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Game Info:

20XX
Developed By: Batterystaple Games, Fire Hose Games
Published By: Batterystaple Games
Release Date: August 16, 2017
Available On: Windows
ESRB Rating: N/A
Genre: Action Platformer/Rogue-like
Mode: One or Two Players
MSRP: $14.99

Thank you Batterystaple Games for sending us this game to review!

Having grown up with classic video games, Mega Man was always near and dear to my gamer heart. I have great memories with Mega Man 3, and later X and X4. Though the challenge is, well, pretty intense, I was always able to beat them with a little (or a lot) of perseverance. There have been several attempts to regain the feel and joy that these games bring, even from one of the original creators of Mega Man after he went independent. Many of these efforts have had mixed results. What is surprising is how well the 20XX developers did. They also added enough to make it more than merely a clone: they turned it into a Rogue-like.

For those not familiar with the classic Mega Man X franchise that this borrows so much from, the premise is rather simple: you are one of two warrior robots, either the ranged focused Nina (styled after Mega Man X, except female), or the melee focused Ace (styled after Zero). The chosen robot then plays a 2D side scrolling level, typically with a lot of enemies and dangerous spikes. After making it through the challenging platform filled level, they find a boss waiting for them at the end. Once this boss is defeated, you then take their weapons, which you can then use on future levels – either as a tool to help you get through the normal enemies, or as a foil against a powerful boss, as they often have a weakness to specific attacks.

While that alone – a well implemented Mega Man X clone with different characters – would be enough to get excited about, they really took it to the next level by turning it into a Rogue-like. A Rogue-like is a game that takes some elements from the gaming classic Rogue. What is relevant here is that the levels are randomly generated, and you lose most (or all) of your progress when you die. While that may seem strange, and indeed that was my thought at first, it's actually brilliant. Rather than the limited levels and power-ups of a typical game in this genre, levels are randomly generated, so no two playthroughs are the same – though if you want, you can specify the level seed, and play it more than once if you want!

20XX
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good graphics and animations; great chiptune soundtrack; fantastic replay value; creative and compelling powerups; quite challenging; the developer support is some of the best I have ever seen; perhaps the best homage to Mega Man X yet
Weak Points: Quite challenging
Moral Warnings: Animated violence against other robots; creator scientists treat the robots as robots and dispose of them freely

This ends up bringing an incredible amount of replay value to 20XX, as beating a level isn't enough; you have to beat the whole game in one sitting. This is most definitely easier said than done; I have never been able to beat the game at all, despite my best efforts and work to unlock various power-ups, or choosing the easiest difficulty levels. As you progress, you earn soul chips. These chips can be used to unlock permanent and temporary powerups for future runs. I reached a point where my permanent unlocks were too expensive for my skill level, and while I have plenty of temporary unlocks to get still, I just have a long way to go before victory will be in my grasp. This was made all the more clear when I was schooled online, so much so that the guy I was playing with kept leaving the game because he didn't want to play with such a n00b again...

So while perseverance definitely plays a role here, you also have to have a certain skill level with difficult jumps and tricky shots, or you just don't have a chance. I don't say this to knock the game; it is meant for more skilled players, and the game is good and well balanced enough where it doesn't feel like the game cheats or anything. Every mistake I made felt earned, even if I got real tired of some of those nasty jump sections, or the even worse ice levels...

The bosses are also a lot of fun to fight. What I didn't expect from my time with the Mega Man franchise is that here, unlike there, the same boss is much more difficult in level six rather than level two. Bosses may have extra moves, more health, do more damage, or even have changed action patterns based on how far you have gotten. While it does make sense, it also means that the skill wall you need to climb is that much steeper if you aren't up for that whole 'practice makes perfect' adage.

There are a ton of different challenges available. There is the basic Reverent (easy) difficulty where you get three lives, Normal with only one, and Defiant where you can apply skull modifiers to make it even harder. There are also daily, weekly, boss rush, and hardcore mode challenges available. There are also leaderboards, if you want to see how bad you are compared to everyone else.

20XX
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 93%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

There is local co-op, as well as co-op online play. You can play with friends, or random strangers via the auto lobby system. When I tried to play online, I didn't have to wait at all to find someone to play with, though when I tried again later, there wasn't anyone around. The community is active enough, especially the forums, that I am sure if you really want to play with someone, you should be able to. My son really enjoys playing this game with me when he has a chance.

And really, there is no reason not to play this with someone of any age. There is robot on robot violence, and the intro shows a bit of a societal panic as buildings are being attacked by giant robots. It is presumed that you are there to stop it – but the 'story' is fairly skeleton; you are there to get to the end of the levels and beat the big baddies that wait for you; nothing more. This game is squeaky clean and I would personally have no problem with anyone of any age playing it, assuming they can handle the difficulty, of course.

The graphics are good, and the music is very good. The chiptunes are perfectly appropriate, and fun to listen to. The soundtrack is very inexpensive, and worth it in my opinion. They also offer FLAC files, which is a nice touch. The sound effects also work well.

I just wanted to point out one quick thing: this developer has been perhaps one of the best early access developers I have ever seen. They released the original early access on November 25, 2014, and they have been updating this game like clockwork every two weeks for almost three years. You could see the countdown to the next patch right from the main menu before 1.0 hit. It was amazing, and while I expect this to wind down at some point, they have been continuing to patch the game even as recently as three days ago as of this writing. I have also had my posts in the forums replied to by the developers directly. These guys deserve the highest praise for their dedication to their player base. Great job!

20XX (which is a clear allusion to the Mega Man 2 intro – the 20XX intro is also a visual reference as well) is a clear homage to the source material – Mega Man and the X series that followed – in the best kind of way. Nina and Ace are both a ton of fun to play, and feel right – Ace's combos work great, and Nina's charged or rapid fire shots are also great. Wall jumping is perfect, and so on. And the gameplay is basically endless if you want it to be; there is actually an endless mode modifier for Defiant if you choose to use it. Honestly, 20XX is a very easy recommendation. The price is right, the game plays great, and is a lot of fun. Just be ready to earn those skills!

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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