PAX EAST 2020: ‘30XX’ – Mega Man, but as a Roguelike

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30XX

30XX is a 2D side-scrolling platformer roguelike sequel to the game 20XX that is published and developed by Batterystaple Games. Up to two players get to take on challenging, randomly generated levels filled with harrowing platforming and viscous robotic enemies while earning lasting power-ups that will aid them in their subsequent attempts to survive the game.

The first thing most players will notice when starting this game up is its obvious inspiration. From the blue robot wielding an arm cannon to the futuristic vibe of the hostile machine infested levels, everything about the look of this game screams Mega Man. Even the second character option, a red armor-wearing, sword-swinging character harkens back to Mega Man’s ally Zero.  It’s when you get to the game’s roguelike game structure that 30XX quickly becomes more than an homage to a classic character.

The roguelike genre is known for its challenging gameplay. Unforgiving bosses and random levels are hallmarks of these types of games. And 30XX looks to continue those trends. But fear not! Batterystaple Games isn’t leaving players completely at the mercy of randomly generated levels. They have promised some upgrades will carry over from playthrough to playthrough. Not so much that the game will ever lose its teeth, but enough so players can see progress being made.

30XX

But before any progress happens, players first choose their character. Two options present themselves to players as they boot up the game. The biggest distinction is that one character has a sword while the other fires a gun. At least initially, there didn’t seem to be much point in choosing the sword over the gun. With upgrades present in the game, I’m sure the sword wielder’s usefulness would become more apparent with time and playthroughs.

The ability to play a roguelike co-op was something I haven’t seen before. It made for some fun moments. The developer I spoke to assured me that there was nothing in the games randomly generated levels players wouldn’t be able to accomplish while playing solo.

As I fought my way through 30XX’s lovely 2D level presented in the demo, I was impressed with how well the level played out. There was a fair helping of everything the game had to offer. From tricky wall bouncing jumps to swarms of enemies to fend off. When I asked if there was a single demo level the developer assured me that players were experiencing the random generation the game always uses. I was certainly impressed. There was a significant challenge present amid a wonderful blend of obstacles and enemies. One of the smoother randomized experiences I’ve had.

Of course, a lot of what makes roguelikes fun is their replayability. Which, of course, is a key element one cannot gauge from a ten-minute demo. However, if the progression and level variety can match the quality of my playthrough this afternoon, I’d say that players have a lot to look forward to when 30XX launches.