Saturday, May 16, 2020

Megabyte Punch (NSW) Review

Let's conclude this week of exciting SuperPhillip Central content with a second review for this month. It's a game that takes two things I love: Super Smash Bros. and customizable robots, and mashes them together for one explosive and awesome end result. It's Team Reptile's Megabyte Punch, and it's now available on the Nintendo Switch! Let's check it out with my review!

Custom Smash-bo

I had my eye on Team Reptile's Megabyte Punch ever since it released on PC more than a half-decade ago. The game takes two familiar enough concepts and mixes them into one interesting and overall engaging game. With gameplay akin to Nintendo's stellar Super Smash Bros. series as well as loosely borrowing the idea of equipping unique robot parts a la Custom Robo, Megabyte Punch is an 2.5D action platformer that has as much bark as it does "byte".

There are three main modes to Megabyte Punch: Adventure, Tournament, and Battle. The latter plays out similarly to battles from the Super Smash Bros. series, where the goal is to rack up damage on your opponents, and do this enough so they become more easily knocked off the screen, thus eliminating them. Meanwhile, Tournament gives you ten AI opponents to take on with brief pauses in between, and completing this mode unlocks new, exclusive parts unavailable in any other portion of the game.

Construct your custom robot creation and engage in battle!
The savory meat and potatoes of Megabyte Punch, at least for me, was Adventure. Here, you follow along with a mostly filler plot that failed to be too terribly engaging, but I was compelled to continue despite this. That's because Megabyte Punch's main gameplay hook is at its brightest in Adventure.

That hook is the ability to equip parts that are sometimes dropped from defeated enemies and bosses. You can equip six parts at a time, one for each section of your custom robo...t killing machine. Different parts bestow different abilities. Some make your attacks stronger by one point, some make you move with greater agility, while others provide you with various new attacks when they're equipped. Such attacks can be mapped in tried and true Smash Bros. fashion to an analog stick direction in combination with the special attack input. Thus, up to three attacks can be equipped at once to your robot (up + Y, down + Y, and side + Y).

Adventure's hub is this robotic village where all of the levels are interconnected.
This windmill structure serves as a shop, offering parts that can be purchased with bits found in levels.
As you can imagine, it's not just a question of form in Megabyte Punch with customizing your robot, but also function. Finding the right combination to suit a player's particular play style is something that I foresee a lot of the creative and customization-loving types digging deep into and enjoying. I most certainly did. Sometimes you'll want to change things up and swap in and out parts to fit the combat or exploration scenario at hand, and this is quite easy thanks to the ability to save multiple builds.

Playing through Adventure takes you through six worlds of three stages each, followed by a boss. The boss battles are generally one-on-one showdowns which start out simple enough. While the AI is quite crafty, you usually have more lives than the boss at the beginning. However, as you face later bosses, the live advantage is eliminated, and you must fight on steadier footing. Bosses can be real pieces of work and were the most frustrating part of Megabyte Punch's campaign. The way that my attacks seemingly failed to connect at times while the bosses' attacks seemingly never strayed away from hitting me was quite aggravating overall. It doesn't help that if you lose all of your lives, you're put back at your home base, forced to make the long, annoying, shameful trek back to the boss's lair all over again instead of being able to just hit a "retry" prompt.

One of the many bosses your robo will battle in Megabyte Punch's Adventure mode.
The stages in Megabyte Punch's Adventure mode offer a solid sense of reward for exploration, whether it's going off the beaten path to find a treasure chest in gold (a special part) or silver (currency) varieties, or discovering rare one-time color pods that allow you to alter the skin of your robot. These are hidden in the most creative and dastardly of locations within the game. There are abundance of paths in levels to take a lot of the time, and checkpoints are commonplace. These occur after what I like to call "battle rooms"--zones where you're locked inside a space and must defeat all spawning enemies before you can escape--are completed.

That said, also following the Smash Bros. route, Megabyte Punch's platforming feels rather floaty and loose. Not exactly the best combination to be found when you're at times having to make precision-focused jumps through tight, dangerous expanses. It's sort of why Smash Bros. stopped focusing on platforming-heavy gameplay and kept its focus more on the sensational, chaotic combat fans love about the franchise. Regardless, despite the light weight of the platforming, I still found myself eager to explore every which corner of Megabyte Punch's Adventure's expansive stages, even with the frustrations I faced.

Unlike Battle mode, defeat enemies (and be defeated) in Adventure mode by smashing them
into walls, ceilings and floors after they've taken enough damage.
Megabyte Punch offers multiplayer in most modes, and it's particularly helpful in Adventure. The difficulty does not take in account additional players, so there's no difficulty scaling to be found. So, as you can imagine, the more players you have--up to four via split-screen (sadly, no online is available to speak of at the time of this review)--the easier of a time you'll have. Players don't share lives, and can explore levels independently from one another, making it so more ground can be covered in a shorter amount of time. Really, it's going to be difficult for me to go back to playing Adventure solo-style after kicking butt--or "bot" in this case--in local co-op.

Up to four players can locally team up to take on Adventure mode.
Unfortunately, no online functionality is available in this Switch port.
The visual approach to Megabyte Punch is an incredibly simplistic one stylistically, comprised of basic polygons. It's a clean look, though nothing stunning. Even with such a simplistic style, there are some frame-rate hiccups that do occur. Not often enough to be a tremendous bother, but noticeable and frequent enough to occasionally get miffed towards. The soundtrack syncs with the action and moment-to-moment gameplay well, offering a retro and electronic sound.

Megabyte Punch isn't a particularly lengthy game, but that all depends on one's skill level and--with certain boss battles--luck. However, a plethora of parts and color combinations to collect, as well local multiplayer with bots or other players means that there is enough bot-bashing goodness to enjoy for at least a fair amount of hours. The lack of online hurts the chances of the game having a lasting impact in my Switch's library, but at the same token, I'm quite pleased to have finally played Megabyte Punch. It only took six years, after all!

[SPC Says: B-]

Team Reptile provided a code for the purpose of this review.

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