It's kind of funny how we've seen a Mega Man revival come full circle since Batterystaple Games and Fire Hose Games began working on the Blue Bomber-inspired 20XX back in 2014 as a Kickstarter project, under the name Echoes of Eridu. After all, we're getting Mega Man 11 later this year; Mega Man Legacy Collection 1 + 2 are making the rounds as bargain titles; and Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 + 2 are just weeks away from release.
That said, I think there's more than enough justification for 20XX. It feels like a fitting homage to the Mega Man games of old, right down to packing a pushed-up difficulty that will push some dedicated players to the end. That's the kind of game I like to see -- one that keeps pushing you to do more, even after you get knocked down by a mega-boss with a grudge.
The game puts you in control of one of two different heroes, Nina and Ace. Both have powerful abilities to obliterate enemies of all types, from flying birds that can be a nuisance up close to little spitters that shoot mines at you, which you can't shake off unless you step into one of the nearby "safe zones." Nina is the traditional Mega Man-ish type with a blaster that can be charged up; Ace has more of the Zero style of role with his energy sword. Both also come with dashing that's useful for getting across large gaps (with a run-up) and dodging certain attacks.
Prepare For the Good Kind of Punishment
What's great about 20XX is how you can push these basic attacks with augmentations. They can change the way you play a little bit differently -- you'd be surprised what kind of difference a lance can make over a sword. It also pushes you to experiment a little bit just in case the methods you're using aren't enough to defeat the boss awaiting at the end of the stage. You can also increase your body performance in a number of ways. And in some cases, you'll need to in an effort to become a better balanced warrior.
20XX is not the Dark Souls of Mega Man games, as it feels more akin to the challenging Blue Bomber adventures from the NES era, and maybe a few X games for good measure. You'll die in an effort to continue pushing forward...but it doesn't feel punishing. Instead you'll feel rewarded with each new thing you gain possession of as well as abilities that you can quickly adapt to. Sure, it's tough as nails. But the fact it's not entirely impossible (just pretty close to) is a nice touch.
The levels themselves are procedurally created as well, so memorizing certain parts of a stage won't do you any good. That may throw off a few players, but I like 20XX better as a result, as it keeps the challenges coming. On top of that, you can look for bonus items to help speed along those augmentations and improvements. Never hurts to go off the beaten path, unless, of course, you've got something waiting to crush you at the end of it. (Like those damn spitters.)prevnext
What's more, the gameplay in 20XX feels precise. The development teams did their homework in making the lead characters feel like classic Mega Man-ish heroes, right down to dashing the right way off a platform to barely make another while avoiding a mid-air trap or enemy. The attacks work fundamentally well too, especially the charge shot, which can devastate most foes with one well-timed blast. Of course, I can't get enough of the sword either. Because up close is always the way to get the message across. At least, I think so.
The game also presents the opportunity to play alongside a friend in co-op. This definitely helps things along in some cases, though you might want to stay on the same part of the stage. It does zoom out but loses some detail along the way...and on the small Nintendo Switch screen, it can be hard to make out what's going on. It's a nice thing to have and I happily welcome it, even if it is limited to local.
Finally, the teams did excellent with the game's presentation. This doesn't look so much like a Mega Man adventure as something inspired by it, with its large procedurally designed levels, fun little robotic animations and sharp background designs. The teams clearly went to old-school here and it shows, right down to the amazing boss patterns and bouncy anime-style themes. It's just as much fun to watch as it is to play, and that's going to be good news for you Twitch and Mixer streamers. Just watch out for those screen stretches in co-op.
Is 20XX for everyone? Well, if you're a rookie and can understand that you'll need to perish a few times in order to progress, you'll be fine. Otherwise, it may be a little bit frustrating. But the game was really built more with Mega Man fans in mind, and it shows and feels just like that. Batterystaple and Fire Hose have paid loving tribute to the Blue Bomber while creating something original and highly enjoyable, between its explorable stages, engaging boss battles, excellent gameplay and loaded back-end of upgrades and new parts. You'll be at this for hours trying to perfect your performance, even if there are only a handful of bosses standing in your way of victory.
That's the best kind of old-school treat -- the kind that keep you coming back for more. And 20XX has that gift in spades. Enjoy it over the next few months while you wait to see if Mega Man 11 can possibly keep up.0comments
WWG's Score: 4/5
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.prev