In a world where Capcom has chosen to forget about Mega Man for seven long years, other companies, be it fans of the series or indy developers, have stepped in and filled the void by producing new games based around our favorite Blue Bomber. Batterystaple Games is one of those developers that stepped forward and while not a single proper noun pertaining to Mega Man was used, their title 20XX pays homage to the franchise in a spectacular way!
Platform: PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), PC (Steam)
Developer: Batterystaple Games, Firehose Games
Publisher: Batterystaple Games
Release Date: November 25, 2014 (PC), July 10, 2018 (PlayStation 4)
Price: $17.99 (PlayStation 4)
20XX is a roguelike 2D platform shooter that functions identically to the Mega Man X series of games. While you’ll run, dash, jump, shoot, and wall climb through each level to face your choice of eight bosses, the formula has been shaken up in ways to make the game highly replayable!
The first change-up is the fact that bosses are randomly chosen. Whenever you start a new run, you’ll be given one of the eight bosses to face. Once you beat that boss, you’ll be given a choice of three bosses from the remaining pool of seven to tackle next. Then you get three more choices from the pool of six and so forth until all eight bosses have been defeated.
The second (and biggest) change is that every level is procedurally generated, meaning that random tilesets are chosen and fitted together to give you a different experience each and every time. This means the levels will be different each and every time you play them. While this sounds like a challenge, the issue is that there doesn’t seem to be enough tilesets to keep the levels completely fresh. After enough playthroughs of a level, you’ll recognize sections even if they’re located in different places, making the levels somewhat familiar rather than a completely new experience. While a little more variety could have improved things in the level aspect, it still doesn’t take away from the fun one bit.
Weapons have always been a staple of the Mega Man series. Beating a robot master and taking their powers for your own is what made the Mega Man series so popular. Here in 20XX, you can do the same thing but one of the cool features about this game is that weapons are an optional choice! Whenever you beat a boss, you enter a room and get to choose between that boss’ weapon or between one of two randomly chosen power-up items. Sure, bosses have weapon weaknesses in the game but if you’re a purist, you can opt to go buster-only and take increased health, increased run speed, increased damage, etc. instead. The freedom of choice here means you can customize your playing experience on a whim. I’ve never seen a Mega Man game do that! As an added bonus, if you have a level fast enough, you’ll get a bonus chest, typically containing nuts, life energy or even a random power-up on occasion!
Speaking of power-ups, there is a TON of possible power-ups to get. You can buy them through in-game shops sprinkled throughout the levels with Nuts that you find from crates or defeated enemies or through Slot Machines that you can randomly get tokens for. However, for the best power-ups, you’ll need Soul Chips. Defeating bosses and/or stronger enemies within a level (which are indicated by a flashing animation) will give you Soul Chips. Whenever you end a run, you can spend those Soul Chips on three types of power-ups, each set giving you a random choice of three from a pool. The three sets are:
Permanent Power-ups – These power-ups will always be there no matter what. They include giving you free chest with a random power up at that start of a run, an upgrade to Dally, a robot cat that drops a random chest at certain points in your playthrough, starting off with higher health or weapon energy, etc. In 20XX, once a run ends, all of the armor and power-ups you gain throughout your run are revoked. Kind of like how a MOBA (i.e. League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm) works. Each game you play, you have to go and get your armor and power-ups back but the permanent ones you select will always appear in the levels, making your runs slightly easier each and every time.
Temporary Power-Ups – These power-ups are copies of the ones you’ll find during a run. You can start a new run with them if you have enough Soul Chips but once the run is over, they will always disappear and you’ll have to buy them again. Once you run out of Permanent Power-Ups, this becomes a great option to spend any Soul Chips you collect on.
New Power-Ups – The third kind are power-ups that you unlock with Soul Chips. While the game starts you off with a set that you can find during a run, you can buy new Power-Ups, giving them the chance to appear in all future runs. These range anywhere from attack power buffs to armor pieces and almost everything else in between.
It’s wise to spend your Soul Chips because if you start a new run, all remaining Soul Chips on your character will be depleted. The game does warn you about it beforehand so you don’t have to worry about accidentally starting a run and burning your chips.
The armor pieces are nice and grant you some pretty good bonus. Some of the boots give you a long-distance dash, hovering ability, or a 4-way air dash. You can even get arm pieces that can restore health or weapon energy upon enemy deaths, faster charge times, spike immunity, etc.
Some of the buster upgrades give you a Spread Shot (Either three or five shot variety), a Star Beam that shoots buster shots in a North, South, East, West direction simultaneously, or a wave beam that shoots wavy projectiles through walls and terrain.
With all of these power-ups being randomized, your experience through the game will be different each and every time.
If busting your way through the game as Nina doesn’t suit you, you can also try the secondary hero Ace. Ace is a melee-type character and functions a lot like Zero from the Mega Man X series. He gets weapons such as his A-Sable, Plasma Bender, Sharp Sharp Spear, Rippling Axe, and Spinning Glaive to hack and slash enemies to pieces.
The other thing to mention about 20XX is that unlike Mega Man games, spikes and pits are not instant death. Everything you hit only deals one damage to you, including landing on a spike or falling into a pit (which will respawn you on the nearest solid ground). While that doesn’t seem all that menacing, get hit enough times, fall into enough pits, or miss that jump and land on enough spikes and you’ll find yourself dead in no time. You can increase your life bar to ease some of the pain but you’ll want to play it a bit cautious when you’re first starting out.
So how difficult is the game? If you’re used to Mega Man games, it’s not all that bad. The game has different levels of difficulty to cater to new players or to satisfy those who love a challenge. With the game being randomized, they make up for this by increasing the difficulty the further you advance. Some bosses gain extra attacks that you may not want to deal with, prompting you to pick some of the tougher bosses early on if they’re offered. Of course, the only way to discover which ones are more painful than others is to play the game through a few times. Bosses such as the Vile Visage, Shatterbeak, and Kur aren’t all that difficult to deal with in the end game but some bosses like Twin Astrals (Which require you kill them within a certain time frame or they resurrect), or Rollster (who keeps splitting and splitting and splitting) may become a pain so you’ll want to deal with those first.
If doing runs isn’t your thing, there are also challenges that you can do. Daily and Weekly challenges will help add to your leaderboard score. There’s also an Endless Mode that you can sink your teeth into as well. If that wasn’t enough, the game supports both local and online co-op.
Needless to say, 20XX offers a TON of content that plays and feels like a Mega Man X game all while adding new twists to a tried and true formula. There’s plenty of reasons to play through the game and enough game modes to keep you coming back for more. The customizability in the game is incredible and super in-depth and the fact that nothing is forced and everything is a choice means that while everything is random, you still have a choice to customize your experience.
20XX is more than just a Mega Man clone. It’s a highly-addictive, super fun game that will make you realize that you’ve been sitting in front of your TV for hours without realizing it. It’s probably one of the best games to come out of 2014 and now that it’s on PlayStation 4, console owners have no excuse not to try it. At $17.99, it’s an affordable title that is sure to provide you with hours upon hours of entertainment. If you want an action game that will challenge you and satisfy you at the same time, 20XX is a must have. If you’re a Mega Man fan then, well, you probably already have the game by now, don’t you?
In short, pick this one up. It’s worth way more than it’s price tag!
20XX is everything a Mega Man fan could want and more. The randomness of the game keeps every run fresh and there are enough game modes to keep you coming back over and over again. The only weakness is the lack of variety in the levels that it offers. Despite that flaw, it doesn’t halt this game from being highly-addictive and insanely fun! Well worth the price tag!
- High replayability
- Addictive fun that feels new every time
- Play solo or with a friend both local or online
- Insanely deep customization each run
- Needs more variety in their levels. Four levels for eight bosses seems too restrictive