Blue Bomber ver.ANOTHER
Type: Singleplayer, Online Co-op
Genre: Action, Platformer
Developer: Batterystaple Games
Publisher: Batterystaple Games
Release date: 17 Feb, 2021
30XX is a 2D action platformer side-scrolling roguelike that will be coming out as an Early Access release on steam on February 2021. I was fortunate enough to be provided a key of an even earlier version, pre-alpha, to get a glimpse of what the sequel to 20XX has in store for us. It looks extremely promising but not without some concerns that come with issues presented in this current build.
If you have played 20XX prior to this, the first thing you will notice will be that everything, from playable characters to enemies to the environmental background, is now pixelated. No, this is not a visual downgrade. Not by a longshot. The overall animation quality has improved. The attacks are now more dynamic with flair and weight to them. Getting away from the armature/bone rig tool for 2D animation is a plus in my book. Although I personally would have still preferred the team to go with non-pixelated art asset with this new and improved animation, what 30XX currently has is still fantastic. The sprite-based look also gives that authentic non-3D Megaman games aesthetic that I have a soft spot for.
Don’t fix what isn’t broken is the name of the game here and the main gameplay of 30XX follows that motto. As either Nina or Ace, you traverse through a procedurally generated stage until the stage boss at the end of the level is defeated. The difference between the two characters is that Nina has long-range attacks like X, while specializes in close-quarter combat with his energy sword similar to Zero (Megaman Zero version, specifically). Defeating bosses will yield special weapons which you can have up to 3 at a time and uses energy. This is all normal Megaman X business right down to universal mechanics like dash and wall jump.
Unlike the traditional Megaman, however, there are various upgrades (augs) to pick up like straight-up parameter boost or armor parts with unique abilities to pick up along the way. True to the roguelike genres, you lose everything upon death while certain currencies are kept between runs for permanent unlocks or story segments. There is also a mode that removes roguelike elements and turns it into a normal action platformer if you so choose. The option is always welcomed! Co-op mode is also making a return from 20XX but it is not available as of this pre-alpha build.
For a sequel, even in its pre-alpha build state, 30XX may feel a bit lacking to some in the powerups department. Either I haven’t gotten to any of the new augments are all the same as the ones from 20XX. It is also entirely possible that the devs are saving the best for Early Access and later iterations and this super early pre-alpha version is just a skeletal version with bare minimums or the developers simply have not gotten around to it. Not unthinkable since most of the work so far has no doubt been on overhauling the visuals in its entirety. I hope that this is the case and the newer augments would blow me away in later iterations.
While the main gameplay does remain chiefly the same, the developers have added something new to the recipe like mini-bosses and new stage gimmicks. Some of these new stage gimmicks seem forced and unnecessary. For example, the Castlevania looking Cathedral stage has these ethereal platforms that will only materialize if you jump on them in an order depending on their color. This may be my frustration speaking but why exactly is this gimmick added? The timed invisible blocks from 20XX would have suited this role just fine without the added frustration of having to jump on them in a specific order. Not only is it not immediately obvious or intuitive, but it also adds nothing to the overall stage theme. Thankfully, not all new stage gimmicks are like this.
To Be Fixed/added Later?
The concerns that I prefaced with come from the fact that this build of the game is pre-alpha. You may have noticed that the top right corner of all the screenshots has this “PRE-ALPHA – WORK IN PROGRESS – NOT EVEN CLOSE TO FINAL” on them. It is precisely because of this message that it is difficult for me that what can be considered problems and what will be addressed. I am aware that things like placeholder texts and black images will be fixed but besides these incredibly obvious issues, who knows?
In my experience with the pre-alpha build of the game, I have encountered many things that are not necessarily bug or place holders but may either be a returning feature or other issues which I am going to list some of which below:
–Armor part doesn’t alter the appearance of the playable character like in 20XX
–Nina seems to stutter when floating with the armor part’s ability. Difficult to say if this is a placeholder animation or a bug. (Fixed, as of 02/06/2021)
–The floating blackhole enemies in the Cathedral stage getting stuck in environments in front of you. Because they cannot float through objects and have poor tracking, you have to deliberately jump to get them unstuck so you can proceed without getting hit.
–For some reason, the treasure boxes seem to only spawn in a specific area of the stage that is just beyond the halfway point of the map. Whether this is by design or not, I cannot say.
30XX looks great and plays great. It’s a Megaman game through and through which is the highest praise I can give to the series that started off as a homage to the Blue Bomber that Capcom had neglected. The roguelike element is sure to give it a decent amount of replayability but that’s a concern for when it’s finished or at least out as an Early Access. Being a pre-alpha build of the game, I expect more features to be added and bugs to be fixed. The question is what will actually be addressed. Clear communication from the developers will be vital to what lies in stores for 30XX.
The future looks promising indeed if 20XX is the baseline standard. Although as of this pre-alpha build, I’d hesitate to call 30XX a full-blown sequel just yet. It IS literally still an incomplete game after all but if more of 20XX is what you are looking for, be sure to check this out as it can only get better from here. 30XX is scheduled to be out on Steam Early Access on February 17th, 2021.