Although Capcom has not necessarily abandoned the Mega man brand as a whole, the frequency with which it produces new games in this famous franchise is undoubtedly reduced. For example, it’s been 19 years since the last new release of Mega Man X8 was a rough entry to end), but this series now continues thanks to the efforts of its fans. A few years ago, Battery Staple Games released 20XX, a nice roguelite take on Mega Man gameplay, and now it’s continuing that effort with 30XX. It’s not without its problems, but we’re happy to report that 30XX appears to be an overall improvement over its predecessor and is a worthy homage to a beloved series.
30XX’s gameplay follows the template of the classic Mega Man even more difficult final stages. The trick here, though, is that 30XX is structured like a roguelite, so each stage is different every playthrough and there are a myriad of upgrades you can collect along the way to even the playing field a bit. There are two playable characters, named Ace and Nina, and they take over from Zero and of Ace.
A key element that really enhances the fun of 30XX is the way smooth the controls feel. In a game as hyper-focused on precision and skill as this one, hiccups or slow controls could easily torpedo any sense of fairness, but 30XX always proves precise and responsive. We didn’t notice any frame drops during our experience and the motion technology is exceptional; the characters are lively and agile, and feel like they can successfully navigate specific obstacles presented in front of you.
Throughout each stage, you will often encounter a few augmentations – or “Augs” – that will improve your character for the duration of that run. Augs can do things like increase your damage or give a small shield that constantly orbits around you and absorbs damage, and given that there are around 240 Augs to discover, there’s a wide variety of builds that you can experiment. You can also periodically find Cores, which are pieces of armor that give you new abilities like a double jump or a short hover. There’s a wide variety of these items on offer as well, and we liked how well they mix up your approach to the game, not to mention that having decent base gear is almost necessary to survive the later stages.
Over the course of a game, you’ll usually pick up a decent amount of a currency called Memoria, and when you inevitably lose, you’ll be sent back to the hub where you can spend it on permanent upgrades. These range from a fixed increase to your starting health and energy to more general improvements like the ability to choose from more levels when defeating a boss or recycling upgrades you encounter during a race. We appreciated the implementation of this meta-progression system, because 30XX can be totally brutal experience and these upgrades help level the playing field a bit. Plus, it’s nice to have another goal to achieve beyond just beating the next level, and you’ll probably find yourself attempting another race after a defeat just to see how the new improvements affect you.
Speaking of upgrades, one big change from 20XX is that the new weapons and abilities you get from each level’s boss are tailored to each character, doubling the number of abilities you can play with. For example, a boss grants Nina a lightning attack that can target enemies, while that same boss grants Ace a downward thrust attack that sends balls of lightning hurtling across the ground. We liked how this created new ways to play and made each character feel more distinguished than before, giving players even more toys to experiment with to determine which versions suited them best.
If random roguelike isn’t your cup of tea, there’s a new mode called Mega Mode that might suit you more. Here, boss stages are laid out in a nice selectable grid reminiscent of classic Mega Man games, and while each level is still randomly generated, subsequent attempts after a failure will see you go through the same stage each time. This allows you to progress by practicing and learning the level layout, and when you couple that with the fact that all Augs and Cores stay with your character even after death, you have a mode that ultimately feels much friendlier to those who want a more traditional platform experience.
And if you need help getting through the stages, you can always play in co-op mode, which allows for both couch and online multiplayer. We noticed that performance took a bit of a hit here, but nothing significantly affected gameplay, and the fun of having an extra character on hand to help collect gifts and defeat bosses more than made up for any losses in gameplay. ‘pictures. Overall, it seems like 30XX is intended to be played as a more single-player experience, but rest assured that co-op is still an enjoyable time if you want to go that route.
To round out the set, there’s a community mode in which you play levels designed by other players using in-game resources. There are different filters you can use to sort levels by popularity or type, and there are all sorts of wacky ideas here that would never fit into the game proper, but nonetheless add interesting elements to interact with. We played a stage that lovingly recreated the Green Hill area in the 30XX engine. Speed upgrades were even granted from the start so you can move around very quickly. Mileage will vary here, of course, but it’s hard to argue with the value it adds to an already highly replayable game.
While 30XX is an overall great experience, one issue we encountered is that the level design can feel a bit haphazard. Although stages are ultimately composed of hand-made sections randomly stitched together, they don’t always fit together in a way that properly mimics a hand-designed level. For example, we encountered many situations where difficulty was everywhere: extremely difficult sections were followed by easy segments, which could make for a rather oddly paced experience.
Beyond that, the levels become substantially harder as you progress through a race, to the point where a stage can feel less like a fair challenge and more like a ROM hack Kaizo level. Having the right upgrades earlier in the game can certainly mitigate the advantage, but it’s never guaranteed that the upgrades you need will be removed, and we’ve experienced many instances where a section was virtually impossible to go through without suffering much damage. If you simply want to win at all costs, you can always activate Assist Mode and change various settings such as enemy damage or player health, but this seems like an imperfect solution to a problem that exists at the game level. design.
For those of you who aren’t put off by the difficulty, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a way to make 30XX. even harder via the Entropy system. Taking inspiration from Hades’ Heat system, Entropy allows you to activate modifiers at the start of a run that increase difficulty, such as negating the effects of healing items or increasing enemy health. Each active modifier increases your entropy level by one, and if you manage to complete a run, you will be rewarded with more currency to continue your meta-progression. The problem is that you can’t farm these rewards infinitely with the same level of entropy, you will have to continually stack more modifiers to increase your level if you want to continue progressing. Even though messing with this was way too difficult for us, we still appreciated that such a system was in place to give even more longevity. Those of you who like a real challenge will have plenty of content to tackle if you’re up for it.
Visually, 30XX was a huge upgrade over its predecessor, which featured an art style that made it look more like a mid-effort Flash game. 30XX swaps it out for a much more visually appealing hi-bit art style that very closely mirrors the PSX generation visuals of Mega Man Whether you’re stumbling past the dark, stained-glass halls of a cathedral or weaving through enemies in a high-tech tropical paradise, each level is distinctly different from the last and is packed with excellent sprites, especially in the detailed backgrounds. .
Added to this is an equally excellent chiptune soundtrack that manages to sound traditional without being too derivative of past works. The high-energy tracks here do a good job of adapting to the often intense pace of the fights, and there’s plenty of variety here. The music is catchy without being too repetitive and doesn’t distract too much from the action.
While it can be a bit uneven, 30XX is ultimately an enjoyable take on the action platformer with a roguelite twist. The high difficulty, extreme replayability, and stunning visuals come together to make this an action platformer you won’t want to miss. Beyond that, Mega Mode makes this a solid recommendation even for those who generally dislike roguelites, as it removes most of the randomness and presents a more old-school challenge. For any fans of Mega Man, retro action platformers, or roguelikes, 30XX covers all of these bases and more, and deserves a place in your Switch library.
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