The robotic worlds of Capcom’s Mega Man series were challenging enough as it is, but leave it up to Batterystaple Games and Fire Hose Games to kick things up a notch. Their new platformer 20XX adds roguelike elements and permadeath to the time-tested formula, but does their tribute manage to stand toe-to-toe with the Blue Bomber?
At first glance, 20XX is a carbon copy of Mega Man X. The robot Nina has a charge shot, can wall jump, dash, and can even steal bosses’ weapons to take advantage of their weakness. There’s even a character that is red and packs an energy sword – subtle it is not. Physics also pay tribute to its source material, with pinpoint precision and fluid movement that has got a nice rhythm to it.
However, the roguelike elements in play turn everything on their head. No two runs are the same, with procedurally-generated levels changing the layout of stages every go around. The same conveyor belts, spikes, and enemies remain, sure, but rote memorization will get you nowhere. While this keeps things fresh, level design is simple and is not as varied as you’d expect. Some areas might hold a treasure chest or a Glory Zone off the beaten path, but it oftentimes feels like elements were slapped together, rather than interconnected. As a result, multiple playthroughs can get a little stale.
When we say multiple playthroughs, we absolutely mean it. To go along with its roguelike theme, permadeath is always a threat. An easier “Revenant“ mode does offer three lives, but those playing on “Normal” or “Defiant” will lose all of their currency (known as nuts) and “aug” power-ups, and are given a one-way trip back to the lobby. However, Soul Chips dropped by certain enemies can be retained for item unlocks, next run items, and permanent upgrades, which does alleviate some of the strain.
The augs found on the battlefield can really change up play. Increasing speed, strength, health, and abilities, some can offer a clear advantage. Certain ones can be stacked as well, making your character a speedy, powerful beast. Beating each boss gives you the chance to get their weapon, some nuts, or an aug, but more often than not we decided to forego the weapon – the augs were just that good.
Bosses work as they should, but there is more of an emphasis on dodging enemy fire than predicting enemy movements. One enemy is literally a giant face, relying on drones and bullets rather than movement patterns. As a result, it does not quite have the same attention to detail as Mega Man X’s Mavericks.
Outside of the main mode is the ability to take on Daily and Weekly Challenges, do a boss rush, or set games up with random seeds. A number of “skulls” can be added to the latter, changing the speed of the game and making things far deadlier. Those looking for a challenge can most certainly find it.
It should be worth noting that the game is somewhat buggy. On more than one occasion, the title froze on us during its level transitions, forcing us to do our run over once more. This is a huge faux pas in a game like this, so hopefully the development team irons out the kinks sooner rather than later.
20XX’s physics are almost a perfect recreation of a certain blue bomber, but the roguelike elements don’t always work as they should. The procedurally generated levels don’t have the same spark as Capcom’s offerings, and its permadeath is an acquired taste.
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