Reviewed by Brett
Publisher – Batterystaple, Fire Hose Games
Developer – Batterystaple Games
Music – Brandon Ellis
Category – Action, Platformer, Multiplayer, Arcade
Release Date – July 10, 2018
20XX from Batterystaple Games was in early access for several years and the full version first released on steam in august of last year. 20XX is a single player and co-op roguelike action platformer that takes its inspiration from the Mega Man X series, with three different Mega Man collections out this month you might ask yourself do I really need yet another mega man styled game? and can it hold up to the legendary blue bomber? Short answer. Yes.
20XX takes all the things you love about Mega Man adds some roguelike fun to it and brings it into the modern age. With some attempts at this having failed recently, i’m looking at you Mighty no. 9, I could see how some people might be skeptical about another game like this but worry not, 20XX earns its place among its inspirations.
After a brief tutorial you will find yourself in a hub area, here you will find quite a few options to go about playing the game. You of course have your regular game modes of single and co-op mode along with six challenge modes. Most are fairly self explanatory, you have daily challenge, hardcore daily challenge, weekly challenge, hardcore weekly challenge, rush job and seed racer. The first four are playthroughs of the standard game in which you gain points for killing enemies and openings chests, these points translate to high scores on the online leader board. Rush job has you fighting bosses only and seed racer lets you customize all manner of things for an extra challenging run.
In the hub you will also find the character select that lets you pick between the two main characters Ace and Nina. Nina is your classic mega man style character that has a blaster and shots enemies from a distance and Ace is a close up and personal type who uses energy swords. Here is where you will also unlock more items for future playthroughs. There are three sections of unlockables, permanent upgrades that will give your character stats a boost or unlock helpful high end items, item unlocks that unlock items to be found in a playthrough and upgrades that can be purchased to give you an edge in your next run only. The last thing here is a a machine to get tokens that can be used in special slot machines that can be found in levels. All of these items are used by spending nuts, nuts are found as drops from enemies and in chests throughout your playthrough and can be used after you die to unlock all previously mentioned items for your next run. You will die and you will die a lot so the more upgrades you acquire the better.
Each run consists of tight platforming levels that end in a boss fight and escalate in difficulty the further you get. Traveling through levels you with have to fight off hordes of enemies that will be constantly making your life hard by either straight up trying to kill you or making hard platforming bits even more challenging. A lot of precision timing is required of you during platforming with surfaces falling and disappearing and reappearing add onto that enemies coming at you from all angles and it can get quite difficult indeed. after defeating a boss of a level you are granted with a bonus of getting the bosses weapon or a augment that will boost your stats and if you clear the level under a set time you get a box of bonus goodies. You will then pick which level you want to go to next which will be a random selection of three choices. The interesting thing here is that each level you play gets progressively harder. So if in one run you you played a specific level first it will be the easiest and on the next run you play that same level last it will become the hardest of the bunch. This lets you really experiment with the best layout for you. The challenge ramps up by adding extra enemies more challenging platforming segments and added patterns to bosses, so picking the right level progression that is right for you can be key to success. Choosing difficulties can also make or brake you, picking an easier difficulties can gain you extra lives and that can make all the difference.
All of this remember is also done with procedural generation making each run a unique challenge of its own. Through playing quite a bit i did notice some familiar pieces here in there in the level design but that is to be expected in most any procedurally generated game and at somewhere around forty hours in this is in no way a knock against it. In fact the way its handled in 20XX is pretty remarkable.
Throughout your runs you will find weapon and armor upgrades that will drastically alter your play. Weapon upgrades can turn your regular shots into a four way blast or your energy sword into an extending lance and armor upgrades can add things like a double jump or flying boost to getting the chance at gaining health from kills. There are loads of variations that give each run an even greater level of variety. You will also find all manner of upgrades like your general health and energy upgrades and more varied items like a murderbot that will follow you around attacking enemies. You will also as previously mentioned find nut drops from enemies and in chests that you can use to unlock even more cool items in the hub area. All this makes for an incredibly robust experience.
20XX delivers on all fronts to make an exceptional Mega Man styled action platformer and in many ways exceeds those games. The artwork is clean and vibrant and the games soundtrack by Brandon Ellis is an absolute delight. Gameplay is a blast and platforming is tight and precise. Loads of variation make for an amazing amount of ways to play and with co-op, online challenges, difficulty levels that will challenge the hardest of you and that just one more run feeling that rougelikes have, you will find hours and hours of play time ahead of you. 20XX has made its way to the top tier of my platforming list and is my new favorite Mega Man game and it should be your too. If your a fan of Mega Man or platformers in general you will absolutely love 20XX, just be prepared for a challenge.
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