Review: 20XX (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: 20XX (Switch)

by Sairus Delaney

Normally I try to avoid comparing titles directly to other games, but 20XX is totally unashamed of its “Megaman X, but procedurally generated” concept.

20XX has two playable characters, which are very clearly reskins of Megaman X characters. Nina basically functions as Megaman X with a chargeable long range blaster, and Ace is Zero with a short range but powerful sword. Other characters can be unlocked down the line to add some splice later on.

Levels are again structured in a pretty standard Megaman style. You traverse straightforward platforming levels while blasting enemies before you fight a boss. Defeating the boss gives you a new weapon to use. What makes 20XX stand out is you’ll never play the same game twice. 

Each level is semi randomly generated, with different segments getting bolted together seamlessly in each area. Once you clear a boss fight you choose from between three bosses to challenge next. The order you challenge stages in will vastly change how your game plays out as the first few stages will always be quite easy, but later stages will be densely packed with enemies and have far more difficult platforming sections. Even the bosses themselves get new, more complicated attack patterns if you challenge them later on.

Straight difficulty is not the end goal of the game however, and a lot of the segments and set pieces feel like they’re more to challenge your speed and fluidity than actually presenting an intense challenge. With special bonuses offered for quickly beating stages, speedrunning is clearly emphasized throughout the title.

While initially this mix and match level and boss generation makes every play through feel totally unique, after a few runs you will start to see where specific segments get reused. Many segments also suffer from a common procedurally generated problem of just being a bunch of floating platforms that don’t feel particularly part of any stage. This does drain the magic a little bit on repeated runs, but the segments themselves are usually still fun to play on. 

As you progress through each level you will find different upgrades, some of which will drastically change how you play. One run might see you with health absorbing shotgun attacks and the ability to fly. Your next attempt could give you a double jump and the ability to charge your attacks up to a higher level. This is a fun feature, but I found that some power-ups are flat out better than others, reducing a lot of your run’s challenge to what items you happened to find. 

In classic rougelike fashion when you die in 20XX you immediately get booted back to the home lobby. There’s no continues or extra lives here! However, as you play you can collect Soul Chips, which you can cash in at the lobby to buy permanent upgrades, or unlock new items that will spawn in future runs. It’s quite rewarding to know that even if you fail at a run you’ll be able to keep unlocking new things that will allow you to get further next time. 

There’s a host of other modes on offer too, including daily and weekly challenge maps with full leader boards, plus boss rushes and even a fully featured co-op mode. Online or couch co-ops are both competently implemented and force some clever cooperation as all resources in the game are shared. 
One aspect that is very unfortunate is the game’s art. While in game the animations and assets are all functional, they’re definitely nothing special. When 20XX attempts cutscenes or dramatic boss introductions the art just looks straight up terrible. I’m honestly shocked some of them ended up in the final product.

20XX is an extremely fun game, excellently implemented with slick controls and bursting with replay value. Its only real shortfalls are some very questionable art decisions and relying a little too much on random,
procedurally generated content which can rob the game of any real identity. I’d love to see what Batterystaple Games could do with a larger team and budget as I feel that’s what caused both of these problems. Setting them aside however, if you’re a fan of Megaman X or Zero there’s absolutely no reason not to pick this game up. 

Final Score 9.0

[Review code provided by the publisher]

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