20XX is a Mega-Man inspired action platform game out now on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One & PC. Developed and Published by indie team Batterystaple games, 20XX offers some unique gameplay features and two 2 player co-op, both couch and online.
20XX is lots of fun whether you play in solo or together with a friend. A rather unique feature in 20XX is the rogue-like procedurally created level design offering unlimited replayability.
Each playthrough offers a different random stage layout. Being a rogue-like player death will send you back to the start screen. Fortunately, there are persistent items that can be bought by collecting soul chips to make things easier next time around.
20XX is a refreshing take on arcade-style action platform, see if this game is for you in my review below.
How does 20XX play?
20XX is a solidly delivered shooting, jumping and running platform experience. The whole project was inspired by the Mega-Man game series, and 5 years in the making 20XX is a tribute to the series. 20XX feels like the time you meet up with an old friend you’ve not seen in years.
The platforming action is a great fun. In comparison, 20XX game-play is closest to the experience found in Megaman X, with leaping, jumping, wall climbing and boss battles. The controls are well organised and require dual JoyCons or a Pro Controller per player.
You can either play as Nina, a ranged shooting character with a blaster. Or Ace, a melee fighter with a laser sabre. Both characters have their own powerups matching their own play styles.
Out of the two characters I liked playing Ace the most as his move set was refreshingly challenging different to Nina who can blast from distance. As the additional characters, such as Hawk, were only DLC on other platforms. But these are included with the game for free on the Nintendo Switch.
Rogue-Likee games offer a uniquely different experience for each playthrough by using procedural algorithms to create random elements of gameplay. In the case of 20XX, the level designs are random for each run.
So whilst no two runs are likely to be exactly the same they will still include the mechanics of running, sliding, dodging, killing and precision jumping. Consequently mistiming a jump will result in falling to your death unless you can find a platform on the way down.
Each mistake reduces your characters energy bar, as it slowly ticks closer to your death each jump becomes tenser and I found myself becoming more anxious by the second. When death happens, it is a permanent death.
Keep what you kill
Any upgrades you may have found along with your progress are immediately lost and you are sent back to your base. Fortunately, any soul chips that you may have collected from fights can then be spent in several ways.
Permanent upgrades, item unlocks (that will spawn in future runs for free collection) or next run items (that you can immediately use on the next attempt only).
Difficulty in 20XX is something that comes with the territory of Rogue-like games. One slip, one mistimed jump on a moving platform, a fall to your death or getting to close the enemies or wall spikes is the recipe for your eventual death.
Unlike other action, platforms games like Mega Man, where you can learn the layouts of the levels and establish movement-memory each time you play 20XX has no such graces. Each run is a different and unique challenge.
As with permanent death in normal or defiant modes, Barnstaple Games has a delivered Reverent mode which provides 3 lives instead of one. This is a welcomed inclusion as it will enable new players to learn and progress further before the frustration of permanent death starts occurring in other game modes.
Overall 20XX is a refreshing and challenging take on action, shooting platform gaming. During my review I had some tense moments, I also had some moments of frustration where I was yelling and nearly throwing my controller.
All of these experiences are run of the mill norms for rogue-like games. 20XX is like a cup of coffee with too much sugar, it’s a sweet blend of narcism with the reward of success just like a hit of caffeine.
Presentation and Graphics
Graphically 20XX has all the cutesy graphical appeals of a 90’s style platformer. Combined with the HD quality images 20XX is a real beaut. However, don’t spend too much time gazing at the gaming eye candy as you may slip off the platform to your untimely death!
20XX runs at a stable frame rate in both handheld and docked TV modes. Out of the 2 modes, I really preferred playing 20XX in handheld. Maybe it’s because it feels like 20XX has its home on a handheld game.
The soundtrack for 20XX is really amazing. It reminds of the days of 16 bit MIDI chip produced game soundtracks. It’s that good it not only brought out nostalgia it also made me want to buy it to listen to on my personal music player.
I can’t really express how good it is in words. Play it, listen and enjoy.
The game menus are easy to read and you can control the game modes, character choices and multiplayer modes by jumping around your base/hub HQ. I liked this feature in 20XX as it removes the tedium of scrolling through menus.
You start out at your base or hub where you can literally ‘choose your own adventure’. From here you can change character, influence item drops, purchase immediate use items or purchase permanent items.
The single-player mode is the solid ingredient of 20XX. You pick your difficulty when starting a run by leaping into the pulsing teleport gateway and start the agonising, nail-biting gaming experience of 20XX.
Fight and jump your way through the level collecting soul chips (the currency for upgrades) knowing that you might be a few jumps away from death. On returning to your base hub you can then spend your cherished plunder on items to make things potentially easier for next run.
In addition to collecting soul chips, killing enemies rewards small health capsules to restore your health during a run. at the end of each level, you face a themed boss. If you are successful in beating them you get rewarded bonus items such as augments that either increase your energy or power weapon upgrades that become your special attacks.
Each of these powers can be allocated to a single button press by choice whereas Mega Man required you to swap between them using a menu system. I know which one I prefer, the former improve game-play.
There are 3 modes for single player which feature different levels of difficulty: Reverent mode has three lives designed for new player and beginners.
Normal mode has one life and is considered to be the standard difficulty. Defiant mode is described as a brutal challenge. It comes with the option of switching on difficulty modifiers (skulls) to tune the experience to your own personal pain and pleasure.
Two player or multiplayer mode is a feature that makes 20XX fun, you can either add another controller and ask a friend to join you in couch mode or you can use Network mode to search for a local wireless player or go online searching for another player.
The online experience can be tuned to include friends or random players and you can either host or join a game.
For those new, to this genre and also 20XX don’t worry you won’t have to swim with the sharks yet, the archive zone in the hub offers a tutorial mode where you can learn to swim first! The tutorial is a much-welcomed experience as it explains the controls, the basics of gameplay and how to do things properly.
The additional modes that are on offer at the hub also include Challenges. These bring daily, weekly fixed levels that are the same for every player.
They have the same design and layout with one small caveat, you can only play them once. Scores are shared on the leaderboards. There are two difficulties of normal and hardcore, I would suggest that you don’t start on these and possibly try them once you’ve put a few hours into the game.
Rush Job is a fun mode which I really liked, you can attempt to fight all the games bosses in order. This is a nice way of learning the boss fight mechanics without the difficulty of getting to them with low energy levels.
Should You Play 20XX?
Have you ever played Mega Man before? The odds are that you have at some time, and if not? Why not? Well, 20XX offers a great opportunity to play a game that takes the genre and adds value with the rogue-like game styles and the addition of multiplayer modes.
If you enjoy platform action shooting games then 20XX is a great game to experience. In terms of negatives I can’t really fault 20XX, however, the genre of rogue-like games don’t always appeal to everyone.
Gamers who will suit this game…
If you enjoy the Mega-Man game series there’s no doubt you will enjoy 20XX. It’s a great tribute game that brings its own refreshing gameplay features along with the rogue-like elements.
The difficulty settings will suit all ability levels of gamers, beginner to hardcore. I really like the whole ‘just one more game’ feeling that 20XX offers. I also like the idea of bringing along a friend for the action.
There certainly is a lot to offer in 20XX for both the fan of the genre and the first time player.
Round up table:
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Fantastic Mega-Man tribute||Can get frustrating||None experienced during the review|
|Great 8-bit soundtrack|
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