Megabyte Punch has a simple train of thought; you’re a robot, you beat up other robots, and you use their parts to upgrade yourself. There’s not much of a story or characters to get invested in. From the moment you press "go" you’re plopped into a beat’em up world filled with bright colors and crazy action. While the action looks good and the game runs well there are certainly some minor hiccups that take away from the breakneck pacing the game sets early on.
In Megabyte Punch you play…well that’s a good question because I don’t remember there being any names in the game other than the bosses. Nevertheless you are a robot, though I believe you’re supposed to be a program of sorts, and the world you inhabit is filled with similar beings. After a brief tutorial on the basics of moving and running around you’re thrown into a dangerous area to fight for yourself. This area is called, by the world and its inhabitants, “Level 1”. I found it strange that other NPCs in the game refer to levels as “Level 2” and such, it’s just odd. After your first program on program fight two things become clear; 1. Megabyte Punch can become quite the cluster of crazy action and 2. Megabyte Punch is a lot like a platformer meets Super Smash Bros.
Each level starts with you running to the right, sometimes going up, down, or to the left, and fighting things along the way. Combat is done with one button for basic attacks and another combined with a direction for special attacks. Where the interesting bit comes in is the fact that your program's entire skeleton can be remodeled with parts you get from other robots. Building your robot the proper way can make certain situations easier but for the most part I never found a need to build a specific way. Aside from moments when the game says “have this equipped or you’re boned” I was able to select whatever parts seemed cool.
These parts can add stats, like defense or speed, or they can give you new abilities like a gun or hammer attack. Performing these attacks requires the special attack button being pressed along with a directional button, up, down, or right. It’s a good idea to work the directional into the type of attack; so that a rocket boost moves you up and a gun burst shoots to the right. You can move these attacks after initiating them, such as sending a bullet straight down, but that part of the controls always felt a bit off. Often times my attacks were sent the wrong way or my up move, typically my recovery move, moved me diagonally or to the side and I died as a result.
Megabyte Punch has a fun look to it; the world is vibrant and colorful and it’s filled with sharp corners and smooth surfaces. It can be difficult to keep track of the action when you’re fighting more than two other enemies and often times I found myself wondering if I was attacking or being hit. One of the bigger complaints I have about the game is the fact that I was able to win a lot of boss fights by cheating. I didn’t want to cheat but the game didn’t stop me from mashing the machine-gun power up, damaging my enemy, then knocking him out of the arena Donkey Kong style with a big punch. It made the boss fights feel very unrewarding and underwhelming. That is, until the end of the game.
For the most part Megabyte Punch has a decent difficulty curve. Basic enemies are easy to defeat but they will kill you if your damage meter is too high. Bosses can be a bit trickier but they go down all the same. However, when I made it to the later bosses, the last two particularly, I felt like I couldn’t attack without dying. The boss’s speed and damage was so uneven that I found myself, yet again, cheating to find victory. I managed to best them by using parts that gave me easy to pull off special attacks. These moves led to them being unable to attack and my partner would take care of them while I went back and forth doing combos. It didn’t feel like a strategic win but rather a “haha you can’t move” sort of victory. It’s a shame the difficulty spikes so high at the end because the game was fun for the other parts of it but the last level is just so unforgiving that frustration levels run high. In fact, I often felt like I was being purposefully trapped in rooms that damaged me just to make the next fight harder.There are other modes besides the single player, such as tournament and free fight, but these modes feel a bit empty and with too many players it becomes hard to follow.
Megabyte Punch has the makings of a fun beat’em up; the fighting, the fun look, and the easy controls but it falls flat towards the end making the adventure lackluster. The other issue is that when more than one player is involved, there is a multiplayer setting, the action becomes too chaotic to figure out. Games like Super Smash Bros. succeed in those moments because the characters look different enough to figure it all out but Megabyte Punch’s characters look too similar to tell who is doing what. I enjoyed the first couple of hours with the game but after that the action and gameplay became a bit too much to deal with. The difficulty feels uneven and the combat can become overwhelming to the point where you’re unable to attack because four enemies have ganged up on you. While the controls feel right at times there are those moments where they fail and those moments can be a killer. There is fun to be had in Megabyte Punch but just not to the extent of its obvious inspirations.