Contesting the Code
Re-releasing games on the Nintendo Switch—either as a remake, or as they originally were—has been a trend that has been going on since the initial release of the system itself. Generally speaking, I don’t have a problem with that—and, on the contrary, there have been many times where I’ve even encouraged it. I feel that it’s important, however, to highlight the fact that just because you can re-release a game on the Switch doesn’t mean that you necessarily should. And you don’t need to look any further than Megabyte Punch to see why.
Megabyte Punch is by no means an objectively bad game. I wouldn’t even call it bad subjectively. But it most certainly feels like a product of the time during which it was originally released, which happens to be all the way back in 2013. Even with everything that it offers—which, to be fair, is a sizable amount—there’s nothing that, by today’s standards (or, at least, my own standards of today) feels all that intuitive or gripping. It’s not bad, but it’s not great, and, unless there’s a Megabyte Punch 2 in development (I actually checked and didn’t see anything about it), this is probably going to be one of those ported Switch titles that drifts off into obscurity.
Megabyte Punch‘s narrative tells a story in the same way that games like Mega Man X does—with little dialogue, and quite a bit going on underneath. Unfortunately, unlike Mega Man X, Megabyte Punch doesn’t have years of pre-established lore to draw from. The game begins with the player being summoned from what appears quite literally to be the digital void to aid Ventu Village. A small, peaceful village residing within a digital world, Ventu Village has begun to worry about its Heartcore—a relic which literally acts as the heart of the town—and has summoned a hero (you) to help them drive off income threats. Unfortunately for Ventu Village, however, those threats are greater than they initially realized.
I’ll give Megabyte Punch credit for trying—because it absolutely does. However, I can’t help but feel as though it might have benefitted from holding back a little bit more (and I say those already knowing that plot is not this game’s main focus). At the risk of sounding like an idiot incapable of memorizing the entire span of this game’s plot, I think that the game’s story tries to do too much with too little setup. I get that the Valk Empire is bad, but they never even attempt to explain why—relegating them to little more than a plot device—and then there’s this whole thing with assassins and necromancy, and it just… well, it all feels very thrown together.
Presenting itself as one part platformer and one part brawler, Megabyte Punch feels like a video game middle ground in a lot of ways. The game itself consists of six different worlds, each made up of three levels and featuring a boss at the end. Taking a look at the positives first, each of Megabyte Punch‘s levels is surprisingly expansive, and, in terms of design, felt something akin to a mixture between a Kirby and Sonic games, with pacing much inspired by Super Smash Brothers Brawl‘s Subspace Emissary (which I think is one of the best things to come out of the series, ever). Because of the size of each level, players are allowed, and even encouraged, to create their own path—sometimes literally, due to many levels’ destructible environments—and oftentimes rewards them with bits—which you can use to gain extra lives and spent as currency, (although the former doesn’t seem to always work as intended)—and custom parts and colors. Normally, I would be all for this. And, to a lesser extent, I was still for it in this game. However, despite a good setup, the game’s execution of things left something to be desired.
Despite everything that I’ve said so far, I still can’t help but feel as though Megabyte Punch ultimately falls short of where it should. As I’ve already said, I usually like platformers with big levels. But there’s a caveat that comes with that—the game has to be engaging enough to warrant said levels. And Megabyte Punch just doesn’t have the oomph necessary to necessitate its gigantic stages. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I wanted to make sure that I picked up as many of the game’s collectibles (of which there are many) as possible, and this meant scouring every corner of every level. Typically, this kind of thing should be fun. With Megabyte Punch, however, it felt like a chore—I was fine doing it for a little while but found myself lacking the endurance and patience to play through every level in quick succession.
So, you might be wondering why I mentioned Super Smash Brothers earlier in my likening of Megabyte Punch to other titles. Or, more likely, you put two and two together and realized that this game is heavily inspired by said aforementioned series. Like, really inspired. It’s not hyperbolic to call this game a kind of “Smash Bros Lite” when examining how the game handles combat, as it is (and I don’t mean this in a bad way, I promise) basically ripped directly from Smash Bros. itself. From the platform-y combat to the use of tilts and specials, to the fact that you can only KO enemies (and, by extension, get KO’d by them) by doing enough damage and launching them with a hard-hitting attack, everything about these byte-sized fights is an homage to Sakurai’s critically acclaimed brawler. Unfortunately, Megabyte Punch‘s execution is, once again, nowhere close to the source material.
So, before anyone says anything, I’m not trying to make a one-to-one comparison between Megabyte Punch and Super Smash Brothers. That wouldn’t be fair at all to the developers of this game. With that being said, however, the fact that this game is so Smash Bros-inspired means that I’m definitely taking a detailed look at how it handles its own version of Smash‘s combat. Simply put, it’s not bad, but it’s kind of bland overall. While the game handles specials, jabs, and tilts well, its lack of smashes (or whatever you would call them in this game) makes finishing off certain opponents tricky. Furthermore, its aerials, which I tried my darndest to incorporate into my fighting style because I’ve always been fond of them in Smash, are incredibly lackluster. Nothing hits as hard or does as much damage as I feel it should, and the fact that your characters are so incredibly tiny means that character hitboxes and hurtboxes can be frustratingly easy to miscalculate.
A New Coat of (MS) Paint
Last but not least, we have good ol’ customization. Now, in terms of delivery, I would say that this is where Megabyte Punch shines the most. With over 100 parts and 30 colors to collect (plus a few more if you have a spare amiibo lying around), making your hero your way is honestly pretty easy. Of course, it isn’t as easy as just slapping a bunch of parts onto your character and calling it a day, however (although I guess you could do that). Megabyte Punch‘s cornucopia of collectible parts aren’t just for show—nearly every single one adds something to your character as well! Of these parts, the most important ones, in my opinion, are those that grant your character special abilities. From drill dashes to flying swoops, to machine guns and missiles, Megabyte Punch has enough specials to ensure that you’ll have a hard time picking and choosing your favorites. In addition to this, some parts also come with passive abilities—such as increasing attack or reducing income damage—which, while not as important as you’d think they would be, still play a crucial role in character development.
Sadly, not all is well and good with the game’s customization—mainly due to a severe case of quantity over quality. I understand the necessity of giving players different parts that do the same thing. Still, the fact that you could take away roughly 75% of the game’s parts and be left with a collection which, while not as aesthetically diverse, would function no differently is a tad problematic in my opinion. On top of this, there doesn’t appear any way to easily sort parts—while I’m fine with the game sorting parts based on the actual body part itself (arms, legs, hips, etc.), the ability to sort and filter based upon ability, or even which aesthetic set it belongs to, is a very obvious oversight.
Pixels of the Past
If you had given me Megabyte Punch all the way back in 2013, I probably would have been happy with it. After all, 2013 was a different time for games—which is essentially the point of this entire review. Although there are great arguments for porting a lot of older games into a current-day market, not every game needs to be brought into 2020. I’m not going to necessarily say that this game is undeserving of such a port. Goodness knows that there are a lot of other games, both old and new, that have made their home on the Switch that are way worse than this one. This game isn’t bad. But it’s not great. It’s fine—and that’s probably all that it will ever be here on the Switch.
Final Verdict: 3/5
Available on: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC; Developer: Team Reptile; Publisher: Team Reptile; Players: 1 – 4; Released: May 5, 2020; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: A Nintendo Switch copy of Megabyte Punch was provided by the publisher.