20XX is finally out of Early Access on Steam and on version 1.0. Having played this as it evolved in Early Access, I can say that it has improved by staggeringly huge leaps and bounds. It has turned into a truly fantastic game. Boasting the tried-and-true Mega Man styled action platforming mixed with rogue-like elements, 20XX promises to be a great time. Let’s dive in and see what its all about.
The game follows Nina and Ace, an armored girl and boy wielding an energy buster and sword in the aftermath of a robotic uprising. Traveling from their base on the Ark, an orbital space station, they are hired by an organization to clear out dangerous locations that are infested with robots that have run amok. The story is told through small stop-motion animated cutscenes peppered throughout the game, but they don’t really convey what they are saying very well. But you know what? That’s okay. This really isn’t anything near what you would called a story-driven game, so it takes a backseat to the gameplay and other elements.
20XX plays very similar to many action platformers, specifically drawing inspiration from the many Mega Man and Mega Man X titles. Nina and Ace both have primary weapons: an Energy Buster for Nina and an Energy Sword for Ace. If you have to make the comparison, Nina plays like Mega Man/X, and Ace plays like Zero. Both of them are able to charge their primary weapon for a more powerful blast or strike.
Before each run, you spawn in the Hub area. Here you can purchase permanent upgrades and items using Soul Chips you collect from special enemies and bosses. You can also swap between Nina and Ace as you please here. There are also portals to various daily and weekly challenges that record you score/time to the leaderboard.
During your runs, you will traverse through 10 different stages, each with a boss and tons of hazards. The first 8 stages are the usual “Robot Masters”, while the last two are the final bosses. In each level, you fight you way through various landscapes, collecting nuts (currency), spending them on upgrades (Attack Up, Movement Speed Up, Max HP+, etc), and collecting Armor Upgrades. To get the Armor Upgrades, you can either buy them if they appear in the random shops, or earn them in special Glory Zones. These zones present you with a specified challenge, such as defeating everything within a time limit, or reaching a specified point without being caught by pursuing enemies.
There is no limit to the number of upgrades you can get, and multiple copies of the same item stack their effects endlessly. However be careful with some, as they can make it harder to control Nina/Ace depending on the upgrade (Movement Speed Up comes to mind). Other items to collect are Tokens, which allow you a spin on the slot machine for possible items and upgrades. These are randomly found in levels, usually before a boss.
This game looks like it would feel alright on an SNES or Genesis. Some complain that it looks like a flash game, but if you look things are a bit more detailed and more well animated than a flash game. Nina and Ace are both well designed and look great on screen. Each stage has a unique look and feel, and each boss is very animated. I love the overall presentation of 20XX. It really invokes the classic Mega Man feel, only in a more colorful manner.
The game’s soundtrack is comprised of chiptunes and synthesized tracks that give the sound of what might have been on the SNES. Each tune is very upbeat and full of action, and I absolutely love them. I’m glad the option to buy the game in a bundle with its soundtrack is available for just a few bucks more.
Offering plenty of challenge, rogue-like elements, and good ol’ action platforming, 20XX is one of the better Early Access success stories in recent years. Most people avoid Early Access titles due to many of them never being finished, but 20XX rose above them and came out on top. Definitely give it a shot if you get the chance!