So I beat this game on Normal difficulty. Supposedly the harder difficulties have new attack patterns from the bosses so I guess I'll try it out some other time.
Here's the short of it: I think the 5-6 scores the game got are pretty fair. It's ultimately an okay game with some moments I started to get a feel for the game, and you get into this rhythm of shooting and dashing that makes the game a lot of fun. I think people starved for a Megaman clone won't feel too bad paying $5-10 if it goes on sale.
Okay time for super long detailed rant version.
First off, something rather basic- the performance issues. You might have already heard but this game has some of the worst optimization I've seen in a game. My computer couldn't even really run it smoothly so that made some stages needlessly unpleasant (though my computer's a few years old, but still). What I've heard is that a good PC will run it just fine though. The console versions however, do get lots of slowdown, especially bad with the Wii U version. I'm told it's especially bad on Wii U mainly because Unreal Engine 3 doesn't really work on Wii U so they had to do a bunch of trickery to get it to work on there. Given all this, I'm really curious how they're going to manage to get this game to work on the Vita and 3DS.
The graphics aren't good as everyone already knows- but after playing for a while I started to not really mind since I was focused on the action. I think the biggest problem here are the character models and how stiff they are. The weird chibi look with big hands and feet also just doesn't look good- I'm guessing what they were trying to do was make them proportioned kind of like NES sprites, but I think they should've just gone with replicating the proportions on Tom Pom's artwork. That and the pizza explosions. The backgrounds are fine for the most part, I feel.
Whoever did the sound mixing for this game is an idiot- go to the options and turn down sound effects and voices if you get this game. Real waste of the composers' work if its always getting drowned out by explosions and gunfire. I also had the voices on Japanese- though worth noting Steve Blum's performance as No. 8 is a real standout performance as far as the English cast goes.
Alright, now for the stage breakdown.
I started in the Military Base (No. 5). I found this the easiest stage, personally. I've talked about this stage before and there's really not much to say. It's a pretty straightforward stage with conveyor belts and land mines. The boss is also pretty easy. It's inoffensive and forgettable (the music
is nice though). What I really want to note though, is the weapon Battalion gives- it's ridiculously broken. It's Crash Bomb from MM2, except with a larger blast radius, low energy consumption, and you can manually detonate it anytime after shooting. In MN09 weapon energy recovers over time and when you absorb enemies, so it's not hard to just stay on a special weapon all the time if you want to. Its biggest downside, really, is that its giant explosions will make it so that you can't see shit.
Worth noting that once you beat a boss in MN09, the game actually tells you which boss you should go to next via an option in the Stage Select. I mean, I don't think it's a big deal personally, just kinda weird. One thing that's kinda cool is that for that stage, the boss you already beat will appear at some point and help you out by destroying an enemy or making a platforming segment easier, etc. Anyway, I played the game in the "proper" order using the weapons I got, as I tend to do in my first playthroughs.
Next I went to the Mine (No. 4). This stage likes making you use Beck's ledge grab a whole lot and placing spikes all over the place. There's also giant instant-kill drill things moving back and forth through a bunch of hallways kind of like those things from Armored Armadillo's stage. Then of course you have an obligatory "giant death machine chases you while you hurry through" segment. By the way, MN09 really loves its death traps, and getting hit doesn't make you invulnerable against spikes. It's not featured in the Mine, but the MN09 likes to strategically place enemies to knock you into death traps. I think this stage is fun, but the boss, Seismic, is a total bore. He got lost on his way to Megaman X3 apparently, since he spends most of his time ramming the walls before doing a really telegraphed and easy-to-dodge drill attack. His weapon is cool in that it turns Beck into a tank, but novelty aside it's not very useful- you can crush enemies under your treads or send them flying, but why would you want that when the point of the game is to get big scores by dash-absorbing stuff?
The Highway (No. 7) loves doing the thing I mentioned a second ago. One of the ways MN09 penalizes you for dashing too recklessly is if you get hit while dashing, you will fly back farther than usual and you'll be stunned longer. So here, there's a couple enemies that will either knock Beck off cars or will face-plant into him while you're dashing between them. Either way, it's likely you'll hit the pavement and that's an instant death. My problem with this stage is that advancing slowly to make sure you don't get knocked on your ass really breaks the pace of the game. Otherwise there's not much to say- you can break Brandish's swords by using the weapon from Seismic, and that makes him a lot easier. Even without that he's a pretty easy boss though. The sword weapon you get from him is also pretty broken, it deflects bullets and consumes no energy unless you use the charged Tazmanian Devil attack. It also has a really hilariously stupid programming oversight I'll mention later.
The Power Plant (No. 3) was in the demo and its probably my most hated stage. Most of the stage is unremarkable- the stage's gimmick is supposed to be these boxes that shoot out lightning crawling along the floor, but most of the time you'll have no trouble just taking them out before they get anything off. What makes me hate the stage though, is one section in particular- a ridiculously stupid pixel-perfect low-dash you need to do under a instant-kill turbine. The hitbox on the thing is really hard to see and it comes relatively late in the level, so I wouldn't be surprised if lots of people had to play through the first part of the stage numerous times just because of this one stupid section. Thankfully Dynatron is a pretty easy boss- she shoots out little lightning rods and then shocks all of them. You just want to be sure you get them all concentrated in one part of the room so you don't get trapped. That, or just take out Brandish's sword and completely trivialize everything she does. Her weapon shoots out a spread of lightning rods and I haven't found much use for it outside the boss weak to it.
The mansion (No. 8) is probably the most unique stage in the game, but it isn't executed very well. The boss is constantly sniping at Beck from off-screen and you have to chase him down, hit him a few times, and repeat. Each time he disappears he might be shooting at Beck from the right or left, so you don't just keep running right like you do in a regular stage. The rooms themselves are pretty simple hallways with a few roadblocks, though, so they missed the opportunity to do something more interesting. A few of the enemies scramble your controls if they hit you, so that's kinda new, I guess? After a while instant-death wires start appearing in the rooms. If you slip up, you have to start the whole stage over- there are no checkpoints aside from the one just outside the boss room. Countershade's a joke of a boss if you play it safe. He cloaks himself to move around the room (Dynatron's lightning rods can continue shocking him as he's invisible, so that's a cool detail) but he attacks so damn slowly that he's basically never a threat. His weapon's just a bouncy bullet- it might have some niche uses but again, because the name of the game is to absorb enemies quickly, I didn't feel like using it in stages since it could potentially screw up any combos I'd build.
I like the airport stage (No. 6). The gimmick's a simple strong winds mechanic and the stage has a lot of precision jumping/dashing that I found fun to land correctly. Aviator's mocking personally is also fun to listen to in the background (in Japanese anyway). Also the music
is nice. The boss got me a game over the first time I tried him with just the pea shooter since I wasn't really sure what I was doing. Shade's sniper weapon takes out huge chunks of his life and you can deflects a lot of his shots with Brandish's blade though, so using weapons makes him a joke. His weapon allows Beck to jump higher, float, and also does a zigzag attack that can do lots of damage to a small area. It's one of the more useful weapons, but Battalion's missile is just too goddamn broken.
The oil platform (No. 1), like some of the other stages, has a good idea but some really baffling execution. The stage introduces two different things- enemies hurling fireballs into oil pits ala Flame Man in MM6, and falling pillars from the background that are instant-kill. The end of the stage combines the fireballs with the falling pillars over giant chasms in such a way that getting hit by a fireball means you'll be stunned long enough for a pillar to kill you. The problem is that you can just "bait" the pillars into falling so it becomes a non-issue. Pyrogen is a pretty hard boss because his attacks tend to have large hitboxes, and you won't know which one he's using unless you listen closely (he uses voice cues instead of some kind of animation). The worst thing about him though, is that once he hits half health, he gains access to an instant-kill move. Really just seems like a cheap way to make him harder. His weapon is probably the most useless one in the game, an explosion centered around Beck. It's uselessness should be fairly obvious.
Alright, last robot master combines water/ice stages (No. 2) while managing to be boring at both. Beck being able to dash multiple times in the air means I was able to skip over large parts of the underwater part of the stage- really wonder if they knew what they were doing with this part here. The ice section has slipper floors and instant death spikes (of course). Not much to say beyond that. Cryosphere is deceptively hard, not because her pattern is hard to figure out, but that a single mistake will be punished really severely because her attacks can do a ton of damage. If you don't have the right weapons, you also want to time your shots correctly, otherwise you might get into a situation where you destabilize part of her health bar, only to have her fly up and be unreachable with your dash, and she'll just recover the damage. The ice weapon from her travels in a small arc similar to the Chill Spike from MM10- it's probably the weapon of choice for score nerds since it increases the amount of time to get a 100% absorb, meaning you get to keep your combo.
After this the game gives you a choice of two stages- in context of the story, the cast splits into two different places. This is where the Stretch Goal for the Call stage comes in. Call has a dinky weapon so the idea behind her stage is to avoid fighting and finding key cards to open doors into a prison. Call also gets an energy shield to bounce bullets off. Cool of them to throw in something somewhat unique, but I found playing as Call pretty boring personally.
The second to last stage with Beck is similar to the first Wily Stage from MM9- it expects you to use the weapons you have at this point to traverse some platforming segments. Also more spikes. One thing I thought was pretty neat was that all the Mighty No. join Beck on the mission and they're in the background destroying enemies and whatnot- it's a cute detail. All I'll say for the boss was that it was adequately challenging and it was fun to fight. Overall a decent stage.
The final stage is odd in that it just introduces new platforming gimmicks. Seems like this stage and the last one should've swapped places if you went with video game logic, but oh well. The first part of the stage involves some weird blobs you shoot until they becomes blocks, which you then use to cross over chasms. The second part has a cool gimmick I'm surprised they didn't just make it into a stage in its own right, or made it part of Aviator's stage- there's a series of updrafts over a huge chasm, and to keep yourself airborne, you need to dash over and over. Enemies are mixed in so you can't just dash in a straight line through.
The final boss, as Aeolus posted above, is a ridiculous damage sponge. However, that's only if you don't use weapons. With weapons, she becomes a total joke. Her first form is basically the Yellow Devil redux, and here a glitch I mentioned earlier involving the sword comes in- apparently the blobs this form shoots out count as projectiles, so instead of being a good player and jump/dashing around the blobs flying at you, you can instead just face them and spam the sword over and over, and the blobs just fly through Beck. It's fucking hilarious and I can't believe they made such a huge oversight. Aside from that, equip Batallion's missile and watch Trinity's life bar whittle to nothing in record time. It also allow you to destroy all segments of her second giant "flower" form at once. They really should've playtested the boss in a buster-only run since without Batallion's missile she's takes ages to beat. Whatever the case she's still a pretty hard boss though, which I guess is appropriate.
One thing you might've not noticed in Aeolus's video was the last boss theme
though- it's actually pretty nice.
After that are the credits...and a sequel hook. Oh you, Comcept.
I also tried out the DLC character, Ray, for a bit. People who find Beck's shoot-dash mechanics really awkward might find Ray a lot of fun to play as. Her life bar is constantly depleting and you need to rush through stages. In exchange, her focus is melee combat and her dash does damage unlike Beck's, so it means you don't need to do an "extra" step to absorb enemies, you just rampage through stages as fast as possible. Her skillset probably matches with the "speedrunning" nature of the game a lot better than Beck's does. So far I've only played two stages with her though, including the Intro.
Stuff I haven't done:
-Beat the game as Ray
-Buster only run (of course)
-Maybe try to score attack some levels if I'm bored
-The challenge modes range from time attacks to mini-puzzle levels (for example, clear this room using this many number of shots of a special weapon)
At the very least I'll come back later to beat the game as Ray once. The other stuff I'll probably end up doing some time down the road.
All in all, when we're talking about the game itself, I don't think it deserves as much hate as it gets. It's a really flawed game but I still had fun- maybe I'm just really starved for a new runny shooty platformer, who knows?
For the curious, this is what the game looks like
when someone is trying to speedrun the game, contrasting the video Aeolus posted where the person pretty much chose the slowest possible way to fight the last boss (strange that he would choose to use the sword to exploit the invincibility frames but refused to use other weapons to make short work of the boss). I didn't really think of using the Seismic weapon that way, but there it is.