In 2018, we received Mega Man 11, available on both PC and consoles. However, for some reason, there's this idea floating in the air about the franchise being "dead," but it's hard to say Capcom is actually neglecting it... maybe it's because indie title 20XX did better, only a year before? Objectively, new Mega Man games are not as good as the classics, and not all of us are fans of the latest cartoony graphics, so that's probably one of the reasons why developer Batterystaple Games is working on 30XX, a follow-up to another Mega Man-inspired game: 20XX. Curiously enough, Mighty No. 9 (a game by Keiji Inafune, one of the original creators of the Mega Man saga) couldn't quite meet everyone's expectations... can 30XX be different?
A New Indie Project Trying to Keep Megaman's Spirit Alive
Just like 20XX, 30XX goes back to Mega Man's pixelated roots. While different, it does feel similar to old Mega Man titles, not only aesthetically but also in terms of the gameplay—and that's always a good sign! Despite the obvious similarities, however, 30XX is more than a cheap copycat; it brings several new elements to the table, and it could definitely become a fan favorite once it's fully polished.
In case you're new to this saga, allow us to tell you about its protagonists. Nina's attacks are energy blasts, but Ace's weapon of choice is a powerful saber. This means our blue-armored girl is more suited for those who like mid-range combat, while the red-armored guy represents a more challenging approach to things based on melee attacks. Sounds familiar? Yeah, exactly like Mega Man and X (Rock and Bass, in the Japanese version)...
In With the Old, In With the New
As of now, there are 6 available bosses you can take on: Hoot Omega, Absolution, Echo Beast, Legacy, Zen Primus, and Lethal Tempo, plus 2 more that are currently locked—of course, we might also face Doctors Brighton Sharp and Arlan Flat, antagonists we already defeated in 20XX. All bosses have unique skills you can acquire after defeating them, but all zones also give you access to a region called Glory Zone, where you can find Cores. These are special attachments that give you better skills, but you can only spend 8 points, and all Cores have different costs, so it's impossible to wear them all at the same time. By beating minibosses, you can also gain stat augmentations, like more energy or increased speed. All these mechanics are inspired by things Mega Man did back in the day, so it's not a surprise to see they work really well.
If you want the classic experience, you can start a "Mega Mode" run. If you fancy something more challenging and punishing, you can go for the "Standard" mode. Standard is where all the fun stuff is, actually. Although you only have 1 life, death sends you back to the HQ, where you can spend in-game currency to buy several upgrades that will make things easier for you—maybe you're not good enough to beat the game without upgrades, but at least you can try farming resources before dying. But... what if "hard" is not hard enough for your superhuman skills?! Well, you can make use of the Entropy system!
Thanks to the Entropy Cluster, you can make all levels a bit longer, give all enemies more health and damage, or activate a time trial mode, for example. If you're still able to beat a level, rewards will be noticeably increased, so you should at least give this a try. And what if, regardless of all these options, you still need help? Don't worry! 30XX features a local and online multiplayer mode, so you can play with a friend. Oh, and you can edit levels, too!
Early Access Looks Promising
30XX surely has a long way to go, but it already shows it has a lot of potential. Not only it looks good but it's also really fun to play, alone or with a friend. It doesn't matter if you're looking for a hardcore challenge or a casual run; 30XX has you covered... and nostalgia will be there at all times. Plus, thanks to the robust editor, you can spend hours upon hours creating the perfect level, giving this game extra value.
All in all, 30XX is—even at this early stage—way better than Mighty No. 9 was at launch and a delightful follow-up to 20XX. We need a cool story and more bosses, but at least the level design and pixel art are on point, and the characters are responsive to your input.
20XX was good, but 30XX could be better. It's available on Steam's Early Access since February 17, with no release date for the final version but several updates on the horizon. If you love action platformers, check this one out!