Mega Man hasn’t seen too much action in the past few years. Sure, there have been some cameos and re-releases here and there, but no actual new Mega Man games. There have been a few Mega Man inspired games such as the Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty Gunvolt Burst, and although these series are inspired by Mega Man Zero and classic Mega Man respectively, one Mega Man platformer series, Mega Man X has failed to make any kind of return through either a new entry or a re-release collection.
Fear not Mega Man X fans, for 20XX has come to satisfy your need and win you over.
20XX , a Mega Man X inspired roguelike platformer by Batterystaple Games, originally received funding through a Kickstarter campaign in Spring of 2014. The game was later accepted into the Fire Hose Games accelerator program and appeared in the Indie Megabooth at the 2015 Penny Arcade Expo, and became available as a Steam Early Access Game on November 25, 2014. The final version of the game is now available, but does it prove its worth as a spiritual successor to Mega Man X?
Developer: Batterystaple Games
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by Developer
Interface: Keyboard & Mouse or Controller (Xbox 360 or Xbox One Controller Recommended)
Available on Steam
“20XX is a roguelike action platformer that you can play with a friend. Jump and shoot your way through ever-changing levels, collect awesome new powers, and battle mighty bosses in the name of saving the human race maybe!”
In 20XX , players can either take on the role of Nina, a female robot based on X who uses a buster cannon and charge shot, or Ace, a robot who wields a laser saber and is similar to Zero. Nina has longer range with her cannon and charge shot while Ace attacks a little bit faster at a closer range. Each character has their own benefits and drawbacks depending on the situation, and their basic weapons can be altered depending on what they pick up — such as a longer ranger laser spear for Ace and a multi shot cannon for Nina.
The first thing players may notice about 20XX is how challenging it can be, making it feel like a true spiritual successor to the Mega Man X series. The difference here is that instead of choosing the level and boss, levels are randomly generated, so memorizing the exact layout of a level will not help much, but players will know what kind of obstacles to expect if they have played the same type of level before. Similar to many roguelikes before it, 20XX is easy to learn but difficult to master. On the Revenant (Easy) difficulty, the player is given three lives instead of just one, and although this helps, the game still continues to feel appropriately challenging. Like the games which inspired it, each boss the player defeats can give them a new power, although this is not automatic and the player is given a choice whether they want the new power, more health, or more money. These rewards only last until the player dies (or loses all three lives), so it’s best to choose wisely. If the player goes to an area they have already been to during their run, not only will the layout be different, but there may be a different boss waiting for them well, which provides a little more variety. There are two types of currency in the game as well; Bolts, which allow the player to refill health or energy at certain vending machines, or buy items from in game shops in some modes, and Soul Chips, which are used to purchase temporary power ups and permanent upgrades in the hub world. The are also special tokens which can found and then used at slot machines for more bonuses. In addition to all these mixed gameplay elements, a delightful sense of humor and plenty of clever references also work in the games favor, such as messages after dying or ending a run, or one of the power ups looking like Magneto’s helmet from X-Men.
Most levels include a special challenge rooms called a Glory Challenge, where players will have to defeat a wave of enemies under a time limit. Those who succeed are rewarded with a bonus item for their run. Additionally, in the hub world there are daily, daily hardcore, weekly, weekly hardcore, rush job, and seed racer challenges. The boss rush mode, Rush Job, is where the game really shines, and rewards players with powers, health, and other power ups after each victory while other power ups can be purchased with the bolts gained from previous fights . At times, Rush Job can feel too easy, but prior to starting the mode players can enable different skulls (instead of skills) which provide extra challenges — such as faster or stronger enemies.
20XX also features a Co-Op multiplayer mode, both local and online, where two players can play through a run together. Bolts and Soul Chips are shared between each player in this mode.
Although the keyboard controls are passable, the best experience comes with use of a controller, and the game highly recommends one of the Xbox variety. A PlayStation controller or other type works just as well as long as the player is able to map the controls to their liking, but it may take some trial and error before properly translating which buttons are which if the player has never used an Xbox controller before.
The art style of the game is fine as a whole, but leaves something to be desired. Sometimes it looks like a cheap knock off of Mega Man X, which doesn’t reflect well on the game. Other times, during gameplay in some levels it can be hard to tell apart the foreground from the background, which can lead to accidental death. This is a small issue, and over time a player will get used to it, but a nuisance nonetheless. The game may have benefited more from a sprite based graphical style similar to Mega Man X or the more recent Azure Striker Gunvolt, that being said, the art and graphical style of the game does help it stand out more, as to not be confused with other recent similar games.
The music, although similar sounding, is not quite as memorable as that of the series which inspired it. While some tracks clearly sound like they could easily be placed into a Mega Man X game, others sound closer to something one might hear in the Mega Man Battle Network series. Despite less notability than its inspirations, the composer did a stellar job composing music which feels similar to that of the Mega Man franchise.
Other than its few minuscule flaws, 20XX is a competent roguelike and a worthy successor to the Mega Man X series. Its various modes help enhance its replayability, and provides a joyful experience for both Mega Man and roguelike fans alike. At the moment, the game restricted to PCs, but due to pre-release positive reception and future success, it’s possible the game will go multiplatform sometime in the future.
Want to learn more about the development of 20XX? Check out our IndieDev Interview with Chris King where we explore the game’s inspirations, hurdles, and Chris’ personal story about what drew him to the world of Indie Game Development.