One of the best things about the explosion of Indie game development, is the wonderful spiritual successors to old games that have popped up. This can be especially wonderful with old game series you haven’t experienced. Until recently my exposure with Mega Man was limited at best, and Mega Man X was non-existent, so tackling 20XX on Switch was a totally new experience. Now that I have played a lot of the X series with the collections, I can appreciate how much they nailed it.
20XX is a spiritual successor to the Mega Man X series which, for those who aren’t aware, is a side scrolling action platformer, which isn’t dissimilar to the core Mega Man series. The only real difference is the lesser concern around the platforming puzzles and uses more of its resources for the creative and annoying enemies.
20XX drops you into a world where Nina and Ace are tasked with cleaning up the mess and enemies released after a disaster. That’s about it, well I assume there is story at the end of the game, but it’s been many hours of dying and replaying since I last saw the intro, and I am nowhere near beating this thing, but story isn’t why you’ll be here, it’s the gameplay.
The side scrolling action works well with little to no flaws. Initially the jumping and landing feels a little heavy, but it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of it. Outside of that, the art of the game is getting the hang of platforming while shooting or slashing to defeat the enemies flying at you at rapid rates.
Initially you only start with a basic bullet, but like both Mega Man series, you can unlock more weapons as you beat the bosses. Using these weapons -such as my personal favourite the boomerang- uses your energy bar, which like your health is limited, so should be used sparingly. Though this is where the game is challenging, because you don’t want to die having energy with limited lives.
The game’s easy mode sets you up with a third life, and you need to get all the way through without dying three times, or les if unlike me you are good at games. Though all is not wasted when you inevitably die a lot. You collect a currency in your playthroughs which let you buy some permanent boost, or temporary ones for your next run. These can be as simple as extra chests in a level, or more items being options in chests.
After you complete a reasonably short level you hit the fun part of the game, its boss’ which can be brutally unfair until you learn their patterns. Beating them of course nets you a weapon or upgrade, and then you get to pick between three bosses to tackle with their respective worlds next. This means after spending a lot of time with the game, you formulate strategies depending on your weapon pickups and the upcoming bosses.
If you somehow beat the game don’t despair, there are challenges such as a Daily Challenge giving you one life, or a Hardcore challenge with added difficulty, as well as weekly versions of these. With their leader boards you can keep playing week in and week out to be the worldwide master. Naturally, I struggled to get anywhere on any of these.
Now for the games flaws, load times can be a bit long, and the dash button is on the top trigger which is a little uncomfortable on the Switch. That’s about it. Some of the game feels a touch old in its design and style, but that’s intentional, so it’s only a potential detractor if you have no experience with the series. Thanks to the recently released Mega Man X collections I now have enough experience to say they absolutely nailed it.
The easy answer to whether you should check this game out is, do you like Mega Man X or does the trailer look interesting to you? Then you should enjoy 20XX, it’s been so well crafted and is so much fun but be ready to die a lot. That’s not a knock on the game, that’s the point, and it makes for bursts of fun you can keep returning to over time.