design choices will get in the way of that fun.

The biggest issue with each stage in Mighty No 9 is that they tend to barrow some of the most annoying elements from past Mega Man games, or more specifically Mega Man X6, X8, and the final stages of ZX Advent. What does this mean? Spikes -- that's what. Just like in the MM series, spikes will instantly one hit kill you, and there are multiple stages where they are placed in the worst possible spot. Most of the time you'll get killed by these because you hit them before you could even see them (thanks dashing), but once you've learned where they are they stop being a problem. Sadly the same can't be said for the other death traps which are only deadly because of wonky controls and enemy placement. Although the game is normally nice and smooth, there are a few hick-ups you'll come across when in tight spaces, or when enemies guard cliffs or death traps just waiting to knock you in. There's also a section later on in the game where it may be necessary to jump down off of a moving hook you're holding onto, but you'll find that it is impossible to do so because pressing jump in mid air activates a mini hover jet pack in this section. Instead you'll find yourself constantly grabbing a hold of the hook as enemies shoot you to death or you somehow find a way to escape. Moments like this are just oversights that should have been caught, but once you figure out how to deal with them they can be easily avoided as well -- doesn't stop them from being annoying though.

Other than this, some stages do barrow some nostalgic moments as well. Of course some may not like them as much as the original "versions" of these stages, but some may find them to be nice throw backs as well. For example, one stage is basically Spark Mandrill's stage from Mega Man X1 (complete with the electricity in tubes, and the lights going on and off), while another stage has a tower that looks very similar to the tower climbing section in X1 as well. Sure these sections may just be cheap rip offs and continue to be things we haven't seen before, but they can also be some of the better moments within these stages. Sadly these moments don't last long and you'll most likely come across something that annoys you shortly after, but at least they are fun while they last.

Like in past Mega Man games, Beck also has the ability to "steal" powers from each boss he fights. For some people this may be the most important part as it was always fun to see what new abilities Mega Man would get, but sadly in MN9 these abilities are a little hit or miss, and actually function more like the Bio Metals and form changes from Mega Man ZX and ZX Advent. In these games rather than stealing the power from the boss, you would either transform into a version of the boss, or become the boss themselves (in ZX Advent)... MN9 uses the style of the former. Upon defeating a boss, not only will that boss appear in a stage later on to help you (the stage with the boss their power is strong against -- which basically gives away each enemy's weakness), but you'll also be able to transform and make use of these powers. Sadly not all of them will be as viable as your standard buster weapon, but there are moments within some stages where they'll be required to reach extra areas, and there are a few that will greatly change the gameplay experience; or more specifically the blade ability.

The blade ability may possibly be the best power in this entire game, depending on what type of play style you like. Rather than being a standard weapon with an energy bar to limit how much it can be used (don't worry, energy recharges by dashing through enemies so most powers do stay full anyway), the blade ability can be used non stop, and it practically turns the game into a Zero and ZX clone. Dawning red armor, and a yellow scarf flowing behind him, Beck is free to run, dash, and slice his way through every stage using his trusty sword. The blades are strong, they can knock back and block bullets, and they can even protect you from some other types of attacks that can be hard to dodge. In other words, the blade transformation is like a character of it's own, and those who are a fan of other games created by Inti (which is the team that helped develop this game as well as the Zero and ZX series) will feel right at home. Basically if you're one of those people who can run through the Zero games by hitting enemies just enough times and dashing through them to finish them off without slowing down, you'll do perfectly fine using the blades -- you'll most likely have a lot more fun doing so too.

Other than this, there really isn't much more to the game. Run right, shoot enemies, dash through them, jump on platforms, avoid death traps, fight bosses by memorizing their patterns and exploiting weak points, and do whatever you can to achieve the highest score. The game also offers a wide verity of in game achievements to work towards to offer some replay value, but if you want something harder you can increase the difficulty after clearing the game for the first time. In these harder modes health items don't appear in all of the same locations (enemies don't drop health in this game, health must be found or earned from absorbing enough to build up an energy tank), enemies move faster and hit harder, and they also have more health. There's also a one hit kill mode where you die instantly if you're crazy enough to try it. Of course if you're not up for this challenge you can just stick with normal -- the game is pretty easy in it's base state as you can even go into the menu to choose how many lives you start each stage with. (Something I personally didn't notice, and lowered by mistake... It wasn't until I finished the game that I realized I didn't have to go through the entire game with one life, only gaining more by picking them up at times... Ah well, like I said, the game is pretty easy in general.) On top of that, there's also a verity of different mini challenge stages you can play through (again, similar to Mega Man Powered up), and some can even be completed in co-op. There really is quite a bit to call you back to this game, and and plenty of reasons to come back to it if you wish.  Although, that's not the only reason to come back to this.

Ray DLC:

Typically I wouldn't mention DLC in a review, but considering this is an entire second side to the game's story, and it comes with new copies of the game, it's something worth mentioning.

Ray is a female robot who sort of takes on the role of Bass and Protoman in Mighty No 9. She's angry, filled with power, and for some reason she's dying -- something that carries over into her gameplay. This robot sets out to get revenge on Dr. White (for some reason), and she's not going to let anyone stand in her way. Her time is limited, and she's going all out.

Unlike Beck, but a bit similar to his blade mode, Ray is a full on melee attacker. She has claws to rip things apart, and her dash move is a spinning dash that can also kill weaker enemies in a single hit. Rather than dashing through enemies to absorb them, her attacks actually destroy her targets, and that becomes a key part of her gameplay. While she does play through all of the same stages as Beck, she is what you might call a speed run character. Her health is constantly dropping, and the only way to survive is by killing enemies to "recover," and by racing to the end as soon as possible. This is where the challenge comes in.

Although Ray can "heal" by killing enemies, she cannot heal if she takes actual damage. Each second her life ticks away, a second health bar can be seen behind it -- this is her true health. If you take damage while her health bar is drained, her true health will drop down to whatever it is. For example, if her current health is at 50%, but her true health bar is at 100%, the moment she takes damage her true health will drop to 50% and will not be recovered past that point when an enemy is killed. On the other hand if her health is at 50% and her true health is at 100% and you get a kill without being hit, your health will jump back up to 100% and begin draining again. In other words, you have to keep moving, you have to keep killing, and you have to avoid getting hit -- especially in boss fights where you have no hope of finding any health items to recover your true health once it drops from being hit. This makes her story much more challenging than the main game, and is perfect for speed runners. Also for anyone who is a fan of games like Mega Man X5 or X6, you'll be happy to see that her story is told with the same style of highly detailed 2D art seen in those games. As funny as it may sound, many people may actually like this style of story telling better than the 3D models seen in game -- the vocal work and dialogue is quite a bit better during Ray's story as well.

The Good and the Bad:

It's not easy to point out both the good and bad in a game like Mighty No 9, but you can easily see where things could have been much better. First of all, this is not what an almost 4 million dollar game should look like. The graphical quality is pretty low, animations can look pretty funky, there's some issues with the stages that were simply overlooked, mouths do not move in cutscenes, the voice work isn't the greatest, and the game doesn't do much to innovate itself or break away from Mega Man. Instead it tries to copy elements from these games, and the result is simply more of the same but "not quite as good" -- possibly due to nostalgia. Anyone looking for something new really won't be finding it here, and anyone who is looking for the Mega Man they used to know and love, you won't be finding that either. Instead this is a game that will mostly appeal to X, Zero or ZX fans, but with some of classic Mega Man's more limiting movements (for example, no wall jumping). Dashing around at high speeds, killing enemies, and slashing your way through the game with the blade ability can be a lot of fun, but you'll also come across sections that you'll flat out hate. Some long time fans may compare this game to games like Mega Man X6, X8, or Mega Man & Bass when it comes to the stage design, but for those who aren't used to such cheap tricks may get discouraged easily. This honestly isn't anything we haven't dealt with countless times before, but one can't help but wish they could have evolved past it in some way. Having challenges in stages is one thing, but having fake challenges based on luck is something completely different.

Even so, Mighty No 9 isn't actually a bad game. Again, those hoping for something that'll blow them away wont find it here, but anyone who just wants a simple action game to blow through is sure to at least have some fun with this one. It's not an amazing game, but it's an okay game that you may still return to once in awhile. If you can just put aside the long development times and the high budget, you'll see that Mighty No 9 is a game that at least deserves a chance. You'll have to put up with some annoyances here and there, but again, what Mega Man game didn't have moments like these? Being a massive fan myself (and someone who has played every Mega Man game minus a few Japanese exclusives), I can honestly say that there is at least one moment or two in each game that I dread going through, and I can now say the same for Mighty No 9 as well. Sometimes you just have to push through and get back to what it is you like about the game. Maybe Mighty No 9 isn't worthy of being Mega Man's successor, but it was entertaining.