The core of what makes a good Megaman-like game is solid platforming and the ability to shoot. Throw in some fun level designs and unique enemies, and you’ve got the makings of a fun game with some replay value. But that alone is not enough to set it apart from other clones. Something else is missing. And that’s where the random nature of rogue-likes come into play. The end result is a game with Megaman mechanics at its core along with ever changing level layouts and permadeath.
Platforms: Xbox One, PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Batterystaple Games
Publisher: Batterystaple Games
Release Date: July 10, 2018
Review code provided by Batterystaple Games
20XX is a roguelike action platformer that is heavily inspired by the Megaman X series. In this game, players need to jump and shoot their way through ever-changing level layouts, collect powerful new abilities, and battle some epic bosses all in the name of saving humanity… and a paycheck.
Gameplay and Features:
After a brief cutscene introducing the heroes of the game and the reason to start adventuring, the player starts the game at HQ. The HQ functions as the hub world where the player chooses from a variety of game modes. Apart from the main game, there are a bunch of other modes with varying conditions and modifiers. The main game of 20XX starts the player off on a random stage against a random boss.
Nina and Ace function similarly to both Megaman and Zero respectively. Powers and all. In multiplayer mode, both the player and their partner must coordinate with each other in order to do some certain actions. In single player mode, the player chooses which bot to play as before going on a run.
Much like in every version of Megaman, platforming is the name of the game. Players need to keep their wits about them if they want to have a successful run. Disappearing blocks and moving platforms are a common sight in every stage and they provide a constant challenge for any player. To round off the levels, there are plenty of environmental traps and stage specific enemies along the way. Fortunately, the controls are very tight with air control, wall slide, and a responsive speed dash being in the forefront. Different attacks and augs are also present throughout the stage with some of the better abilities being tucked away in more harder to reach places. So, I guess it all works out.
Challenges appear within the level themselves. These are usually in the form of a bonus timer and extra challenge rooms. Challenge rooms are optional challenges that test the player’s reflexes and timing. The rewards are often powerful items, so the temptation to do them is great, despite the risk. The bonus timer rewards players who beat the boss in the allotted time. The rewards are usually an aug with some nuts on the side as well. Augs are passive items that increase the player’s stats.
The main currency to spend in each run are nuts. Nuts can be used to buy health and energy from vending machines. Special shops will show up from time to time, allowing the purchase of augs and armor upgrades. Unfortunately, nuts do not carry over. A good advise is to keep spending nuts, if only to maintain your health. You lose all progress once you die, forcing you to go back to HQ. Soul chips are the things you take back with you from a run. The more you have, the more items and permanent upgrades you can buy to give you that slight edge for your next run. Unspent soul chips will be lost at the start of your next. Acquiring them usually involves killing powerful glowing enemies with a lot of health. They also appear after the fight with a boss.
At the end of each stage, there lies a boss in wait. The difficulty of the fight largely depends on the order in which the boss is tackled. Bosses near the end of the game will have a significant health pool compared to earlier bosses. Defeating a boss doesn’t instantly grant you its power. Instead, you get to choose between getting the boss power, a stack of nuts, or a random aug. At this point, the only thing left to do is to either choose to rest for a bit or to continue the run by choosing which one among the 3 bosses to tackle next. Rinse and repeat until you die or all 8 bosses are defeated.
The Good and the Bad:
One of the reasons why I like Megaman is the fact that you can choose which boss to take on from the start. Of course, that was before I found out that certain boss powers do more damage to certain bosses. That doesn’t seem to be the case here in 20XX. At the start of your run, the boss and stage are randomly chosen. Also, the boss powers are optional, meaning you can go the full length of the gauntlet with only your primary weapon. It’s a nice idea, to be honest. And looking back, the only time I ever made use of the boss powers in Megaman was to inflict additional damage to the boss that was weak to it.
A deep run in 20XX is a joy in and of itself. There is a sense of accomplishment for making it so far, especially with the threat of permadeath looming over your shoulder. With the right upgrades and items, you almost feel invincible. This is true for my part, so much so that every time I have a big chunk of health to work with, I make the effort to go off the beaten path and look for more powerful upgrades. Even if the act costs me precious life and time on the clock. Finally, a deep run can feel so satisfying because of the soul chips you have in the bank. You can easily buy out all available items, making the next run so much more easier to do.
One of the easiest way to end a run is by becoming overconfident. There are times when I enter a challenge room with the hopes of getting a new power, only to experience death on a challenge I was not prepared for. What’s more soul crushing is the fact that you can beat almost every boss in the game, and just choke on the last few stages. It’s never a good feeling, especially in a roguelike game where death is a ticket back to the start. One final con with the game is that after playing a while, it can get pretty repetitive. Especially once you figure out that the randomly generated levels are nothing more than segmented blocks slapped together until a path appears.
There is plenty of challenges to face, be it by yourself or with a friend. If you are itching to replay some classic Megaman X goodness, or in the neighborhood for some good old fashion roguelike questing, then 20XX might just be the game you’re looking for. With over 100 items to collect and mix up, it doesn’t lack in the fun department. It does, however, suffer the curse of repetitiveness after a certain amount of runs. Nevertheless, it’s certainly a good pastime until Megaman 11 rolls out this coming October.