Welp, gang, I’ve binge-gamed through the Mega Man X franchise’s first and second game, and finally caved when Steam told me that 20XX, this little gem from my wishlist, was on sale. So, like the great guy I pretend to be, I purchased two copies: one for myself, and one for one of my co-op companions to help.
First, a little background. 20XX is unabashed in its clear resemblance to and inspiration from Capcom’s Mega Man series, and more specifically, the series darker edgier big brother, Mega Man X. The parallels are everywhere. From a blue bomber-esque ranged character who shoots small pellets or larger charged laser blasts who is accompanied by a red, beam sword wielding sidekick, 20XX wants you to know that they loved Mega Man X, and wanted the series to be never ending. If you’re a fan of the franchises, you may feel a little let down over the lack of good games in that vein over the last few years. If you were disappointed by Mighty No. 9 you may be better off getting this title instead.
Here’s the low-down. 20XX controls just like its spiritual predecessors, including a wall slide, jump technique, and a dash allowing you to keep pace and maneuver around the field swiftly. Upon starting the game, you will be dumped into a randomly chosen level in a semi-randomly generated stage. If the boss is perhaps the ‘Vile Visage’ you will always be in a somewhat ice themed level, capped off with a specific boss. After defeating your random adversary, you will get to choose between three bosses and stages, after which you will race to the end, fight him, then choose from three more, until there are none left and you face the final boss.
Along the way, you will get lots of opportunities to find extra powers, passive buffs, and even prototype gear that usually features huge drawbacks. Most power ups are simple, like extra health, weapon energy, speed, jump height, etc. Others will give you strange new powers, like super boosting your basic attack while disabling your ability to charge. Gear will affect how your armor looks and cannot stack with other armors, like boots that give you a dash in mid air or that let you hover for a short time. Getting these is key to your survivability because with every boss you eliminate, the levels get more complicated and the bosses show off meaner, more difficult attack patterns. After killing a boss, you’ll get to choose between three rewards, one of which will be a specific power inspired by the boss. These can add a great deal of versatility to your hero and can even mean the difference between life and death. If you offed the boss fast enough there will even be an extra treasure chest full of goodies to reward you for your expediency.
To put it simply, I really enjoyed the heck out of this game. The controls are so similar to the old Mega Man games that it chooses to mimic that when I put one down and picked this up, the transition was nigh-seamless. The co-op is a lot of fun. Where I can jump in with a sword and do a lot of damage quickly, my long range buddy can protect me from afar. Teamwork makes the dream work with these two, and in later levels it really shows.
There’s an elephant in the room worth pointing out. The visual presentation on 20XX isn’t great. The art style is pretty weak, and while the animations are smooth and well done, the actual art assets make this game look like a Chinese bootleg version of ‘Mega Guy 10’. It’s really hard to pin down, but these screen caps should illustrate my point. The two main characters, Nina and Ace, have little to no personality. Most of the enemies and items look great; however, everything about the characters and more than a few bosses feels out of place. The cover art on the Steam page makes this look like the world’s most expensive Flash game. 20XX is, however, quite deep into beta. So much so that there is a timer on the main menu telling you when the next update will release, and it counts down to the second. So maybe someday there will be a little more work put into some of the visuals.
20XX is a fantastic Mega Man X experience for solo players and dynamic duos alike. Because of it’s semi-random generated levels, you will always have something a little new to play. It is clearly a masterpiece of function taking priority over form, and while it is somewhat ugly, boy does it have a solid gameplay experience worth dipping more than a toe into.
Plays like Mega Man thought it was actually Risk of Rain. If you like both of those games, 20XX is absolutely worth your money. Get a friend, or don’t. Pick it up on Steam if you want some great platforming action.