I’m a big fan of running and gunning my way through all sorts of action platformers, but there’s something about those classic Mega Man games that keeps me coming back. With tricky platforming sections and bosses that’ll batter you if you’re not prepared for them, there’s no series I’ve had more fun dying repeatedly in than Mega Man. You can imagine my delight when the phrase “Mega Man inspired Roguelike” first entered my brain, and after playing a whole lot of hours of 30XX, I was right to be excited.
The setup for 30XX is pretty straightforward: you play as either Nina or Ace, who are the equivalent of X and Zero from the Mega Man X series, and are tasked with making your way through randomly generated stages without dying. Along the way you’ll gather all sorts of different upgrades and weapons that’ll make you stronger, but much like in Mega Man victory won’t come easily.
Both Nina and Ace control like a dream, with the ability to jump, dash and hop their way up walls. Nina comes equipped with a blaster as a basic weapon, which charges over the course of a few seconds to fire a larger, more damaging shot. Ace on the other hand is sporting a badass laser sword, which has a basic three attack combo and a few special moves that can be used to slice up foes. I tend to lean more towards playing as Nina, but both options provide a different way to play through a run.
You won’t make it far into a run with just those basic abilities though, so it’s a good job that there are so many upgrades scattered around 30XX. Core upgrades are usually the most powerful of these, but you only have a limited amount of core points to equip them with. They’re also often upgradeable too, and not a lot feels better than getting ability to steal health from enemies or negating thirty percent of hits altogether.
There are also upgrades that make you more manoeuvrable, which can be really handy when dealing with all the traps and platforming mechanics (from shifting gravity to alternating coloured platforms) found in levels. Faster movement speed will allow you to get away from hazards with ease, and double jumps or the ability to glide for a few seconds will make even the most treacherous platforming sections a doddle.
Alongside these bigger upgrades, you’ll also want to grab some extra weapons if you want to beat the bosses of each stage. These come in all shapes and sizes, from tornados that fire vertically to black holes that suck enemies in. A particularly cool aspect of these weapons is that when playing as Nina you can choose to combine two of them at a time to create new and more powerful tools of destruction. Experimenting to see which of these works for you is a blast, and really helps when you’re faced with a boss fight.
The bosses in 30XX are simply fantastic, with a variety of nasty moves at their disposal. Learning how to dodge and when to attack these brutes is the key to success in this Roguelike, but you also stand a chance on your first encounters with them thanks to warning markers showing where attacks are going to come from. In a game with permadeath it’s a clever way to ensure you might actually survive a boss fight from the get go.
No matter how hard you try though, sooner or later you will die. There are no extra lives in 30XX, but between runs you get to spend a currency you collect called Memorium to upgrade your stats for future runs. Whether you want bonus health or to start with a few bolts to spend, there’s plenty of ways to make sure victory will happen eventually.
If the Roguelike side of 30XX puts you off, then you’re in luck. There’s a mode you can select where you still only have one life, but you don’t lose the upgrades you’ve collected between runs. Even if you like Roguelikes this is a nice way to see everything the game has to offer before taking on the more challenging mode, and it’d honestly be great if more Roguelikes had options like this.
30XX is packed full of interesting elements I haven’t mentioned yet either. You can play the whole game in co-op with a buddy if you want, either locally or online. There are also a whole load of community levels to play, as if the random stages weren’t varied enough. Then there are all the little things you find mid run, like rooms where you get better rewards for not taking damage or the cocky dude who dares you to make a stage harder for a bonus upgrade. The sheer variety means you can play this game pretty much indefinitely, and I just might end up doing so.
There isn’t a whole lot I don’t love about 30XX. I must say I never really clicked with Ace as a playable character, but I think that’s more of a preference thing. I also don’t feel like all of the upgrades are created equal, and a few times I struggled to pick my next addition from the line-up because none of them really appealed to me. It didn’t stop me from enjoying every minute I spent with the game though.
30XX is a dream come true for Mega Man fans, providing almost infinite content with its Roguelike randomness. There are so many clever elements that make this a truly exceptional game, from the addition of local and online co-op to the different themed levels. I expected to really enjoy 30XX, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with it as much as I have.
A perfect blend of Mega Man platforming and roguelike elements
Loads of weapons and upgrades to try
Co-op is a really cool idea
Always feel like you're progressing
Some upgrades are a bit lackluster