20XX has just been released on the Nintendo Switch and it’s a love letter to the Mega Man X franchise. It has been available on Steam since August 2017, but now it's spiritually home on a Nintendo console being a roguelike Mega Man X.
The game's plot and intro are brief. In the year 20XX, the world is in the midst of a robot rebellion and you have to stop it. There are two main player characters that allow for different play styles. Nina, a ranged fighter, has the N-Buster, which fires small yellow pellets. And Ace a melee fighter, starting off with the A-Saber, which attacks with a three-swing combo.
Examining a roguelike game is akin to an open world RPG. You have to put in a large amount of hours to get a clear picture. Initially, everything is new and different, but then the procedural formula beings to come clean. 20XX suffers slightly in this area. Sections of levels are clearly designed and laid out by a human and then randomly juggled in order, but they are fiendishly yet satisfyingly difficult.
The graphical style of the levels and enemies are clearly distinguishable from each other, with the no blurring of elements. Aesthetically the developers took a 16-bit design and then stretched it with a HD sheen. I don't want to compare it to Mighty No. 9 as they are different types of games, but 20XX is certainly more visually pleasing and is a true spiritual successor to Mega Man X in design terms.
The player characters and enemies are a smidgen too small for the Nintendo Switch screen in portable mode. This is an issue common with many ports. Few publishers or developers actually look at adjusting the viewpoint or style to screen size. It just needed to be a bit bigger.
The enemies are fantastically designed with a unique identity, movement and attack patterns sporting different colours indicating difficulty. There are over 100 different upgrades that can dramatically change play styles as you collect them. The ability to always double jump or hang on walls makes the game completely different.
One of the main things I admire most are the extras to gameplay that complete the experience. There are 3 difficulty levels, along with daily and weekly challenges. Also, leaderboards for time trials and speedruns. Finally, and most importantly, offline and online multiplayer.
I shouldn't be giving a game a lot of praise for having online and offline multiplayer, but that is the way the industry is nowadays.
Overall, 20XX is a well packaged game with variety in modes, fun upgrades and a fine difficulty curve.
The game works perfect on the Switch while portable or docked. I can't fault it, but it is not exceptional enough a roguelike or spiritual successor to Mega Man X to make me recommend it, even if you're not drenched in the genre or franchise. It just doesn't have that je ne sais quoi, or much originality for that matter. It’s a flattery led love letter and as these usually are, it's just - fine.