A lot has changed since I did my initial impressions of 30XX over one year ago. I was privileged to be able to try out the game in its Pre-Alpha state, and, at the time, there were only six stages, A lot of the power-ups were simply either barely new or rehashes from 20XX. There were placeholder icons, different music tracks, tilesets that have yet to be fleshed out, and boring backgrounds (by comparison). There was no Mega Mode, there was no Level Editor. Needless to say, 30XX was about as barebones as it got compared to its predecessor.
Oh, what a year’s difference has made!
30XX is feeling more and more like a complete game. We have all eight bosses, with the newest and final boss being added today. Note that when I say final boss, I’m talking about the eight that you can receive weapons from… not the actual final FINAL boss of the game. In fact, we don’t have any post-8 boss levels… yet.
With the intro out of the way, I was once again privileged to be invited to check out the beta preview of the 8th and final stage… WaterGrav.
This is a stage that mixes the ability to move sections of water around and, by doing so, affects the way enemies behave as well as create or uncreate platforms. These blue and green platforms are represented as thin lines of…. slime?… in the map depending on how a switch is flipped. If green is active, the blue platforms turn to some sort of slimy line and vice versa.
Some of the smaller enemies, such as the fish, will flop around on dry land but if you flip a switch and move the water over them, they will swim around and even gain a speed buff. Don’t think that they are confined to the water; however, as they will jump out and pursue you on land as well!
Some of the enemies, such as the frogs and the claymore mines with eyes, will spew small globules of poison at you; however, if those globules touch the water, they will expand into much larger poison bubbles that will dissipate over time.
One of the things that tripped me up was the switches. In the first build of the level I played, they looked just like any of the switches you could find throughout the game such as the ones in Echobeast’s and Hoot Omega’s levels. So… since they looked the same… my natural instinct was to shoot the switches… which did absolutely nothing. Being a beta, I simply figured that the switches were glitched and I pressed onward, ignoring them completely.
It wasn’t until I got to a section of the map where I was trapped and realized that I had to activate a switch to continue. I groaned because I thought the game had soft locked me; however, as I passed by the switch, something happened to catch my eye… a UI indicator that alerted me that I could toggle the switches by pressing a button.
I felt dumbfounded.
One flip of an actually-working switch later, and I was able to progress.
Now… I described the water mechanic of this level but if you paid attention to the name, the level is called “WaterGrav” for a reason. Throughout the level, there are gravity panels that will send you to the ceiling or back down to the floor. If you have ever played Gravity Man’s stage from Mega Man 5, you know EXACTLY what to expect here. The only difference between Mega Man 5 and 30XX is that you couldn’t wall jump in 30XX.
Being a conditioned Mega Man fan… as soon as I recognized the Gravity Man mechanic in the stage, I lost all sense of logic when I came to a part on the ceiling where it was too high for me to jump. My mind was stuck on Mega Man 5 as if I had a flashback to a war long forgotten and I froze. It didn’t innately occur to me that I could wall jump while upside down to traverse the ceiling.
Again… I was dumbfounded, but at least this time, it was my own brain working against me.
It took me a while to make it to the boss, Experiment 9, but when I did, it felt rewarding. The boss fight itself was really fun and I immensely enjoyed it.
The press package said that if I wanted to experience the new stage right away, I could dive into Mega Mode… so… that is what I did and I ended up recording my blind playthrough of the level. So, if you want to see me struggle and die for nearly 30 minutes, you can check out the authentic blind run below.
Of course, practice makes perfect and, therefore, I decided to play through Standard mode where it incorporates all eight stages; however, this mode also includes another new change that came out in today’s build… a fourth level difficulty called Spicy and the final stage is PLENTY Spicy because of it. In fact, this new difficulty now makes you create a strategy of which bosses to tackle based on the knowledge of how difficult that final stage is.
Personally, I found doing Lethal Tempo last gave me the best success but my GOD, those health bars on the boss sure are meaty!
They also added visual changes to the armor pieces that are guarded by the mini-bosses in a Gauntlet portal as well. Plus, if you want to learn about the lore of the game, there are now Lore Terminals scattered about the levels, too.
You can check out everything in my first successfully completed run of 30XX with all 8 bosses implemented in the video below.
Since the video, I have completed 4 more additional runs, two of them back-to-back. I think I’m actually starting to get good at this game again!
Overall, the amazing talent over at BatteryStaple games continues to outdo themselves with every single update. The game just feels amazing and every time they add more variety to the game, it truly makes each and every run feel unique which is something I never got with 20XX. In 20XX, you eventually learned every tile, every power-up, and nothing didn’t seem random anymore. In fact, while the game was fun, the variety and novelty wore off to the point where just doing the game buster-only was the only way to feel any sense of challenge.
I don’t feel that way with 30XX. Even by playing the levels over and over again, I do recognize different chunks but the difficulty ramps up, the wide variety of choices to customize your playthrough, and the strategies you have to employ based on the RNG the game gives you negate the repeated chunk issue (which is far less than what it was in 20XX).
Every experience is different and to think that there may still be more coming that we don’t know about yet. Add in Mega Mode and the Level Editor there is, quite literally, infinite content waiting for you to play through.
30XX is a game that’s being built to last and a game that has replayability in mind as one of its core tenets. This is one of those games where you do run after run and then let out a sigh when you can’t complete one, put the controller down, and ten seconds later get that itch to try again. It’s highly-addictive fun and a must-have for any fan of Mega Man, side-scrolling action titles, roguelikes, or all of the above!