Review: Xeodrifter (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Review: Xeodrifter (Switch)

by James Charlton


Xeodrifter on the surface looks like a cute indie take on Metroid, and it kind of is that. However we’re talking the original NES Metroid here not the more forgiving modern games.

The initial difficulty spike is quite brutal. You’re given a choice of four planets to visit and all seem to be harder than the last. You start the game basically wondering “am I supposed to go here first?”, because everywhere seems to contain enemies that are leagues beyond your abilities, but don’t give up little space man!

You start with a little peashooter of a weapon and are faced with enemies that take dozens of hits, while you can only take three before you die - couple that with energy refills being incredibly rare, too. Death requires you to go back to the start after losing all the pickups you may have accumulated on the way. This can sometimes mean up to twenty minutes of playtime being flushed down the toilet. The first hour or so of the game feels almost like a rogue-like without the item carryover when you die. However the thing you do keep between deaths is your own knowledge of how you died and how to avoid it next time!

Thankfully when you meet a boss, you can fill up on energy and your progress is saved. After a while, I adjusted my exploration methods to be much more cautious, inching forward to check for any upcoming death and making every hit count. Gradually the game became easier as I found extra health units and upgrades to my gun. Deaths became fewer and far between and my overall enjoyment increased. The additional power ups and moves (no spoilers) are well designed and add interesting ways to explore the world. Some have been used in other games before or since but they all work well and make exploration fun.

What I realised is that this game is all about learning enemy patterns - when it is best to attack, how to attack, and also when is it best to avoid them altogether. The first half of this game (I beat the game in about four hours) is very much a brutal and unforgiving tutorial in how to enjoy the latter half of the game. Of course your milage may vary. You may get the hang of it immediately, however others may get disheartened by its punishing old school style of how it dishes out death.

What can’t be understated though is how lovely the art and music is for Xeodrifter. This game comes from the brain of Jools Watsham and his Atooi studio, who are famous for the equally retro-looking Mutant Mudds series among others. The precisely-designed pixel graphics look stunningly sharp on the Switch and really invoke the original Metroid whilst still having a neo-retro take on it. The foreground / background switching made popular in the Mudds series is used to great effect here really adding depth to what would otherwise be a traditional 8-bit style game.

Overall it’s a tightly designed micro homage to Samus’ inaugural adventure. If you can handle its rock-hard start, it’s definitely worth a shot, if only to encourage the developers to create a sequel that’s twice as long!

Final Score: 8.0 

No comments: