I think I know why I was so hard on Guacamelee last week.  It’s because I was already spoiled by the superlative Megabyte Punch from Reptile Games.  I’m really not kidding,  Megabyte Punch strikes an almost perfect balance between accessibility and challenge as well as between exploration and combat that it put a more polished title to shame.  It’s a pity that Reptile Games’s effort has to go through the Steam Greenlight process rather than just being straight up released through Steam (it’s also available on Desura and directly from the Reptile Games website.  

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As you can see, Megabyte Punch is an aesthetically pleasing game.  Characters and backgrounds are bright and colorful, and everything exudes a certain robotic charm (is that even a thing?)  Although the graphics look simple, there’s a great attention to detail, and a sharpness about everything that gives the visuals more of a sense of polish.  I wish the robots looked a bit more metallic (you know, shiny), but that’s obviously a VERY minor quibble.

The soundtrack is effective and fun to listen to, with an appropriate techno, electronic sound, heavily reminiscent of chiptune.  Sound effects are mostly great, especially the impressive explosions resulting from tripping mines scattered throughout the world.  If you can recall the sound Jango Fett’s sonar mines made in Attack of the Clones, you’ll have a good idea of just how cool the effect is.  Again, I wish the sound of robot hitting robot were more metallic, like something out of One Must Fall 2097, but again, a minor complaint.

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Megabyte Punch plays in a similar manner to the aforementioned Guacamelee, but does so without resorting to ridiculous difficulty.  Instead, Megabyte Punch relies on extremely large levels filled with multiple paths, and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.  There is an abundance of secret gear, coins, and color schemes (part of an impressive customization mechanic I’ll come back to in a moment).  While you can certainly speed run through levels, it’s just so much fun to take your time and see everything the world has to offer. Unfortunately, hidden paths are sometimes truly invisible to the player, in that they’re placed BEHIND the foreground scenery, making it almost impossible to navigate.  A transparency option would have alleviated some pointless frustration here.  Luckily, when the game forces you into combat via locked sections (again like Guacamelee’s arena rooms), the combat is much more fluid, with very responsive controls, and an intuitive attack system that lets you effectively target enemies in any direction, even with special attacks.  It definitely takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it becomes second nature, and it’s a scheme I’d like to see more games make use of.

The real draw here is the Mega Man style customization.  Parts for your character can be won of of enemies, or purchased in the main village.  With 150 parts to collect and use, Megabyte Punch can adapt easily to most play styles.  I DO wish the ranged weapons packed a little more punch than melee attacks, but I can understand the decision, especially considering the Super Smash Brothers inspired tournament mode (one on one combats against other robots which can reward the player with rare parts.  These parts allow faster movement, more jumps (triple and quadruple jumps aren’t only possible, they’re sometimes NECESSARY when fighting bosses who like to knock you off of the stage!), better weapons options, and so on.  I like how easily new parts can be slotted, and how any parts located are saved in a database for later potential use, even if you broke the part into “bits” (the game‘s currency).  I would prefer if the “break into bits” option provided the part’s statistics like the “attach part” menu does, only to make deciding what to scrap and what to keep a faster process.  Right now I have to switch between menus to see the stats and then switch back to “sell” the part.  It’s a bit cumbersome, and should have been streamlined.

The only other major issue I have with Megabyte Punch is the save system.  Because the levels are so large, I didn’t always have time to finish all three stages of a level (and the boss fight) in one sitting for whatever reason.  I really shouldn’t have been forced to repeat all three stages once I had cleared them.  The game incorporates in-stage checkpoints which serve as handy respawn points.  Why in the world didn’t they also act as full on save points?

Yes, Megabyte Punch has some issues as it’s currently constructed, but I feel these are things that could be easily addressed by Reptile Games, especially if they want to be Greenlit.  However, I also don’t think you should wait for that eventuality, because you’re missing an amazing game RIGHT NOW.  $15 seems a bit pricy, but there’s such an abundance of content and the package is so well put together that I think you owe it to yourself to splurge a little bit and make this game part of your life immediately.  Highly recommended!