20XX Drops Mega Man X-Style Action into the World of Roguelikes

20XX Drops Mega Man X-Style Action into the World of Roguelikes

Tired of waiting for Mighty No. 9? Even in Early Access form, Batterystaple Games' Mega Man/roguelike hybrid shows promise.

At this point, it's safe to say Mega Man has transitioned from a simple series into a full-on genre. (Thankfully, Capcom's lawyers don't seem to mind.)

Since Mega Man's owners haven't bothered to make a new game featuring him in five years, plenty of others have gladly offered to fill the gap—including his own creator. And with so many Mega Man-likes emerging in recent years, it only makes sense one would eventually collide with what's becoming a very popular genre: roguelikes. That's essentially the elevator pitch for Batterystaple Games' 20XX; if you've played similar games like Rogue Legacy, The Swindle, and Spelunky, 20XX should feel somewhat familiar—though it manages to bring at least one new improvement most games of this genre are sadly lacking.

As with any roguelike, the general goal in 20XX is to stay alive for as long as possible, since the game wipes the slate clean with each death. Rare resources found within levels, called "Soul Nuts," can be used between runs to purchase items that add persistent changes to the world itself rather than your character; essentially, you're paying to unlock the chance for certain power-ups to spawn during play. It's the same focus on risk/reward that makes roguelikes so addictive, and even in its Early Access form, 20XX has this element down pat.

If you're a roguelike fan, and this all sounds like pretty standard stuff, you're not wrong. 20XX may not deviate too far from the genre's time-tested formula, but it still manages to stand out for having some of the best controls I've ever experienced with this style of game. Even though I enjoy roguelikes, their controls are functional at best: Floaty, slippery controls seem to be an essential part of the side-scrolling roguelike experience. 20XX changes this trend for the better, and even if its controls are essentially lifted straight from Mega Man X, they definitely make for a major improvement. After being reacquainted with dashing and wall-jumping, It only took me a few minutes to fall into my regular Mega Man rhythms—including squaring off against the standard pattern-based bosses.

20XX didn't borrow everything from Mega Man X, though. In a major deviation from Capcom's formula, killing the boss at the end of every stage doesn't grant you a new weapon: You're simply kicked into a room offering a choice of treasures, and given a choice of which type of level you'd like to play next. The two protagonists—one of which is a straight-up Zero clone—can use more than just their standard Mega Man X-style weapons, though. Once you unlock them with Soul nuts, 20XX throws a variety of unique weaponry into the world; and since you won't know when specific drops will appear, you're essentially encouraged to experiment with everything you find as soon as you find it.

20XX also offers an assortment of Roguelike-appropriate items that affect the limited persistence of your character: power-ups that increase max health, give you armor, or decrease one stat for the sake of boosting another. While 20XX never veers too far from being a take on Mega Man X, there's enough wiggle room in character customization to make each attempt at making progress feel slightly different.

20XX is only in Early Access on Steam, and while it's a little unfair to be highly critical of a work-in-progress, I'm hoping Batterystaple Games improves 20XX's visuals to make them a little more consistent. They're not bad by any means, but the puppety, kinda-pixellated characters and enemies don't mesh very well with the backgrounds. The game also features a streak of juvenile humor—including a reference to a pretty offensive meme—that would be much better left on the cutting-room floor, so I'm hoping Batterystaple doesn't double down on this aspect with future revisions. Outside of these two minor issues, though, 20XX definitely shows a lot of promise; and even if we've seen similar takes on side-scrolling roguelikes, it's hard to think of any that feel this good.

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