Developer: Reptile Games
Publisher: Reptile Games
Release Date: August 6, 2013
ESRB: N/A (E recommended)
Megabyte Punch is a special little game. It's a bunch of different unique titles mashed together. I mean, what would you think if you heard of a title that took a healthy helping of Custom Robo, added mechanics and elements from the Super Smash Bros. series, and added some Metroid-styled exploration to boot?
That sort of mash-up just doesn't seem as though it'd work out--but that's what Megabyte Punch is, and it does it very, very well.
In a virtual world, you gain the control of a Megac (a robotic creature) that is tasked by the Heartcore of the Megac village to protect it from an oncoming evil. It's a very simple story, and one you won't hear much of throughout the game. Still, it works well enough as a plot device, and gives you enough of a reason to traverse the title's six sprawling levels.
When you enter a level, you have three stages to explore and a boss fight at the end of it. The stages themselves are pretty big and have plenty of nooks and crannies to explore... and exploring is also worth the effort, with a bunch of parts and colors to collect to customize your Megac with.
Getting new parts will help you to get past the multitude of enemies the game will throw at you. You can customize every part of your robot, and give it combat abilities and other enhancements like increased speed and defense. Some of the 150 parts you can find are repeats, offering only cosmetic changes, but there are still a variety of choices available.
When you run across enemies, it's then that the game's Super Smash Bros. influence comes in. Enemies don't have a static health bar; instead, the more damage they take, the easier it'll be to launch into the air and into walls. If you can hit them with enough velocity, they'll go flying and smash into bits (64 give you an extra life in the stages) and parts. Obviously, the same goes for you, so you want to make sure not to take too much damage, and if you do, make sure not to get hit with a powerful attack.
While in the stages themselves, you don't have to worry about the damage mechanics too much, but during the boss fights, strategy become paramount. Bosses are one-on-one fights in an open arena, and depleting the boss's lives while staying alive is important. Boss fights tend to be the more challenging part of Megabyte Punch, but thankfully if you fail during a boss battle, you can warp back to the fight without going through the stages again to minimize frustration.
For the most part, this game is challenging, but isn't frustrating. I've died multiple times in my journeys through the game's six stages, but for the most part I never really thought Megabyte Punch was being unfair. However, when I got to the final stage and boss, that changed. A new hazardous threat and some harsh level design changed the game from 'challenging' to 'frustrating' very quickly as I was thrown about like a pinball while trying to wall-jump. The final set of bosses felt a little cheap in their tactics too (though not as much the final boss as the ones before it); this is upsetting because the final area is marred by what was otherwise a near-perfect experience.
Another thing (though it's more of a note than a negative) is that this game is best played with a gamepad or 360 controller plugged in to your computer. While the title does allow for keyboard control, it's pretty difficult and cumbersome to actually play the game with them, especially when considering that you do special moves by inputting a direction plus the special moves button. It's certainly possible to play without, but Megabyte Punch is really meant to be played with a controller, and trying to do otherwise will put a damper on the experience.
Really though, Megabyte Punch is a pretty impressive game, and certainly worth the $14.99 entry fee for the regular edition. The Special Edition, which for five more dollars comes with the soundtrack, extra versus stages, and other little goodies is harder to recommend, so unless you really want the soundtrack, I'd only recommend the regular edition. But, give the game a download--you won't be disappointed!
+ Challenging skill-based gameplay is fun and feels rewarding
+ Large number of collectable parts and colors to find
- Last level turns from challenging to frustrating
- Hard to play without a gamepad, which can deter those without one
Overall Score: 8.5 (out of 10)
Megabyte Punch is a great genre mash-up that everyone should give a try.