We’re surprised we haven’t come across a game like Reptile Games’s Megabyte Punch before now; well, on second thought, perhaps we have come across it. See if this sounds familiar: an up-to-four-player fighting game, heavy on the aerial combat and with platformer-like arena design, where the objective is to launch your opponents completely off the current level.
Yep, that’s right: Super Smash Bros. When we first got our hands on Super Smash Bros., we hadn’t played anything like it before—until this game came along. But lest it go down as a simple clone of a great game, let it be known that Megabyte Punch brings to the table its own original twist: customizable fighters.
So what happens when you take Super Smash Bros. and introduce the part-swapping elements of Custom Robo? What results is a strangely addictive game that absolutely begs to be taken online. The action is very similar to the Smash titles—a good thing considering, as Nintendo are famous for their rigorous polish and oft unnoticed details that can make or break the feel of a game. Reptile Games have noticed and designed their title accordingly. The controls feel tight and snappy, with just enough cling to the sliding down of walls, enough bounce on an air jump, and the right amount of controllable midair drift as you fall. The special moves have also been carefully thought out, as the delay after a button press feels balanced and not overpowered.
Most characters in the game, including the players, take the form of bipedal robots that can swap out different parts of their body: their head, torso, shoulders, and each limb. Parts can provide special abilities, as well as boosts to damage, damage resistance, and speed. Some parts can grant you a second air jump or a stronger shield. It was less than an hour before our robot started looking asymmetrically goofy, having a boxing glove for one arm; a drill for other the other; a weird, sloped head; a torso that looks like Claptrap; a blade-like leg; and another, more standard jointed leg. Incidentally, that leg adds a +2 to standard attack damage and +1 to damage resistance. It can also perform the Megabyte Punch-equivalent of Captain Falcon’s sliding Falcon Kick, Fox McCloud’s rocketing Fire Fox, Meta Knight’s drilling Mach Tornado, and a powerful, launching uppercut, all with a neat black-and-purple paint job.
These parts were acquired during the single-player adventure portion of the game, which also plays similarly like the Smash Bros. equivalent. Navigate through Metroid-like 2D platformer mazes while send enemies flying with your attacks, and explore for nooks and crannies where you can find hidden parts or “bits”, Punch‘s in-game’s money. Occasionally, you’ll be put on the spot and will have to fight more arena-style battles against stronger opponents and bosses.
We really liked this game, and our only complaint was that there wasn’t more of it. Megabyte Punch could be a hit, especially as an online multiplayer game, if developer Reptile Games gets enough time and funding to go nuts with it. As it stands, there isn’t nearly as much depth here as we’d like for a game that boasts infinite customization potential. The game has a fantastic breadth of character variety and special abilities, clever and creative shifting levels, the chaos cause by its many items, and enough game modes to keep gameplay feeling fresh.
Special abilities in Megabyte Punch are more the standard dash/lunge melee and simple ranged weapon attacks most-suited to poking a horizontally-launched enemy trying to recover on the edge of the arena: they don’t compare to Kirby’s ability to eat opponents, Ike’s counterattack, Captain Falcon’s air grab, or Mario’s Cape. Plus, all robot fighters are essentially the same size and weight and use the same standard attacks. You can adjust damage resistance, but not physical inertia, and each robot’s normal punch has the same reach. Copying more of the elements from Smash Bros. wouldn’t be doing Megabyte Punch a disservice— we’d have loved an arm part that gave us a longer reach or a chest part that enabled a roll while blocking.
Similarly in need of more flesh is the Adventure mode, which grew stale for me after several hours, although we’re sure the more enthusiastic explorers out there will enjoy the item-hunting aspect. The challenges remained the same and the environments didn’t change enough to justify spending so long in one place. A bigger part inventory would’ve also be great, but we liked how new parts we found could be swapped in right away. Tournament mode was more fun: defeat eight increasingly difficult (and random) opponents, with only three lives. Adventure mode was mostly used as a grinding farm for parts could lead me to Tournament victories, with rarer rewards and more powerful parts to win.
Local multiplayer was where this game really excelled. We were delighted to find that we could just plug our wired Xbox 360 controllers into our PC’s USB ports and immediately go to work. We’re sure there are keyboard wizards out there who are fine with pounding keys, but we preferred a controller for this twitchy style of gameplay. Unfortunately, there were no A.I. fighters included, so there were only as many players are there were humans to control them.
The best match we’ve played so far was a duel which pitted a hard-hitting melee brawler against a fighter that, by accident, turned out to be extremely lethal in the level that we played. Our opponent’s fighter had an extra air jump and limited flight, so it was super recoverable; it also had the charging drill, which could destroy the blocks that made up the level. Liberal use of the drill worked to our advantage at first, leaving our opponent stuck in tight holes and tunnels where we could stay in his face and clobber him. However, he kept at it, and as the level dwindled we were soon left with minimal playing room, while he could jump and fly about easily. In retrospect, we should have swapped a +1 damage arm for a sniper arm, giving us a poking option that could deny him the edge. Our post-game strategy musings about our robots’ abilities speaks volumes about this game’s true potential, so it was sad that our version was unable to connect to online multiplayer.
Megabyte Punch is chock full of action, and when your landing that haymaker that sends your opponent into orbit, manages to deliver the same sense of high-impact awesome as Smash Bros. While clearly conceptually descended from Smash Bros., its broad latitude for customization gives it enough of an original angle to compete with the Nintendo stalwart fighting-game titan. We say “potentially” because Megabyte Punch has its work cut out for it in terms of adding more of everything—it needs many more parts, abilities, diversity, levels, and single-player content, while maintaining the delicate balance it’s developers have already set up. Still, if no updates or DLCs are released, Megabyte Punch will remain a decent, interesting homage to a very original game. It deserves Steam Greenlight status—it’s currently short of votes—but, regardless, it’ll become available on August 6th.
This review is based of a review copy of the PC version of Megabyte Punch developed by Reptile.
- Tight Control Physics
- Revise Smash Bros.
- Customization Depth
- Single Player Gets Stale