Another way that Mighty No. 9 sets itself apart from the Mega Man series is in its story presentation. Throughout each level, there is constant chatter going on, whether its Call offering advice on where Beck should go next, or Dr. Sanda and Dr. White trying to piece together what's going on, or simply Beck pleading with one of his former comrades to come to their senses.
Each level also has you interacting with the boss before the actual boss fight. One level in particular took place entirely on a highway, and had the player jumping from car to car, fighting enemies along the way. About halfway through, the boss would appear in the background and suddenly start destroying cars with a single slash of his sword, forcing you to quickly react and jump to safety or wind up as a junkpile on the road.
It's also worth mentioning that once you beat a boss, you'll actually fix whatever was causing them to malfunction and cause them to come over to your side. This manifests in certain levels where if you've rescued a boss, they'll actually appear in the background giving you support in some way or another. So in addition to knowing what weapon works well on a boss, like you normally would in a Mega Man game, it's also helpful to know which bosses will help you out on which stages.
Speaking of those weapons that you obtain from defeating bosses, I only got to mess with a couple of them, but the ones that I used were a ton of fun and dramatically changed the way I approached combat. My favorite was the sword power up, which basically turns you into Zero; capable of deflecting bullets with your sword and charging up for a single powerful sword slash. Another favorite was a Crash Bomb style explosive that allowed you to fire a sticky bomb that could be detonated with a second press of the button for massive splash damage.
Mighty No. 9 defied my expectations in the best kind of way. Sure, there are some obvious nods to the Mega Man series, and you're still choosing a level, fighting a boss at the end, gaining their power, and using that power against another boss that's weak to it, but Mighty No. 9 has managed to craft its own unique identity. It's no doubt going to become a staple in the speed running community thanks to all of its mechanics rewarding the player for moving through levels as fast as they can.
Mighty No. 9 releases on September 15 on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, PC, Mac, Linux, Wii-U, 3DS and Vita.