Mighty Milky Way Review

As one of the first titles I bought for my 3DS, I was excited to first play Mighty Milky Way, as it would finally be the first WayForward game that I’d get to actually own.  But after spending many an hour on the final level, I was unable to beat it, but I’m just going to review it anyway, because I said I would.  So let’s trim the fat and leap into WayForward week!

Mighty Milky Way Review
Release Date: 09/5/2011
Platform: DSi
Price I Paid: $7.99

Mighty Milky Way stars Luna, a green and purple haired alien who speaks French for some reason.  Although, the character is pretty arbitrary, and you could replace it with pretty much anything, and just replace the French she speaks whenever she dies, and replace the end of level victory images.  I am pretty sure that her husband or boyfriend, a children’s drawing of Mechagodzilla, is going on a rampage because they broke up, and Luna must plant a bomb onto him, run away, and witness him explode.  But the game never has a single droplet of story, and that’s a more educated analysis.  But chances are that if your story contains something that began as a napkin sketch for the main antagonist.

The actual gameplay of Mighty Milky Way, involves Luna traveling across circular asteroids in a standard 2D plane, automatically walking clockwise at a speed that you can determine, and jumping from planet to planet while creating new ones with magical space candy.  It results in a very unique puzzle game, but one that does not mess around, and can be very harsh if you do not know what the designers want you to do.  The game regularly abuses the fact that Luna cannot move counterclockwise, and place instant death everywhere that they can get away with, thanks to electrified wire, lava, or just thorns.  And if you couldn’t tell from the title, the game takes place in space, so every planet has its own gravity, which ruins your run more often than not.

I understand what WayForward was trying to do, but everything feels loose when I’m through the air, and when you compare this to, say, Super Mario Galaxy, the gravity controls in this game just feel off.  And when punching a planet into chunks after two hits, it is very hard to tell your direction.  They do thankfully provide a map on the top screen, but even when it says that Luna is properly aligned to hit an object, I often go around it quite a bit.  And that’s not hard, that’s wasting my damn time.  The game has a very odd obsession with patience, but the ability to sprint, instant death enemies, and the speed required to avoid Luna’s Ex, the latter of which happens every tenth of the 40 levels in this game.  If you have planets bursting 10 seconds after I touch them, and I need to keep some from being blown up so that I can continue, I’m probably going to want to rush, and I’ll probably end up dying.  

But there is something odd that happens, something that I rarely see.  When I die in other games, I feel like I know why, but not in Mighty Milky Way, meaning that they somehow ended up committing the cardinal sin of gaming.  The process of dying, hearing Luna’s French, watching her blow up, and then respawn while you do your route yet again.  Well, I felt like I died by my own hand the great minority of times, about 20-25%, but it should be about 95-100%.  And dying does not create the same desire to try again that WayForward’s next title evokes, well, mostly evokes.  

Sadly, the most similar game that I have played to Mighty Milky Way, is Portal.  And while I think Portal had a very nice difficulty curve, that it and its sequel required far more reflexes than twitch timing.  And while there is nothing wrong with twitch timing, but the ambient atmosphere, smooth graphics, and calming music, only clash with the gameplay, creating a very messy and counter intuitive aesthetic.  And that is not bad if intentional, with the best example being how Conker’s Bad Fur Day uses assets from its original kid friendly title, but still creates the raunchiest experience ever to grace a Nintendo console.  But they don’t create a calming atmosphere, only to require to near exact timing needed to beat this game.

Also, why are there some levels where I can get by with two extra planet creation candies, but others require exact candy usage to win?  Maybe I like my puzzle games to be ambient, but a quick paced game where you need to master a rhythm, sounds very appealing to me.  Now, I sucked at the little Rhythm Heaven that I played, but I still had a bunch of fun with it, because I liked seeing the results of my victory, and I felt as if I was actually accomplishing something.  But I feel as if I’m not really doing anything, even though Luna gives me a kiss, goes through a wormhole, and then shows me a postcard of her and her boyfriend chowing down on hotdog buns, which is a lot less funny the sixth time they show me it.  I understand that your artists work hard, because the sprite work in this game is lovely as always, but if I get the same damn picture as a reward three times, it is hard to get the impression that I’m doing anything.  A story could have helped that, but no, WayForward had to work on Bloodrayne Betrayal, and make it retardedly hard

As a whole, I find little to recommend Mighty Milky Way, it has a good atmosphere, but it seems as if the designers had contradicting ideas on whether the game should be fast paced, or an ambient space hopping adventure that requires good timing.  And as a result, we get a game that feels like a ROM hack, or is just dreadfully unpolished.  And while I will praise WayForward for always being different, they kinda dropped the ball here.  I like to say avoid this game, and maybe get Aliens: Infestation.  I’d like to, but I have yet to play it, but it seems a lot better than this clunky misstep.

A batch of good ideas that are hampered by poor execution.  It is not good or bad, it’s just middle of the road and can only serve as a learning tool for other, better games.

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