20XX is a roguelike platform action game, inspired by games like Mega Man X. Players take on the role of either blue robot girl Nina or red sword-wielding robot Ace to respectively shoot and slash through some of the most randomly generated difficult levels and bosses ever played. Levels are generated from pre-set lengths and bosses will always be selected from the same pool of 8, but the difficulty of each boss is another story, which we'll get to in a moment.
Different difficulty settings offer the player several lives (easy), one life (normal and hard), however, players will get a lot of help; players will get to unlock new types of upgrades and come across several shops that trade in-game currency for health, energy (the game's answer to a Mana bar), upgrades, and of course the choice of a defeated bosses' power. And that's not even getting into prototype upgrades that trade basic function for insane power.
So how is the Mega-random Mega-roguelike game that is 20XX? Is there a method to the madness or is it a beautiful disaster?
Nah, it's damn good.
Where to start?
One thing I've always liked are games that let players customize their playing experience. And while 20XX throws random levels, enemies, and hazards at players, the game is also benevolent enough to throw lots of upgrades at players, similar to the ones in Light Capsules from the Mega Man X series (although in 20XX these body part upgrades are bought from in-game stores or won) as well as more simple, passive power-ups that work to increase player stats and parameters. These are also chosen at random from a very diverse pool. But almost every upgrade is great from the passives that stack throughout playthroughs, to the aforementioned body part upgrades. My favorites that I personally and silently wish for on each playthrough are the leg upgrades that let Nina fly or hover. I also love the replacement for the main Mega-Nina Buster that shoots in three directions. It gets even better when combined with the shot eraser upgrade; you can become almost unkillable as long as you can shoot in the direction of the enemy and don't miss your jumps (but then, that's what fly/hover is for).
The graphics in 20XX are great, each of the four main levels and the two final levels appropriately, look and feel like different Mega Man stages with lots of ever-changing set pieces and platforms in the foreground, and a lot of moving parts in the background. Nina and Ace get a variety of animations to reflect their many different potential attacks and upgrades, and they also even get a fatigued "low health," animation when the player is in danger of dying. It's small and subtle with the robots bent over, almost as if gasping for air, a nice little touch.
Boss characters are different from the usual Robot Master gatekeepers Mega Man fans will be familiar with and more like the bosses players encounter when infiltrating Wily's Castle/Sigma's Base. For the non-Mega Man fans, this means that bosses will be unique large sized enemies that may take up an entire screen or use a type of gimmick that lets them be many places at once. As mentioned before the bosses are probably one of the few static parts about the game, as players will have to defeat all 8 to progress to the final level, but their difficulty scales depending on when you meet them in order to give the player an appropriate challenge. The bosses are visually well designed and the rate at which they become difficult isn't too steep -- until players get to the boss they left for last, which will almost always be near insurmountably difficult.
20XX also offers a lot in the way of replayability; once the base game is completed, there are extra characters to unlock and play as, although I prefer Nina. There also exist daily and weekly challenges that range from mild to wild (but the challenges tend to usually be pretty wild). If that's not enough, 20XX also offers a Boss Rush mode titled "Rush Job," plus tons of upgrades to collect and even a local and online co-op mode. Also, the fact that every level you ever play through will be made at random to ensure a unique experience every time, will keep players on their toes.
I'm really looking for things to critique here and I can't find them. The only distant problem I had while playing 20XX was with the sound. Not the awesome music mind you, but in order to hear said awesome music, players will need to go into the options menu, keep the sound effects low, turn the music up, THEN turn their TVs volume significantly up. I have no idea why the background music sounds so muted by default when the songs are all SO GOOD. Maybe it's a problem with my TV, but then I don't have this problem with other PS4 games. Still, it bears repeating how catchy and appropriate the songs are for the game, which mitigates the sound problem since once you get the volumes right it's worth it. So, I'm not knocking off any points.
20XX is what Mighty No. 9 and every Mega Man X game after the 4th one should've been. In terms of difficulty, innovation, challenges, and straight up fun, why aren't there more games like this one?! I love being able to play through what is basically a new game each time, knowing that I'll still be properly equipped, even against harder difficulties! I hope Batterystaple/FireHose Games continue to get to make games for a long time. In the meantime, I'll be playing and replaying 20XX with a big smile on my face.
TOV RATING: 6 stars out of 5! Can I do that? No? 5 out of 5 it is!