If you’re a Mega Man fan who’s cranky that Kenji Inafune’s “homage” Mighty No. 9 has been delayed until next year, you might want to poke your mouse over to Steam pronto and check out 20XX, the upcoming 2D side-scrolling rogue-like platformer from Batterystaple Games currently in Early Access on Steam. That alpha version will soon be getting boosted up to beta status next Tuesday, but what’s here is very playable and well on the way to being an instant classic any MM fan would love. 20XX is a mash-up of familiar gameplay with rogue-like randomness to the levels and lots of loot to collect. It’s also old-school tough, great looking and a ton of fun to play.
Other than the tutorial that opens the game, you’re not getting any hand-holding at all. Expert platform fans will love the challenge and randomness while those looking to memorize for that easy speed run may find things a wee bit tricky until they get a handle on things. Fan feedback since the game’s appearance as an Early Access title has changed everything from playable characters Nina and Ace to art assets in every area to numerous gameplay elements. This feedback has helped the work in progress become tighter and better as the dev team responds quickly to fans, implementing and updating builds regularly.
My own experience with the game has found the controls solid, but needing a teeny bit more pinpoint accuracy in the jumping (as in Bard’s Gold) as well as a few tweaks to some weapon effects (adding splash damage to some weapons would help in random maps where you’re pinned down by an enemy out of reach of your shots). As the look of the two playable characters has also evolved, it might be nice to see if some sort of character edit function could be added (or: I kind of liked the less messy-haired version of Nina, as her new head looks as if she stuck her finger in an electrical socket). Granted, both Nina and Ace should take on that frazzled look after some of those bosses (they can be a handful!). Which makes me think the team should add damage modeling to both characters (if at all possible).
Of course, as I’m admittedly fairly lousy at these sorts of non-stop adrenaline rush games these days (damn aging reflexes!) , it’s absolutely awesome that I find myself going back to the game and playing until I beat a few maps before stopping. The game not only supports solo play, there’s co-op play for those of you who want to dive in with a buddy and two brutal (brutal, I say!) daily challenge modes that only the best of the best need attempt. By the way, you’ll really want to buy that Xbox 360 or other compatible controller even if you’re a keyboard master of the highest order. Giving this the old college try on the laptop made me want to take a cartoon mallet to my keyboard, but your own experience may vary.
While 20XX is pretty much guaranteed to be a sure-fire smash hit by the time it’s all polished up, it would also be excellent to see it on a console of some sort. Many of these “retro” games play best when you’re plopped down on a couch a few feet away from a screen or on a handheld with a decent control pad. Yeah, yeah, some of you play all your PC games on a nice big monitor while plopped on a couch these days. But for my money, there’s just something purer about playing games as they’re “meant to be played”. But hey, I’m old and crazy. Anyway, go get in on 20XX, try it out and toss a few ideas at the team. You never know what’s going to happen after that other than the end result will be all that more better.