It’s often thought that indie developers can do things no big studio will. This is usually attributed to the school of thought that the big guys can’t financially afford to take a loss with an unproven IP when the juggernauts (Call of Duty, Madden, etc.) sell to meet or exceed expectations year after year. So when a developer like Reptile comes along with an idea to mash up two or three genres, it’s both exciting and easy to generate skepticism. So how does the robot-building platforming beat ’em up Megabyte Punch stand on its own? Is it a black eye to indie devs or a knockout punch? Let’s find out.
The story in Megabyte Punch is fairly standard video game fare. It’s nothing spectacular, but it won’t make you groan from disgust, either. You start out as a lowly robot, called a megac, in a robot village. One day, your village is attacked and you come to its aid. Before you know it, you’re the strongest megac in your village and you’ll have to deal with problems from the outside, uncovering a dark plot in the process.
On the outset, Megabyte Punch appears to play like any other side scrolling platformer. You run left and right and can jump, of course, but you’re also equipped with the ability to wall jump. This greatly helps with maneuvering your way around, not only for the sake of traversing the world, but also to reach areas in search of secrets placed throughout the game.
Combat in the game feels like a beat ’em up at first. Once you’ve had a chance to settle into it, though, you begin to realize more and more that it feels oddly familiar to you. What’s that? You recall using these same directional maneuvers with the likes of Samus, Link, Ness, and Jigglypuff? That’s right! Megabyte Punch does a fantastic job of implementing a Super Smash Bros-esque combat system with a side scrolling platformer! The resulting alloy is a result that works and feels wonderful in action.
As you progress through each world, you’ll encounter a wide variety of enemies. They’ll be all shapes and sizes, and each will wield a variety of weapons and combat maneuvers to take you out. Clobbering these foes will result in one of two types of reward.
First, you can earn “bits.” Bits serve a twofold purpose. You can use them back in your hometown to buy upgrades for your megac. As you collect bits in each level, though, they act like Mario’s coins, awarding players with extra lives. They do this in a clever way, though. Instead of every 100 bits giving you a life, they do it by powers of two (8,16,32,64,128, etc.). Each time you hit a keystone point of bits (64, 128, 256), you’ll earn an extra life. The scheme might seem odd to the cursory onlooker, but for folks in the know, computers and robots operate entirely with a power-of-two based math system. It’s a great wink to source material.
On top of earning bits from defeating foes, you can also score megac parts. New heads, legs, arms, and other body parts can all be banked to be sold, or equipped to improve your stats and possibly add a new ability. This gives you the opportunity to build a megac that not only fits your playstyle, but looks dressed to the nines to boot. You can have special abilities that range everywhere from triple-jumping to rocket punching and more. This adds a ton of personal investment as anything you roll with is a customization you’ve made for yourself. You can also save and load particular configurations in your hometown, allowing you to make a build for a particular playstyle and call it back up between missions if you need to.
Each world will have a handful of levels to work through. When you’ve finished those off, you will have a boss encounter. If you take away the particular aesthetic of Megabyte Punch, this feels like a one-on-one Smash Bros. fight, right down to damage percentages and lives left for everyone. The bosses tend use weapons that you likely don’t have yet, and defeating them lets you get that part from them, almost in a Megaman fashion.
The level design in the game is top-notch. Each level is fun to work through without ever feeling overbearing. You’ll occasionally enter combat rooms that require you beat certain enemies before proceeding, but everything else can be taken at your own pace. On top of that, each of the various worlds have their own unique aesthetic feel, so nothing ever feels like a rehash of content you’ve already consumed. It keeps the gameplay interesting and entertaining.
The game can also be played with up to four players at once if you have enough input devices. That said, using an Xbox 360 controller feels like the optimal way to play the game, so if you have some spares around the house, the whole family could jump in together and have a blast.
Megabyte Punch has a very distinct visual design to it. Everything feels bright, colorful, and blocky. It almost feels as though the world were made of Lego blocks tied together intricately. That’s not to say that the blocky look of the game is a bad thing. The visual design works incredibly well for the overall setting and style of the game. It’s also the sort of game that both you and your kids could sit down and play together with no worries of what their little eyes will take in.
The soundtrack to the game has a fun vibe going on that feels like a mix of electronica and chiptune working in tandem. The beats are fast paced while the tune keeps it feeling lighthearted and fun. The sound effects are also somewhat light, keeping the game warm and kid-friendly.
Overall, Megabyte Punch is a fantastic indie game that’s well worth your time. With colorful, inviting graphics, an enjoyable, upbeat soundtrack, a great combat system, and incredibly deep character customization, there isn’t much here you won’t enjoy…unless you hate bliss. If you hate bliss, you should probably avoid this game.
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