Medabots was originally a series of video games, but I remember it mostly for the anime that was spawned from it while I was a kid. A bunch of people would purchase Medabots, artificially-intelligent robots made to serve humans and, more importantly, beat the gears out of other Medabots in battles and tournaments. The series made a decent impression on my childhood, but today is but a memory.
Megabyte Punch, a Windows-based (and Mac) computer game by Reptile, did an incredible job of bringing that memory back, and reminding me why I loved the idea of these robots smashing each other into mechanized bits.
You play the game as one of a race of sentient digital creatures called Megacs. The Heartcore, your creator in the game, immediately addresses you at the start of the game. Your goal: protect the village of Ventu from “two external forces” that seek to harness the power of the Heartcore, which your village relies upon to survive.
After you learn all this, you are thrust into the game’s tutorial level and immediately you can notice the unique and colorful graphics style of the game. The whole game feels upbeat; it just makes you feel happy and cheerful throughout. That paired with the fast-paced electronically-composed game soundtrack solidifies a feeling of excitement and fun.
The tutorial level is short and sweet; it explains the mechanics of how to navigate, fight, and use special skills gained by various parts you can attach to yourself. Nothing felt overly complicated, and the control scheme was easy to grasp. For the game, I definitely recommend a console controller if you have one available. I played through with a Xbox 360 controller.
Combat in the game will feel very familiar to those of you who have played any of the Super Smash Bros. games. Players can launch punches and kicks to the left, right, upwards, and downwards, as well as in the air. While these basic attacks are good for generating damage on enemies up close, there are numerous additional parts you can find scattered in yellow crates and ripped from enemies that offer more options. Early on, for example, I found a rather powerful sniper rifle to blast away damage at my foes before finishing them off with a power punch.
Damage in the game is not based on a health system. Instead, it generates similar to the percent damage in Super Smash Bros. and a power strike will send them flying once an enemy has accumulated enough damage. Enemies that are launched hard enough will ram into walls, ceilings, and floors to explode quite gloriously. Nothing in the game felt more satisfying than blasting your enemies at what felt like a million miles an hour to watch them explode and drop your prize.
Upon death, enemies will drop either parts or, more commonly, round floating bits. Bits are effectively the currency system in the game, but serve a dual purpose. Every 64 bits you earn will grant you another life on top of the default 3 you start with.
Exploration in the game felt very rewarding. I felt like I should always avoid stepping through the gate to the next level and instead, backtrack and go down that extra pathway I hadn’t touched before. This resulted in me acquiring tons of bits and parts to build a much better bot.
Boss battles in the game were great. Enemies faced during boss fights all had multiple lives, similar to your own, and were more hostile in their attacks. Boss fights also took place on floating stages, like in Smash Bros., where the ultimate goal was to either launch the boss off the stage so that he couldn’t get back on in time, or high enough in the air to hit the ceiling.
The variety of parts I found during the game was huge. After two levels of the game, I had only filled about 2 1/2 pages out of a total of 15 pages of possible parts I could have acquired. Though there are always a couple different parts that carry the same perks, the effects stack so long as they’re passive upgrades. Having multiple parts that raise your speed and jump height, for instance, would increase it even further.
While the game is very fun, there are some nitpicks I found in playing through. While the controls are mostly solid, some of the binds are annoying in certain situations. The button to attack is also the same button to talk to an NPC in the town, and the game defaults to talking instead of punching things. This made it annoying to destroy all of the boxes in a certain house without talking to the ghosts that were floating about everywhere, getting in my way.
Another issue with the controls was ultimately the wall jumping mechanic. The wall jump mechanic only requires you to press the movement key (or joystick) away from any wall you were next to in order to jump away from it. While the ability to wall jump is useful for navigating levels and reaching those annoying spots, the simplicity of the control made it so that I was often jumping off walls when I didn’t want to. A lot of the pathways are narrow, so wall jumping will often happen even when you’re trying to go down.
On the Xbox controller, special attacks are bound to the B button combined with a directional movement button. This system is simple to navigate and learn, but sometimes doesn’t work with specific weapons being bound to specific spots. The sniper rifle I found was ultimately annoying to use at times when bound to B+Down, as I often found myself aiming in the complete opposite direction of my intended target as I fired it.
Lastly, it felt like acquiring levels was a bit too easy. Often times I would only die once or twice max in a single level, yet receive enough bits throughout that same level to gain four or five lives. This made the end-level boss fights feel much less challenging, as I didn’t fear that I would lose at all.
While all of these were annoying as I played, they didn’t make the entire experience unenjoyable. They are small issues – errors that could be fixed by simply adjusting some controls or changing how many bits you need to gain another life. They don’t stop the game from being fun, and I still highly recommend you give Megabyte Punch a shot. The game also includes up to four-player co-op and a versus mode to play with your friends.
This game was reviewed using a copy provided by the developer for that purpose. It was played on a Windows PC.
© 2013, The Indie Mine. All rights reserved.