Mighty Big Mess: Charting The Rocky Development And Release Of ‘Mighty No. 9’

Mighty No. 9 has finally arrived, but the long-awaited game isn’t being met with much positive enthusiasm. A spiritual successor to Capcom’s beloved Mega Man series, Mighty No. 9 owes its existence to a huge outpouring of fan nostalgia and cash, but now that the game is here, excitement has given way to cynicism and anger. How did we end up here? Sadly, Mighty No. 9 has done a lot to squander its goodwill over the past three years, providing a textbook example of how not to do crowdfunding along the way. Here’s a brief history of the many misfortunes of Mighty No. 9

Keiji Inafune probably isn’t smiling now. 

The Capcom Breakup

The history of Mighty No. 9 begins in 2010 when Keiji Inafune, co-creator of Mega Man and then-Head of Production for Capcom, quit the company. Apparently, it wasn’t an amicable breakup. After Inafune left, Capcom canceled three in-production Mega Man games, and essentially buried their once-mascot out of spite, leading to a lot of pent-up frustration from loyal fans of the Blue Bomber.

Mighty No. 9 is Born

Three years later in September of 2013, Keiji Inafune and his new company Comcept unveiled Mighty No. 9, a new Mega Man game in everything but name. Inafune was looking for $900,000 on Kickstarter, but fans flooded his coffers with over $4 million in cash. Mighty No. 9‘s Kickstarter sent shockwaves throughout the industry – it was the first big Japanese success on the platform, and set off a series of similar “spiritual successors.”

In order to reach $4 million, Mighty No. 9 offered a huge, unwieldy list of stretch goal bonuses, including extra modes, online multiplayer, a documentary and ports to every platform under the sun. It was more stuff than most major publishers would pack into a game, never mind a startup indie. Trouble was already on the horizon.

Mighty No. 9 was scheduled to be released Spring 2015.

The Quest for Extra Funds

Despite raising well above their original goal of $900,000, the Mighty No. 9 team continued to solicit backers for more money throughout 2014, claiming it was needed for extras like voice acting and DLC. When the fans balked, the developers usually ended up “finding” the extra money somewhere, adding a slightly sketchy air to the whole operation.

Mighty No. 9 is Finished

In January 2015, Inafune releases a video, in which he claims the game is “pretty much finished.”

Deep Silver Partnership and First Delay

In April of 2015, Concept announced the game would now be published by Deep Silver (the guys behind Saints Row) and that the game will be delayed until September 2015. The blame for this was put on the large number of ports Comcept promised, although the fact that Deep Silver was now publishing a physical version of the game was also a likely issue (printing and shipping discs and boxes takes time).

The Second Delay

Mighty No. 9 is delayed again, this time until February 9, 2016. According to the developers this is due to the game’s net code for its two relatively minor online modes not being up to snuff. Comcept promises the game won’t be delayed again.

The Third Delay

Mighty No. 9 is delayed again, this time to a vague “Spring 2016” date. Once again, the blame is put on online modes that nobody particularly cares about. Word is the real issue is that Mighty No. 9 was built using the now-outdated Unreal Engine 3, and the developers are unable to easily make any changes to the game.

The Fourth Delay

Concept finally announces what will end up being Mighty No. 9‘s final release date – June 21, 2016, which is well beyond the previously-announced “Spring 2016” time frame by any reasonable definition.

A Masterclass in Bad Marketing

With Mighty No. 9 actually, maybe coming out, Deep Silver releases a trailer for the game, and it’s an epic embarrassment, featuring lines about how the game will let you “make bad guys cry like an anime fan on prom night.” Some of Mighty No. 9‘s own developers hit Twitter to call the trailer “unforgivable.” Mega Man fans slip into a deep depression.

Mighty No. 9 Arrives

But hey, all of Mighty No. 9′s trials and tribulations were forgotten once the game finally arrived, right? Haha, nope. The game has been receiving mixed reviews, Kickstarter backers have had trouble getting their codes, the game has been delayed yet again on Xbox 360 and Mac, and the Wii U version is reportedly in an almost-unplayable state. A less-than-mighty arrival to be sure.

If you every consider crowdfunding anything, Mighty No. 9 is the ultimate cautionary tale. Don’t promise too much, don’t close the backers out, don’t take on outside partners when you don’t need to, and, above all, be realistic about your goals. Hopefully, Mighty No. 9 ends up being a positive example, rather than something that drives people away from Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms.

We’ll have an full review of Mighty No. 9 later this week.