20XX is the game you need and deserve for your retro itch.
I remember the first time I played Mega Man X. My mom wanted to go visit one of her friends and I was very young at the time so I had no choice but to go. To make a long story short, thankfully they had an SNES and left me alone to play. I will never forget that day as it was my first introduction into the amazing world of Mega man games. The platforming, the power ups and the boss fights, even when I was young I realized there was something that just clicked with this game, it was perfect.
As an adult I still play Mega Man X and love for it all the same reasons. Being older made me appreciate the game more with its amazing music, tight controls, and fun level designs. There were times though I wished I could play it with someone else. I think the developer of 20XX felt the exact same way.
Getting to the point, 20XX is the Mega-man game we all deserve, need, and should play. While I would say 20XX borderlines on plagiarism, I can’t really call it a fault because it is done so damn well. Not that 20XX doesn’t make itself unique with its own ideas but at the end of the day it doesn’t stray far from the formula.
Let’s be honest though, with games like THIS that probably isn’t a bad thing. Let’s get to the features like an anime fan on prom night!
The year is 20XX and because of that there are Robots!
That more or less covers the story for the entire game. If 20XX had a fault it would be that it has a non existent story. I am not saying that Mega Man was Westworld or anything close. However, 20XX doesn’t even make a small attempt at a story whatsoever. You just have two scientist who are making robots for giggles?
Story aside, the game is exactly feature for feature on par with its inspiration in all other aspects.
Now if for some reason you had a life and don’t know what this game is about. 20XX is an action platformer/roguelike that has a heightened focus on nailing precise jumps, shooting, and fighting bosses and stealing their powers. You can then use those powers on other bosses who might have a weakness to that power. Think simple: fire beats ice, wind vs lightning, etc. You have a choice of two heroes, either the blue shooter or red slasher. (Sound familiar?) Each of these characters, fundamentally, plays differently. While I enjoyed both, I found myself enjoying red slashy guy the most.
The moment you load up your first level you are going to instantly feel familiar with this game. You can dash, shoot/slash, jump, wall bounce, it’s all there. The beautiful part is that it works exactly how you would expect it to and how it should. The only caveat that I could think of is that this game is BEST with a controller. I didn’t even try using anything else because it wasn’t meant for it. Now a game like this is broken or made on the response of its controls and thank god 20XX nailed it.
Combat is smooth and enjoyable. You have one goal, which is to go from left to right and fight the boss. Both characters have a multitude of strategies available to them depending on what power ups they unlock. These power ups are unlocked in the hub area or completing bonus challenges in the levels. You might find boots that give you a double jump or a different type of main weapon. Platforming is easy to do but hard to master. The only gripe I had with the controls was the constant need to hold down the dash button. Holding that button made you faster and was downright necessary for certain platforming challenges. This led to some moments where I would accidentally dash off a ledge to my death.
What makes 20XX unique is how it approaches upgrades, level design and difficulty. The “roguelike” factor comes in the form of procedurally generated levels. Meaning that each play through should have a different combination of platforming challenges. You can also find random boxes with money and health, loot etc. The game basically tells you to forget trying to memorize the level design and for the most part, it’s right. There are however times that I did spot the same platforming challenges over the four hours I played. Despite that, I never found any of the levels dull, poorly designed, or over staying its welcome.
One aspect I enjoyed is that as you get deeper into your run the enemies do begin to change depending on what bosses you choose to fight first. As an example, heading into the flower boss level early on you might find the enemies to be slower and not as aggressive. On the flip if you were to fight the flower boss as a later choice, all those enemies are upgraded/champion versions of themselves whom are far more powerful and aggressive. This gives 20XX plenty of replay value as your enemies in a way are getting upgraded abilities the same way you are. Not forgetting to mention the shifting level design.
As you play 20XX you begin collecting Soul chips which is a currency you can spend to unlock new kinds of upgrades. When you finish a run you are returned to the hub area where there are multiple shops. Some of these purchases are temporary, benefiting only the next run. Others are permanent upgrades like finding a chest at the beginning of a level or health boosts. The hub area also gives you access to the many daily/weekly challenges. If all that wasn’t enough there are also multiple difficulty modes. One that includes modifiers to make it even harder.
One area that 20XX does separate itself on is aesthetics.
While everything does feel “familiar” and there is plenty of robot action and mayhem. Graphically 20XX is different. Obviously everything is still cartoony looking but 20XX is made in 2017 and it shows. Everything is incredibly smooth when it comes to animations, effects and character design. It does enough for it to feel like a modern take on a classic but still keep the heart and soul. I will admit there are times I missed the anime themes the way X presented them, but that is more a personal preference and far from a gripe.
Musically 20XX is fantastic. While I am not a musical aficionado I can say that I personally enjoyed it. The music does a good job of keeping your heart pumping and keeping up pace with whats on the screen. Now I admit there are times I was too focused on jumping to notice the music but it was doing its part when I did. Sound effects are okay and par but I did feel like that they were just lacking a little bit.
In all I had a hard time finding a gripe with the game visually. It makes me wonder what they could’ve done if they had four million dollars, hmm.
Purely nostalgia driven or not 20XX is a fun game.
If you asked me would I like to play Mega Man with a friend, I would’ve said hell yes. 20XX lets you do that and it works perfectly. Is this a game that is going to please everyone? No, but it’s a far better quality then other games with the same ideas. Even if you aren’t a nostalgia addict, as a roguelike its a good game and offers plenty of replay value.
I have seen people play this game upwards of twenty plus hours. I don’t think I personally could get that mileage out of the game. Each play session is about an hour or more. Obviously high replayability is the focus here as you unlock more upgrades, abilities, etc. The only thing I personally wished for was more bosses. There is a serious lack of boss variety in 20XX.
To wrap up, 20XX does plenty to innovate old ideas and keep true to the source. I recommend this title to any retro fans or people who enjoy roguelikes. There is plenty to enjoy here and I underline again the fact you can do it with a friend. I personally can’t wait for the sequel 20XXX.