*Walks into a room with a red projection saying “Become Mighty”* Ah yes, um, I’ll be going now.
Available on: Steam/Consoles
Genre: Action Roguelike
Publisher: Batterystaple Games
To start this off, I have to mention that I never played Mega Man, which is what 20XX takes inspiration from. I certainly watched videos discussing Mega Man and how great the games are, but I never did end up playing any of the Mega Man games. Though, I can take some refuge in playing roguelike/roguelites before. So if you’re the same as me and want a review from the perspective of someone with no experience in playing Mega Man, you came to the right place.
20XX, while thin on the story, follows two cyborg protagonists named Nina and Ace (who totally don’t look vaguely similar to some Mega Man characters) sometime in the year 20XX. Both of them seem to spend their free time on the roof of their office building looking out into the city and most likely making sure nothing is going wrong. And nothing was until explosions suddenly rocket through their city. They soon receive a broadcast of one of the scientists, which are technically their bosses and creators, that everything is fine despite a dangerous, giant robot chasing the other scientist. From there, Nina and Ace are commanded to get to work at defeating these rampaging robots.
Before embarking on your numerous runs, you’ll find yourself at the main hub. Here, you’ll be able to switch between Nina and Ace depending on your preferred playstyle or if you want to shake things up. If you want to fight up close and personal, Ace will be for you as he’s the melee fighter with the addition of his weapons being enemy-piercing and having an attack combo. While Nina, being the resident ranged fighter, will let you fight comfortably (well, comfortable enough) from far away and, in some cases, out of range from enemy attacks. There’s also two other characters with different play styles, Hawk and Draco, that’s available as DLC if you want some more variety. Before leaving, you will also be prompted to choose your difficulty, with Revenant giving you 3 lives, instead of the standard 1 in Normal difficulty, and Defiant is a more brutal run with options to modify it further with Skull Modifers (which basically makes it even harder like having enemies deal more damage or no health drops spawning).
Ready to get onto your campaign run? Alright, let’s go! Taking course over 8 levels (+ 2 secret ones), you’ll be platforming through procedurally generated levels that vary depending on what zone you’re in. The type of hazards, platforms, and even enemies are determined by the zone, like penguin-robots and iced over platforms will show up in Frostor and you’ll be dealing with a lot of moving platforms and flying enemies (well, more than normal) in Skytemple. You will run into familiar chunks, though this does let you get practice in and giving you more of a chance at getting further in. Littered all around the levels will be various robot enemies ready to hit you before you kill them, crates that will have Health/Energy pickups or Nuts that you can use to buy items or more Health/Energy, and chests hidden in areas that are out of the way or after a particular challenging area of the level (which can be as difficult to get back out than going back in).
If you’re lucky enough, the level will include a shop that you can use your Nuts to get Augs so your run can be a bit more in your favor. Extra health or dealing even a little bit more damage can get you further into the campaign. There’s also a chance Glory Zones will spawn, which are basically challenge rooms where you’ll usually be asked to defeat a couple rounds of enemies under the time limit, but you can encounter ones that will have you flee from a swarm of enemies or light some checkpoints without losing health. If you manage to successfully win, you’ll be able to gain a Core Aug from one of the 4 sets that will give you an advantage. Also, you may run into a corpse and a strange room with a strange Prototype Aug being offered by a red projection. You can take the Prototype Aug, but the possible upsides carry along some downside baggage.
At the end of a level, you’ll get a brief breather before you’ll go into the boss battle. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to buy more health, Augs, or a shot at a Slot Machine when you have a Token. Once you’re ready, walking through the next door will start the boss battle. All the bosses have their own unique attack patterns and room layout that you’ll need to learn if you want to succeed. And even then, it does slightly change the more bosses you defeat, the harder the battle will be for the ones you haven’t defeated yet. Luckily, you do have weaknesses that you can take advantage of to end the battle quicker. Unluckily, these weaknesses are Powers, which you only get when defeating other bosses.
If you manage to stay alive, you’ll then be able to choose whether you’ll gain the boss’ dedicated Power, more health, or more Nuts; get a time bonus if you finish the level in a timely manner (which is helpful if you took a ton of damage); and choose between, at max, 3 different bosses to go up against next. Considering the bosses do change up depending on when you get to them, getting harder as you put them off more, and you may want to go up against them when you have the Power they’re weak to, it’s important to strategize who you’ll be going to and when. This will also be time to save and quit if you don’t have anymore free time.
When you hit level milestones, the difficulty of the levels get higher and it becomes harder to make it to the boss battle. More hazards will show up, more enemies, and even upgraded enemy variants will show up. These upgraded enemies seem to have more health, some having some tricks of their own, and upgraded versions of their attacks that makes it terrifying to get in their crossfire. The platforming is still difficult even without enemies roaming around. As the hazards added in will make jumps more tight and seemingly impossible (in fact, one of my runs was ruined because of one platform that was occasionally blown up is barely reachable from another moving platform with a laser placed at the top right of the track). Together though, the levels get bat shit crazy.
While you do lose all your Nuts and Augs that you picked up in a run when you die, you do carry over the Soul Chips you’ve collected from glowing enemies (which are also powered up) and after defeating a boss. These can be put into permanent upgrades which will carry over to all future runs as long as you have them activated. All of them are very useful as you can permanently increase your health/energy, get a Weapon and Core Aug chest right off the bat, and upgrades that will get Nina and Ace’s robot cat to show up in certain levels to give you a chest. Of course, these get pricey so there are other things you can use your Soul Chips for. You’ll be able to buy Aug unlocks, which will unlock that item so it’ll appear in shops in future runs (while giving it to you for free for your next run) as well as Augs you buy solely to use it in your next run so you don’t have to worry about the chance of it showing up or not having enough Nuts. And, well, you can also buy a Token for the Slot Machines that have a chance of spawning if you don’t have enough Soul Chips for anything else. You may want to buy up all you can as Soul Chips don’t stack.
In the Hub, you can also grab a friend to play multiplayer, take up multiple challenges (daily, daily hardcore, weekly, and weekly hardcore), do a boss rush, or set a specific run seed.
As someone that never played Mega Man I surprisingly found myself enjoying 20XX almost immediately and ended up wishing that I picked this up sooner. It’s difficult, especially late game where everything gets chaotic, but I can’t help but do one more level to improve on my last try and learn more about the Zone layouts, how to tackle enemies, and to build up strategies on when to and how to defeat bosses quickly without getting hurt as much. Apart from some layouts being hard to get past, I do also wish that plugging in a PS4 controller showed PS4 buttons instead of Xbox ones. So, even if you never played a Mega Man game, I’d say that if you like roguelikes, you will most likely enjoy this one as well. Don’t just let this turn you away just because it’s inspired by a series that you may or may not have played.