Kickstarter Hit ‘Mighty No. 9’ Proves a Critical Flop; Producer Says: “It’s Better Than Nothing”
Keiji Inafune addresses the problems with his new game, as backers demand that their names are removed from its credits.
Announced in 2013, Mega Man-influenced platformer Mighty No. 9, from the Keiji Inafune-founded Comcept Inc. studios in Japan, is one of Kickstarter's greatest-ever hits, securing its $900,000 target in just two days of donations, with the final amount coming close to four million dollars from over 67,000 backers. After that goal was achieved, however, the game was struck by development headaches and release delays. Nevertheless, backers remained confident: here was a title with Inafune, one of Mega Man's core creative talents, on board, alongside former Capcom artist Shinsuke Komaki and original Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae. It'd all be okay, come on, surely. Right?
Nope. The game comes out today (June the 21st) in Japan and North America, with the European release set for June the 24th), and reviews have been lukewarm at best. "Inoffensively average," wrote Gamespot, awarding it 5/10. "Charmless and full of poorly executed ideas" was IGN's verdict (5.6/10). Videogamer comments on its "numerous terrible design choices and ugly presentation". Suffice to say that while Inafune's fans had been voicing their support for the game – and good on them, because someone has to when it's getting this kind of reception – the critics aren't into it, at all.
Which isn't the end of the world. Plenty of not-so-great games earn themselves a passionate following, usually nurtured by equally enthusiastic developers who wear their hearts on their sleeves and will do anything to get their game into as many homes as possible. But when Comcept live-streamed the game's launch earlier today (watch the recording of it here), it became clear that even Mighty No. 9's makers aren't exactly enamoured with their results. The stream started late, and when it was running it was, to quote Twitter user @wario64, "basically a post-mortem on why they screwed up". And then this happened:
"At the end of the day, even if it's not perfect, it's better than nothing." So says Ben Judd, "sexy video game agent" and someone who's "worked with a wide variety of different talents" and "helped on the campaign for Mighty No. 9". He served as producer on 2008's well-received Bionic Commando Rearmed, and was previously the head of globalisation for Capcom Japan, working on localisation and performing voiceovers for cult titles like Viewtiful Joe and God Hand. "Better than nothing." Oh, dear.
To be fair to Judd, he's only translating the words of Inafune himself, who answers a question about game expanding DLC at 1:09 in the stream:
"So there's not any additional DLC beyond the Ray (an additional antagonist) DLC. The reality is they put everything into making this game. They didn't try to microtransaction it out, they didn't try to DLC it out for extra money. They put it all in. So, for now, this is what you see and what you get, for the Mighty No. 9 world. But, again, we can hope that if things go well, there'll be sequels. Because I'll tell you what, I'm not getting my 2D side-scrolling fill. And at the end of the day, even if it's not perfect, it's better than nothing. At least, that's my opinion."
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At the time of writing, this 'Mighty No. 9' "masterclass" trailer has almost 34,000 dislikes, against 4,343 thumbs up. Which is never a good ratio.
Update: There is some debate as to whether or not the "it's better than nothing" line is a translation of what Inafune said, or Judd's own comment. But it's hard to understand why someone there to translate the words of the game's high-profile producer would throw in such an opinion, where he does, right next to his boss, and nobody picks him up on it.
Judd does go to great lengths to talk about how the studio owning the game's IP is important, and how Inafune was better off spending his time, after 70 percent of Mighty No. 9 was completed, on other projects that benefit the company. Inafune was not involved in the porting phase, or bug testing. Judd pauses several times during the stream to look over a cavalcade of comments complaining that codes are not working, the dissatisfied customers stacking up. Many messages come up as "deleted", too, possibly due to explicit content. One backer, JohnXuandou, writes several times: "Can I get my name removed from the credits?" Some people joke: "Will there be an N-Gage version?" asks apparatus_mini. No, obviously, but the game is supposedly coming out for just about every system currently in use, from the Wii U to NVIDIA's Shield Portable.
LOLs aside, the message is clear: regardless of who said what in the stream, this has been a complete hash of a launch, for a game that simply hasn't delivered on its promises. The Xbox 360 version of Mighty No. 9 has been further delayed, likewise ports for Mac and Linux, with those backers wanting code for Microsoft's last-gen console offered Steam access instead. "Better than nothing." But to look at all the now-less-than-supportive backers of the game, and its team, you've got to argue, maybe, that nothing might have been preferable.
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