Just from looking at screens of 20XX, it is obvious the developer has been heavily influenced by the Mega Man games. In fact, Chris King, the man behind Batterystaple Games, has openly admitted to this, and wanted to create something similar with roguelike elements. While the game is currently only in Early Access, 20XX is a phenomenal re-imagining of Capcom’s stellar platforming series. There are some key changes made to the gameplay formula, such as procedural level generation and the way power-ups work, but the platforming is precise, enemies have unique attack patterns, and the difficulty is near perfect. Giving you only one life and no regenerating health between levels, the title demands you stay vigilant throughout your playtime if you hope to advance past the first level or two.
20XX allows players to choose from two different protagonists, Ace and Nina. Ace uses a sword, specializing in close combat, while Nina uses a buster weapon, allowing attacks from a distance. Both of these characters have charge attacks which cause more damage, as well as weapon variations found throughout the game which modifies their standard attacks. It should come as no surprise that these two characters exist, paying tribute to Mega Man and Zero, and just as intended, the stark contrast of the two fighting styles pays dividends and allows for players to find which style they prefer. As you cannot change which character you control until after you die, it is crucial the player think about their choice of protagonist prior to beginning their adventure. Unfortunately, due to the roguelike aspects of the game, memorizing enemies and level design will not help your decision, you must simply guess whether you will find yourself in open areas or claustrophobic tunnels more frequently. If you happen to take advantage of the game’s co-op gameplay, both fighting styles can be at your disposal, allowing both Nina and Ace to run through levels together, although both players will still need to have adequate platforming skills, otherwise the advantage of both long and close-range attacks will vanish in no time.
Throughout the game, players can obtain passive items as well as secondary attacks which are far more powerful than the standard attacks but use up energy. Passive items appear randomly within levels, but only from items which have been unlocked by purchasing them from the hub world before each new game. These are bought using “soul nuts,” found by destroying rare blue enemies, while other nuts are used to purchase passive items within levels if you manage to locate a shop. All passive items you possess will disappear the moment you die, but any you have unlocked will remain in the random rotation for each successive playthrough. Soul nuts carry over between playthroughs as you cannot spend them until after your death. Secondary attacks are found after defeating a boss and part of a choice the player must make after each victory. Two passive items and one secondary attack are offered to the player, although only one may be acquired as the other two vanish. Up to three of these secondary attacks may be used at once in addition to the primary attack, culminating in a very lethal protagonist running through levels.
While on the topic of defeating bosses, 20XX not only rewards players after each climactic battle, but also allows them to choose which level and boss to take on next. The level selection is not identical to Mega Man‘s, but three choices are given, displaying statues of the boss creature and displaying which base level design will be used to generate the path up to the fight. There are a number of different level types stored within the game, using different set pieces and environmental hazards. Each of these base designs houses core platforming segments which remain unchanged in every iteration, but the rest of the level varies wildly, preventing players from simply memorizing where every obstacle and enemy lay, forcing them to respond quickly to dangers. Seasoned veterans of the Blue Bomber’s games may not enjoy this change, but it feels refreshing and puts your reaction times rather than memory to the test. The latter is more crucial while engaging in battle with bosses, as they use the same sets of attacks regardless of where or when you confront them.
Despite still being in its alpha, 20XX is already a thoroughly enjoyable action platformer which all Mega Man fans will undoubtedly love, even if not immediately enamoured with the dynamic level design. The bosses all feel incredibly different from one another, and while the secondary attacks which you may earn from defeating them do not modify the appearance of your character in any way, they are diverse with both offensive and defensive options available throughout the game. The twist of only having a single life to complete as many levels as possible makes things more difficult, particularly given the roguelike elements. The difficulty does not feel needlessly cruel though, and offers a healthy challenge reminiscent of the titles which inspired the developer. 20XX is definitely a title to keep an eye on, presenting players with precision platforming, a variety of weapons and enemies, and enough changes to make this charming tribute stand out as its own title.
20XX will leave Early Access and release its beta on September 15, 2015 via Steam for the PC.
Eric is an Xbox editor for Analog Addiction where you can find all the latest gaming news, previews, reviews, and everything else that rhymes with those words. ‘Like’ Analog Addiction on Facebook to receive all of the updates as they’re posted.