An essential overview and strategy guide of how you should probably approach this game, as a casual enjoyer.
Table of Contents
This is an eight dollar indie production from a studio whose main marketing arm is a youtube channel that they run. They once published a series of videos regarding the troublesome design of Mighty Number 9– a kickstarter flop by any metric– in a way which was brushed past by many of their contemporaries.
They were good videos but regrettably they just kind of. Didn’t make any more. That’s not to say they started chasing trends or sold out somehow, as far as I’m concerned they remain pretty wholesome, or however wholesome two dudebros ought to be. They mostly play indie games while spinning the wheels slow and steady towards their third game release.
I say all of this because I can’t help but notice this game has received so little attention, there will be nothing like this work except this work likely ever. I record my thoughts like this because I am incredibly egotistical and believe I’m doing something novel by being the only one who gave public advice on this teeny tiny half-baked sunnovab-word game with a “Roguelite” tag stuck on the end of it to excuse itself proactively from contemptible design decisions regarding difficulty.
I hope this proves helpful to the trickle of new buyers who might see this during a steam summer sale, or while browsing sub 10 dollars. My advice to Joe and Ed (co devs) might be to bite a bullet and drop it to 4.99 out of sales to get you under that vital cutting off point on steam lists. But I don’t publish games (for now) so what do I know.
(It really gave me a kick of nostalgiac glee to hear their self-satisfied cheese play through of their game, seeing two people marveling and snickering at their own finished project, I invite you to watch it.
Actually Playing the Game
It is worth stressing, the size of your character and the straight lines the projectiles go at– in addition to the simple mass of these bullets which will become apparent into your run– that you might mistake this game to be similar to a schmup in execution.
Rule Zero: This game is not similar to a schmup in execution.
Skills that you might have picked up from games about shooting asteroids and alien spaceships or little girls with funny hats do not apply here. The spread of bullets are not carefully curated to make you feel powerful while actually giving you quite a bit of leeway in reality– you being hit is an eventuality of chance, and the fundamental skill isn’t platforming let alone dodging. You have only one speed at which you move, your ‘hurtbox’ is actually quite sizable in comparison to your character sprite and very little power to maneuver the world otherwise. The principle skill is bet hedging and the Spirit of Glass mechanic epitomizes that.
Given how that’s true, I would suggest that you take a few principles to heart:
- Thou Shalt Not Die to the Spirit of Glass (duh!)
The level up system is generous enough that you don’t actually need to tempt fate very much with regard to sticking around a level. Get what you need to and get out– progress toward our goal is dependent on clearing levels quickly and without spending your primary resource Health frivolously.
- Falling is Easier than Climbing
Your player character (whom I believed is named Racket?) has a terminal velocity much higher than the rate that you can jump on platforms then jump again. This has broad implications on the way that you should be pathfinding. There will be many times where you cannot effectively jump over a bullet, but if you’re on a fall through platform you can avoid it by sacrificing height and plummeting. Consider the bottom of the level to be the least desirable place you can be at any given time, and manage your time at the bottom accordingly, especially when the Spirit of Glass appears.
- Between Glass and Stone, pick glass.
You are allowed to pass levels based on the percentage of items broken, not the value of the item you break. It can often be worth it, especially when you need to bide time anyway to avoid bullets, to stand in place jumping on top of a statue. But broadly speaking, you’re more likely to succeed if you leave levels faster, and you can leave levels faster by breaking many fragile objects than a handful of hardy objects.
Bonus: Between Enemies…
You do need to keep ahead of the enemy count somewhat, so concerning the enemies which you can kill, which are most helpful to you to kill?
Drones, first and foremost and always. Fixed bullet patterns (and many) means that being in their vicinity is a quick way to take a hit. If you are nearby, the detour to take them our is always worth it.
Soldiers, are moderately dangerous, taking direct shots at Racket, but that makes them easily kited. They can become inconvenient and even unmanageable in enough numbers (inclusive) or the wrong situation (like steel hallways), but my advice would be to avoid those situations in the first place by managing them proactively.
“The Mayor(s)” are not threatening. You should not be standing still long enough for their long windup to finish. Any hit taken by them is entirely on you.
Quick and dirty tier list including elites:
Elite Drones, Elite Soldiers, Drones, Soldiers, Elite “The Mayor(s)”, “The Mayor(s)”.
To reiterate: you should never go out of your way to kill a “The Mayor”. They are a red herring which will leave you wasting valuable multiplier time.
Regarding Item Selection
Whenever you level up, you gain an item (and if you level up multiple times in one stage, you gain multiple items before beginning the next stage). These items are not created even vaguely equally, so I’ll be using the framing of a tier list to advise you thusly:
S Tier: Take this every single time, the first time it appears as an option
Beserk is just too good to pass up ever. The number boons are ribbon features (though the strength might synergize nicely with Cannibalize, as described below) but what you actually want from this is the extended invulnerability. This is the only way to extend your invulnerability time and as health is your primary resource throughout this adventure, simply avoiding more health loss is simply invaluable. Even if there aren’t many enemies to kill, you can use the invulnerability to pass through the Spirit of Glass, making certain excessively risky plays viable– or just clean up a level really quickly. This power up is the foundation of a viable run.
A Tier: Proactive Mitigation
Understanding that you will eventually take damage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of trying to desperately save a run from mistakes. Understand that the difficulty curve is exponential and none of this replaces playing quickly.
Cannibalize is infinite health in the early levels, especially if you have Beserk to synergize with it. The returns do diminish with time, but as long as you’re playing intelligently, you can probably count on this restoring 3-5 health over the course of a viable run. Finally, you don’t have to make a mistake until very late to actually benefit from this: While you’re killing enemies you’re filling an invisible additional health container up until very near full so that it’s very possible that after a few levels not getting hit, getting hit once might see your health replenished almost immediately. Easy to pick up after Beserk.
+ Health – The only thing better than theoretically (but solemnly in practice) infinite health is merely additional health. The first upgrade gives you one additional heart and every future one gives you two, making the investment worth it broadly. Extra health is extra time in this needlessly unforgiving game.
B Tier: Situational or Otherwise Unreliable
Gun Jam reduces the bullets on screen by one fourth. This benefit is better the longer you have it, but there is a point where the difficulty curve will make this irrelevant anyway. You should never be depending on an enemy to misfire as you run up to it, so think of this more like a difficulty dampener. Like a paper towel placed underneath a leak in the ceiling, it would be shortsighted to expect this to solve a problem
Second Chance sounds good except that you only revive with one health, making it generally weaker than getting +2 health blow for blow. There is one situation where it would be preferable to have it: getting caught by the Spirit of Glass. This is the only way to survive the encounter but then again you should not be getting caught by the Spirit of Glass so…
The Murderator – Sounds fun and to an extent is fun, but not having a permanent effect mitigates it’s usefulness for anything outside of the end game to stack a bunch of score up before Racket dies is suspect. This is the hard cut off point for useful upgrades, past here you should really consider better options.
C Tier: Reactive Mitigation
Restore All Health is something you take to get just that little bit extra mileage.This is not likely worth taking unless you’re healing more than 3 hearts, which probably means that you’re a good while into the run and are at the point where taking more damage is inevitable. Taking this is essentially conceding that your run won’t last another ten rooms. It can be a mathematically sound decision to choose this, but this option is horrific most of the way towards the goal of beating the game.
D Tier: Math Stuff
The last two options I can best describe as ‘flawed’, and won’t help you in the ways which matter: clearing levels quickly.
More Strength is only useful for breaking statues (something which shouldn’t be your priority) and killing Mayors (not something you should be doing on purpose at all). There is some amount of synergy with Cannibalize if you can kill mayors in one pass, but you would have to take two strength upgrades and that’s two upgrades which isn’t additional health which at that point I would ask you why not just take the additional health directly.
More Speed – The speed bonus is simply too insignificant, the spaces you can clear are too situational and risky to take in the first place, and being faster around slow bullets makes them harder to dodge. I tried picking it over and over again and I never saw results which suggested that it took me further. Do not take this.
Don’t Sweat Losing A Bunch
I was only able to impart this after a frustrating amount of losses when I was a teen, and dropping the game for many years. If you happen to be just around right now, and even then I barely just beat the game after a few hours of persistence. The game is a good idea fundamentally, but it’s also just unfair in a way which doesn’t strike me as profound. Just keep cracking at it, and you’ll probably get the right handful of levels that you can make it to the final-ish room without total ruination. The credits are pretty funny, but no spoilers from me.
Good hunting, make a racket and all of that.
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