20XX Review: Rock, Rock On
Kalvin Martinez / Jul 27th, 2018 No Comments
We all have fond memories of playing Mega Man when we were younger. Whether that was the OG NES series, the X series, or any derivative or spin-off there after. It is largely a formula that has stayed the same over all these years.
20XX is here to disrupt big Mega Man! It refreshes the format by giving it a cool roguelite structure, and keeps things fresh with tight controls and cool powers/upgrades.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
Side-scrolling platformers/shooters have not had a ton of innovation recently. Many of them are trying to recapture the former glory of Mega Man including the Mega Man series itself. The problem with constantly looking back is you never innovate. Essentially trying to make Mega Man 1 again means you’re making Mega Man 1 again. 20XX isn’t content with that. It uses the series for inspiration, but refines and innovates on top of the basic formula.
At its core, 20XX plays like Mega Man. It is a huge part of the appeal. Whether you play as Nina or Ace, you can use basic attacks with impunity, hold to charge for extra power, dash for faster longer jumps, and find upgrades and new powers. The platforming is challenging, and the boss fights are tough and require a lot of skills to come out unscathed. It is some Mega Man ish, but innovates on top of that core gameplay.
The difference maker, obviously, is 20XX’s roguelite set-up. Instead of the traditional Mega Man set-up where you challenge bosses (either in a specific order or an order of your choosing) and keep their powers permanently, 20XX randomizes every time you do a run. The first boss you’ll face is always random meaning you won’t know what boss or level type you’ll have to best until you start your run. The upside is this boss is the easiest one you’ll face and the level won’t be as hazardous. It is a cakewalk, which is nice because your health and energy carries over after every level. Luckily so do the upgrades you find.
Speaking of upgrades, there are two types (well more than that, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s say two): temporary upgrades found in a run that use nuts dropped by enemies are found in crates, and permanent upgrades unlocked in the main hub using soul chips found by defeating special glowing enemies that are tougher than your average mob or at the end of a level.
The upgrades you find during a run help you overcome the challenges that lay ahead of you, but will be lost if you die. So don’t get too comfortable with them, but they also mean you can experiment a bit with different types of upgrade combinations. You can find different blaster types, buffs, jump augmentations, and equipment.
The hub upgrades are split up between permanent upgrades, item unlocks, and items to use during your next run. Also, token which can be used at randomly found slot machines during a run to gain health drops, energy drops, nuts, or other upgrades. The permanent upgrades mostly involve unlocking assist characters that drop crates at specific levels, but also some good passive upgrades. Unlock items are helpful to mix up your runs as you play for longer times. And temporary items to start with are good if you want to stack the deck for your next run or don’t have enough soul chips to get a more permanent upgrade.
The structure of each run is what makes the game so hard to put down. After finishing the first boss battle, you can choose between three different, random bosses to challenge. Not only does this mean you can choose what boss/power you want to tackle next, but you can avoid levels you don’t prefer to give yourself a strong start for later levels. 20XX has four levels to challenge your blasting and platforming skills: ice, fire, sky, and toxic.
You have a lot of power to choose how much of a challenge you want: for instance, the skytemple is a harried, hectic platforming level that is not great if you’re low on health. The nature of each run also gives you a lot of power to choose boss powers that for best for your particular playstyle meaning you can go confidently into other boss fights with all your favorite firepower.
The coolest aspect and biggest drawback of 20XX’s roguelite structure is the levels and bosses get more difficult the further you get into your run. The first boss and its associated platforming challenges are a easy compared to what you’ll have to contend with in your sixth boss fight. Even bosses you’ve fought before and found easy get tougher the later in the run they come, usually by having extra stages, additional firepower, and more. Even with all that, you’re in complete control of how you want to tackle the unique challenges in 20XX, which makes every run exciting in its own way.
20XX has a crazy amount of replayability with daily and weekly challenges, hardcore challenges, speed runs, and more. Add on co-op to the game’s randomized roguelite nature, and you can find a lot to do in 20XX for a good, long time.
Instead of buying Capcom’s endless collections of Mega Man, give 20XX a spin. It innovates on the formula with a fun roguelite component that gives it a ton of replayability, and the co-op allows you to tackle levels together with a friend. It’s multiple difficulty levels gives you a chance to prove your skills. It also has super tight controls and a fun upgrade, power system. It is a refreshing take on a genre that has stagnated in recent years.
20XX was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
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