[REVIEW] MEGABYTE PUNCH – NINTENDO SWITCH

Written by Geoffrey Jewell II
  • Developer: Team Reptile
  • Publisher: Team Reptile
  • Release Date: 08/05/2020
  • Price: $19.99
  • Review code provided by Team Reptile

INTRODUCING: MEGABYTE PUNCH SWITCH REVIEW

Growing up in the ’90s meant spending my formative years with Nintendo consoles in my house (or at a minimum, a friends house) playing games like Mega Man, Final Fight, and some Super Smash Bros for good measure. Normally, it would be odd to mention all of those games together considering how little they have in common, but in Megabyte Punch you’ll experience a game that attempts to merge all three into one cohesive, robot-building package. Does borrowing and merging bits and pieces from action platformers, beat ‘em ups, and fighting games make for a worthy new addition to your Switch library? Let’s check out Megabyte Punch to find out.

Mending a Broken Heartcore

There isn’t much story to speak of in Megabyte Punch and what little is there is told through expository text.

In Megabyte Punch, you are a Megac, a modular robot living in Ventu Village inside a digital-computer world. To start you are woken up by the Heartcore, who is also your creator, who has tasked you to protect your village from the invading enemies of the Valk Empire and the Khoteps who are looking to steal the Heartcore for themselves.

What little bit of story that resides within Megabyte Punch is told during a brief introductory cutscene along with small bits of exposition provided by your allies and enemy NPCs. Megabyte Punch prioritizes solid gameplay over a rich story giving it a very old-school feel. Protect the village, beat the bad-robots – there isn’t much more than that.

Super Smash Robots

Combat in Megabyte Punch is fast and frenetic, emulating Super Smash Bros. overall style.

Megabyte Punch is described as an “electro beat ‘em up with platforming elements.” Megabyte Punch attempts to combine the best components from games like Mega Man, Super Smash Bros., Final Fight and Custom Robo with varying degrees of success.

Combat will feel very familiar to Smash Bros purists. Movement is fast and frenetic. Jump is tied to the ‘X’ button rather than the up input on the analog stick or d-pad. Your Megac can perform a basic melee with ‘A’ and a special attack with ‘B.’ Special attacks vary with different directional inputs based on what parts you’ve attached to your Megac. You can have up to four different special attacks depending on your equipped parts allowing for some custom build opportunities that let you to play to your strengths and weaknesses. 

Also similar to Smash Bros., enemies don’t lose health but rather take damage, and as their damage increases they become more vulnerable to attacks that will launch them across the screen to burst into new parts or literal bits. Boss battles are literally Smash Bros. stock battles where you must take down 3 lives by knocking them off the edge of the arena. As someone who struggles with the overly frantic style of Smash Bros., Megabyte Punch was more of an uphill battle for me. Smash Bros experts and veterans will feel right at home here though, and may find the customization options a refreshing addition to the formula.

Megac-Man

Customizing your Megac is the best part of Megabyte Punch experience.

Mega Man fans will appreciate the homage to the Blue Bomber as Megabyte Punch is all about taking the parts from your fallen enemies and using them to upgrade your Megac to defeat more bad robots. Parts for your Megac can be obtained in multiple ways, but you’ll obtain them primarily through drops from defeated enemies and bosses. Bosses often drop the rarer, more powerful parts, but during one of my playthroughs, beating a boss yielded me a part I already had which left me feeling slighted.

When parts are picked up during your run, you can choose to immediately equip the new part, leave it in your inventory, or break it apart for more bits. Exiting through any door within a level sends any parts in your inventory back to your collection which is stored in your house for later use. As you prepare to exit a stage or level you’ll want to make sure the parts that give you the best buffs and abilities are attached since you won’t get to equip them again until you return home. 

Back at your village, you can re-download any collected parts to your inventory to attach to your Megac so you can create and save custom builds as well as add a new color combination with the surprising amiibo support. The customization is the real draw to Megabyte Punch, but even after my playthroughs I found many of the parts that I had didn’t make a significant difference, leaving most of the experimentation feeling flat. There are just enough parts to give you some variety in your builds, but not a ton more to justify multiple playthroughs.

Megabyte Punch can be played with a friend through local co-op or versus battle, which is has me wondering why someone who enjoys the style of play would choose this over something like Smash Bros. which also supports online play instead of only local multiplayer.

Bits and Pieces

Megabyte Punch features colorful and detailed sprites as well as unique 2.5-D level design.

Visually, Megabyte Punch has a bright, colorful and very digital look to both the Megac robots and the level design. Each of the six levels has its own distinctive theme, although each stage within a level shares the same aesthetic look making it easy to get lost, especially on repeat playthroughs. Character sprites are relatively detailed for their size, but with them taking up such little screen real estate (especially in handheld mode) you rarely get to stop and appreciate your custom robot’s design.

The sound design also has its share of good and bad. Basic attacks already feel like they do very little damage and their accompanying sound effects don’t do anything to offset that. Special attacks, especially ones that send enemies flying and crashing through destructible environments, are a bit crunchier and more satisfying than their basic counterparts. Megabyte Punch leans into its electro soundtrack which fits the style and tone beautifully. I did find myself hearing the music in my head when I wasn’t playing, but I’d say if there’s any missed opportunity with the soundtrack it’s that I would have liked to hear more of it.

Punching weight

Even with multiple on-screen enemies, the Switch never struggles to run Megabyte Punch.

Megabyte Punch runs very well on the Switch, never losing a step or dropping frames during my time with it. Platforming, combat and boss battles all handled virtually identically whether in docked or handheld mode with no drops in audio or visual fidelity during my playthrough. 

During my time I played in handheld mode primarily, but I’d recommend playing docked for those who can do so to allow for the detailed character sprites to really shine through. Docked mode also allows for the use of the Pro Controller’s D-Pad which is more accurate for platforming and combat inputs.

Not the final fight 

Megabyte Punch is a game I really wanted to like. While blending multiple games and genres is a great idea on paper, with Megabyte Punch, the execution is more focused on copying and combining those gameplay elements than pushing the envelope. What could be a fresh, bold new genre born from the best of several gaming worlds ends up feeling more like just an okay version of the titles it emulates. The vivid, colorful style pops and meshes well with its punchy electro soundtrack, but both the audio and visual design only give you just enough new to not feel bored. Megabyte Punch works better as a concept to build off of rather than a true final product. 

Pros

  • Combines the best of Smash Bros and Mega-Man for a new, quirky experience
  • Customizing your Megac and creating various builds is simple and fun
  • Electro soundtrack is catchy and infectious
  • Visual design pops with bright, vibrant colors
  • Megac sprites are detailed and offer some eccentric designs when seen

Cons

  • Sprite and character details are difficult to see in handheld mode
  • Audio and visual design can become stale and repetitive after a while
  • Non-Smash Bros fans may lose interest in the combat
  • Combining different games and genres is a better idea than it is in practice

Verdict

Megabyte Punch tries to combine the best parts of several games into one, but the whole is not greater than the sum of its modular parts.

3/5

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